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Blood and BeliefThe Circulation of a Symbol between Jews and Christians$
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David Biale

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520253049

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520253049.001.0001

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God's Blood

God's Blood

Medieval Jews and Christians Debate the Body

(p.81) Chapter 3 God's Blood
Blood and Belief

David Biale

University of California Press

This chapter demonstrates the competing claims of Jews and Christians to enjoy a covenant of blood with God through late antiquity. The biblical idea that blood was the link between God and his people found its medieval expression, although blood continued to serve as a memorial of the covenant, as it did in late antiquity. Ashkenazic Jews seemed to believe that the blood of the martyrs was, in a very real sense, God's own blood that cried out to be returned to its source. In this belief they were not far at all from Catherine of Siena's ecstatic immersion in the blood of her God. Far more than she was aware, blood did, indeed, mark the chasm between medieval Jews and Christians, but those on both of its sides spoke a remarkably similar language. Moreover, Jews and Christians became increasingly aware of each other's beliefs and practices and turned these understandings—and, perhaps as often, misunderstandings—of the other into the stuff of polemics, which involved singularly violent language.

Keywords:   God's Blood, Ashkenazic Jews, Christians, Catherine of Siena, polemics

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