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Are we Christians? Are we Jews? Is Freud a Christian or a Jew? And we, we who have killed him, are we Christians? Are we guilty or innocent? But of what? Much will have depended on the definition of Christianity. What I have tried to show is that Freud raised precisely this crucial question: What is Christianity? Following the history of murder, reworking its translations, Freud posed in no uncertain, but unprecedented, terms the Christian question. He rehearsed and repeated for us the history of murder that Christianity has told and variously instituted for two thousand years. Freud narrated and translated the foundation of human society and the history of humanity as the singular story of this (Christian) murder: “we have all killed him!” That is the historical truth of Christianity. Freud also made clear that, well beyond a religion, Christianity is a reinvention of humanity, a catastrophic turn in the history of murder. From this turn on, a foundational one, Christianity emerged and extended itself as a new form of human comportment, a new conception of the human collective in its rapport to murder—a multifarious act, to be sure, virtual and actual, which has for all time targeted an infinite number of victims, guilty or innocent, besides fathers or sons (recall that the Bible opens with a fratricidal, not patricidal, murder). In the covert difference between Oedipus and Moses, between Athens and Jerusalem, Freud wrote about the Jesuic translation. He showed that what Christianity has taught us is that the original is always the father (the father is the origin), the son a translation.120 And the reverse too. Oh, and we have all killed him. Except for the innocent, who forgave and forgot—themselves.121 Thus, the only real and significant murder, the first murder, is the murder of the father. It is the only murder, the true murder, from which we have exonerated ourselves. It is the only crime against humanity, the one of which we, we who worship the sons, are always already innocent.

a CrItIque oF ChrIstIanIt y What is called “Christian civilization” is none other than the ensemble of collateral effects which faith in Christ has produced on the civilizations it has encountered along the way. When His resurrection is believed in, and the possibility of the resurrection of every man in Him, everything is seen in a different way, and one acts in consequence of that, in all spheres. But a great deal of time is needed to become aware of this and make it concrete. For that reason we are, perhaps, only at the beginning of Christianity. —Rémi Br ague, “Interview ”

So what is Christianity? And why insist still on identifying blood with Christianity? I have tried to make clear throughout that, neither complete nor exhaustive,


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this identification is nevertheless determining. Surprisingly, the singular role that blood has played, and continues to play, in the Christian imagination and in Christianity’s effective history, while not quite invisible, had not been sufficiently documented and thought. It vanished under the weight of comparison and universalism, the naturalized figure of a universal blood, at a time when the difference between bloods has become increasingly sedimented and indeed universalized. It vanished under other pluralizations or periodizations, disciplinarity and dialogizations too (the alleged symmetries of the Judeo-Christian). This is why it has seemed necessary, in order to ask about Christianity, about “the essence of Christianity,” as Feuerbach had it, to open a different kind of investigation into blood. Which means that to inquire after blood was another way to ask whether there is a Christian question, a concept of Christianity even, a manner whereby we have come to know, whereby we have established with any sense of certainty, what Christianity is. Certainly Christianity is named and invoked, upheld, and spread in a wide variety of instances. Like modernity, or nationalism (themselves two among its improper names), Christianity is plural and has been pluralized. Christianity, the one and the many, is globally affirmed, often defended, and sometimes even criticized (some might say “persecuted”). More often than not, however, which it to say, almost always, it is construed in the impoverished terms of a diminished “religion,” or alternatively identified by way of its relegated other (Christendom, or the church, the “political” face, which Christianity, the religion, has been seen as taking in its institutional forms), that part of it which, held to scrutiny, is deemed worthy of a challenge or rebuke. But aside from the fact that such “critique” reinscribes another bloody difference between religion and politics, between individual and society, between science and religion and more, it fails to consider that Christianity ebbs and flows between spheres and across them, and beyond them as well. The distinction between race and religion, for instance, teaches us that it is impossible to escape the former and possible to do so with the latter. Permanence and irreparability would be the markers of race and of (modern) racism. I have sought to refute this distinction by showing that blood is the name and the form of a singular construction of identity and difference (practices of separation, segregation, and, ultimately, extermination). Enabling a broader view, blood is the name of a curious, and highly particular, identity formation, internally dynamic and artfully divided. This construction, a hematological system, carries blood (ebbing and flowing, circulating, or abruptly stopping) through all of its parts. Indeed, as we have seen, it is for Christianity and for Christianity only that blood becomes a privileged figure for parts and wholes, a figure for a collective of collectives. By the end of the process I have described, blood therefore turns out to be less the primary marker of a difference between Christians and others, nor is it the ephemeral and aberrant site of the


