OFFERING, SACRIFICE AND GIFT BY J. VAN BAAL Utrecht, Holland In this paper 1) I call an offering any act of presenting something to a supernatural being, a sacrifice an offering accompanied by the ritual killing of the object of the offering. This definition does not permit the use of the term sacrifice for killing rituals (a term intro- duced by Jensen, r95r) that are neither preceded nor followed by the presentation of the object of the rite to a supernatural being. Among the distinctive features of offering and sacrifice I do not include their sacred nature, considered to be their most essential char- acteristic by Hubert and Mauss, the authors of the Essai sur la Nature et la Fonction sociale du Sacrifice (1899). Founding their argument on data derived from Hebrew and Vedic sources, they concluded that the confrontation with the sacred is the awe-inspiring heart and core of the sacrificial act. However, the authors of these sources were native theologians, representing the views held by a priestly elite caste in a fairly highly developed society. Modern ethnographic research in simpler societies gives evidence that here the victims of a sacrifice are relatively rarely held to be
Numen – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1976
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