Blood and Belief: The Cir­cu­la­tion of a Sym­bol Between Jews and Christians

David Biale
  • Review
By – March 2, 2012
Pro­fes­sor Biale offers new analy­ses of the dif­fer­ent forms of blood in the Bible that inter­act with the views of lead­ing schol­ars on these top­ics such as Mary Dou­glas and Jacob Mil­grom. He argues that polit­i­cal con­cern to con­trol sac­ri­fice and slaugh­ter by the priests dur­ing the Bib­li­cal peri­od accounts for the blood dis­cours­es in ways that have not been ful­ly appre­ci­at­ed, includ­ing the dec­la­ra­tions of oth­er rit­u­als as abom­i­na­tions. Blood uni­fies, blood divides. Biale explores the issue of blood libel and many oth­er dimen­sions of Jew­ish- Chris­t­ian rela­tions that arise in terms of this mat­ter of blood, seek­ing to under­stand and explain how two tra­di­tions emerged from the same reli­gious milieu in late antiq­ui­ty with such oppo­site views, one com­plete­ly reject­ing the con­sump­tion of blood, and the oth­er sym­bol­i­cal­ly drink­ing it through wine as a cen­tral sacra­ment. He also explores the dis­course of blood in Nazi anti-Semi­tism, and how mod­ern Jew­ish cul­ture adapt­ed and respond­ed in terms of the dom­i­nant cul­tures’ ideas. Through the var­i­ous play­ers and themes traced from antiq­ui­ty to the mod­ern peri­od, Biale makes the case that the com­mon denom­i­na­tor is the con­trol of blood as an index of pow­er.” Bib­li­og­ra­phy and index.
Mark D. Nanos, Ph.D., Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas, is the author of Mys­tery­of Romans, win­ner of the 1996 Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award, Charles H. Revson­Award in Jew­ish-Chris­t­ian Relations.

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