Eating Blood
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 5:18PM
Jeff Smith in Discipleship

Although it is fairly uncommon in North America, eating blood in one form or another is a still common practice in other places, a traditional part of both culture and cuisine.

Eating blood, however, is a subject on which the Bible touches as part of the early church’s integration of Jewish and Gentile believers.

Before Christ or the church, Jews had been legally forbidden to dine upon blood. 


“If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life … Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life” (Leviticus 17:10-14).


Gentiles, however, enjoyed blood all along as a part of their idolatrous worship, which could not be harmonized with any aspect of Christianity. In disposing of these integration questions, James directed that Gentiles need not be circumcised or made to keep the Law of Moses, but should “abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood” (Acts 15:20). 

The reason is likely twofold: first, life is still in the blood and that had not changed between the covenants, and second, the atoning concept of blood was polluted by its perverse role at the idol’s altar. One could not properly partake of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper while simultaneously ingesting blood at the idol’s temple. 

Those who come to the cross from cultures where blood is regularly eaten will face just as serious a challenge as the people in ancient Greece who first read James’s letter, but “If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well” (Acts 15:29).

Blood pudding contains pig’s blood, but there is also blood sausage and blood-containing-soups such as czernina, dinuguan, haejangguk, mykyrokka, tiet canh and svartsoppa, as well as blood pancakes. 

Even beef that is cooked rare, however, has had all possible blood removed and does not pose the same problem.

Article originally appeared on ElectronicGospel (
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