element of drinking blood in the Eucharistic rite
is at once a religious and a theological problem.
How does one account for the practice, particularly
given the alleged institution by a Jew in a Jewish
setting? The lack of adequate attention to this specific
issue is extraordinary. Those who insist on the historicity
of the institution narratives need to be able to offer
a reasonable explanation of a glaring incongruity--simplistic
dogmatic assertion does not suffice; those who reject
the historicity on the grounds of the incongruity
have not provided a satisfactory history of this fascinating
religious phenomenon. The state of the question is
characterized by a deafening silence, or a tip-toeing
side-step, the extent of which needs to be established,
and this is done here by means of a comprehensive
trawling expedition amidst the shoals of scholarly
treatment of the Eucharist. The veritable litany of
neglect is revealing. Some shifts in current New Testament
scholarship are identified as possible avenues where
advances can be hoped for in regard to a sensitive
fact of the Jewish blood prohibition presents a problem
for those who insist on the historicity of the New
Testament texts that relate the institution of the
Eucharist. This fact has not been given sufficient
weight in past and present-day discussion. The problem,
which is simply not being addressed, represents a
challenge to exegetes, theologians, and historians
of religion. Modern developments in New Testament
studies allow the influence of the religions of the
Greco-Roman world to be assessed afresh to find a
solution to what is at once a religious and a theological
problem. The Fourth Evangelist has Jesus speaking
to "the Jews" of drinking his blood. The
notion of drinking blood is expressed four times in
as many verses (Jn 6:53-56, RSV). The Evangelist has
"the Jews" reply, "This teaching is
difficult, who can accept it?" Jesus retorts,
"Does this offend you?" This incident is
bewildering in terms of dramatic verisimilitude if
the passage is taken as an account of an incident
in the historical life of Jesus. At any period in
the history of the Jewish people the notion of Jews
drinking blood would be inconceivable even to those
with only the barest acquaintance with Jewish dietary
requirements and with the Jewish blood taboo. Can
one imagine a Jew (such as Jesus) insisting with other
Jews that they drink blood and then acting surprised
at their reaction? In what circumstances could such
a passage have been written? To explain how the element
of blood-drinking entered the Eucharistic rite would
be to explain how a context for this passage emerged,
and to restore narrative sense to this passage in
Jewish attitude to the drinking of blood is illustrated
in the story of Samuel's strong reaction to the exhausted
soldiers eating the meat with the blood in it (1Sam
14:32). His reaction is clear testimony to the seriousness
of the law. Ezekiel 39:17-20 presents a vivid image
of the horror evoked by the thought of drinking blood.
The oracle presents the overthrow of the enemy in
the image of a pagan sacrificial feast to which the
vultures and wild animals are invited to "eat
the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood"
(v 18). Closer to New Testament times, the Book of
Jubilees contains expansions on the prohibition of
drinking blood that reflect the seriousness of the
matter (6:7, 12; 7:28). In the Jewish tradition the
disposal of blood was carefully ordered. Physical
contact with blood was severely restricted. Its use
in the treatment of leprosy (Lev 14:14) and in the
consecration of priests was connected with its perceived
life-giving properties (Lev 8:23-24).
Jewish practice goes to great lengths to remove all
blood, even after the animal has been properly slaughtered;
then, the carcass must be "porged" to remove
all residual blood, and the meat must be either salted
or broiled (Klein: 350). I recognize that some might
object to my use of the term taboo as being too strong.
It can be conceded that it was not a taboo in an absolute
sense. The article Blood in the ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA
maintains that we do not have here "a vestige
of a primitive taboo but the result of a deliberate
reasoned enactment" (4:1115). It continues: "The
prohibition of blood is confined to its consumption;
it is, however, permitted for other uses, and the
Mishnah (Yoma 5:6) states that the sacrificial blood
that flowed into the brook of Kidron was collected
and sold to gardeners as fertilizer" (4:1116).
On the other hand, the meticulous and even scrupulous
character of the Niddah legislation gives every impression
of dealing with taboo.
Israelite/Jewish prohibition against blood stands
out because in other respects the sacrificial meal
as a communion-meal of God and people is a phenomenon
found among both Jews and Gentiles. The precise connotation
of the shedding of blood has been the subject of debate.
W. R. Smith, for example, argued that the basic sacrifice
was not a holocaust, and indeed that the sacrificial
essence was not to be located in the death of the
animal, but rather in the application of the blood
that the slaughtering made available (338). Useful
studies on the connotation of blood and its shedding
can be found in Leon Morris; his views were challenged
by Dewar. Dennis J. McCarthy, who studied the subject
in the broader context of the "ancient Semitic
and Aegean areas," concludes: "As far as
we know, the reservation of blood to God because it
was life and so divine is specifically Israelite"
(176). The Jews differed from their neighbors in the
degree of care they took to ensure that the blood
was completely devoted to God, while the rest of the
meat was theirs, to be eaten. The notion of drinking
blood at the Eucharist, therefore, conflicts with
an essential distinctive feature of Jewish sacrificial
convenience, I use the term Eucharist to designate
the ritual attributed to Jesus even though I understand
that it is anachronistic. I am simply identifying
an object that had a trajectory and evolution. Construals
of the death of Jesus along the lines of the Paschal
Lamb or Yom Kippur do not provide meaningful analogies
because neither involved the drinking of blood. That
the blood taboo was a prominent issue in the first
century of our era is illustrated in the account given
by Luke of the Council of Jerusalem. In the formula
of the compromise there is no mention of the necessity
of circumcision, but the Gentiles have to agree to
keep the Jewish dietary rule in regard to kosher meat
(Acts 15:20, 29). They must abstain from blood and
thus from meat of animals that have not been slaughtered
in the Jewish manner. Lake and Cadbury point out that
the Jewish objection to blood
was based on Leviticus vii.26, which in Leviticus
xvii.10 was specially
extended to cover the "stranger living in Israel":
"Whatsoever man there be
of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn
among you, that
eateth any manner of blood, I will even set my face
against that soul that
eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his
people. For the life of
the flesh is in the blood" .
early Christian churches were made up of persons of
"the house of Israel" and of "strangers."
