Sacrifice

Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or humans to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship. While sacrifice often implies the ritual killing of an animal, the term offering (Latin oblatio) can be used for bloodless sacrifices of food or artifacts. For offerings of liquids (beverages) by pouring, the term libation is used.

Scholars such as René Girard have theorized that scapegoating may account for the origins of sacrifice.[1]

Marcus Aurelius showing sacrifice - Arch of Marcus Aurelius - Musei Capitolini - Rome 2016
Marcus Aurelius and members of the Imperial family offer sacrifice in gratitude for success against Germanic tribes: contemporary bas-relief, Capitoline Museum, Rome

Terminology

The Latin term sacrificium (a sacrifice) derived from Latin sacrificus (performing priestly functions or sacrifices), which combined the concepts sacra (sacred things) and facere (to do or perform).[2] The Latin word sacrificium came to apply to the Christian eucharist in particular, sometimes named a "bloodless sacrifice" to distinguish it from blood sacrifices. In individual non-Christian ethnic religions, terms translated as "sacrifice" include the Indic yajna, the Greek thusia, the Germanic blōtan, the Semitic qorban/qurban, Slavic żertwa, etc.

The term usually implies "doing without something" or "giving something up" (see also self-sacrifice). But the word sacrifice also occurs in metaphorical use to describe doing good for others or taking a short-term loss in return for a greater power gain, such as in a game of chess.[3][4][5]

Animal sacrifice

Sacrifice scene Louvre G402
Animal sacrifice offered together with libation in Ancient Greece. Attic red-figure oinochoe, ca. 430–425 BC (Louvre).

Animal sacrifice is the ritual killing of an animal as part of a religion. It is practiced by adherents of many religions as a means of appeasing a god or gods or changing the course of nature. It also served a social or economic function in those cultures where the edible portions of the animal were distributed among those attending the sacrifice for consumption. Animal sacrifice has turned up in almost all cultures, from the Hebrews to the Greeks and Romans (particularly the purifying ceremony Lustratio), Egyptians (for example in the cult of Apis) and from the Aztecs to the Yoruba. The religion of the ancient Egyptians forbid the sacrifice of animals other than sheep, bulls, calves, male calves and geese.[6]

Animal sacrifice is still practiced today by the followers of Santería and other lineages of Orisa as a means of curing the sick and giving thanks to the Orisa (gods). However, in Santeria, such animal offerings constitute an extremely small portion of what are termed ebos—ritual activities that include offerings, prayer and deeds. Christians from some villages in Greece also sacrifice animals to Orthodox saints in a practice known as kourbània. The practice, while publicly condemned, is often tolerated.

Walter Burkert theory on origins of Greek sacrifice

Scene of sacrifice in honour of Diana. Fresco from the triclinium of House of the Vettii in Pompeii
An ancient Fourth-Pompeian-Style Roman wall painting depicting a scene of sacrifice in honor of the goddess Diana; she is seen here accompanied by a deer. The fresco was discovered in the triclinium of House of the Vettii in Pompeii, Italy.

According to Walter Burkert, a scholar of sacrifice, Greek sacrifices derived from hunting practices. Hunters, feeling guilty for having killed another living being so they could eat and survive, tried to repudiate their responsibility in these rituals. The primary evidence used to suggest this theory is the Dipolieia, which is an Athenian festival, in limited circulation, during which an ox was sacrificed. The protagonist of the ritual was a plough ox, which it had, at one point, been a crime to kill in Athens. According to his theory, the killer of the ox eased his conscience by suggesting that everybody should participate in the killing of the sacrificial victim.

In the expansion of the Athenian state, numerous oxen were needed to feed the people at the banquets and were accompanied by state festivals. The hecatomb (“hundred oxen”) became the general designation for the great sacrifices offered by the state. These sacrificial processions of hundreds of oxen remove the original ties, which the farmers of an earlier and smaller Athens will have felt with their one ox.

Human sacrifice

Human sacrifice was practiced by many ancient cultures. People would be ritually killed in a manner that was supposed to please or appease a god or spirit.

Some occasions for human sacrifice found in multiple cultures on multiple continents include:

  • Human sacrifice to accompany the dedication of a new temple or bridge.
  • Sacrifice of people upon the death of a king, high priest or great leader; the sacrificed were supposed to serve or accompany the deceased leader in the next life.
  • Human sacrifice in times of natural disaster. Droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc. were seen as a sign of anger or displeasure by deities, and sacrifices were supposed to lessen the divine ire.

Human sacrifice was practiced by various Pre-Columbian civilizations of Mesoamerica. The Aztec in particular are known for the practice of human sacrifice, though most popular estimates are over-estimations, and sacrifice was practiced on a far larger scale in ancient China. Current estimates of Aztec sacrifice are between a couple thousand and twenty thousand per year[7]. Some of these sacrifices were to help the sun rise, some to help the rains come, and some to dedicate the expansions of the great temple at Tenochtitlán (their capital). There are also accounts of captured Conquistadores being sacrificed during the wars of the Spanish invasion of Mexico.

In Scandinavia, the old Scandinavian religion contained human sacrifice, as both the Norse sagas and German historians relate. See, e.g. Temple at Uppsala and Blót.

There is evidence to suggest Pre-Hellenic Minoan cultures practiced human sacrifice. Corpses were found at a number of sites in the citadel of Knossos in Crete. The north house at Knossos contained the bones of children who appeared to have been butchered. The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur (set in the labyrinth at Knossos) suggests human sacrifice. In the myth, we are told that Athens sent seven young men and seven young women to Crete as human sacrifices to the Minotaur. This ties up with the archaeological evidence that most sacrifices were of young adults or children.

