By Jennifer Wright Knust, Zsuzsanna Varhelyi
Reading the varied spiritual texts and practices of the overdue Hellenistic and Roman classes, this choice of essays investigates the various meanings and services of formality sacrifice within the historical global. The essays survey sacrificial acts, historical theories, and literary in addition to creative depictions of sacrifice, displaying that any try and determine a unmarried underlying value of sacrifice is futile. Sacrifice can't be outlined simply as a primal expression of violence, regardless of the widespread equation of sacrifice to faith and sacrifice to violence in lots of glossy scholarly works; neither is it enough to argue that every one sacrifice should be defined by way of guilt, by means of the necessity to arrange and distribute animal flesh, or via the communal functionality of either the sacrificial ritual and the meal. because the authors of those essays display, sacrifice will be invested with all of those meanings, or none of them. The killing of the animal, for instance, might ensue offstage instead of in sight, and the sensible, daily regimen of plant and animal choices could have been invested with that means, too. but sacrificial acts, or discourses approximately those acts, did supply an enormous web site of contestation for lots of historic writers, even if the religions they have been protecting now not participated in sacrifice. Negotiations over the that means of sacrifice remained significant to the aggressive machinations of the literate elite, and their refined theological arguments didn't quite a bit undermine sacrificial perform as proceed to imagine its crucial validity. historical Mediterranean Sacrifice bargains new perception into the connections and modifications one of the Greek and Roman, Jewish and Christian religions.
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Additional info for Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice
Gilders therefore resists symbolic interpretations of religion in his chapter, arguing that indigenous interpreters and scholars alike extract meanings—symbolic, instrumental, and otherwise—that are culturally and historically contingent. They do not explain sacrifice—or any other ritual—once and for all. To Jonathan Klawans, however, symbolic interpretations remain important, especially in contexts like ancient Israel, where symbolism was dense, intentional, and significant for both biblical writers and their audiences.
Graf argues that sacrifice, in Lucian as in other writers, is never contested by itself; rather, these discussions are always developed as part of a larger rethinking of religious traditions, in which sacrifice is intentionally misinterpreted as a form of do ut des logic and divine-human violence—just as myth and visual representations fail to capture what a philosopher understands about the gods, so, too, do philosophers misunderstand sacrificial practice. While satire, as it is typical of the genre, does not aim at providing a positive theological alternative to imperial Greek sacrificial practice, its overall tone fits well with other 21 Introduction second-century ethical discussions about the subject, such as those of Philostratus or Maximus of Tyre.
In fact, the goat led into the wilderness as a “sacrificial” expiation for the people on Yom Kippur is not killed at all, but set free. ’”74 In other words, discussions of sacrifice need to attend to the variety of elements that go into particular sacrificial practices, without normalizing any one specific procedure, such as killing, at the expense of others. William K. Gilders has recommended yet another approach, also resisting the notion that blood manipulation would necessarily involve anxiety about killing.