The Lord’s Supper (Cannibalism)

From my collection of: Biblical Manipulations

The Hebrew Scriptures forbids eating blood in unqualified terms!  Below I list some of the verses illustrating this command.  With this in mind, why would Christians celebrate drinking the blood and eating the body of their sacrificed god?  Robert Oerter has two posts (I & II) eloquently proposing why Christians added this fictional story later in the development of the Christian myth.  Oerter is a Prof. of Physics at George Mason University and excellent Atheist blogger.

Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
Gen 9:4 (RSV)

You must not eat any blood whatever, either of bird or of animal, in any of your settlements. Any one of you who eats any blood shall be cut off from your kin.
Lev 7:26-27 (RSV)

If anyone of the house of Israel or of the aliens who reside among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut that person off from the people. 11For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement. 12Therefore I have said to the people of Israel: No person among you shall eat blood, nor shall any alien who resides among you eat blood.
Lev 17:10-12 (RSV)

You shall not eat anything with its blood. You shall not practice augury or witchcraft.
Lev 19:26 (RSV)

The blood, however, you must not eat; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.
Deut 12:16 (RSV)

Only be sure that you do not eat the blood; for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the meat. 24Do not eat it; you shall pour it out on the ground like water. 25Do not eat it, so that all may go well with you and your children after you, because you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.
Deut 12: 23-25 (RSV)

Its blood, however, you must not eat; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.
Deut 15:23 (RSV)

It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, in all your settlements: you must not eat any fat or any blood.
Lev 3:17 (RSV)


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

18 responses to “The Lord’s Supper (Cannibalism)

  1. Ed

    Ah, the Last Supper… aka the Lord’s Supper.
    This website I have provided goes into great detail about the painting. When you go to the site keep scrolling down.
    Here is my odd take on it. Well, calling it the Last supper is wrong.. plainly. The apostles surely ate many more suppers. So, it was not their last supper. And According to John 21:1-13 Jesus ate with seven of his disciples on the beach of the Sea of Tiberias. They had fish and bread cooked over a camp-style fire. Therefore, not really the “Last” of anything that fateful Thursday evening… Except it may have been the last supper of Judas, the betrayer…
    Now, regarding the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci of the Last Supper. It has been criticized without mercy for the phony pose Jesus and his disciples assumed… all facing the “camera”. Nobody would arrange their group this way and then eat, I have heard people say.
    Hmmm… the other day I was driving through the RV Park I am camped at and saw a strangely familiar sight. Exactly 12 people, all facing the campground road I was driving on, eating. They looked like they were posing. So I stopped and asked them about it and mentioned that they looked like the Last Supper picture…. They laughed and brought me a camera… and history was made… who knows, possibly in 2,000 years or so…. :-}

  2. rey

    Romans 14:17 is rather curious if Paul really placed any importance on the “Lord’s Supper” as 1st Corinthians 10-11 seem to suggest.

    “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

    And Romans 14:15 would condemn the image of Jesus found in John 6 where Jesus is depicted as insisting that you must eat his flesh to the extent that he runs nearly all of the disciples off. Paul says “Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.” Kinda odd to depict Jesus himself as destroying for food’s sake the ones that he died for.

  3. rey

    I don’t know why I wrote “seem to suggest” when I actually meant that I think those passages in Corinthians are interpolations.

  4. For other readers: An interpolation is an insertion in a text or document with the object of obtaining backing or authority for the interpolator’s opinion or project.

    @ rey: Thanx for the other verses rey.

    @ Ed: The painting story is interesting. What did you think about the cannibalism issue and OT stuff?

  5. Ed

    Cannibalism… oddly, I never gave it a thought as a practicing Catholic… nor as an evangelical. Meaning that it was never an issue. I always felt that it was metaphorical, not literal.
    Here is an esoteric point; Catholics believe that the host is literally and really the body of Christ and that the wine is literally and really the blood. Evangelicals believe that the bread and wine are representative of the body and blood and they enact the Last Supper more as a remembrance. Catholics think they are actually doing it.
    So, Jesus commands that his followers eat his body and drink his blood in order to enter into his kingdom… a command that could be interpreted as asking his believers to understand that there is only One Being and that eating bread and drinking wine while realizing that they are the same as anything else, including Jesus, is the ultimate act of understanding Oneness Reality Theory. Jesus also said many other things that would point to this such as (from memory), “I am with you always”… “The Father is in me as I am in the father”… “Split wood and I am there”… “The kingdom of heaven is within you”…
    If Jesus was a “normal” human being who just happened to realize that the Universe is all one thing, then how he expressed this understanding would probably violate many OT laws… not just the prohibitions against cannibalism and drinking blood.

  6. Andrew

    “why would Christians celebrate drinking the blood and eating the body of their sacrificed god?”

    I thought the mystery cults origin/influence around the Greeks and their neighbours was the well-known explanation for this.

    Like many pagans before them, Christians were obsessed with blood rituals 🙂

  7. societyvs

    I read part 1 of the blog by Oerter – well written I must say.

    I kind of agree with him – I could see how this could be interpolated – since this subject is rarely to never broached by Paul in any other letter (which is strange to leave out if it is soooo key an issue to the theology about Jesus’ life/death). Paul has quite the history with repitition of issue he deems ‘important’.