One implication of the conciliar decree deserves to
be noted especially. The requirement of avoiding blood
was a key element in ensuring the unity of the early
Christian communities made up of Jews and Gentiles:
it established the conditions that made commensality
possible. The blood issue appears to have been more
critical than circumcision, in regard to fellowship
at meals, pace Bruce Chilton's argument in A FEAST
OF MEANINGS (103). It allowed the mixed community
to break bread together, to share the Eucharistic
meal. It ensured a kosher Eucharist. Can one imagine
the drinking of blood at such a meal? Can one imagine
Jews being comfortable with what was regarded as a
cup of blood on the table?
there is no extant explicit expression of Jewish reaction
in the early centuries to the Christian Eucharistic
practice involving blood, yet it is not difficult
to imagine what it was. It is likely that an allusion
is to be discerned in a work of Justin. Justin accuses
Trypho and other Jews of spreading slanders about
Christian practices, allegedly involving cannibalism
and sexual promiscuity. Trypho denies the charge (Justin,
Dialogue: 17, p. 203; 10, p. 199). The admonition
"Do not eat blood" is found in the Sybilline
Oracles (2:96; Collins). It is, however, found in
an extract taken from The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocyclides
(cf. 1.31). The editor annotates: "This line
is missing in all the important MSS. It is probably
a Christian interpolation on the basis of Acts 15:29"
(Van der Horst: 575, note d). As regards the date,
the editor argues: "[the] cumulative evidence
seems to favor a date between about 50 BC and AD 100"
(Van der Horst: 567). If it is to be taken as Christian
it indicates that the admonition was not understood
as applicable to the Eucharist, if indeed the writer
knew the rite with a blood component. The same evaluation
is to be made of a parallel in the CLEMENTINE HOMILIES,
where we read in the exhortation of Peter: "to
abstain from the table of devils, not to taste dead
flesh, not to touch blood" (7:4). These lines
probably witness to the survival of Jewish Christian
beliefs but do little more than echo Acts 15:29. That
such an observance endured in some circles is reflected
in the story of the Martyrs of Lyons: "How could
such people devour children when they are not even
allowed to drink the blood of brute beasts?"
([section] 5, p. 71). Vermes' observation is an entirely
... the imagery of eating a man's body and drinking
his blood ... even
after allowance is made for metaphorical language,
strikes a totally
foreign note in Palestinian Jewish cultural setting
(cf. John 6.51). With
their profoundly rooted blood taboo, Jesus' listeners
would have been
overcome with nausea at hearing such words [Vermes:
Approach of the History of Religions
of narrative realism leads to a consideration of the
historical development that took place to permit such
narratives to be composed. How did the element of
blood-drinking ever get into Eucharistic practice?
Could it possibly have been initiated by Jesus the
Jew or by the first disciples, who were Jews? The
History of Religions practitioners in New Testament
studies suggested a solution years ago by pointing
to similar usage among the mystery religions. Bultmann's
proposals, for example, about the format and content
of the Eucharist being influenced by Hellenic religious
cult meals were formulated in an attempt to explain
the texts as they are (144-52). To dismiss his answer
is not to settle the question. The accurate description,
analysis, and diagnosis of his treatment contrast
mightily with the alternative answers that have been
and are proposed. David Wenham, for example, writes:
"We do believe that the extreme skepticism of
some scholars (notably in the Bultmann school) has
rightly been rejected by many recent scholars"
(21). I would insist, however, that the real and concrete
nature of the questions raised by such as Bultmann
contrasts sharply with the extremely hypothetical
and tentative nature of the offerings of "many
recent scholars" (cf. Cahill: 1992; 1998)
rebuttal of such as Bultmann consists in establishing
that the phenomenon in question can be satisfactorily
explained from within the resources of Judaism David
Wenham, for example, comments in regard to Paul's
idea of Baptism: "Some have suggested that Paul
was influenced by the Greek mystery religions in his
concept of dying and rising with Christ. But this
hypothesis is unnecessary and unlikely: Baptism is
a very Jewish phenomenon" (155). The phenomenon
of blood-drinking, however, is one that simply cannot
be similarly addressed from within Judaism.
Guignebert provides a handy summary of the History
of Religions viewpoint A synthesis such as Guigenebert's
is derived from and representative of the classic
treatments of the subject:
In several of these Mysteries of salvation, particularly
the Mysteries of
Attis, the symbolism of blood played a very important
part. It was an
extremely common belief in the ancient world that
by drinking the blood,
or, later on, by immersion in or sprinkling with the
blood, it was possible
to absorb the qualities of the god whose blood was
so used.... It is the
symbolic significance of the blood which pervades
the whole of the Pauline
eucharistic system, giving it its wealth of doctrinal
meaning, and throwing
the significance of the bread into the shade.... We
may say that it is
inevitable that he should, in all good faith, attribute
to Jesus the
institution and the meaning of the eucharist; but
he was unconsciously
influenced in this, as in his whole conception of
Christ, by the ideas
current in his environment concerning salvation and
the means of obtaining
views have been perpetuated in authoritative sources,
such as TDNT (Behm: 176).
of course, one could dispute the attribution to "Paulinism"
of the usage of drinking blood. This raises the same
problem as in the case of Jesus. That any cradle Jew
could conceive of, or invent such a practice is difficult
to understand. Loisy's blunt assertion is eloquent:
"Let it be said in passing that this idea of
communion with God by drinking the blood of a sacrificed
victim was never born in the brain of a Jew"
(247). That any Jew could come to accept the practice
is of course almost equally problematic. The account
in 1 Corinthians of Paul's handing on of the institution
of the Eucharist has met with a variety of critical
responses Loisy, for example, refused to accept the
authenticity of the institution report in 1 Corinthians
11:23-33, regarding it as an interpolation, as an
element in a process of transformation. "The
account of the mystic Supper, in First Corinthians,
belongs to the evolution of the Christian Mystery
at a stage in the development of that mystery earlier
than Justin, earlier even than the canonical edition
of the first three Gospels but notably later than
Paul and the apostolic age" (245). Others, such
as Guignebert, assert that Paul accepted the church's
tradition as of the Lord (443, 447). It is interesting
to find the following concession by David Wenham,
who consistently articulates the conservative point
of view in this area: "... when it comes to the
idea of participation in the death of Jesus, Paul
does go well beyond the hints in the Jesus-tradition,
though those hints are there (e.g., the `take up your
cross' saying)" (155; cf. 185-86, 185, n. 57;
cf. "the almost mystical language" ).