The Phoenicians of Carthage were reputed to practise child sacrifice, and though the scale of sacrifices may have been exaggerated by ancient authors for political or religious reasons, there is archaeological evidence of large numbers of children's skeletons buried in association with sacrificial animals. Plutarch (ca. 46–120 AD) mentions the practice, as do Tertullian, Orosius, Diodorus Siculus and Philo. They describe children being roasted to death while still conscious on a heated bronze idol.[8]

Human sacrifice is no longer officially condoned in any country, and any cases which may take place are regarded as murder.

In the Aeneid by Virgil, the character Sinon claims (falsely) that he was going to be a human sacrifice to Poseidon to calm the seas.

By religion

Christianity

Christ at the Cross - Cristo en la Cruz
Artwork depicting the Sacrifice of Jesus: Christ on the Cross by Carl Heinrich Bloch

In Trinitarian Christianity, God became incarnate as Jesus, sacrificing his son to accomplish the reconciliation of God and humanity, which had separated itself from God through sin (see the concept of original sin). According to a view that has featured prominently in Western theology since early in the 2nd millennium, God's justice required an atonement for sin from humanity if human beings were to be restored to their place in creation and saved from damnation. However, God knew limited human beings could not make sufficient atonement, for humanity's offense to God was infinite, so God created a covenant with Abraham, which he fulfilled when he sent his only Son to become the sacrifice for the broken covenant. In Christian theology, this sacrifice replaced the insufficient animal sacrifice of the Old Covenant; Christ the "Lamb of God" replaced the lambs' sacrifice of the ancient Korban Todah (the Rite of Thanksgiving), chief of which is the Passover in the Mosaic law.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Lutheran Churches, and the Methodist Churches,[9][10] the Eucharist or Mass, as well as the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Catholic Churches and Eastern Orthodox Church, is seen as a sacrifice. Among the Anglicans the words of the liturgy make explicit that the Eucharist is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and is a material offering to God in union with Christ using such words, as "with these thy holy gifts which we now offer unto Thee" (1789 BCP) or "presenting to you from the gifts you have given us we offer you these gifts" (Prayer D BCP 1976) as clearly evidenced in the revised Books of Common Prayer from 1789 in which the theology of Eucharist was moved closer to the Catholic position. Likewise, the United Methodist Church in its Eucharistic liturgy contains the words "Let us offer ourselves and our gifts to God" (A Service of Word and Table I). The United Methodist Church officially teaches that "Holy Communion is a type of sacrifice" that re-presents, rather than repeats the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross; She further proclaims that:[9]

We also present ourselves as sacrifice in union with Christ (Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5) to be used by God in the work of redemption, reconciliation, and justice. In the Great Thanksgiving, the church prays: “We offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us . . .” (UMH; page 10).[9]

A formal statement by the USCCB affirms that "Methodists and Catholics agree that the sacrificial language of the Eucharistic celebration refers to 'the sacrifice of Christ once-for-all,' to 'our pleading of that sacrifice here and now,' to 'our offering of the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,' and to 'our sacrifice of ourselves in union with Christ who offered himself to the Father.'"[11] Roman Catholic theology speaks of the Eucharist not being a separate or additional sacrifice to that Christ on the cross; it is rather exactly the same sacrifice, which transcends time and space ("the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world") (Rev. 13:8), renewed and made present, the only distinction being that it is offered in an unbloody manner. The sacrifice is made present without Christ dying or being crucified again; it is a re-presentation to God, of the "once and for all" sacrifice of Calvary by the now risen Christ, who continues to offer himself and what he has done on the cross as an oblation to the Father. The complete identification of the Mass with the sacrifice of the cross is found in Christ's words at the last supper over the bread and wine: "This is my body, which is given up for you," and "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed...unto the forgiveness of sins." The bread and wine, offered by Melchizedek in sacrifice in the old covenant (Genesis 14:18; Psalm 110:4), are transformed through the Mass into the body and blood of Christ (see transubstantiation; note: the Orthodox Church and Methodist Church do not hold as dogma, as do Catholics, the doctrine of transubstantiation, preferring rather to not make an assertion regarding the "how" of the sacraments),[12][13] and the offering becomes one with that of Christ on the cross. In the Mass as on the cross, Christ is both priest (offering the sacrifice) and victim (the sacrifice he offers is himself), though in the Mass in the former capacity he works through a solely human priest who is joined to him through the sacrament of Holy Orders and thus shares in Christ's priesthood as do all who are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. Through the Mass, the merits of the one sacrifice of the cross can be applied to the redemption of those present, to their specific intentions and prayers, and to the release of the souls from purgatory. For Lutherans, the Eucharist is a “sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise…in that by giving thanks a person acknowledges that he or she is in need of the gift and that his or her situation will change only by receiving the gift”.[10]

Waldburg-Gebetbuch 034
A page from the Waldburg Prayer Book illustrating the celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Earth before the Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary in Heaven

The concept of self-sacrifice and martyrs are central to Christianity. Often found in Roman Catholicism is the idea of joining one's own sufferings to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Thus one can offer up involuntary suffering, such as illness, or purposefully embrace suffering in acts of penance. Some Protestants criticize this as a denial of the all-sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, but it finds support in St. Paul: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Col 1:24). Pope John Paul II explained in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris (11 February 1984):

"In the Cross of Christ not only is the Redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed...Every man has his own share in the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished...In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ...The sufferings of Christ created the good of the world's redemption. This good in itself is inexhaustible and infinite. No man can add anything to it. But at the same time, in the mystery of the Church as his Body, Christ has in a sense opened his own redemptive suffering to all human suffering" (Salvifici Doloris 19; 24).

