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Bleeding from Every Pore: Christ's Blood Deleted by Early Christianity

On a long drive home today I was listening to the following podcast:

Luke's Jesus with S. Kent Brown

During my time listening, Dr. Brown brought up an interesting point surrounding the scriptural record regarding the events that happened in Gethsemane. There is no written transcript from the podcast so I will write down from memory what he discussed.

Dr. Brown asked the following question: Why is it in the ancient Christian art depicting Christ's suffering is there hardly any trace of blood? Why is it that Luke's Gospel is the only one out of the four Gospels that mention the great drops of blood that ran from Christ's body?

He then summarized what he thought. Dr. Thomas A. Wayment agrees and puts it plainly. Referring to Luke 22:43-44:

"These two verses are greatly disputed, and a number of important ancient manuscripts omit them. Other early and important manuscripts include these verses. Given the current evidence, it is unlikely that the question of the omission or inclusion can be resolved. However, the evidence is strong enough to suggest that they may be original to Luke's Gospel but were perhaps omitted over doctrinal concerns." (The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-Day Saints, pg. 156-157)

Dr. Brown goes even further and theorizes it was for this same reason that this detail is not included in any of the other Gospels. Fortunately, we get one verse about Christ's bleeding that survived the translation process of the KJV hundreds of years later. Although, it ought to be pointed out that these scriptures in Luke still are not as plain as other verses we have in Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants (see Mosiah 3:7 and D&C 19:18). In Luke, the blood as sweat is worded as a simile (the use of the word 'like') while other translations suggest it should be worded more literally. We should be grateful for the restoration to highlight the importance of this detail that appears to have been hanging by a thread for literally hundreds of years, perhaps well over a millennium (scholars suggest it began to be omitted halfway though the second century).

This all begs the question, what possible doctrinal concern existed that would have necessitated the deletion of this precious detail from Gethsemane?

Dr. Linoln H. Blummell argues succinctly what he believes the doctrinal concerns were by the early Christians and why these verses were removed:

"... they seemingly depicted Jesus in a rather feeble light and were the target of a growing anti-Christian polemic. Consequently, some Christians felt it was easier to simply excise this problematic material." (Luke 22:43–44: An Anti-Docetic Interpolation or an Apologetic Omission?, pg. 4)

Other Non-LDS scholars give their reasons why it was removed. For example, A. von Harnack has argued that these texts were removed because it seemed weak for Jesus having to be comforted by an angel (Studien zur Geschichte des Neuen Testaments und der alten Kirche: I. Zur neutestamentlichen Textkritik (Berlin/Leipzig: de Gruyter, 1931), pg. 88)

Imagine living in a world ruled by empires that worshiped gods that were mighty and void of weakness. In fact, the Qur'an makes this point as a criticism of Christianity:

"And say, "Praise to Allah, who has not taken a son and has had no partner in [His] dominion and has no [need of a] protector out of weakness; and glorify Him with [great] glorification." (Qur'an 17:11)

My concluding thoughts on this make me grateful for the knowledge of a Christ who bleeds. For me, this idea hits at the heart of the doctrine of theosis. The early Christians struggled with this idea. Namely, if Christ can bleed, then he is like us; if he is divine and worthy of our worship, then he does not bleed. For almost two millennia now we have had well-intentioned Christians dismiss the idea of a God who is of the same genus as we are. A god who bleeds from every pore IS a sign of weakness. It is a valid philosophical, doctrinal, and theological point. In fact, this might be what Moroni had in mind when he wrote of our weakness (see Ether 12:27). Christ was made vulnerable. He overcame. And he, I understand how blasphemous this will sound, was even saved by grace (see Luke 2:40 and D&C 93:12-13). He was made strong in weakness by angels, just like how we have the same need.

I love how this corresponds with other ideas I have written about. Namely, how the idea of an omniscient God in Christianity is mainly a product of Greek philosophy:

An Omniscient God: A false Greek idea?

I have now coined the phrase "the bleeding God" for myself in remembrance of how there is holiness in our weakness. This plays right into the same ideas that have been expressed by Dr. Terryl Givens about "The God Who Weeps". Writing about the events found in Moses chapter 7:

"As we saw in Enoch’s encounter with God, the most conspicuous attribute of the Divine turns out to be love—costly love, a love that manifests itself as full participation in and vulnerability to the epic of human suffering. Witnessing God’s weeping over his children is only half the journey Enoch makes. What transpires next to the prophet may be the only—it is surely the most vivid—example given in scripture of what the actual process of acquiring the divine nature might look like. It is certainly a lesson far more sobering than exhilarating, a greater call to meekness than to grandiosity of spirit. As Enoch plumbs the mystery of the weeping God, he learns just what it means to be like Him. Seeking insight and understanding into eternal things, Enoch is raised to a perspective from which he sees the world through God’s eyes. The experience is more shattering than reassuring: “And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Enoch, and told Enoch all the doings of the children of men; wherefore Enoch knew, and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.” His experience of the love that is indiscriminate in its reach and vulnerable in its consequences takes him to the heart of the divine nature. This is the mystery of godliness that Enoch not only sees, but briefly lives for himself. The text of Enoch, then, does not just introduce a brazen version of theosis: (thou hast … given me a right to thy throne). The text enacts just what such a process of divinization looks like. (Enoch’s heart swelled wide as eternity)." - Terryl and Fiona Givens (The God Who Weeps, p. 105)

Gethsemane's detail is a real-life example of being made strong in weakness. It is a real-life example of our actual relationship with diety. That relationship is horizontal in our worship, but it is familial in our potential.


  1. In my opinion, Christ's ability to bleed can only be seen as a weakness if the fact is ignored that He was bleeding voluntarily. If the blood that dripped from his body had occurred involuntarily, then it would be weakness. For all intents and purposes, Christ was invincible, even in His mortal state. Every moment of pain he suffered, while great, was accomplished with His will power to not end, lessen, or prevent it. Even His final mortal breath on the cross was voluntary; Ultimately, He chose the very moment of His own passing.

    I would argue that the will to experience pain and suffering when one is capable of preventing it seems a much greater feat, requiring a strength that is far greater than the traditional concept of invincibility commonly applied to deities.

    I do like that phrase though, "The Bleeding God"; especially when contemplated through the paradigm I have presented.

    Thanks for the interesting read! :-)

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with what you have written. I guess I should have clarified what I meant by weakness. Weakness is so often misunderstood in regards to how it is used in the scriptures.
    I believe weakness means the fallen condition that man has fallen under and the condition that Christ voluntarily fell under. There is no use of the term "weaknesses" used in the scriptures that we so often tritely talk about too often. To me, the Christ who had weakness means the same thing that is spelled out in a different way in D&C 93:12-13.

    Thanks for the response. :)


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