Guignebert draws attention to the fact that Paul could,
quite comfortably, associate the Eucharistic meal
with "the table of demons" (1Cor 10:20-21)
for the purpose of Christian instruction (442). Guignebert
notes that this close association or paralleling of
Eucharist and cult-meal is also found in Justin's
First Apology (446, n. 5; cf. Justin, First Apology,
[section] 66, p. 185). Interestingly, nowhere does
Guignebert discuss the problem of the Jewish blood
taboo. In this regard it is intriguing to find Justin
accusing the Mithraists of imitating Christian ritual
in their use of bread and water (ibid.).
Lietzman'n in MASS AND LORD'S SUPPER presents the
case for "a Hellenistic-Oriental cult-mysticism"
being influential in the development of the Eucharist
from its simple beginnings as a Jewish fraternal meal
with the sharing of bread being the essential element
(185, 200). Yet I find it noteworthy that, in his
wide ranging study, he never considers the particular
problem of the blood taboo. Likewise, I find no attention
given to this issue in the well-known study of Richard
Reitzenstein, HELLENIC MYSTERY-RELIGIONS: THEIR BASIC
IDEAS AND SIGNIFICANCE. In the context of seeking
mystical parallels to Paul's eucharistic teaching,
he draws attention to a magical text from about the
time of Paul, "in which Osiris gives to Isis
and to Horus his blood to drink in a cup of wine,
so that after his death they will not forget him"
(77-78). I find it extraordinary that the inhibiting
factor of the blood taboo for Jewish Christians such
as Paul does not merit any comment.
History of Religions School was not a monolith, and
the views of Rudolf Otto exemplify a nuance. He considers
the origins of the Lord's Supper in Book Three of
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE SON OF MAN. Book Three
is entitled "Christ's Last Supper as the Consecration
of the Disciples for Entrance into the Kingdom of
God." He argues for a simple original rite going
back to Jesus as distinct from "such as the fantasy
of the disciples subsequently fabricated" (330).
His view is that the Last Supper belongs to the category
"of the religious festive meal, a `cheber' or
a `chaburah' with sacramental character and with ritualistic
peculiarities" (278). He views the taking of
the cup by Christ as involving a simple blessing or
consecration with no reference to covenant blood (286-87).
What I find fascinating is the way he accounts for
this: "After the wine had been explained as the
covenant blood, Jesus could not possibly have gone
on to speak of it as a mere festive drink at the future
meal" (287). The utterly more fundamental problem
of the blood taboo is simply ignored. In an earlier
essay, first printed in 1917, The Lord's Supper as
a Numinous Fact, he had already argued for the "Qiddush"
type Jewish meal as the source of the original Eucharistic
rite, and here he explicitly rejected the "theory
which has been advanced that the account of the Last
Supper is an `aetiological myth' for a rite which
originated in Hellenic mystery cults" (46). It
is important to note, however, that here he is rejecting
the suggestion that Jesus himself saw the rite in
relation to the cults. Otto writes: "And in spite
of all `religio-historical parallels,' it is almost
inconceivable psychologically that such far-fetched
ideas should have suggested themselves to Jesus at
that moment" (48). Certainly, no one today holds
the opinion that Otto rejects. What is argued now
is that such cults influenced the evolution of the
rite after Jesus. Otto concedes that such influence
is possible: "It may be true, as has been so
often asserted, that St. Paul's conception of the
Supper was already coloured by Hellenistic influence"
crude nature of these rites has not disposed many
to accepting them as necessarily helpful in the search
for an explanation of the Eucharistic development.
Those who have rejected such influences have been
unfair in their characterizations, in an attempt,
apparently, to demonstrate that such borrowing or
influence would have been unseemly. Jeremias, for
The words "this is my blood" were susceptible
to the misunderstanding that
they spoke of the drinking of blood, which particularly
for born Jews, was
a dark animistic abomination. It is a likely assumption
that the strangely
complicated formulation of the word over the wine
in Paul/Luke ("this cup
is the new covenant") was occasioned by the intention
of warding off the
misunderstanding that the Lord's Supper was a Thyestian
meal where blood
was drunk .
allusion is a straw man. The story of the unfortunate
Thyestes, the unwitting cannibal, was as horrifying
to the ancients as it is to us. Jeremias' characterization
would have been unintelligible to members of a mystery
cult participating willingly and knowingly in a sacred
meal where the blood of a god was drunk in mystic
awe. In any case, Jeremiah's understanding of the
Eucharist has the disciples simply drinking wine ("and
drink the wine over which he spoke the word referring
to his outpoured blood"--261), and does not address
the forceful assertion of John 6:52-58.
and Opportunities Today
have been some significant shifts and developments
in New Testament Studies, which bear particularly
on the present problem and invite us to look again
at the religions of the Greco-Roman world as a likely
influence on Eucharistic practice. In the field of
confessional theology there have been developments
that allow greater receptivity to new ideas. For example,
even among theologians of more conservative confessional
hue, what has been termed "differentiation"
is now accepted in regard to the sources of developed
are signs of biblical scholars returning to review
material originally tabled by the pioneers of the
History of Religions' "Golden Age." In a
recent survey article, Hans G. Kippenberg welcomes
the fresh interest among biblical scholars of "a
religio-historical perspective" (90). Religion
"in this perspective," he remarks, "is
competence of interpretation, not a faith in doctrines"
(94). Much of the current resurgence is found in the
guise of "sociological criticism," a discipline
that has made itself felt.
is difficult for us today to give due weight to taboo
factors. It is easy for us to regard such things as
the blood-prohibition along the lines of a dietary
fad or a piece of legislation such as Roman Catholics
not being allowed to eat meat on Fridays in days gone
by. Something much deeper is involved. Huston Smith
reminds us of the fundamental importance of the realm
of the sacred in ancient times. He quotes Mircea Eliade
to good effect: "The man of the archaic societies
tends to live as much as possible in the sacred because
for primitives ... the sacred is equivalent to a power,
and in the last analysis, to reality" (Smith:
3). Such awareness underpins Jerome Neyrey's treatment
of "Purity and Order in Israel" in his analysis
of "the maps which first century Jews made to
give shape and clarity to their daily world"
(278). In his study, A FEAST OF MEANINGS: EUCHARISTIC
THEOLOGIES FROM JESUS THROUGH JOHANNINE CIRCLES, Bruce
Chilton pays much attention to the topics of purity
and blood. His thesis is based on the systemic centrality
of the notion of purity in the Jewish-Christian tradition,
and he tracks the various meanings of the Eucharist
in relation to various grids of purity. Equally representative
of the modern awareness of purity and taboo is Marcus
Borg's demonstration of the importance of "the
notion of the social world" for the study of
the historical Jesus. He stresses the fundamental
role of the "polarity of pure and impure"
in the first-century Jewish world. He writes: "Disagreements
about purity were potentially world-shattering and
world-transforming" (11; cf. 108-11). Such recent
studies have demonstrated the centrality of this category
in the world of the New Testament writings, a world
that involves Jewish and pagan arenas. What still
needs to be explained is how the abolition or transcending
of a blood taboo came to pass in such a world.
has become clear, and it is now generally accepted,
that the evolution of the Eucharist was a "complex
and differentiated situation" (Klauck 1992: 367).