Some Protestants, excluding Methodists, Lutherans and many Anglicans, reject the idea of the Eucharist as a sacrifice, inclining to see it as merely a holy meal (even if they believe in a form of the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine, as Reformed Christians do). The more recent the origin of a particular tradition, the less emphasis is placed on the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist. The Catholic/Orthodox response is that the sacrifice of the Mass in the New Covenant is that one sacrifice for sins on the cross which transcends time offered in an unbloody manner, as discussed above, and that Christ is the real priest at every Mass working through mere human beings to whom he has granted the grace of a share in his priesthood. As priest carries connotations of "one who offers sacrifice", some Protestants, with the exception of Anglicans and Lutherans, usually do not use it for their clergy. Evangelical Protestantism emphasizes the importance of a decision to accept Christ's sacrifice on the Cross consciously and personally as atonement for one's individual sins if one is to be saved—this is known as "accepting Christ as one's personal Lord and Savior".

The Orthodox Church sees the celebration of the Eucharist as a continuation, rather than a reenactment, of the Last Supper, as Fr. John Matusiak (of the OCA) says: "The Liturgy is not so much a reenactment of the Mystical Supper or these events as it is a continuation of these events, which are beyond time and space. The Orthodox also see the Eucharistic Liturgy as a bloodless sacrifice, during which the bread and wine we offer to God become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the descent and operation of the Holy Spirit, Who effects the change." This view is witnessed to by the prayers of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, when the priest says: "Accept, O God, our supplications, make us to be worthy to offer unto thee supplications and prayers and bloodless sacrifices for all thy people," and "Remembering this saving commandment and all those things which came to pass for us: the cross, the grave, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the sitting down at the right hand, the second and glorious coming again, Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee on behalf of all and for all," and "… Thou didst become man and didst take the name of our High Priest, and deliver unto us the priestly rite of this liturgical and bloodless sacrifice…"

Hinduism

The Sanskrit yajna (yajña, modern Hindi pronunciation: yagya) is often translated as "sacrifice" (also "offering, oblation", or more generically as "worship").[14] It is especially used to describe the offering of ghee (clarified butter), grains, spices, and wood into a fire along with the chanting of sacred mantras. The fire represents Agni, the divine messenger who carries offerings to the Devas.[15] The offerings can represent devotion, aspiration, and seeds of past karma. In Vedic times, yajna commonly included the sacrifice of milk, ghee, curd, grains, and the soma plant—animal offerings were less common.[16] In modern times, yajna is often performed at weddings and funerals, and in personal worship. Sacrifice in Hinduism can also refer to personal surrender through acts of inner and outer worship.[17]

Islam

An animal sacrifice in Arabic is called ḏabiḥa (ذَبِيْحَة) or Qurban (قُرْبَان) . The term may have roots from the Jewish term Korban; in some places such as in Pakistan, qurbani is always used for Islamic animal sacrifice. In the Islamic context, an animal sacrifice referred to as ḏabiḥa (ذَبِيْحَة) meaning "sacrifice as a ritual" is offered only in Eid ul-Adha. The sacrificial animal may be a sheep, a goat, a camel, or a cow. The animal must be healthy and conscious. ..."Therefore to the Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice. " (Surat Al-Kawthar) Quran, 108.2 Qurban is an Islamic prescription for the affluent to share their good fortune with the needy in the community.

On the occasion of Eid ul Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), affluent Muslims all over the world perform the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) by sacrificing a cow or sheep. The meat is then divided into three equal parts. One part is retained by the person who performs the sacrifice. The second is given to his relatives. The third part is distributed to the poor.

The Qur'an states that the sacrifice has nothing to do with the blood and gore (Qur'an 22:37: "It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches God. It is your piety that reaches Him..."). Rather, it is done to help the poor and in remembrance of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac at God's command.

The Urdu and Persian word "Qurbani" comes from the Arabic word 'Qurban'. It suggests that associate act performed to hunt distance to Almighty God and to hunt His sensible pleasure. Originally, the word 'Qurban' enclosed all acts of charity as a result of the aim of charity is nothing however to hunt Allah's pleasure. But, in precise non secular nomenclature, the word was later confined to the sacrifice of associate animal slaughtered for the sake of God.[18]

A similar symbology, which is a reflection of Abraham and Ismael's dilemma, is the stoning of the Jamaraat[19] which takes place during the pilgrimage.[20]

Judaism

Ritual sacrifice was practiced in Ancient Israel, with the opening chapters of the book Leviticus detailing parts of an overview referring to the exact methods of bringing sacrifices. Although sacrifices could include bloodless offerings (grain and wine), the most important were animal sacrifices.[21] Blood sacrifices were divided into burnt offerings (Hebrew: עלה קרבנות) in which the whole unmaimed animal was burnt, guilt offerings (in which part was burnt and part left for the priest) and peace offerings (in which similarly only part of the undamaged animal was burnt and the rest eaten in ritually pure conditions).

