Blood in Judaism and Christianity


Sacrifice in Judaism


Family Purity Laws



Sacrifice in Christianity

Martyrs and Sanctity

The Eucharist


Mission Statement:

This site is designed to investigate the role which blood plays in the religious traditions of Judaism and Christianity and how this role intersects with concepts of gender and power. In Judaism, blood can be regarded as a holy form of sacrifice or covenant, as in the case of circumcision. Blood is also seen as polluting when regarding the laws of Kashrut and Niddah. Blood in Christianity seems to always hold sanctifying properties, such as in the blood of saints and martyrs and in the blood frequently evidenced in Eucharistic miracles. Blood also has gendered implications; circumcision, for instance, marks the covenant between God and people. However, only males are included in this blood-shedding ritual. Menstruation and bloodshed can also be seen from a gendered perspective; does the emphasis on women and purity during menstruation rather than men and their purity make a statement about women, blood, power and gender?

How can blood be both sacred and impure? The following information explores this issue through perspectives of both gender and power. The reader may wish to begin by understanding the concepts of Sacrifice in Judaism and Sacrifice in Christianity.

In Judaism:

Kashrut refers to the Jewish laws which prescribe which foods should and should not be eaten. It also dictates how animals should be slaughtered to insure safe for consumption.

Family Purity Laws:

This page discusses Judaism's views on sexuality and blood as a polluting substance. The laws of niddah are used to determine times during the month that sexual intercourse between a man and woman is appropriate.


Here we discuss the Jewish ritual of circumcision. Circumcision is a purely gendered act. It represents power, and blood is an integral part of the ritual.

In Christianity:

Martyrs and Sanctity

This page examines the sacrality of bloodshed from Christian martyrs. The emphasis upon the virginity of saints and martyrs is also explored, along with the lives of several important martyr saints.


Stigmata is a very relevant miracle to this site. Stigmata are the experience of the wounds of Christ. Their occurrence is extremely powerful and is often accompanied by a sacred blood. Although gender does not seem to play a role in this miracle, it has occurred predominantly in women.


The practice of the Eucharist represents to Christians a partaking and rememberance of the sacrifice of Jesus. The bread and wine serve as the reminder of the body and blood of Christ as dictated in the gospel accounts of the Last Supper. Eucharistic Miracles are also discussed with special relevance to the notion of the "Real Presence" of the body and blood of Christ within the sacrament. Also analyzed is the Protestant concept of Communion, which downplays the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist.

--Maggie Fielding, Pierce Flanigan, Anne Paulsen (1999)

--Rebecca Grimes, Amelia Johnson, Charles Lynch, Emily Murray, David Stephens (2000)