One of the strangest beliefs that I’ve come across through this blog is the idea that the glorified Body of Jesus Christ contains Flesh and Bones, but no Blood. I first came across it in a reader comment; since then, I’ve heard this view advanced by several Protestant apologetics websites, like the popular Calvinist apologetics blog CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry), along with Let Us Reason Ministries, and Bible.ca. Additionally, this appears to be the traditional Mormon view, one endorsed by their founder, Joseph Smith.
As you’ll soon see, this theory suffers from a number of problems: the Scriptural support is virtually non-existent, it’s never endorsed (or even alluded to) by any of the New Testament authors or the Church Fathers, it runs directly contrary to the Church’s consistent Eucharistic theology, and the evidence offered could just as easily justify rejecting the physical Resurrection and Ascension.
|Guercino, Doubting Thomas (17th c.)|
This “Bloodless Body” view appears to have first been put forward by a Lutheran by the name of J. A. Bengel (1687-1752). Bengel’s original theory was fairly complicated, as he had elaborate work-arounds for passages like Hebrews 9:11-14, 24-26, in which Christ is depicted as entering Heaven with His Blood. In that case, Bengel claimed that “at the time of his entry or ascension Christ kept his blood apart from his body.” He even argued that Christ’s Head appears white in Revelation 1:14 because it is drained of Blood.
Not everyone in this camp goes as far as Bengel, but all of the Bloodless Body believers share a few common traits. First, as I said above, they claim that Christ’s Resurrected Body does have Flesh and Bones, just no Blood. So they’re not technically denying the physical Resurrection, or at least not denying it entirely. Second, their Scriptural case is built almost completely off of these two verses:
- In 1 Corinthians 15:50, St. Paul says that “I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” Taken literally, this passage poses serious problems to any orthodox Christians. Which leads to…
- In Luke 24:39, after the Resurrection, Jesus appears to the Apostles for the first time, and says, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
The Bible says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
(1 Cor. 15:50). If this is so, then how could physical body have been raised? The answer is simple. After His resurrection Jesus said, “Touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). You must note that Jesus did not say, “flesh and blood.” He said, “flesh and bones.” This is because Jesus’ blood was shed on the cross. The life is in the blood and it is the blood that cleanses from sin: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul,” (Lev. 17:11). See also, Gen. 9:4; Deut. 12:23; and John 6:53-54. Jesus was pointing out that He was different. He had a body, but not a body of flesh and blood. It was flesh and bones. kingdomof God
|Jacob van Campen,
The Last Judgment (16th c.)
We must not think that by flesh and blood, he means that the substance of the flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, but rather flesh and blood, i.e., those devoting themselves to flesh and blood, namely, men given to vices and lusts, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. And thus is flesh understood, i.e., a man living by the flesh: “But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:9)
- Paul isn’t using “flesh” literally;
- Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans to ghosts.
Therefore and accordingly, he adds, nor does the corruptible inherit incorruption, i.e., nor can the corruption of mortality, which is expressed here by the term “flesh,” inherit incorruption, i.e., the incorruptible kingdom of God, because we will rise in glory: “Because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).
|Bartolomeo Passarotti, Blood of the Redeemer (16th c.)|
Christ says that He, in His resurrected body, has flesh and bones, not flesh and blood.Can you show me another place in Scripture where the phrase “flesh and bones” is used to describe human corporeality?
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father. When Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
“There flowed from His side water and blood.” Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolized Baptism and the holy Eucharist. From these two Mysteries (Sacraments) the Church is born: from Baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit”, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His side, it was from His side that Christ fashioned the Church, as He had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam. Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from His side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after His own death.