After the destruction of the Second Temple, ritual sacrifice ceased except among the Samaritans.[22] Maimonides, a medieval Jewish rationalist, argued that God always held sacrifice inferior to prayer and philosophical meditation. However, God understood that the Israelites were used to the animal sacrifices that the surrounding pagan tribes used as the primary way to commune with their gods. As such, in Maimonides' view, it was only natural that Israelites would believe that sacrifice was a necessary part of the relationship between God and man. Maimonides concludes that God's decision to allow sacrifices was a concession to human psychological limitations. It would have been too much to have expected the Israelites to leap from pagan worship to prayer and meditation in one step. In the Guide for the Perplexed, he writes:

"But the custom which was in those days general among men, and the general mode of worship in which the Israelites were brought up consisted in sacrificing animals... It was in accordance with the wisdom and plan of God...that God did not command us to give up and to discontinue all these manners of service. For to obey such a commandment would have been contrary to the nature of man, who generally cleaves to that to which he is used; it would in those days have made the same impression as a prophet would make at present [the 12th Century] if he called us to the service of God and told us in His name, that we should not pray to God nor fast, nor seek His help in time of trouble; that we should serve Him in thought, and not by any action." (Book III, Chapter 32. Translated by M. Friedlander, 1904, The Guide for the Perplexed, Dover Publications, 1956 edition.)

In contrast, many others such as Nachmanides (in his Torah commentary on Leviticus 1:9) disagreed, contending that sacrifices are an ideal in Judaism, completely central.

The teachings of the Torah and Tanakh reveal the Israelites's familiarity with human sacrifices, as exemplified by the near-sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham (Genesis 22:1-24) and some believe, the actual sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter (Judges 11:31-40), while many believe that Jephthah's daughter was committed for life in service equivalent to a nunnery of the day, as indicated by her lament over her "weep for my virginity" and never having known a man (v37). The king of Moab gives his firstborn son and heir as a whole burnt offering, albeit to the pagan god Chemosh.[23] In the book of Micah, one asks, 'Shall I give my firstborn for my sin, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?' (Micah 6:7), and receives a response, 'It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what the LORD doth require of thee: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.' (Micah 6:8) Abhorrence of the practice of child sacrifice is emphasized by Jeremiah. See Jeremiah 7:30-32.

See also

References

  1. ^ Cowdell, Scott; Fleming, Chris; Hodge, Joel, eds. (2014). Violence, Desire, and the Sacred. Violence, Desire, and the Sacred. 2: René Girard and Sacrifice in Life, Love and Literature. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781623562557. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "sacrifice". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 October 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Helm, Sarah (17 June 1997). "Amsterdam summit: Blair forced to sacrifice powers on immigration". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  6. ^ introduction, Herodotus ; translated by Robin Waterfield ; with an; Dewald, notes by Carolyn (2008). The histories (1a ed. 1998; reimpr. 2008. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-953566-8.
  7. ^ Dodds Pennock, Caroline, 2012. Mass murder or religious homicide? Rethinking human sacrifice and interpersonal violence in Aztec society. Historical Social Research 37(3):276-302.
  8. ^ Stager, Lawrence; Samuel. R. Wolff (1984). "Child sacrifice in Carthage: religious rite or population control?". Journal of Biblical Archeological Review. January: 31–46.
  9. ^ a b c This Holy Mystery, Study Guide: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion. The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church. 2004. p. 9.
  10. ^ a b O'Malley, Timothy P. (7 July 2016). "Catholics, Lutherans and the Eucharist: There's a lot to share". America Magazine. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  11. ^ Methodist-Catholic Dialogues. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and The General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns of The United Methodist Church. 2001. p. 20.
  12. ^ Losch, Richard R. (1 May 2002). A Guide to World Religions and Christian Traditions. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 90. ISBN 9780802805218. In the Roman Catholic Church the official explanation of how Christ is present is called transubstantiation. This is simply an explanation of how, not a statement that, he is present. Anglicans and Orthodox do not attempt to define how, but simply accept the mystery of his presence.
  13. ^ Neal, Gregory S. (19 December 2014). Sacramental Theology and the Christian Life. WestBow Press. p. 111. ISBN 9781490860077. For Anglicans and Methodists the reality of the presence of Jesus as received through the sacramental elements is not in question. Real presence is simply accepted as being true, its mysterious nature being affirmed and even lauded in official statements like This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion.
  14. ^ "act of worship or devotion, offering, oblation, sacrifice (the former meanings prevailing in Veda, the latter in post-Vedic literature", Monier-Williams.
  15. ^ Subramuniyaswami, Satguru Sivaya (2003). Dancing With Siva: Hinduism's Contemporary Catechism. Himalayan Academy Publications. ISBN 0-945497-96-2. p. 849.
  16. ^ "Indeed the offering of milk into the fire was more common than animal offerings."Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0. p. 359.
  17. ^ Subramuniyaswami, p. 849.
  18. ^ "Online Qurbani". 1 November 2012. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012.
  19. ^ Stoning of the Devil
  20. ^ Hajj
  21. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica | second edition | vol 17 | sacrifice | pg 641
  22. ^ The Samaritans .com Archived 4 March 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/grace-journal/11-3_34.pdf

