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Out of the Last Adam’s Side

In his essay, “The Holy Grail,” Sergius Bulgakov makes a fascinating observation about John 19:34 about the blood and water flowing out of Jesus’ side when pierced by the spear of Longinus on the cross. Bulgakov notes that what flows out of the wound in Jesus’ side are the sacramental gifts of God to the church, baptismal water and eucharistic blood.

Out of the side of the First Adam in the Genesis narrative was created Eve, the bride and perfection of created co-humanity. Out of the side of the Last Adam flowed the life-creating gifts of the bride of Christ, the glorious inhabitant of the City of God. The creation and transfiguration of humanity alike are grounded the wounded flesh of Adams, the first leading to death and the last to endless life.


  1. Ben George wrote:

    I thought this was simply the traditional association? I’m pretty sure I’ve read this in some pretty fusty old Baltimore Catechism era books. Maybe Matthias Scheeben?

    In any case, it is a good thing to be reminded of.

    Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 11:03 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    For all I know it may have be a traditional association. Just one that I at least had never run across before. (I mean of course the association between Eve being created out of Adam’s side and the blood and water flowing from the wound in Christ’s side)

    Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Permalink
  3. Dave Belcher wrote:

    Yes, this appears in many patristic baptismal treatises, sermons, and orations. I can pull up some references if you like…I know that it appears as early as Tertullian’s treatise De Baptismo

    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  4. Ben George wrote:

    I’d like to see a few of those, Dave.

    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  5. Dave Belcher wrote:

    Sorry should be clear that I meant water and blood from Christ’s side as baptismal water and Eucharistic blood…you might simply be referring to the novelty of “last Adam”…sorry

    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  6. Halden wrote:

    Yeah, what I found interesting was both Eve and the church (vie water and blood) coming out of wounds in the sides of Adam and Christ. At least as a literary-theological observation, this seems interesting to me.

    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 9:44 am | Permalink
  7. Dave Belcher wrote:

    Prof. George,

    Would you still like me to collect a few of those — given that I wasn’t referring to the connection of Eve or the two Adams? I can still do so — on blood/water and baptism/eucharist — but I don’t have those here ready-to-hand at home so it will likely be a couple of days. Just let me know. Peace.


    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  8. Dave Belcher wrote:


    There might be something of that going on in Aphrahat, Ephrem or Narsai too…I’ll have to look again (or even in the great “typologists” like Nyssa or Origen or Clement of A…they all make that wonderful reference to Christ being the rock from the OT out of which flows living water) — and again, I need to go grab those references from my library (there’s a great resource on baptism in Thomas Finn’s two volumes for the Early Church series with Liturgical, but they’ve been out of print for some time now, and it has been impossible for me to actually come across one I could purchase!).

    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 9:54 am | Permalink
  9. Ben George wrote:

    Hey Dave,

    Any refs you can give on either of the loci would be great. Take your time!

    I am fairly certain that I have read something about this in JP2′s theology of the body, though I can’t seem to find it now.

    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 12:04 pm | Permalink
  10. Dave Belcher wrote:

    Hi Prof. George,

    Yeah, I was certain this was in both Tertullian and Ambrose and now am having difficulty locating the sources! I will check out the Finn volumes where I remember originally seeing them and I’ll post them here soon (it could just be that my memory is already slipping!). Peace.

    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 2:44 pm | Permalink
  11. jazimomo wrote:

    That does seem to be quite a unique connection. It’s amazing how much subtle imagery appears like that in Scripture, like John 4 where the image of Christ’s bride appears in the form of the Samaritan woman (half Jew, half Gentile; at a well, a biblical theme for romance, offers him water, etc.). The image of blood and water flowing out of Christ’s side has radical implications about the church’s liturgy and the type of life we lead in the context of the suffering Christ on the cross, and what it means for our lives of suffering. Thanks for bringing up that observation!

    Monday, September 29, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  12. Mike Bull wrote:

    And what about the spear itself?

    Jesus is pierced with a spear, and blood and water come out together. Christ is thrust through like a man or beast that dared approach the foot of the mountain of God (Exodus 19:12-13), so that we might approach freely as men (Hebrews 12:20-24).

    The spear reminds us that Jesus is a victim of both Goliath, the Gentile Sea Beast, and Saul, the Israelite Land Beast. He is executed as a false prophet by an apostate Phinehas, the corrupted priesthood who wished to retain the inherited Covenant. So, this spear is thrust by the serpent, Adam and Eve, at the foot of the mountain of God (Hebrews 12:20).

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

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