See, for example, Jean-Marie van Cangh, O.P., who
writes, "Il est clair, en effet que dans une
communaute d'origine juive l'identification du vin
avec le sang devait representer un obstacle important"
(216). "Si l'on propose raisonnablement un milieu
d'origine juif hellenistique ou marne pagano-chretien
pour l'identification du vin avec le sang de Jesus
..." (217). John Michael Perry furnishes a popular
presentation of the modern understanding of the evolution
of the Eucharist in stages. Because he aims at a more
general (and Roman Catholic) audience his study is
an indication of the extent to which such thinking
has become more acceptable. He is inclined to argue
for the "probable genuineness of the words of
institution" (30). Hans-Josef Klauck calls attention
to the "sociocultural context in which the development
of the Christian Lord's Supper took place"; yet
he makes no mention of the blood problem (369). He
proposes the relevance of the Wisdom meal (cf. Proverbs
9:1-6) for understanding the Eucharist (370), but
the fact is that no Wisdom text envisages the drinking
variety of first-century Jewish cult meals is better
known today. The evidence of the Qumran scrolls led
to a reappraisal of Philo's account of the sacred
meals of the Therapeutae. Unfortunately the items
of knowledge are more tantalizing than determinative.
Karl Georg Kuhn's analysis, for example, demonstrates
at least the presence of elements of diversity in
the matter of the cult meal, though how these elements
can be related to the development of the Eucharist
is not clear (65-93). Likewise, the helpful summary
provided by the editor C. Burchard of the range of
meals that the text of "Joseph and Aseneth"
(8:5-7) has been related to, illustrates both the
lack of firm evidence in this area and, paradoxically,
the variety of possible analogous practices (211-12,
n. i) Recently, a proposal reminiscent of Otto's view
has been made by J. C. O'Neill, based on new material
such as "Joseph and Aseneth" and some Qumran
texts. But as Burchard's note indicates, the significance
of the references to eating and drinking in the text
of "Joseph and Aseneth" (8:5) is highly
Dominic Crossan's proposal involves denying that the
"Supper and Eucharist" derive from the historical
Jesus. Stressing the "liturgical creativity of
the early communities, he suggests that there were
five major preliminary stages, with John 6:51-58 as
a sixth stage (360-67). This is a good example of
the modern acceptance of differentiation, though it
is curious that Crossan speaks only of the influence
of "the Greco-Roman formal meal." One wonders
if this is sufficiently religious to offer a helpful
analogy. Crossan never mentions the mystery religions;
neither does he address the problem of the blood taboo.
The title of Bruce Chilton's study is thoroughly representative
of the modern tendency to see differentiation of sources:
A FEAST OF MEANINGS: EUCHARISTIC THEOLOGIES FROM JESUS
THROUGH JOHANNINE CIRCLES. He posits six stages of
development in that "the six types of practice
interacted sequentially to produce the texts that
we can read today" (146). In his first chapter,
entitled "The Systemic Importance of Purity within
Early Judaism," he emphasizes the central place
of meals in this system. In Chapter Five he considers
the place of blood in the Eucharist, but not in depth,
surprisingly, given the crucial role of blood as purity
marker. Correctly, I believe, Chilton sees the Johannine
presentation as the flowering of the Hellenistic development
of the Eucharist. As Chilton puts it:
There was no possibility of preventing at least some
followed the eucharistic practice of Paul and the
Synoptics from conceiving
of Jesus himself as consumed in the bread and wine.
Jesus' last supper was
naturally compared to initiation into Mystery within
curiously, he appears to view this comparing as a
mistake. He writes:
The early form of the Petrine tradition (which was
closely related to
Jesus' practice) simply had it that the wine was blood,
a surrogate of
covenantal sacrifice. In the Hellenistic environment
of Antioch, such a
meaning could easily be confused with the notion of
drinking a deity's
blood in one of the Mysteries [115-16].
Chilton's suggestion in regard to the influence of
"Mysteries" in the evolution of understanding
of Jesus' last supper is linked with a gratuitous
and misleading mention of Dionysus: "Jesus' last
supper was naturally compared to initiation into Mystery
within Hellenistic Christianity. He was a new Dionysus,
historical rather than mythical, who gave himself,
flesh and blood, in the meals which were held in his
name" (141). Could the development that Chilton
posits as taking place under Hellenistic influence
have occurred without the influence of the "Mysteries"?
If not, how does one explain the development?
historical question needs further determination. For
example, how early does this development begin? Are
we justified in seeing this development as early as
the date of 1 Corinthians? If so, how can we explain
the extent of the hellenization of the author and
of his readers? Loisy's opinion has met with little
acceptance. A recent commentator, Otfried Hofius,
argues for the authenticity of the passage, writing:
"A convincing proof that the Apostle has himself
encroached on the wording of the tradition delivered
to him has not thus far been adduced" (76). His
analysis, however, is limited to the level of text,
of literary seams, and he ignores the substantive
issue of incongruity of content. Hyam Maccoby is nothing
if not definite in his answers. He proposes that "Paul,
not Jesus, was the originator of the eucharist, and
that the eucharist itself is not a Jewish, but an
essentially Hellenistic rite, showing principal affinities
not with the Jewish qiddush, but with the ritual meal
of the mystery religions." But the strength of
his detailed argument will inevitably be weakened
by his more general controversial position on the
career of Paul, and more particularly by assertions
lacking in nuance such as the following:
The historical conclusion to which this argument leads
is that Jesus did
not institute the eucharist, the fundamental concepts
of which were alien
to him as a Jew. The creator of the eucharist was
Paul, whose immediate
source was a vision in which Jesus gave him eucharistic
the Last Supper .
the hellenization of some Jews of the Diaspora was
profound enough to allow someone like Paul to overcome
the traditional awe. The basic question of comprehending
Hellenistic Judaism is at present, of course, a work
in progress. Equally problematic is the attempt to
locate Paul on the spectrum. John M. G. Barclay's
survey is most helpful in illustrating the very complexity
of the task of categorizing Paul, and he rightly stresses
the anomalous nature of Paul. If Paul's status were
to be determined on the single issue of the drinking
of blood, it would have to be conceded that Paul simply
moves off the scale in terms of Barclay's useful categories
of assimilation, acculturation, and accommodation.
But the question of blood is not considered by Barclay.
A. N. Wilson, whose work synthesizes scholarly trends,
distinguishes between the Jewishness of Jesus and
Paul: "... the idea that a pious Jew such as
Jesus would have spent his last evening on earth asking
his disciples to drink a cup of blood, even symbolically,
is unthinkable" (165). He sees no problem, however,
in proposing "the genius of Paul," "Paul's
fertile brain," as the source of the Christian
Eucharist incorporating the blood-drinking element
is baffling to the present writer to find a certain
air of unreality in regard to the issue of blood-drinking
evidenced in the writings of scholars, past and present,
whose understanding of the Eucharist is widely different
in other respects. Some accept easily that a Jewish
Jesus could have spoken about drinking blood to his
Jewish disciples at a farewell supper, while other
ignore this key problem and focus on relatively minor
issues. David Wenham, in replying to Vermes, writes
But Jesus typically, uses vivid, almost shocking metaphors
18:8, 9/Mark 9:43-48). Furthermore, that the shocking
came to be accepted by Jewish Christians (including
Matthew) may suggest
that they were not quite as unacceptable as Vermes
supposes or that they
had a strong claim to authenticity, since they would
not easily have been
accepted if they were not in the Jewish Christian
tradition [156, n. 39].
downplays the problem and leaves unexplained how such
acceptance came about. This applies a fortiori to
those who would see more than a "shocking metaphor"
in the words of Jesus in the institution narrative.
Those who insist on historicity must recognize that
this Jesus not only must be credited with an extraordinary
original vision, but has to be seen as someone who
is deliberately eschewing a very important Jewish
prescription and deliberately attempting to shock
and not just through metaphors.
Jesus in his words and actions was given to counter-cultural
or reversal prophetic positions seems to be a fact.
John Meier insists on Jesus' propensity to use "shocking
symbols," in reference to the words of the institution
narrative (2001: 64) and in his "deliberate flouting
of certain social conventions" (2001: 90, n.
2). He gives particular attention to "a subversive
aphorism of Jesus," referring to "Let the
dead bury their dead" (2001: 50, 93, n. 29).
But in the case of drinking blood we are dealing with
a case apart, one involving such radical discontinuity
with Judaism that it does not fit with the rest of
the story of the Jew from Nazareth. It is instructive
that despite his directive, the disciples took care
to bury their dead master, while the directive of
the eucharistic words appears to have been implemented,
at least on the level of narrative. John Meier, in
a summary though wide-ranging survey of the debate
over the history of the institution narratives, never
faces up to the crucial issue of the blood-drinking.
For example he proposes that the blessing Jesus invokes
over the cup is unique in that it is accompanied by
an injunction that all drink and share from a single
cup--his cup (1995: 349). This may be of interest,
but the equally unique and more problematic element
in the narrative is the injunction to drink blood,
and this is simply ignored.
a contribution to a Festschrift whose title (NOURRITURE
ET REPAS) would seem to promise much in the present
enquiry, Jean Delorme acknowledges the importance
of avoiding a "realisme insoutenable" in
the interpretation of the institution narrative because
of "la revulsion juive" in regard to the
blood (118 & n. 2). Delorme's solution, however,
is to suggest that Jesus instituted a new ritual meal
as a "hinge" event situated between the
Last Supper meal and the heavenly banquet; Jesus does
not participate himself in this meal, and this distancing
allows him to speak of his body and blood as food.
This would seem to be a too Cartesian conceptualization
of what, after all, was a real meal at one sitting.
One finds a similarly over-refined analysis in the
study of Nodet and Taylor, who seek to locate the
origins on the rites of baptism and Eucharist among
the Essenes; the bluntly assert: "The words over
the bread and wine, which Jesus identifies with his
body and blood, are parallel and pronounced in both
cases with a delay, after the distribution, when the
body has already been eaten and the blood drunk"
(117). They note Jean-Marie van Cangh's view that
the mention of blood is "inconceivable in a Jewish
milieu" and rebut it as follows: "... it
appears strange the scandalous word on the blood should
not be of Jewish origin, since it recalls the Covenant
at Sinai" (116, n. 142). They do not give due
weight to the element of drinking blood, something
that is not found in the account of the covenant at
Sinai. Neither is it evident how such a scenario can
be envisaged in an Essene setting.
use of the qualifying "simply" in the following
statement from Leon-Dufour betrays a similar lack
of awareness of the due weight to be given to the
blood-drinking component of the rite: "The disciples
are not being invited to use the cup in order to sprinkle
themselves with the blood of Jesus; they are being
invited simply to drink it" (143). Leon-Dufour
seems to suggest that we should be able to imagine
one option as more likely and reasonable, when in
fact both are fantastic suggestions even if one has
a biblical precedent! It is not that Leon-Dufour is
unaware of the problem. He counters the argument of
those who insist on the historicity of the words of
institution for the reason that the invitation to
drink was "so shocking to Jewish religious sensibilities"
that the disciples could not have invented it (171).
He writes: "I find the argument puzzling, even
if the invitation to drink be historical" (171).
But in the ensuing argument he invokes a subtle distinction
that is closely related to the unrealistic perspective
that we have pointed to; he proposes that the Antiochene
formulation in referring to the cup rather than to
its contents, avoids being offensive The distinction
proposed by Leon-Dufour ignores the power and function
of symbolism and unavoidable emotional associations
have here an obvious metonymy. So, sensibly, Otfried
Hofius writes: "The subject of the word on the
cup ... stands by metonymy, for the content, i.e.,
for the wine in the cup (vessel-content metonymy?)"
(97). It is puzzling to find Chilton, though acknowledging
the metonymy (115), stating that the Antiochene wording
makes the cup the point of comparison, thus eliminating
any confusion with "the notion of drinking a
deity's blood in one of the Mysteries" (116).