Further reading

  • Aldrete, Gregory S. 2014. "Hammers, Axes, Bulls, and Blood: Some Practical Aspects of Roman Animal Sacrifice." Journal of Roman Studies 104:28–50.
  • Bataille, Georges. 1989. Theory of Religion. New York: Zone Books.
  • Bloch, Maurice. 1992. Prey into Hunter: The Politics of Religious Experience. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Bubbio, Paolo Diego. 2014. Sacrifice In the Post-Kantian Tradition: Perspectivism, Intersubjectivity, and Recognition. SUNY Press.
  • Burkert, Walter. 1983. Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth. Translated by P. Bing. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
  • Burkert, Walter, Marcel Sigrist, Harco Willems, et al. 2007. "Sacrifice, Offerings, and Votives." In Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide. Edited by S. I. Johnston, 325–349. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.
  • Carter, Jeffrey. 2003. Understanding Religious Sacrifice: A Reader. London: Continuum.
  • Davies, Nigel. 1981. Human Sacrifice: In History and Today. London: Macmillan.
  • Faraone, Christopher A., and F. S. Naiden, eds. 2012. Greek and Roman Animal Sacrifice: Ancient Victims, Modern Observers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Feeney, Denis. 2004. "Interpreting Sacrificial Ritual in Roman Poetry: Disciplines and their Models." In Rituals in Ink: A Conference on Religion and Literary Production in Ancient Rome Held at Stanford University in February 2002. Edited by Alessandro Barchiesi, Jörg Rüpke, and Susan Stephens, 1–21. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.
  • Heinsohn, Gunnar. 1992. "The Rise of Blood Sacrifice and Priest-Kingship in Mesopotamia: A 'cosmic decree'?" Religion 22, no. 2: 109.
  • Hubert, Henri, and Marcel Mauss. 1964. Sacrifice: Its Nature and Function. Translated by W. Hall. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
  • Jay, Nancy. 1992. Throughout All Your Generations Forever: Sacrifice, Religion, and Paternity. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press
  • Jensen, Adolf E. 1963. Myth and Cult Among Primitive Peoples. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Kunst, Jennifer W., and Zsuzsanna Várhelyi, eds. 2011. Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
  • McClymond, Kathryn. 2008. Beyond Sacred Violence: A Comparative Study of Sacrifice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.
  • Mylonopoulos, Joannis. 2013. "Gory Details? The Iconography of Human Sacrifice in Greek Art." In Sacrifices humains. Perspectives croissées et répresentations. Edited by Pierre Bonnechere and Gagné Renaud, 61–85. Liège, Belgium: Presses universitaires de Liège.

External links

Animal sacrifice

Animal sacrifice is the ritual killing and offering of an animal usually as part of a religious ritual or to appease or maintain favour with a deity. Animal sacrifices were common throughout Europe and the Ancient Near East until Late Antiquity, and continue in some cultures or religions today. Human sacrifice, where it existed, was always much more rare.

All or only part of a sacrificial animal may be offered; some cultures, like the ancient and modern Greeks, eat most of the edible parts of the sacrifice in a feast, and burnt the rest as an offering. Others, including the ancient Hebrews, burnt the whole animal offering, called a holocaust.

Animal sacrifice should generally be distinguished from the religiously-prescribed methods of ritual slaughter of animals for normal consumption as food.

During the Neolithic Revolution, early humans began to move from hunter-gatherer cultures toward agriculture, leading to the spread of animal domestication. In a theory presented in Homo Necans, mythologist Walter Burkert suggests that the ritual sacrifice of livestock may have developed as a continuation of ancient hunting rituals, as livestock replaced wild game in the food supply.

At bat

In baseball, an at bat (AB) or time at bat is a batter's turn batting against a pitcher. An at bat is different from a plate appearance. A batter is credited with a plate appearance regardless of what happens during his turn at bat, but a batter is credited with an at bat only if that plate appearance does not have one of the results enumerated below. While at bats are used to calculate certain statistics, including batting average and slugging percentage, a player can qualify for the season-ending rankings in these categories only if he accumulates 502 plate appearances during the season.

A batter will not receive credit for an at bat if his plate appearance ends under the following circumstances:

He receives a base on balls (BB).

He is hit by a pitch (HBP).

He hits a sacrifice fly or a sacrifice bunt (also known as sacrifice hit).

He is awarded first base due to interference or obstruction, usually by the catcher.

He is replaced by another hitter before his at bat is completed, in which case the plate appearance and any related statistics go to the pinch hitter (unless he is replaced with two strikes and his replacement completes a strikeout, in which case the at bat and strikeout are still charged to the first batter).In addition, if the inning ends while he is still at bat (due to the third out being made by a runner caught stealing, for example), no at bat or plate appearance will result. In this case, the batter will come to bat again in the next inning, though the count will be reset to no balls and no strikes.

Rule 9.02(a)(1) of the official rules of Major League Baseball defines an at bat as: "Number of times batted, except that no time at bat shall be charged when a player: (A) hits a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly; (B) is awarded first base on four called balls; (C) is hit by a pitched ball; or (D) is awarded first base because of interference or obstruction[.]"

Aztec religion

The Aztec religion is that originating from the Aztecs in central Mexico. Like other Mesoamerican religions, it had elements of human sacrifice in connection with a large number of religious festivals on the Aztec calendar. Polytheistic in its theology, the religion recognized a large and ever increasing pantheon of gods and goddesses; the Aztecs would often incorporate deities whose cults came from other geographic regions or peoples into their own religious practice.

Aztec cosmology divides the world into thirteen heavens and nine earthly layers or netherworlds (the first heaven overlapping with the first terrestrial layer, heaven and earth meeting at the surface of the Earth), each level associated with a specific set of deities and astronomical objects. The most important celestial entities in Aztec religion were the Sun, the Moon, and the planet Venus (both as "morning star" and "evening star"). Aztecs were popularly referred to as "People of the Sun."

Many leading deities of the Aztec pantheon were worshipped by previous Mesoamerican civilizations, gods such as Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, who were venerated by different names in most cultures throughout the history of Mesoamerica. For the Aztecs especially important deities were the rain god Tlaloc, the god Huitzilopochtli—patron of the Mexica tribe, Quetzalcoatl the feathered serpent, wind god, culture hero, and god of civilization and order, and Tezcatlipoca, the shrewd elusive god of destiny and fortune, connected with war and sorcery. Each of these gods had their own shrine, side-by-side at the top of the largest pyramid in the Aztec capital Mexico-Tenochtitlan—Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli were both worshipped here at this dual temple, while a third monument in the plaza before the Templo Mayor was devoted to the wind god Ehecatl.

Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac (Hebrew: עֲקֵידַת יִצְחַק‎) Aqedat Yitzhaq, in Hebrew also simply "The Binding", הָעֲקֵידָה Ha-Aqedah, -Aqeidah) is a story from the Hebrew Bible found in Genesis 22. In the biblical narrative, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Moriah. Abraham begins to comply, when a messenger from God interrupts him. Abraham then sees a ram and sacrifices it instead.

This episode has been the focus of a great deal of commentary in traditional Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources, as well as being addressed by modern scholarship.

Blót

Blót is the term for "sacrifice" in Norse paganism. A blót could be dedicated to any of the Norse gods, the spirits of the land, and to ancestors.

The sacrifice involved aspects of a sacramental meal or feast.

The cognate term blōt or geblōt in Old English would have referred to comparable traditions in Anglo-Saxon paganism, and comparanda can also be reconstructed for the wider (prehistoric) Germanic Indo-European.

Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى‎, romanized: ʿīd al-ʾaḍḥā, lit. 'Feast of the Sacrifice', IPA: [ʕiːd ælˈʔɑdˤħæː]), also called the "Festival of the Sacrifice", is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year (the other being Eid al-Fitr), and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God's command. But, before Abraham could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this, an animal is sacrificed and divided into three parts: one part of the share is given to the poor and needy; second part is for the home, third is given to relatives.

In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year drifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.

Eucharist in the Catholic Church

The Eucharist in the Catholic Church is a sacrament celebrated as "the source and summit" of the Christian life. The Eucharist is celebrated daily (except on Good Friday, when consecration takes place on Holy Thursday, but is distributed during the Mass of the Presanctified) during the celebration of Mass, the eucharistic liturgy. The term Eucharist is also used for the bread and wine when transubstantiated (their substance having been changed), according to Catholic teaching, into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood."Blessed Sacrament is a devotional term used in the Roman Catholic Church to refer to the eucharistic species (the Body and Blood of Christ). Consecrated hosts are kept in a tabernacle after Mass, so that the Blessed Sacrament can be brought to the sick and dying outside the time of Mass. This makes possible also the practice of eucharistic adoration. Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration. "To visit the Blessed Sacrament is ... a proof of gratitude, an expression of love,... and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord."

Human sacrifice

Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more humans, usually as an offering to a deity, as part of a ritual. Human sacrifice has been practiced in various cultures throughout history. Victims were typically ritually killed in a manner that was supposed to please or appease gods, spirits or the deceased, for example, as a propitiatory offering or as a retainer sacrifice when a king's servants are killed in order for them to continue to serve their master in the next life. Closely related practices found in some tribal societies are cannibalism and headhunting.By the Iron Age, with the associated developments in religion (the Axial Age), human sacrifice was becoming less common throughout the Old World, and came to be looked down upon as barbaric in classical antiquity. In the New World, however, human sacrifice continued to be widespread to varying degrees until the European colonization of the Americas.

In modern times, even the practice of animal sacrifice has disappeared from many religions, and human sacrifice has become extremely rare. Most religions condemn the practice, and modern secular laws treat it as murder. In a society which condemns human sacrifice, the term ritual murder is used.

Human sacrifice in Aztec culture

Human sacrifice was common in many parts of Mesoamerica. Thus the rite was nothing new to the Aztecs when they arrived at the Valley of Mexico, nor was it something unique to pre-Columbian Mexico. Other Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Purépechas and Toltecs, performed sacrifices as well and from archaeological evidence, it probably existed since the time of the Olmecs (1200–400 BC), and perhaps even throughout the early farming cultures of the region. Although the extent of human sacrifice is unknown among several Mesoamerican civilizations, such as Teotihuacán, what distinguished Maya and Aztec human sacrifice was the importance with which it was embedded in everyday life.

In 1521, Spanish explorers such as Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan and made observations of and wrote reports about the practice of human sacrifice. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, who participated in the Cortés expedition, made frequent mention of human sacrifice in his memoir True History of the Conquest of New Spain. There are a number of second-hand accounts of human sacrifices written by Spanish friars, that relate to the testimonies of native eyewitnesses. The literary accounts have been supported by archeological research. Since the late 1970s, excavations of the offerings in the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, and other archaeological sites, have provided physical evidence of human sacrifice among the Mesoamerican peoples.A wide variety of interpretations of the Aztec practice of human sacrifice have been proposed by modern scholars. Many scholars now believe that Aztec human sacrifice was performed in honor of the gods. Most scholars of Pre-Columbian civilization see human sacrifice among the Aztecs as a part of the long cultural tradition of human sacrifice in Mesoamerica.

Korban

In Judaism, the korban (Hebrew: קָרְבָּן qārbān), also spelled qorban or corban, is any of a variety of sacrificial offerings described and commanded in the Torah. The plural form is korbanot. The most common usages are animal sacrifice (zevah זֶבַח), peace offering and olah "holocaust."

