Giving expression to a point of view which is becoming increasingly popular in some circles, Vincent Taylor writes, “More and more students of comparative religion, and of Old Testament worship in particular, are insisting that the bestowal of life is the fundamental idea in sacrificial worship” (Jesus and His Sacrifice, London, 1939, pp. 54 f.). In this view the sacrifice of the animal is necessary, but only because there is no other way of obtaining blood, the life of the animal. As Taylor says, “The victim is slain in order that its life, in the form of blood may be released.… The aim is to make it possible for life to be presented as an offering to the Deity” (p. 54). Death, according to this view, can play no real part, then, in sacrificial acts when such a view is taken to its logical conclusion.

Let us follow the trail of this reasoning from the Old Testament over into the New Testament. According to popular expression the use of the term blood “suggests the thought of life, dedicated, offered, transformed, and opened to our spiritual appropriation” (Vincent Taylor, The Atonement in New Testament Teaching, London, 1946, p. 198). Being saved by the blood of Jesus is being saved by his life. The death of Christ ceases to have the centrality and the efficacy which the Church has universally attributed to it. Instead, his death becomes considered a mere incident.

The Weight Of Scripture

It is my observation, however, that the passages of Scripture which popular opinion claims as proving “blood” means “life” are out-numbered by passages in which blood clearly means death. In 203 out of the 362 passages where the Hebrew word for blood (dam) occurs in the Old Testament, blood signifies death by violence, much as in the phrase ...

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