Russells quote from 1892 - does he really say christians may eat blood?

by bohm 4 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • bohm

    Hey guys! i got a letter about blood where the guy basically state jw has allways recognized the divine ban on blood. He says russell wrote a quote in the wt on 15 january 1892 where he supported that view. now, i assume he mean the nov. 15 1892 watchtower where russell write about blood. From i get the following quotes:

    "Russell was clear that he did not even consider the dietary law on blood as binding for Christians." and

    "1892 - The Watchtower's first mention of the blood issue. Russell's view was that the injunction at Acts 15 was a temporary measure to promote unity during the transition from the Jewish age to the Church Age (Watchtower 1/15, pp. 349-352)."

    Pretty clear and demolish the guys claim in the mail. Well, to make sure for myself, I found the edition of the watchtower to read the quote in context, and now im not actually sure the matter is as trivial as it seems from the quotes. Russell wrote (in context)

    Vxnsxs 19, 20. “Wherefore,” said he, “my judgment is
    that we should not trouble them which from among the Gentiles
    are turned to God”-they are justified by faith in Christ, and
    have already received the spirit of’ adoption, in uncircumcision,
    thus showing that faith in Christ the Redeemer is the
    only requisite to salvation, He further suggested writing to
    them merely that they abstain from pollutions of idols, i. e.,
    from meats offered to idols (verse 29), and from things
    strangled and from blood-as by eating such things they
    might become stumbling blocks to their Jewish brethren
    (See 1 Cor. 8:4-13)-and from fornication. The eating of
    blood was forbidden, not only by the Jewish Law, but also
    before the Law was given. The same command was given
    to Noah. See Deut. 12:23; Gen. 9:d.

    V-E 21. The Apostle’s intimation is that Judaism and
    the Law Covenant were very generally known throughout the
    world at that time. and this harmonizes with our Lord’s
    words-“ Yre compass sea and land to make one proselyte.”
    Nevertheless these means had not done much to convert the
    world to God; while the preaching of the gospel by Paul and
    Barnabas had been signally blessed to the Gentiles-the chief
    opponents being the Jews. These facts, taken in connection
    with the words of the prophets which the Lord had just
    brought to their attention, convinced James that a new dispensation
    had dawned, of which not the Law Covenant but
    the New Covenant was the basis.
    VERSES 22-29. This advice of James found favor among
    all the apostles and elders, and they decided to act upon
    it. So Paul and Barnabas were returned to Antioch with
    a letter of affectionate commendation, and accompanied hy
    two of the brethren from Jerusalem-Judas and Silas-who
    bore the same testimony to the church at Antioch.
    The opening and closing wordd of this letter are noteworthy-
    verses 23, 28, 29. The apostles are represented as
    a class apart from others of the church, indicating the
    distinctness of their office. The elder brethren or elders
    signify those of largest experience and development. Note
    also that those addressed-viz., Gentiles-are called brethren,
    thus indicating Christian fellowship. The statement : “It
    seems good to the holy Spirit and to us,” etc.. indicates that
    they. judged the mind of the Spirit by the special providences
    manifested in the cases of Peter, Paul and Barnabas, as
    well as by the expressions of the prophets.
    It will be noticed that nothing is said about keeping the
    ten commandments, nor any part of the Jewish law. It was
    eridently taken for aranted that having received the spirit
    of Christ the new law of love would be a general regulation
    for them. The things mentioned were merelv to guard
    against stumbling themselves or becoming-stumhling blocks to

    bold and italic is added by me. Okay. So what obviously concern me is the bold part directly following the italic quote. Here Russell write that eating blood was not only forbidden by the jewish law - but also by previous parts of the bible. In the last section Russell do write that he feel that christians did not have to uphold the jewish law in general, just uphold it to the extend of not stumbling themselves or others. But how about pre-jewish laws? Jewish Law may not be in place, but i feel the text is open to the interpretation that pre-jewish law still is.

    Now, i dont really think such a reading is really plausible. I think what russell wanted to say is the ajwbr interpretation. But if i am going to mention this in a mail i need to be more certain. So what i want to ask someone more versed in the bible (and english in general - a part of my problem may be that english is not my first language and quite frankly i find the text a bit convoluted) is basically this: Why did russell put in the part about

    The eating of
    blood was forbidden, not only by the Jewish Law, but also
    before the Law was given. The same command was given
    to Noah. See Deut. 12:23; Gen. 9:d.".
    Can one asumed that the pre-jewish law became a part of jewish law (at some point in history) and the quote is just about refreshing the readers memory and does not alter the quote, or is it something that provides wiglyroom for the sender to rat out and claim that russell actually believed one should not eat blood, not because it was forbidden by jewish law (which he clearly say is no longer in effect), but because it was forbidden by a more ancient law, which one can still assume (with a bit of wishfull thinking, anyway) is still in effect?

  • bohm

    argh. the last part was no supposed to be in bold!