In their very useful survey of opinions, Gerd Theissen
and Annette Merz write:
The Pauline saying over the cup is often understood
as a secondary
simplification of the Markan version. Drinking blood
was offensive to any
Jew. Such offence is not caused by the Pauline version:
"This cup is the
new covenant in my blood." ... The notion of
drinking blood is quite
view ignores the fact that the cup is not the focus
of attention but its contents; one takes a cup to
drink from it. Willi Marxsen also posits a distinction:
"With Mark ... it is not the cup, but the contents
of the cup which is meant. ... In Paul, then, we have
a cup-covenant-(blood) word, while in Mark, on the
other hand, it is a contents-of-the-cup-(covenant)
word" (94). The absurdity of forcing such a distinction
becomes evident in his construal of 1 Corinthians
11:16: "Verse 16 says simply: `The cup of blessing
which we bless [observe that it does not say, `whose
contents we drink'] ..." (98). Is Marxsen suggesting
that it is the physical material of the cup that is
being blessed? J.-M. van Cangh quotes W. D. Davies
in support of his view that "[l]a formule paraphrastique
de Lc 22,20 et 1 Co 11,25 ... etait plus facile a
tolerer par les judeo-chretiens" (216). Davies'
point, however, was that the "Pauline formulation"
has more to do with this rabbi's "delicate sensibilities"
than with a Jewish-Christian tolerance; it is important
to note that Davies insists that "the essential
meaning remains the same while it is the formulation
that differs" (250).
recent study by Andrew McGowan is entitled ASCETIC
EUCHARISTS: FOOD AND DRINK IN EARLY CHRISTIAN RITUAL
MEALS. McGowan's analysis and hypotheses address the
subsequent history (post first century) of the Eucharist
and, strictly speaking, do not operate within our
present problematic. Yet insofar as the work is concerned
with a trajectory whose origins are in the first century,
such a work would seem to have much to offer in the
present context. Here again, however, we find an amazing
by-passing of the blood problem. McGowan argues for
a bread and water Eucharistic ritual, thus eliminating
the wine/blood problematic element In fact, he suggests
that this usage may have had Jewish roots precisely
to ensure "a kosher meal" (257). He writes:
It is arguable that under certain circumstances, Jews
might have adopted
forms of diet more ascetic than otherwise required,
specially in terms of
removal of meat and wine, in order to keep kosher
under circumstances where
the provision of appropriate food was problematic....
Jews living in
Gentile cities could perhaps have resorted to bread,
water, and other
vegetable foods as a diet less difficult to maintain
in purity than one
involving meat and wine, both not only tainted by
sacrifice but prepared in ways not in keeping with
the dietary laws
problem of the blood-taboo--or rather, the issue of
the overcoming or transcending of the blood-taboo--deserves
more attention and debate It is a key problem; if
this can be solved, then much of the problem of the
origins and growth of the Christian Eucharist will
be resolved Giving due weight to the blood problem
forces us to take more seriously the claims of the
non-Jewish religions as a source in the evolution
of the Eucharist. Hans-Josef Klauck's suggestive analysis
of the Eucharist in terms of the genre of "cultic
aetiology" would have more persuasive force had
he linked it with the blood issue; curiously he omits
any mention of this (1993: 63-64). The present-day
investigation will be very different from that of
our predecessors simply because the state of the question
has changed. Advances in the study of the religions
have made reassessment possible. Klauck provides a
critique of the "research of an earlier generation,
the circle of the History-of-Religions School"
and suggests how the agenda has been adjusted and
broadened (1993:57-59). The reconstructions proposed
by earlier scholars have been questioned and modified
Wedderborn exaggerates: "advances have fatally
undermined ... the religio-historical foundation upon
which the religionsgeschichtliche Schule built up
its reconstruction" (6). Later in the same work,
his conclusions are more restrained (162-63; 393-94).
proposals in regard to the blood problem were intertwined
with other controversial positions on related topics
that have been resolved or modified. For example,
the very fact of the differentiated origins of the
Eucharist is now widely accepted, as I have noted.
This allows for a more single -minded tackling of
the question of the blood. It is an excellent thread
to pull on as we attempt to unravel the problem of
the origins of the Eucharist. I have surveyed representative
literature of past and present to demonstrate that
not enough weight has been given to the problem of
the blood taboo. It is remarkable that Bultmann does
not address the precise issue of the blood taboo in
his analysis of the development of the sacrament of
the Eucharist in his THEOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
Similarly, the implications of the blood taboo are
not addressed by Conzelmann in his commentary on 1
Corinthians, though he provides parallels to the mystery
cults in regard to some other elements of the eucharistic
submit that the issue has not been adequately grasped
in all its problematic force. After all, one could
reasonably argue that the moment when Christians in
their Eucharist saw themselves as drinking the blood
of Jesus was the moment when the decisive break with
Judaism took place. Like it or not, to give full weight
to the significance of the Jewish blood taboo is to
turn to somewhere else besides Judaism for a solution.
The influence of other religions would appear to be
an obvious way to account for the eventual appearance
of the blood-drinking in the Christian Eucharist.
Attention to such influence marks a reappropriation
of the fullness of the socio-cultural reality of the
world of the eastern Mediterranean as the matrix of
total source-history of the Eucharistic ritual is
a complex, syncretistic one, the product of a combination
and coincidence of factors of time, place, symbols,
religious needs, and ritual, particularly ritual involving
meals at which wine was drunk for blood. Some of these
components may well go back to Jesus, but not the
directive to drink his blood. The challenge is to
determine what caused the elements to jell--what precise
set of circumstances allowed the injunction of blood-drinking
to be acceptable and even desirable. The answer is
most likely to be sought in a setting where the following
factors were operative:
a location in the Hellenistic gentile world;
a setting in the area of religious ritual;
the symbolism of wine as blood;
a religious meal understood as a communion with the
a community of gentile Christians who already held
meals in memory of Jesus, in a ritual that can be
traced back to Jesus himself.
follows is intended only to sketch out inviting possibilities
with the help of some illustrations. That certain
religious meals took place with the sense of being
in the presence of a deity in this culture is an established
fact. The racy story recounted by Josephus of the
seduction of the virtuous Roman matron who thought
she was supping and enjoying sexual intimacy with
the god Anubis in the temple of Isis is an illustration
that is noteworthy because Josephus dates it explicitly
to the period of Pilate and of Jesus; actually, it
is found in the same chapter as the much disputed
mention of Jesus (Antiquities 18.3.4).
are especially interesting. The practice of the libation
(usually of wine) at meals is to be distinguished
from libations at grave sites. All libations denote
a sacrifice to the deity, but the one in the meal-context
denotes a sharing with the god as all partake of the
same drinking of wine. In the Christian tradition
we have the added elements of a growing understanding
of Jesus as a god who had shed his blood for his followers.
