Beyond Sacred Violence: A Comparative Study of Sacrifice by Kathryn McClymond

By Kathryn McClymond

For many Westerners, the time period sacrifice is linked to historic, frequently primitive ritual practices. It indicates the death―frequently violent, frequently bloody―of an animal sufferer, frequently with the purpose of atoning for human guilt. Sacrifice is a major ritual, culminating in a dramatic occasion. the truth of non secular sacrificial acts around the globe and all through background is, in spite of the fact that, extra expansive and inclusive.

In Beyond Sacred Violence, Kathryn McClymond argues that the fashionable Western world’s reductive figuring out of sacrifice simplifies an greatly huge and dynamic cluster of spiritual actions. Drawing on a comparative examine of Vedic and Jewish sacrificial practices, she demonstrates not just that sacrifice has no unmarried, crucial, picking out attribute but in addition that the weather most often attributed to such acts―death and violence―are now not common. McClymond finds that the area of spiritual sacrifice varies enormously, together with grain-based choices, priceless drinks, and intricate interdependent actions.

Engagingly argued and written, Beyond Sacred Violence considerably extends our realizing of spiritual sacrifice and serves as a well timed reminder that the sphere of spiritual experiences is basically framed via Christianity.

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Extra info for Beyond Sacred Violence: A Comparative Study of Sacrifice

Sample text

For example, rabbinic Judaism characterized prayer and Torah study as sacrifice in the post-Temple Jewish world. How were the rabbis able to take a term that originally referred to animal, grain-cake, and wine o√erings in a Temple setting and apply it successfully to prayer and the study of a text? Obviously, many complex historical and sociocultural factors are at play here, but I argue that, at least in part, prayer and Torah study were able to be characterized as sacrifice because they include some of the sacrificial activities discussed above.

Nor can someone bring something in from a public place into a private place. ’’ The haf f ttfa¯ ’t, thus, has limited but targeted e≈cacy. The haf f ttfa¯ ’t can be o√ered on behalf of the community as a whole or for individuals. When the community sins, the haf f ttfa¯ ’t purifies the sanctuary from the contamination that follows from sin so that the sacrificial system as a whole can continue. ≤∞ In addition, the haf f ttfa¯ ’t can be used to address unintentional individual sins. ≤≥ The haf f ttfa¯ ’t is distinctive because it primarily addresses the purity of the sanctuary space, not that of the sacrificer.

Even those who oppose killing as a defining element usually respond by suggesting an alternative essential element. For example, in the entry ‘‘Sacrifice’’ in The Encyclopedia of Religion, author Joseph Henninger argues that ‘‘ ‘killing’ can be applied only to living beings, human or animal, and thus does not cover the whole range of objects used in sacrifice as attested by the history of religions. ’’≤ It is tempting to try to discover the one true key that will unlock the mysteries of sacrificial activity.

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