How the Watchtower Distorts the Writings of Eusebius to Justify a Blood Transfusion Ban
Andrew W. Lusk
The Watchtower provides a comment on the writings of Eusebius in the pamphlet "How Can Blood Save Your Life?" (Copyright 2000). In Part 2 "Blood -- Vital For Life," section on Blood and True Christians, the second last paragraph states the following:
"The apostolic decree was long understood as binding. Eusebius tells of a young woman near the end of the second century who, before dying under torture, made the point that Christians "are not allowed to eat the blood even of irrational animals." She was not exercising a right to die. She wanted to live, but she would not compromise her principles. Do you not respect those who put principle above personal gain?"
Implicit in this quotation is that a woman died because of her principles, as a result of her refusal to eat blood. Individuals using this pamphlet to inform others make this representation as well.
The first problem with the quotation is that the Watchtower does not state who the woman is. Her name is to be found in Book 5 of Eusebius; she is Biblias (Biblis).
True, Biblias (Biblis) did utter a phrase: "... are not allowed to eat the blood even of irrational animals," according to the writings of Eusebius. But the Watchtower omits the first part of Eusebius' complete sentence.
Read Book 5 of Eusebius (attached in Appendix), wherein he lists all the stories of people who were put on the "rack" by the pagans and killed for being Christian or supporting the Christians in the area of Lyons.
One of the persons who was put on the rack by the pagans was a lady named Biblias (or Biblis). Biblias was thus tortured with the end in view that she would expose the Christians as people who eat children. The feeling among the pagans was that she would expose the Christians as the eaters of children because she didn't believe in Christ. While on the rack and while being tortured, Biblias (Biblis) came to her senses and found Christianity. At this point she refuted the pagans who were torturing her and supported the Christians. Eusebius states the following in Book 5:
"How, she said, could those eat children who do not think it lawful to taste the blood even of irrational animals?"
Biblias (Biblis) stated that Christians do not partake in eating children. She tells the pagans, how could Christians be eating people when they do not taste the blood of irrational animals? Eating blood and flesh are cannibalistic acts. Christians don't practice cannibalism or murder.
Biblias (Biblis) was talking about the gross sin of cannibalism (eating children) and nothing more. She did not want to compromise the principle that Christians did not partake in eating children and that is why she died on the rack. She did not die on the rack because of some dietary blood prohibition.
The Watchtower tries to portray the story of Biblias (Biblis) as that of someone who died for the principles of not eating the blood of irrational animals. The Watchtower writer must have known the name of the woman but did not put that name in the blood pamphlet.
Why? Because any Witness could look up Biblias (Biblis) in their own Watchtower publication Insight on the Scriptures. In this book and using the Watchtower's own words any Witness could link Biblias (Biblis) to the principle that Christians didn't believe in cannibalism, without reference to a dietary blood ban.
The implication in the blood pamphlet is that Biblias (Biblis) died as a result of a refusal to eat blood. This is untrue and a distortion of the facts.
Note: Below are the paragraphs and sentences around the talk on Biblias (Biblis).
Eusebius (Book 5 Chapter 1). Entitled "The Number of those who fought for Religion in Gaul under Verus and the Nature of their Conflicts." Paragraph 3, last few sentences (note "Biblis" is spelled "Biblias" in this version):
"... And these indeed were burned, but he continued unbending and unyielding, firm in his confession, and refreshed and strengthened by the heavenly fountain of the water of life, flowing from the bowels of Christ. And his body was a witness of his sufferings, being one complete wound and bruise, drawn: out of shape, and altogether unlike a human form. Christ, suffering in him, manifested his glory, delivering him from his adversary, and making him an example for the others, showing that nothing is fearful where the love of the Father is, and nothing painful where there is the glory of Christ. For when the wicked men tortured him a second time after some days, supposing that with his body swollen and inflamed to such a degree that he could not bear the touch of a hand, if they should again apply the same instruments, they would overcome him, or at least by his death under his sufferings others would be made afraid, not only did not this occur, but, contrary to all human expectation, his body arose and stood erect in the midst of the subsequent torments, and resumed its original appearance and the use of its limbs so that, through the grace of Christ, these second sufferings became to him, not torture, but healing.
"But the devil, thinking that he had already consumed Biblias, who was one of those who had denied Christ, desiring to increase her condemnation through the utterance of blasphemy, brought her again to the torture, to compel her, as already feeble and weak, to report impious things concerning us. But she recovered herself under the suffering, and as if awaking from a deep sleep, and reminded by the present anguish of the eternal punishment in hell, she contradicted the blasphemers. 'How,' she said, 'could those eat children who do not think it lawful to taste the blood even of irrational animals?' And thenceforward she confessed herself a Christian, and was given a place in the order of the witnesses."
Another internet site is http://pages.swcp.com/~vogs/eusebius.html
Eusebius translated by G. A. Williamson (1895-1960?) for Book 5, titled "GALLIC MARTYRS OF VERUS' REIGN":
"... But his poor body was a witness to what he had suffered -- it was all one wound and bruise, bent up and robbed of outward human shape, but, suffering in that body, Christ accomplished most glorious things, utterly defeating the adversary and proving as an example to the rest that where the Father's love is [1 John 4:18] nothing can frighten us, where Christ's glory is [2 Cor. 8:23] nothing can hurt us. A few days later wicked people again put the martyr on the rack, thinking that now that his whole body was swollen and inflamed a further application of the same instruments would defeat him, unable as he was to bear even the touch of a hand; or that by dying under torture he would put fear into the rest. However, nothing of the sort happened; to their amazement his body became erect and straight as a result of these new torments, and recovered its former appearance and the use of the limbs; thus through the grace of Christ his second spell on the rack proved to be not punishment but cure.
"Biblis again, one of those who had denied Christ, was handed over to punishment by the devil, who imagined that he had already devoured her [1 Peter 5:8] and hoped to damn her as a slanderer by forcing her to say wicked things about us, being -- so he thought -- a feeble creature, easily broken. But on the rack she came to her senses [2 Tim. 2:26], and, so to speak, awoke out of deep sleep, reminded by the brief chastisement of the eternal punishment in hell [Matt. 25:46]. She flatly contradicted the slanderers; 'How could children be eaten by people who are not even allowed to eat the blood of brute beasts?' [Acts 15:29] From then on she insisted that she was a Christian, and so she joined the ranks of the martyrs.
"When the tyrant's instruments of torture had been utterly defeated by Christ through the endurance of the blessed saints, the devil resorted to other devices -- confinement in the darkness of a filthy prison; clamping the feet in the stocks, stretched apart to the fifth hole; and the other agonies which warders when angry and full of the devil are apt to inflict on helpless prisoners. Thus the majority were suffocated in prison -- those whom the Lord wished to depart in this way, so revealing His glory [John 2:2]. Some, though tortured so cruelly that even if they received every care it seemed impossible for them to survive, lived on in the prison, deprived of all human attention but strengthened by the Lord and fortified in body and soul, stimulating and encouraging the rest. But the young ones who had been recently arrested and had not previously undergone physical torture could not bear the burden of confinement, also died in prison."