A korban was a kosher animal sacrifice, such as a bull, sheep, goat, or a dove that underwent shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter). Sacrifices could also consist of grain, meal, wine, or incense. Offerings were often cooked and most of it eaten by the offerer, with parts given to the Kohen priests and small parts burned on the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. Only in special cases was all of the offering given only to God, such as in the case of the scapegoat.The Hebrew Bible says that God commanded the Israelites to offer offerings and sacrifices on various altars. The sacrifices were only to be offered by the hands of the Kohanim. Before building the Temple in Jerusalem, when the Israelites were in the desert, sacrifices were only to be offered in the Tabernacle. After the invasion of Canaan, the main sacrificial centre was at Shiloh, though sacrifice also took place at Beth-Shemesh, Mizpah, Ramah, and Gilgal, while family and clan sacrifices were commonplace Under Saul the main center of sacrifice was Nob, though private offerings continued to be made at Shiloh. David created a new cult center in Jerusalem at the threshing floor of Araunaḥ, to which he moved the Ark. According to the Hebrew Bible, after the building of Solomon's Temple, sacrifices were only to be carried out there. After the Temple was destroyed, sacrifices were resumed when the Second Temple was built until it was also destroyed in 70 CE. After the destruction of the Second Temple sacrifices were prohibited because there was no longer a Temple, the only place allowed by halakha for sacrifices. Offering of sacrifices was briefly reinstated during the Jewish–Roman wars of the second century CE and was continued in certain communities thereafter.When sacrifices were offered in ancient times they were offered as a fulfillment of the 613 commandments. Since there is no longer a Temple, or priests, modern religious Jews instead pray or offer tzedakah as a form of charity.The practice and nature of sacrifices in Judaism are based on the 613 commandments, theology and halakha. According to the Jewish perception the coming of the messiah will not remove the requirement to keep the 613 commandments. Most Orthodox Jews believe that animal sacrifice will be resumed once the Third Temple is built, others believe that prayer and tzedakah will suffice.

Moloch

Moloch is the biblical name of a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice. The name of this deity is also sometimes spelled Molech, Milcom, or Malcam.

The name Moloch results from a dysphemic vocalisation in the Second Temple period of a theonym based on the root mlk, "king". There are a number of Canaanite gods with names based on this root, which became summarily associated with Moloch, including biblical מַלְכָּם‎ Malkam "Great King" (KJV Milcom), which appears to refer to a god of the Ammonites, as well as Tyrian Melqart and others.

Rabbinical tradition depicted Moloch as a bronze statue heated with fire into which the victims were thrown. This has been associated with reports by Greco-Roman authors on the child sacrifices in Carthage to Baal Hammon, especially since archaeological excavations since the 1920s have produced evidence for child sacrifice in Carthage as well as inscriptions including the term MLK, either a theonym or a technical term associated with sacrifice.

In interpretatio graeca, the Phoenician god was identified with Cronus, due to the parallel mytheme of Cronus devouring his children.

Otto Eissfeldt in 1935 argued that mlk was not to be taken as a theonym at all but as a term for a type of fire sacrifice, and that *lĕmōlek "as a molk-sacrifice" had been reinterpreted as the name of a Canaanite idol following the Deuteronomic reform under Josiah (r. 640–609 BC). According to Eissfeldt, this 7th-century reform abolished the child sacrifice that had been happening.

Moloch has been used figuratively in English literature from John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667) to Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" (1955), to refer to a person or thing demanding or requiring a very costly sacrifice.

Qurbani

Qurbanī (Arabic: قربانى‎), Qurban, or uḍḥiyyah (أضحية) as referred to in Islamic law, is the ritual animal sacrifice of a livestock animal during Eid al-Adha. The word is related to the Hebrew קרבן qorbān "offering" and Syriac qurbānā "sacrifice", etymologised through the cognate Arabic triliteral as "a way or means of approaching someone" or "nearness". In Islamic law, udhiyyah would refer to the sacrifice of a specific animal, offered by a specific person, on specific days to seek God's pleasure and reward. The word qurban appears thrice in the Quran: once in reference to animal sacrifice and twice referring to sacrifice in the general sense of any act which may bring one closer to God. In contrast, dhabīḥah refers to normal Islamic slaughter outside the day of udhiyyah.

Religion in ancient Rome

Religion in Ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion of the city of Rome that the Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in so far as they became widely followed in Rome and Italy. The Romans thought of themselves as highly religious, and attributed their success as a world power to their collective piety (pietas) in maintaining good relations with the gods. The Romans are known for the great number of deities they honored, a capacity that earned the mockery of early Christian polemicists.The presence of Greeks on the Italian peninsula from the beginning of the historical period influenced Roman culture, introducing some religious practices that became as fundamental as the cult of Apollo. The Romans looked for common ground between their major gods and those of the Greeks (interpretatio graeca), adapting Greek myths and iconography for Latin literature and Roman art, as the Etruscans had. Etruscan religion was also a major influence, particularly on the practice of augury. According to legends, most of Rome's religious institutions could be traced to its founders, particularly Numa Pompilius, the Sabine second king of Rome, who negotiated directly with the gods. This archaic religion was the foundation of the mos maiorum, "the way of the ancestors" or simply "tradition", viewed as central to Roman identity.

Roman religion was practical and contractual, based on the principle of do ut des, "I give that you might give". Religion depended on knowledge and the correct practice of prayer, ritual, and sacrifice, not on faith or dogma, although Latin literature preserves learned speculation on the nature of the divine and its relation to human affairs. Even the most skeptical among Rome's intellectual elite such as Cicero, who was an augur, saw religion as a source of social order. As the Roman Empire expanded, migrants to the capital brought their local cults, many of which became popular among Italians. Christianity was in the end the most successful of these, and in 380 became the official state religion.

For ordinary Romans, religion was a part of daily life. Each home had a household shrine at which prayers and libations to the family's domestic deities were offered. Neighborhood shrines and sacred places such as springs and groves dotted the city. The Roman calendar was structured around religious observances. Women, slaves, and children all participated in a range of religious activities. Some public rituals could be conducted only by women, and women formed what is perhaps Rome's most famous priesthood, the state-supported Vestals, who tended Rome's sacred hearth for centuries, until disbanded under Christian domination.