James G. Frazer regards the linkage of the elements
of wine. blood, deity, and desire for communion in
universal terms as he writes:
The soul or life is in the blood, and wine is the
blood of the vine. Hence
whoever drinks the blood of an animal is inspired
with the soul of the
animal or of the god, who, as we have seen, is often
supposed to enter into
the animal before it is slain; and whoever drinks
wine drinks the blood,
and so receives into himself the soul or spirit, of
the god of the vine
the association of blood and wine is common in both
Jewish and pagan cultures, the step to associating
drinking wine and drinking blood is an entirely different
matter. Within the Jewish Scriptures, the image of
wine as the blood of the grape is found, but Jews
would have seen drinking wine as drinking blood only
as a poetical fancy--they were well aware that wine
was not really blood. It is conceivable that Jesus
could have spoken metaphorically of his blood as wine,
but this does not extend to the injunction to take
and drink. Judaism and paganism both practiced the
pouring of sacrificial libations of both blood and
wine. The understanding of the blood of Jesus as sacrificial
blood is entirely intelligible in Jewish terms, but
the drinking of it can be accounted for only by the
influence of religious rites in which the drinking
of "divine blood" was done. Walter Burkert
links the practice with the close association of blood
The association of wine and blood, especially around
where red wine predominates, is natural and is attested
outside of Greece,
in the Semitic realm.... The Greeks tended to equate
Dionysus and wine
already in Classical times. Consequently, the drinker
of the wine would be
drinking the god himself ... [224-25]
references to similar practices, including that of
wine being substituted for sacrificial blood, are
cited by Arthur Darby Nock (74, n. 1).
a high degree of syncretism was a feature of the first
centuries of our era has been more than adequately
illustrated by the labors of Edwin R. Goodenough.
In his classic study of Jewish interaction with the
Greco-Roman world, chapter 4 of volume 5 is of particular
value as it treats of the religious symbolism of wine.
The essays of Arthur Darby Nock in EARLY GENTILE CHRISTIANITY
AND ITS HELLENISTIC BACKGROUND can be described only
as tantalizing; we are provided with a host of possible
contacts and influences of pagan religion on early
Christian development, but ultimately any meaningful
influence is deemed inadmissable on the principle
that analogy is not genealogy. Yet it needs to be
stressed that in the present enquiry there is no question
of Jewish genealogy; so we are left with the only
was a massive amount of mutual influence and borrowing
among religions at this time, and the Eucharistic
rite can hardly be posited as an immune exception.
In some Christian scholarly circles there is an evident
fear (if not horror) evinced at the very mention of
comparative religious analysis in New Testament studies.
Yet, the theologian must be prepared to address and
solve the problem of blood at a kosher Eucharist,
and the historian of religion must attempt to provide
an answer. This is an area that concerns both disciplines.
At least we can say that the history of religions
argument has not been made so compellingly as to convince
many theologians. The pressure of religious inculturation
must be recognized. Was it not legitimate for the
early Christians to inculturate their beliefs and
so contribute to the development of Eucharistic ritual?
Brian McGowan is correct, I believe, in his assertion
that "conservative" and "radical"
opinion share the assumption that the institution
narratives are liturgical in character (Is there a
liturgical text?--73). He disputes this assumption
and argues that the narratives functioned as "interpretive
etiologies of a catechetical nature" (86); he
sees the narratives as having this function "in
(and prior to) the canonical NT" (74). McGowan
suggests that his proposed characterization of the
institution narratives is neutral in relation to historicity,
and capable of "being integrated into the conservative
or radical accounts" (86). In my view, however,
the perspective he offers is far from neutral and
actually fits in well only with the "radical"
view, identifying as it does one factor in the process
of inculturation referred to. Catechesis will obviously
proceed more prevalently in terms of what is known
Giorgi's attempts to identify points of contact between
Jewish meals and mystery are to be noted:
Any doubts about the existence of a fairly massive
syncretism in the
synagogues should have been dispelled at the very
latest with the work of
Goodenough. In my opinion it is also beyond doubt
that this syncretism
betrays the closeness of the Jewish synagogues to
the Hellenistic mysteries
and to the philosophical schools which had come to
behave more and more in
accordance with the mysteries .
I find of merit here is that Giorgi attempts to identify
the bridge that linked the different cultures. Some
such contact is a prerequisite for any possible influence
of the mystery meals on Eucharist development within
Hellenistic-Jewish-Christian circles. It is likewise
possible that Christians of Gentile background with
personal experience of the mysteries provided the
link when the joined such circles. Similar influence
could equally have been exercised in totally Gentile-Christian
churches. There is more involved than blood at a kosher
Eucharist in the sense that the drinking of blood
by non-Jews is itself an issue that needs to be accounted
for, but this is a good place to start.
is instructive to recall the context in which the
drinking of blood was acceptable. First-century folk
who participated in mystery cult rituals were no more
tolerant of cannibalism than we are. There is no evidence
that, in itself, drinking of blood was not revolting
for them, generally speaking. Yet, we find it in religious
ritual. The reason is that they were drinking the
blood of an animal that had been numinized in some
way and had come to be identified with the god. Drinking
the blood of a god was acceptable. It would seem,
then, that the divinization of Jesus is to be studied
in tandem with the emergence of the blood drinking
component of the Eucharist. Both notions, divinization
and blood drinking, are more readily intelligible
in a Gentile setting. P. M. Casey, in his study of
the emergence of belief in Jesus' divinity, refers
to the "natural antipathy to drinking blood"
as underlying some of the differences in eucharistic
formulae, but his explanation does not explicitly
refer to the specifically Jewish blood taboo (111).
In regard to the divinization issue, I am appreciative
of Margaret Barker's attempt to root this in a Jewish
Palestinian setting, but it seems to me that the Hellenistic
world was more open to such a development. In any
case, it is not necessary to see this as "relatively
late" (xiii); Christianity moved very quickly
into a gentile world.
very nature of the mysteries (i.e., secret) frustrates
us; even in regard to what might be termed mainstream
public Greco-Roman rites, very often the obvious is
not stated, and we lack positive data. Goodenough
provides a citation from Sallust, the Roman historian
who died in 34 BCE, that incorporates some of the
elements listed above. The central element is a drink
termed "assaratum," which Festus, a late
second century (CE) grammarian, explained as a mixture
of wine and human blood. Sallust, who does not use
the term, makes a clear reference to it when, in giving
an account of the Catiline conspiracy, he describes
how there was passed around a drink comprising wine
mixed with human blood ("humani corporis sanguinem
vino permixtum"), a ceremony commonly performed,
he says, in solemn religious rites ("sicuti in
sollemnibus sacris fieri consuevit"--Sallust,
Bellum Catilinae, [section] 22; Goodenough, vol. 6,
145). The skepticism of Sallust, it might be noted,
extends to the actuality of the conspirators' usage,
and not to the practice in general. The existence
of a technical term for the potion is also significant.
