New Wineskin, Old Wine: The Future of Canadian Contributions to North American Security

Part of the Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications book series (ASTSA)


Putting “old wine in a new bottle” is a well-known expression for any effort to present an existing concept, policy, or idea as though it was new. It derives from a New Testament parable based on a contemporary saying that new wine must be put in new bottles. However, the original biblical saying probably makes little sense to most modern readers, since it is not at all clear why new wine cannot be put in old bottles. The problem lies with the word “bottle,” which is how the New Testament Greek ἀσκός (askos) is often translated. For most modern readers, the word “bottle” connotes a vessel made of glass. However, a more correct translation of askos is a wineskin or leather bottle. Wineskins in which wine had fermented tended to become stretched and brittle, increasing the likelihood that, were the wineskin to be reused and filled with new wine, it would burst, both spilling the wine and destroying the leather bottle itself. That is why the saying had it that new wine had to be put into a new askos, or leather bottle—though in modern parlance the “leather” was eventually dropped in both the new wine saying and the old-wine-new-bottle expression which derived from it. How one translates askos is central to the argument of this chapter. For I argue that Canada’s new defence policy announced by the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau in June 2017—entitled Strong, Secure, Engaged—is indeed a case of “old wine” (an established and largely unchanging Canadian defence policy) in a “new bottle” (a new defence policy statement).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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