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The knife is the melee weapon of Blood II: The Chosen, replacing the Pitchfork. Caleb starts with it, along with the Pistol. It is meant to be used in close combat and has an even shorter range than the pitchfork in Blood. Players with higher strength will be able to activate the knife with more speed and cause more damage. The Blood II instruction manual says that each knife has been tailored to fit each of the Chosen and that it becomes more powerful with each use, but the game dynamics don't support this. However, each of the Chosen do have a different model of knife. Caleb has a Bowie Knife, while Ishmael's has a more twisted version with a barb on the back, looking more like a sacrificial knife. Ophelia brandishes a long and thin blade, perfects for quick silent attacks, whereas Gabriella wields a more military-looking massive blade. 

Deleted parts of the storyline seem to indicate the knife had more purpose than as simply a melee weapon:

None of us knew what the rifts were or where they came from. But we all saw them as the same thing – power. A way for us to destroy each other more efficiently. All we needed was the proper artifact to control it – the channeling knife. An ancient artifact of the Cabal, it lay broken in two pieces somewhere in Old Town, and the Cabal was determined to find it first.--Gideon, deleted audio clip from Blood II

REGULAR FIRE: A single slash from left to right
ALTERNATE FIRE: Player reorients the blade to point down and slashes, increasing strength, but decreasing speed