Goodenough suggests that this is linked with the custom
found among blood-brotherhoods. He further suggests
that our custom of toasting involving a ritualistic
touching of glasses is possibly to be traced back
to this. We have here an assembly in the form of a
solemn meal where blood and wine are consumed with
a serious purpose as distinct from an idle drinking-party.
Furthermore, we are informed that the ritual in this
case was borrowed from a common practice in religious
rites. As we have noted, the association of red wine
and blood was common in both the Jewish and the Gentile
cultures. That Jesus could have mentioned his blood
as symbolized by wine is entirely possible, but the
drinking of the wine as his blood is possible only
in a Hellenistic Christian community that took the
Eucharistic rite a step further under the influence
of the surrounding religious customs.
from John 6, there is little evidence in the New Testament
of a sense of discomfiture in regard to the drinking
of blood, and this is the very puzzle! Johannes Betz
suggests that Hebrews 10:29 reflects a sense of the
problem arising from the Jewish reverence for blood;
he uses the term "furchtbaren" (156). I
note that Bossuet wrote that Hebrews 10:29 "refers
directly to the element of the eucharist" (305,
n. 231). Yet he does not refer to the blood taboo
in this work; he appears simply to take it for granted
that we are dealing with a Hellenistic phenomenon.
The author of the Fourth Gospel addressed the problematic
issue in narrative form. But does the narrative work
in terms of solving the problem? I do not believe
it does, and I do not believe that there was ever
any attempt to solve the problem; the author, or final
editor, knew that the problem was insoluble. What
we do have is a repeated emphasis on a ritual that
would never be tolerated by Jews; one must not forget
that, in the narrative, Jesus is addressing "the
Jews." Some commentators suggest that he really
does not mean this literally; Schnackenburg, for example,
sees "the Jews" as a code for "heretical
group within the Church." He writes: "Probably
the evangelist is attacking a gnostic or docetic group
within his community which rejected the reception
of the Eucharist" (61). But the narrative makes
perfect sense in the context of an awareness that
Jews are not going to accept the drinking of anyone's
blood. Raymond E. Brown, who like Schnackenburg and
many others recognizes the peculiar character of John
6:52-58, suggests that "it is made up of material
from the Johannine narrative of the institution of
the Eucharist which was originally located in the
Last Supper scene" (287). He further suggests
that the gospel narrative reflects "a dispute
of the evangelist's own time, for the Jewish apologists
against Christianity attacked the Eucharist"
(292). While Brown would argue that this suggestion
helps to account for the absence of a Eucharistic
institution narrative in John, he sees this in terms
of a displacement. An alternative interpretation would
be to see the absence of an institution narrative
as logically consistent with the presence of the polemic
passage of John 6:52-58. The Jesus who emphatically
insists that Jews drink his blood could scarcely be
presented initiating a rite that required his Jewish
disciples to do so without a like reaction! On the
level of narrative good sense, the passage must be
understood as reflecting a development of the Eucharistic
rite in non-Jewish Hellenistic circles where the drinking
of blood could be explicable. Chilton, reading the
narrative as a confirmation of a non-Jewish Christian
source, writes: "The extent of the Johannine
revision in the direction of Hellenistic Christianity
is most apparent in the commandment that Jesus' followers
eat his flesh and drink his blood. The difficulty
of such a notion within Judaism ... is explicitly
recognized" (141). As noted earlier, his position
is ambivalent in regard to the actuality of Hellenistic
influence. In a recent commentary on John's Gospel
done from the perspective of social science, the pericope
is not differentiated in terms of source analysis;
the words of Jesus are seen as an example of "antilanguage"
(insider language) emerging from an "antisociety"
comprising the insiders of the Johannine group. "To
those outside the antisociety, Jesus urges cannibalism"
(Malina & Rohrbaugh: 134-35). One would wish for
a more extensive discussion here.
survey of opinion, old and new, reveals wide disagreement
with a fundamental divide between those who can accept
that the notion of drinking blood could have a Jewish
origin and those who insist that this is a later development
to be located in the Hellenistic world. What both
sides share is an inability to proffer a rationally
convincing argument that can provide a historical
explanation for the presence of this particular component
of the Eucharistic rite. Those who hold for the literal
institution by Jesus have not been able to explain
plausibly how the drinking of blood could have arisen
in a Jewish setting. In fact, this difficulty has
been turned into an argument for authenticity. For
example, Jeremiah quotes Dalman: "Exactly that
which seems scandalous will be historical" (170-71).
W. D. Davies draws attention to the fact that Dalman
also argued that the Pauline version of the institution
arose in a gentile environment to eliminate the difficulties
presented by the more direct Markan form (246). It
would appear to be obvious that the difficulties would
have been greater in a Jewish environment. Davies'
conclusion is apt: "When such divergent conclusons
have been based upon the same evidence any dogmatism
would be foolish" (246). On the other hand, I
have earlier argued that previous suggestions supporting
the non-Jewish source have been vitiated by vague
generalities or by association with inappropriate
state of the question is one of uncertainty. We need
to seek a more precise determination of what was possible
in regard to the drinking of blood in the first century
of our era. I have made a case for reopening the file,
and have proposed the more likely avenues towards
a solution of the problem. The blood issue in the
Eucharistic rite is an excellent stalking horse for
tracking some key trajectories in the origins of Christianity.
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Cahill, D.Th. (Institut Catholique, Paris) is Professor
of Biblical Studies at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh,
PA 15282. E-mail: email@example.com. His major research
interest is the history of exegesis. His most recent
publications are The History of Exegesis and Our Theological
Future, THEOLOGICAL STUDIES 61/2 (2000): 332-47; and
THE FIRST COMMENTARY ON MARK: AN ANNOTATED TRANSLATION
(New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998). He
is currently working on an edition of an early medieval
heavily glossed Latin text of Matthew's Gospel.
2002 Biblical Theology Bulletin, Inc in association
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COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group