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Paul Brand wrote in the March 4, 1983 issue of "Christianity Today:"

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 Coliseum 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 as "pure blood," "mixed blood," "blood relations," harking back to the days when blood was assumed to be the substance of heredity.

Even after blood has been analyzed in laboratories and demythologized, it still retains some power, if only in the queasy feeling it evokes when we see it shed. There is something horribly unnatural—to some, physically nauseating-about watching the juice of life seep uncontrollably out of a living body. No wonder religions throughout history have exalted blood to sacral status. A ravaging plague, a minor drought, a desire to triumph over enemies, a decoy for the gods’ anger—anything of major import may prompt a bloody sacrifice in a primitive religion.

Although worshipers feel increasingly uncomfortable with the thought, Christianity too is inescapably blood based. Old Testament writers describe blood sacrifices in painstaking detail and their New Testament counterparts layer those symbols with theological meanings. The word "blood" occurs three times as often as the "/cross" of Christ, five times as frequently as "death." And daily, weekly, or at least monthly (depending on denomination), we commemorate Christ’s death with a ceremony based on his blood.

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