This work points to the role of Judaism, particularly its inventions of new religious life following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The end of animal sacrifice gave rise to new forms of worship, with a concern for personal salvation, scriptural study, and rituals like praying.
The Strange World of Human Sacrifice is the first modern collection of studies on one of the most gruesome and intriguing aspects of religion. The volume starts with a brief introduction, which is followed by studies of Aztec human sacrifice and the literary motif of human sacrifice in medieval Irish literature. Turning to ancient Greece, three cases of human sacrifice are analysed: a ritual example, a mythical case, and one in which myth and ritual are interrelated. The early Christians were the victims of accusations of human sacrifice, but in turn imputed the crime to heterodox Christians, just as the Jews imputed the crime to their neighbours. The ancient Egyptians rarely seem to have practised human sacrifice, but buried the pharaoh's servants with him in order to serve him in the afterlife, albeit only for a brief period at the very beginning of pharaonic civilization. In ancient India we can follow the traditions of human sacrifice from the earliest texts up to modern times, where especially in eastern India goddesses, such as Kali, were long worshipped with human victims. In Japanese tales human sacrifice often takes the form of self-sacrifice, and there may well be a line from these early sacrifices to modern kamikaze. The last study throws a surprising light on human sacrifice in China. The volume is concluded with a detailed index
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Blood for Thought delves into a relatively unexplored area of rabbinic literature: the vast corpus of laws, regulations, and instructions pertaining to sacrificial rituals. Mira Balberg traces and analyzes the ways in which the early rabbis interpreted and conceived of biblical sacrifices, reinventing them as a site through which to negotiate intellectual, cultural, and religious trends and practices in their surrounding world. Rather than viewing the rabbinic project as an attempt to generate a nonsacrificial version of Judaism, she argues that the rabbis developed a new sacrificial Jewish tradition altogether, consisting of not merely substitutes to sacrifice but elaborate practical manuals that redefined the processes themselves, radically transforming the meanings of sacrifice, its efficacy, and its value.
For the Greeks, the sharing of cooked meats was the fundamental communal act, so that to become vegetarian was a way of refusing society. It follows that the roasting or cooking of meat was a political act, as the division of portions asserted a social order. And the only proper manner of preparing meat for consumption, according to the Greeks, was blood sacrifice. The fundamental myth is that of Prometheus, who introduced sacrifice and, in the process, both joined us to and separated us from the gods—and ambiguous relation that recurs in marriage and in the growing of grain. Thus we can understand why the ascetic man refuses both women and meat, and why Greek women celebrated the festival of grain-giving Demeter with instruments of butchery. The ambiguity coded in the consumption of meat generated a mythology of the "other"—werewolves, Scythians, Ethiopians, and other "monsters." The study of the sacrificial consumption of meat thus leads into exotic territory and to unexpected findings. In The Cuisine of Sacrifice, the contributors—all scholars affiliated with the Center for Comparative Studies of Ancient Societies in Paris—apply methods from structural anthropology, comparative religion, and philology to a diversity of topics: the relation of political power to sacrificial practice; the Promethean myth as the foundation story of sacrificial practice; representations of sacrifice found on Greek vases; the technique and anatomy of sacrifice; the interaction of image, language, and ritual; the position of women in sacrificial custom and the female ritual of the Thesmophoria; the mythical status of wolves in Greece and their relation to the sacrifice of domesticated animals; the role and significance of food-related ritual in Homer and Hesiod; ancient Greek perceptions of Scythian sacrificial rites; and remnants of sacrificial ritual in modern Greek practices.
The volume consists of collected papers from Taubes Minerva Center for Religious Anthropology conferences examining (1) the role of sacrifice in religious experience from a comparative perspective and (2) alternatives to sacrifice.
"Women and Sacrifice is an original and lucid book that explores the anthropology and developmental psychology of male violence in blood sacrifice and its implications in religion and culture. It is the first comprehensive study of the psychology of gender and religion using the controversial ideas of Heinz Kohut and self-psychology." "Beers not only makes an important contribution to our psychological understanding of sacrifice, he explores how narcissistic anxiety fuels rituals and social structures that subordinate women. He bases his provocative theory on three general premises: sacrifice is traditionally performed only by men; the gender specificity of sacrifice can be traced to gender-specific developments of men and women and is reflected in religions throughout the world; and the male violence of sacrifice is related to other forms of male violence. Beers reviews the theories of symbol-formation of Freud, Jung, Klein, and Winnicott and argues that Kohut's self-psychology is more appropriate for understanding the psychology of symbolic ritual. The psychological claims in the book are presented in the context of social structures, cultural expressions, and individual and group history. Beers includes critiques of such leading theorists of ritual and sacrifice as Durkheim, Levi-Strauss, Douglas, Turner, Geertz, Freud, Jung, and Girard." "In analyzing sacrifice among the Malekulans of Melanesia and the eucharist of the American Episcopal Church, Beers develops the theory that such rituals have a psychological function that diminishes and controls women. He claims that men so fear women that religious ritual excludes women in order that men can gain and retain power over them."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
In this concentrated and detailed look at questions surrounding the act of sacrifice, Dennis King Keenan discusses both the role and the meaning of sacrifice in our lives. Building on recent philosophical discussions on the gift and transcendence, Keenan covers new ground with this exploration of the religious, psychological, and ethical issues that sacrifice entails. According to Keenan, sacrifice is paradoxically called to sacrifice itself. But what does this necessary, yet impossible condition mean for living an ethical life? Along the way to an answer, Keenan considers the views of Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Bataille, Lacan, Levinas, Blanchot, Irigaray, Derrida, Kristeva, Nancy, and Zizek. This thoughtful and provocative work affords a sophisticated philosophical treatment of the question of sacrifice.
The central theme of the papers read at the conference about the Aqedah is the history of reception of Genesis 22: The Sacrifice of Isaac. After observations related to the biblical text and human sacrifice in Ancient Israel, the sacrifice of Iphigeneia is studied, followed by papers about the reception of the Aqedah in Qumran, in Jubilees, in Rabbinical and in Christian Syriac traditions, finally in a recently published poem in the Bodmer papyri and in the Koran. Important contributions are made by the history of art. Two essays in this volume study the older iconography and the Aqedah in Italian art. The reception in modern times: Kierkegaard, a gender-motivated and a psychoanalytical reading can be found in the last part of the volume. The studies published in this volume bring surprising and oft neglected aspects of the famous narrative to light. How in different times and in different circles Genesis 22 has been interpreted is an encouragement for hermeneutical reflection and a help for exegesis itself.
Strenski argues that public discourse about religious notions, like sacrifice, cannot be theological in our modern societies. Theological notions of sacrifice and theological approaches to it should be replaced by those like that developed by the Durkheimians because theological discourse cannot but help being religiously biased.