Don't have an account? A summary is offered of the very dense argument, which concentrates on comparing animal sacrifice in Vedic India and early Judaism. The essay emphasizes the variety within sacrificial practice and the potential incompatibility of sacrifice and totemism. It proposes an origin for sacrifice of a god as in Christianity rather than to gods, and having defined sacrifice as effecting communication between the sacred and profane, explores its function, which can for instance be one either of sacralization or of desacralization the latter including scapegoat rituals. Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
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Imagine a native of what is now southern Mexico in the year CE. Neighboring Aztec warriors attack his village, and take him hostage. After dragging him back to Tenochtitlan, their capital city, he is slain in a religious ceremony by a priest who dispatches him by thrusting an obsidian blade into his chest, removing his heart, and casting it into a fire to appease the Aztec sun god. Was this a sacrifice, or simply the ritual killing of a tribal enemy? The definition of sacrifice is a subject of contention among scholars of the subject, and theories exist from multiple viewpoints as to what constitutes and what is the ultimate goal of sacrifice.
Sacrifice is thus understood as the ritualized and violent destruction of a consecrated life to the supernatural realm, or a supernatural being for the purpose of a reciprocal benefit. This definition creates a concept that is generalized enough to span multiple, and more specific cultural interpretations while specifying a clear separation from mere ritual killings.
For Hubert and Mauss, a distinction had to be made between the roles of victim, sacrificer, and sacrifier. Could not a consecrated object be made an offering to a supernatural being without actually being sacrificed? In addition to designating what, in their theory, constitutes a sacrifice, Hubert and Mauss further hypothesize on the purpose of sacrificial practices.
A third theory is presented by Van Baal. He sees a clear distinction between an offering and sacrifice, but, as opposed to the view of Hubert and Mauss, does not hold their sacred nature as a necessary feature of either.
After the examination of these three theories of sacrifice, a return to the newly proposed hypothesis is necessary for its defense. Sacrifice is the ritualized and violent destruction of a consecrated life to the supernatural realm, or a supernatural being for the purpose of a reciprocal benefit.
The concept of consecration is integral in the theory of Hubert and Mauss. The violent nature of the destruction of the object of sacrifice is the primary concern of Girard, and the reciprocal benefit of the act of gifting a sacrifice to a supernatural being is the purpose for which Van Baal perceives the act of sacrifice.
Also related to the theory of Van Baal is the point that the sacrifice is offered to a supernatural being, which distinguishes this definition from a mere ritual killing, while the violent act of the sacrifice itself separates an offering from a true sacrifice.
Under this definition, attendant, gift, meal, substitution, communication, construction, and cathartic sacrifice can all be considered true types of sacrifice provided that all of the conditions consecration, the destruction of life, and gifting of an object of sacrifice to the superhuman realm or a supernatural being are met.
An example of sacrifice that meets this definition is one described by Gillian Goslinga that she experienced in south India. In the ceremony that she describes a goat is consecrated, and decapitated. After the destruction of the life of the goat, the sacrificer drinks the blood from the headless animal. Justin Berardi is a senior in history. He plans on pursuing his master degree in history at Armstrong after graduating from college in summer Halls Chicago: University of Chicago Press, , Anne Porter and Glenn M.
Source: Codex Magliabechiano, 16th cen.
Using Hubert and Mauss to think about Sacrifice
Imagine a native of what is now southern Mexico in the year CE. Neighboring Aztec warriors attack his village, and take him hostage. After dragging him back to Tenochtitlan, their capital city, he is slain in a religious ceremony by a priest who dispatches him by thrusting an obsidian blade into his chest, removing his heart, and casting it into a fire to appease the Aztec sun god. Was this a sacrifice, or simply the ritual killing of a tribal enemy?
3. Henri Hubert, Marcel Mauss and Sacrifice
To Die For A Cause: