Blood and Belief
The Circulation of a Symbol between Jews and Christians
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote
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Shortly before this book went to press, a distinguished Italian Jewish his-torian, Ariel Toaff, published a book entitled Pasque di Sangue: Ebrei d’Europa e omicidi rituali (Passovers of Blood: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murder). Toaff speculates that some Ashkenazic Jews in north-eastern Italy may have actually killed Christian children for their blood, ...
Introduction: Writing with Blood
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In the fi rst half of the twentieth century, stories circulated throughout East Africa that fi remen and policemen had kidnapped Africans, drain-ing blood from them to treat Europeans with blood diseases.1 Here was the confl uence of African folk traditions with Western medicine and superstition in colonial contexts. Here, too, was a classic instance of ...
1. Pollution and Power: Blood in the Hebrew Bible
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For the life of the fl esh is in the blood, and I have assigned it to you to ransom your lives on the altar; it is the blood, in exchange for life, that ransoms. Therefore I say to the Israelites: No person among you shall eat blood, nor shall the alien who resides among you eat blood.” So states Leviticus 17:11–12 in one of the central texts in the priestly ...
2. Blood and the Covenant: The Jewish and Christian Careers of a Biblical Verse
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The destruction of the Second Temple in 70 c.e. radically challenged the “blood cult” that stood at the heart of biblical religion. How could a sacrifi cial religion preserve its central practices when it no longer had the physical facility to offer sacrifi ces? If blood in the Bible was a signifi er that “indexed” the power of the temple priests, what role ...
3. God’s Blood: Medieval Jews and Christians Debate the Body
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In a letter written in 1376 to her disciple Niccolo Soderini, the medieval mystic Catherine of Siena warned against divisions within the church: “It is better for you to live in peace and unity . . . for we are not Jews or Saracens, but Christians ransomed and baptized in Christ’s blood.”1 The theme of Christ’s blood recurs repeatedly in Catherine’s writings, ...
4. Power in the Blood: The Medieval and the Modern in Nazi Anti-Semitism
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On May 17, 1934, Julius Streicher published his notorious special issue of Der Stürmer on the subject of ritual murder.1 A storm of international protest broke out, and as a result Hitler ordered the suppression of the issue, although several hundred thousand copies were already in circula-tion. The offi cial reason given for the issue’s suppression was that Der ...
5. From Blood Libel to Blood Community: Self-Defense and Self-Assertion in Modern Jewish Culture
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The onslaught of modern anti-Semitism made it impossible for Jews to ignore the symbolism of blood, whether in the form of the ritual-mur-der accusation or in the pseudoscientifi c language of race. A literature of self-defense emerged in the nineteenth century to counter the modern revival of the blood libel, a literature that was much more extensive ...
Epilogue: Blood and Belief
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By a historical coincidence, just as the Nazis were using blood to perpe-trate the greatest genocide in history, Oswald T. Avery and his cowork-ers showed in 1944 that it was DNA—and not blood—that transmitted genetic information. Those who continued to speak of blood as the agent of genetics could do so only metaphorically: the correct language ...
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Page Count: 316
Publication Year: 2007