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The Biblionic Man and his Jerusalem Blade

When in Part II, Mr. Valiant-for-Truth is telling his story, he recounts a run in with three opponents: Wild-head, Inconsiderate, and Pragmatic. Despite the odds against him, he prevails through a hard fought fight. Mr Great-Heart is impressed, so asks to inspect Valiant's sword. On seeing it, he remarks that it is a 'right Jerusalem blade.' Bunyan supplies the marginal reference to Isaiah 2:3:

3 And many people shall go and say,

Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob;

and he will teach us of his ways,

and we will walk in his paths:

for out of Zion shall go forth the law,

and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

No mention of a sword here, but lose a letter and you do have word! Valiant agrees that he has indeed got a most effective weapon, saying, "Its Edges will never blunt. It will cut Flesh, and Bones, and Soul, and Spirit, and all." This is a quotation from Hebrews, never far from Bunyan's imagination.

12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 4:12)

Because the word of the Lord comes from Jerusalem, and because his sword is a 'right Jerusalem blade,' Valiant is clearly armed with the word of God. The internalizing and wielding of God's word as integral to the very person of a disciple is evidenced in how Valiant speaks of his fighting technique:

Valiant. I fought till my sword did cleave to my Hand, and when they were joined together, as if a Sword grew out of my Arm, and when the Blood ran through my Fingers, then I fought with most Courage.

Bunyan creates here a godly monster, or a biblionic man! The Sword of the Bible is so internalized that it becomes an extension of his own limb, the blade become fingers coursing with blood or covered with blood. Bunyan gives this marginal annotation: The Word. The Faith. The Blood.

Charles Spurgeon famously said of Bunyan that if you were to cut him he would bleed Bible. In that case, the Word, which elicits Faith, is also the Blood - coursing through the gripping fingers as they cling to the blade. But here Bunyan himself gives an inversion of that metaphor in Valiant-for-Truth: stand against a Pilgrim and the word, handled rightly, will cut you! Rather, the Word of the Bible, grounds and elicits Faith, which is secured by the Blood, not of the fighter, but of Jesus, who is, of course, also the Word (Hebrews has much to say about Jesus' blood shed on the cross being the blood of the everlasting covenant).

This latter reading of blood, as Jesus' atoning death externally blessing the spiritual combat by his Word, rather than the fighter's adrenaline-spurred pumping bolstering the Bible, is to be preferred, I think.

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