    I can also see, if there is some historical accuracy to Acts, how Paul came across such a teaching (travels with Luke). I am starting to see this as maybe more of a stretch however they do use passages that are pretty much word for word verbatim (lending some small level of creedence).

    Nonetheless, I am not sure the body and blood are something Jesus would have taught as a practicing Jew (both are against the law). However, like Ed, I have only ever seen symbolism in this idea and in a book filled with Jesus teaching via parables (gospels) – it doesn’t make sense to take this as ‘literal’…because no one ever ate Jesus’ body or blood (unless they cannibalized him?).

    I can see a symbolism to this idea, concerning sacrifice and communal unity. However, I don’t buy into the atonement theories around the blood. I get the ‘rememberance’ part of the teaching, just not the atonement aspect. In fact, no gospel or letter actually says anything about atonement (until Hebrews – and who wrote this and when – we do not know). The creedence variable for the atonement is not that strong.

  8. @ Ed & Society
    But I think even as “symbolism” it is bizarre! First, the Jewish prohibitions. But then it seems the Jewish Christians version of Christianity lost early in the game. (and Society, the other thoughts were cool, & thank Ed!)

    @ Andrew
    If you get a chance, read the article I hyper-linked — the author addresses the pagan links.

  9. rey

    “Split wood and I am there”? Ed, where is that one from? the gospel of Thomas or some similar Gnostic sayings text?

  10. rey

    Ok, found the answer myself. It is the gospel of Thomas.

  11. Ed

    @ rey…. right… The gnostic gospel of Thomas. Before this gospel was “eliminated” by the then powers that be in the church it was considered to be one of the more authentic and accurate gospels. The rub for the church power brokers was that Thomas’s writings did not encourage dependence on the church… it offered “salvation” through knowledge and also preached roughly, that there is nothing but god. This was irritating to priests trying to sell salvation to ignorant peasants. However, we have to remember that we are discussing the belief that god is an angry old Jewish man whose son is a Jewish carpenter, who was executed by the Romans and then rose from the dead… After first encouraging his entourage to eat his flesh and drink his blood. So, accurate and authentic gospel? Hmmmm…..

  12. CRL

    Sitting back thinking on it… Yeah, it does seem kind of odd and cannibalistic. But the human mind is such that when raised with cannibalism, it thinks nothing of it. Still though, the Bible only permits literal blood-drinking, and the Eucharist is solely metaphorical blood-drinking. Though a lot of people do seem to forget/ignore/not notice the metaphorical part. For instance, a protestant friend of mine, upon attending Mass for the first time, during the part where the priest says, “We eat your body and drink your blood…” nearly burst out laughing.

  13. rey

    “Before this gospel was ‘eliminated’ by the then powers that be in the church it was considered to be one of the more authentic and accurate gospels.”

    I doubt that. It even seems more likely to me that the Catholics wrote it and all the rest of the surviving Gnostic texts as a way to make Gnostics look stupid. I can’t help but suspect that Gnosticism was much more intelligent than the psychobabel that has conveniently survived. Its obvious to me that there is a reason that Marcion’s gospel is lost but the gospel of Thomas remains–i.e. the Catholics wrote Thomas.

  14. @ Zero

    “Modifying a literalist interpretation of a passage, he paid attention to the immediate context and attempted to understand the purpose behind [scripture].”
    _—about Zwingli in Wiki

    I like that approach — and to think, the 1500s !

    @ rey
    Why would someone squirrel away the Gospel of Thomas with the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls if they weren’t highly valued. Were they duped by “Catholics”? (I don’t really know anything about this area so I am asking)

  15. societyvs

    “But I think even as “symbolism” it is bizarre! First, the Jewish prohibitions. But then it seems the Jewish Christians version of Christianity lost early in the game” (Sabio)

    I tend to agree, however it might not have been as bizarre in their time…and it is likely a symbolic idea and nothing to do with the literal idea of cannibalism (but even the symbology is odd to me – speaking as 21st century boy).

    I still think the substance of those passages is on the ‘rememberance’ of Jesus and not the cannibalistic ideas that seem to be woven in there. However, one cannot ignore the bible does talk about the blood and the body and ingesting them…was that symbolic for something else (like the teachings and sacrifice?).

  16. Dr. B. G. W.

    No where in the Bible is God revealed as an old, Hebrew, Jewish man. The idea of referring to the Almighty as a man is completely illogical to me. The reason that YHWH was spelled that way was due to the Hebrews not having vowels. The reasoning given earlier is totally illogical. The idea of cannibalism in the Lord’s Supper is laughable. Before making such weird remarks, a person should read the Book. I do so on a yearly basis, except this year, as I am doing so twice. The other exception was when I had a stroke and had to learn to read again.

  17. Hey BGW (I will dispense with titles),
    Well if Jesus was a young Jewish man, and his father was Yahweh, then envisioning Yahweh as an old Jewish man ain’t such a great sin. But yeah, he is fuzzy stuff floating in heaven and without testicles yet somehow impregnated Mary and created all of us in his image. So I think the human image is not our fault, but the fault of the sloppy Bible writers. Thanx for stopping in. Hope your stroke recovery has gone very well for you.

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