A well-known surgeon talks about that miraculous red river within us as an emblem of life.
Throughout history, blood has been a symbol—and, in a real sense, the source—of life. On the following pages, physician Paul Brand continues the contemplation of blood that he began in the last issue of CT and will conclude in the next.
God’s wrath, his eternal recoil against everything unholy, is for the believer turned aside by Christ’s blood. This meaning of blood, one aspect we contemplate at Easter, has no medical counterpart today. But what follows, blood as the source of life, is central to both the Bible and medicine.
Brand’s thoughts were gleaned and expressed on paper by writer Philip Yancey.
Blood spatters the pages of mythology and of history. Drinking it gives strength and new life: to the ghosts of the dead in The Odyssey, to the Roman epileptics who dashed onto the floor of the Colosseum to quaff the blood of dying gladiators, to Kenya’s Masai tribesmen who still celebrate feast days by drinking blood freshly drawn from a cow or goat.
In early history, blood assumed a mysterious, almost sacred, aura in human relations. An oath held more power than a person’s word, but blood made a contract nearly inviolable. The ancients, unashamed to act out the physical literality of their symbols, would sometimes seal blood contracts by cutting themselves and mingling their blood.
We moderns inherit quaint symbolic tokens of the intrinsic mystery of blood: a wedding ring on the “leech finger,” which was believed to contain a vein that led directly to the heart, or perhaps a child’s game of “blood brothers” in which two participants solemnly and unhygienically act out their undying loyalty. We echo misconceptions, too, when we use such terms ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more