Sacrifice (chess)

In chess, a sacrifice is a move giving up a piece with the objective of gaining tactical or positional compensation in other forms. A sacrifice could also be a deliberate exchange of a chess piece of higher value for an opponent's piece of lower value.

Any chess piece except the king may be sacrificed. Because players usually try to hold on to their own pieces, offering a sacrifice can come as an unpleasant surprise to one's opponent, putting him off balance and causing much precious time to be wasted trying to calculate whether the sacrifice is sound or not and whether to accept it. Sacrificing one's queen (the most valuable piece), or a string of pieces, adds to the surprise, and such games can be awarded brilliancy prizes.

Sacrifice bunt

In baseball, a sacrifice bunt (also called a sacrifice hit) is a batter's act of deliberately bunting the ball, before there are two outs, in a manner that allows a runner on base to advance to another base. The batter is almost always sacrificed (and to a certain degree that is the intent of the batter) but sometimes reaches base due to an error or fielder's choice. In that situation, if runners still advance bases, it is still scored a sacrifice bunt instead of the error or the fielder's choice. Sometimes the batter may safely reach base by simply outrunning the throw to first; this is not scored as a sacrifice bunt but rather a single.

In the Major Leagues, sacrifice bunts reduce the average runs scored but increase the likelihood of scoring once. However, they can increase the average runs scored in an inning if the batter is a weak hitter.

A successful sacrifice bunt does not count as an at bat, does not impact a player's batting average, and counts as a plate appearance. However, unlike a sacrifice fly, a sacrifice bunt does not count against a player in determining on-base percentage. If the official scorer believes that the batter was attempting to bunt for a base hit, and not solely to advance the runners, the batter is charged an at bat and is not credited with a sacrifice bunt.

In leagues without a designated hitter, sacrifice bunts are most commonly attempted by pitchers, who are typically not productive hitters. Managers consider that if a pitcher's at bat will probably result in an out, they might as well go out in a way most likely to advance the runners. The play also obviates the need for the pitcher to run the base paths, and hence avoids the risk of injury. Some leadoff hitters also bunt frequently in similar situations and may be credited with a sacrifice, but as they are often highly skilled bunters and faster runners, they are often trying to get on base as well as advance runners.

A sacrifice bunt attempted while a runner is on third is called a squeeze play.

A sacrifice bunt attempted while a runner on third is attempting to steal home is called a suicide squeeze.

Although a sacrifice bunt is not the same as a sacrifice fly, both fell under the same statistical category until 1954.

In scoring, a sacrifice bunt may be denoted by SH, S, or occasionally, SAC.

Sacrifice fly

In baseball, a sacrifice fly (sometimes abbreviated to sac fly) is defined by Rule 9.08(d) :

"Score a sacrifice fly when, before two are out, the batter hits a ball in flight handled by an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield in fair or foul territory that

is caught, and a run scores after the catch, or

is dropped, and a runner scores, if in the scorer's judgment the runner could have scored after the catch had the fly ball been caught."It is called a "sacrifice" fly because the batter allows a teammate to score a run, while sacrificing his own ability to do so. Sacrifice flies are traditionally recorded in box scores with the designation "SF".

TNA Sacrifice

Sacrifice is an annual professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event held by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in May. The first one took place in August 2005. When event names were shuffled by TNA for 2006, the event was moved to May. Sacrifice has had a tradition of being the final round of tournaments. Sacrifice 2005 saw Samoa Joe defeat A.J. Styles to win the Super X Cup. Sacrifice 2006 was the final round of the World X Cup Tournament. Sacrifice 2008 continued the tradition with the finals of the Deuces Wild Tag Team Tournament. Sacrifice 2009 featured Beer Money, Inc. defeating The British Invasion in the finals of the Team 3D Invitational Tag Team Tournament. All events take place inside the Impact! Zone. On January 11, 2013, TNA announced that in 2013 will be only four PPVs, dropping Sacrifice.

Throw (grappling)

In martial arts, a throw is a grappling technique that involves off-balancing or lifting an opponent, and throwing them to the ground, in Japanese martial arts referred to as nage-waza, 投げ技, "throwing technique". Throws usually involve a rotating motion, the practitioner performing the throw disconnects with the opponent, and ends balanced and on their feet as opposed to a takedown where both finish on the ground. Throws can however also be followed into a top position, in which case the person executing the throw does not disengage from the opponent. Certain throwing techniques called sacrifice throws (sutemi-waza, 捨身技, "sacrifice technique") involve putting oneself in a potentially disadvantageous position, such as on the ground, in order to execute a throw.

Yajna

Yajna (IAST: yajña) literally means "devotion, worship, offering", and refers in Hinduism to any ritual done in front of a sacred fire, often with mantras. Yajna has been a Vedic tradition, described in a layer of Vedic literature called Brahmanas, as well as Yajurveda. The tradition has evolved from offering oblations and libations into sacred fire to symbolic offerings in the presence of sacred fire (Agni).Yajna rituals-related texts have been called the Karma-kanda (ritual works) portion of the Vedic literature, in contrast to Jnana-kanda (knowledge) portion contained in the Vedic Upanishads. The proper completion of Yajna-like rituals was the focus of Mimansa school of Hindu philosophy. Yajna have continued to play a central role in a Hindu's rites of passage, such as weddings. Modern major Hindu temple ceremonies, Hindu community celebrations, or monastic initiations may also include Yajna vedic rites, or alternatively be based on agamic rituals.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.