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superiority of the “white race” measured in comparative (and segregationist) terms with the dark hordes. Blood is rather an “internal” marker. Blood (this should go without saying, but I will say it again) is by no means the only such marker or element. Elsewhere, I have tried to argue that the enemy is another, another crucial site where Christianity’s protean integrity, historical and otherwise, can be observed and verified.122 There are yet other markers, as there are other Christianities, and perhaps they all constitute “the subversion of Christianity.”123 But blood has flowed and risen, in overt and covert ways, we have seen, as an unavoidable element of a finite Christianity. Everything is as if with blood Christianity had unwittingly found itself in its most natural element, and there found its limits as well. For there is nothing natural about blood, and the confusion as to its literal or figurative status (a key site of difference “between bloods”), its physiologic or theological existence, is crucial to understand Christianity, to consider and reflect upon it. Christianity circulates through, over, and beyond a number of other spheres, and ultimately as law and culture, from economics to science, and beyond. It divides itself as, and distinguishes between, these different spheres. In Jacques Rancière’s terms, Christianity might therefore be understood as a particular manner of dividing the sensible, a set of distributions, partitions, or partages of the world it makes and in which it operates.124 That is how blood, or so I have argued, acquires its meanings and gains its significance. As a recurring operator and marker of these partitions, it emerges as the element or medium of Christianity. This makes blood, “the invisible medium of blood,” political in a distinct sense.125 One could say that blood belongs to Christianity, it defines belonging (as membership and as property) in Christianity. It marks and signals Christianity, while governing the way in which it perceives itself as lacking the solidity of essence. Note, finally, that an answer to the all-too direct question “What is blood?” would have had to provide a way of determining how blood could come up as the site of a question, an object that is also a privileged indicator of community or indeed of inquiry. (Think of the question: What is bone? What is flesh? And ponder their equivalence, and lack thereof, with “What is blood?” Consider whether these are in any way similar questions, mere translations of each other? Is that which is asked about “recognized” in any comparable manner?) If I referred at times to an “analytics of sanguinity” (to be distinguished from Foucault’s “symbolics of blood” and “analytics of sexuality”), it is because, again, blood is not natural, nor are the place, role, and function of its literality easily locatable, identifiable. Over against “sexuality,” which has seemed silently to reinscribe a modern/premodern (and even first world/third world) divide, blood has not generated a discursive maelstrom of experts and opinions. It does not belong exclusively to the physicians, nor to the lawyers and the economists (and God knows these are all working to expand the


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reach of their rule). Blood is not quite an object, not a thing either. It is neither old nor new; although it is also that and more. Nor is blood a discourse that would regiment, precisely, the course of blood through the realms of human and inhuman existence. Is blood perhaps an agent or a subject? Is it an organ in a larger body? A fragment or an institution, a series of institutions? As we have seen, the “presence” of blood is pervasive. As a “metaphor” that does not relate to a literal term, whose referent is anything but granted, blood is, it should be treated as, catachrestic. Were it a concept, blood might be considered, minimally, an effective concept. But what concept would this be precisely? The argument I have advanced in this book hinges on yet another oscillation, a confusion of sorts that, as with the literal and the figurative, I have tried not to disambiguate. For the concept I have sought to engage is obviously dual at least: Blood and Christianity. Blood is that with which, and through which, Christianity becomes what it is. It flows through the familial and the social (kin and community, nation and race), the medical and the theological, the economic, the legal, and the political. After this red tide—the liquidation of our significant concepts—these distinctions are revealed for what they are: significant only to the extent that they articulate internal divisions.126 Blood is the name and the thing that does and undoes the significant concepts of the Christian world, the distinctions that divide Christianity from itself: theology from medicine, finance from politics, religion from race, and so forth. It is obvious that Christianity has no essence, therefore. It does however persist as the fluidity of its transformations and the fragility of the walls of its veins, the schizophrenic division of its organs, and the innocence of its actions. After the red tide, then, what remains is the particular, and peculiar, hematology—the hemophilia—that is Christianity.

A Critique of Christianity  

Blood, according to Gil Anidjar, maps the singular history of Christianity. As a category for historical analysis, blood can be seen through...

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