  • glenster

    Russell seems to have meant that Gen.9:1-4 was more than a ban of live animal
    flesh--that it was a ban of live or dead animal flesh with blood, and of blood
    per se. Someone might think he meant that it was binding on the whole world
    thereafter, not something that was abandoned by the time Mosaic law took effect,
    similar to the claims of the last batch of JWs leaders. A few things work
    against the idea.

    You can interpret Gen.9:1-4 as just meaning don't eat live flesh, but the JWs
    leaders add dead flesh with (about half of the) blood and blood per se. If you
    try seeing Gen.9:1-4 as binding on the whole world thereafter, you have to
    reconcile it with Mosaic law, in which at Deut.14:21 full converts could give
    others unbled animals found dead for food, which indicates you either see Gen.9:
    1-4 as

    -just banning live flesh and not in conflict with Deut.14:21 or

    -banning both live or dead flesh with blood and blood per se but a covenant
    that was forgotten and dropped by the time the Mosaic law covenant was estab-

    Either way, you don't have a food ban on blood per se for the whole world
    during Mosaic law, and either way you'd have a problem with such a worldwide
    Noahide ban for Christianity.

    Compared to some Orthodox Jewish people who have a set of Noahide rules as a
    minimum code of salvation for non-Jews, the NT never offers a minimum Noahide
    code of salvation for non-Christians: if you don't want to believe in Jesus, at
    least do a few things, like not eat live animals (or even literal blood), and
    you'll be saved without him.

    That the Mosaic food ban of blood is over for Christians is shown by Acts 15
    being a matter of Gentile Christians told to keep from doing four things that
    had the Jewish people unwilling to socialize with them, and without explaining
    a difference from the Jewish understanding of not eating blood--trying to remove
    all of it--koshering, and by Paul's writings on food having no ban of a food per
    se, only circumstantial abstinence, even in Corinth, where most meat was both
    from idol temples and not koshered of blood.

    Since Russell says blood per se was forbidden as food at Gen.9:1-4, yet he
    agrees with the mainstream, non-JWs leaders' view of Acts 15, that would make it
    most likely he'd say (if he thought of it) that Gen.9:1-4 was a covenant that
    was forgotten and abandoned by the time of Mosaic law and Deut.14:21...

    ...or he may have just screwed up because he didn't think it through, like
    when he had a year "0" between the BC and AD years or had Jesus both created and
    to be worshipped in 1st century Jewish monotheism, or tried to affect exclusive-
    ness, like by playing the spokesman for a literal 144,000, for people who didn't
    check up on him. Dunno.

  • jwfacts

    Genesis 9:4 does not discuss eating blood, rather Noah was told:

      "Only flesh with its soul - its blood - YOU must not eat."

    This command is about respect for animal life during the ritual of slaughter. This does not state that blood could not be eaten. In its strict Hebrew wording, it means that an animal should not have flesh torn off it for food, whilst the animal is still alive. In general, it is understood to mean that out of respect for the life of an animal, it was to be bled when being killed for food; a command against eating things strangled.

    The last part in bold from the Watchtower shows that Russell held the common scholarly view that blood was only to be avoided if it stumbled others.

    Paul specifically states that there is nothing wrong with eating food sacrificed to idols and explains that this prohibition was provided so as not to stumble others. This was only an issue in congregations that were having trouble between Judaizers and Gentiles.

      1 Corinthians 8:4-13 "Now concerning the eating of foods offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one… Nevertheless, there is not this knowledge in all persons; but some, being accustomed until now to the idol, eat food as something sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; if we do not eat, we do not fall short, and, if we eat, we have no credit to ourselves. But keep watching that this authority of YOURS does not somehow become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone should see you, the one having knowledge, reclining at a meal in an idol temple, will not the conscience of that one who is weak be built up to the point of eating foods offered to idols? 11 Really, by your knowledge, the man that is weak is being ruined, [your] brother for whose sake Christ died. But when YOU people thus sin against YOUR brothers and wound their conscience that is weak, YOU are sinning against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat flesh at all, that I may not make my brother stumble."
    It is also worth noting that blood transfusions were allowed until 1945. For instance Blood transfusions and donating blood for transfusion is commended (Golden Age 1925 July 29 p.683, Golden Age 1929 May 1 p.502, Consolation 1940 December 25 p.19)
  • glenster

    It brings up an interesting question, though. Maybe the JW leaders have
    responded to it at some time and I just don't remember. But their stance is
    that Gen.9:1-6 was binding on the whole world thereafter, so wouldn't that make
    for the sort of loophole W.C.Fields was looking for? In the NT, you'd either be
    saved by faith in the meaning of Jesus' crucifixion, etc., or, for those wanting
    a discount package, the Noahide rules--just try to not eat any live animals
    (Jewish view)/meat from animals that weren't slaughtered in a way that removed
    about half of the blood (JWs leaders' view) or kill anyone and a few others.

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