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Sacrifice in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam$
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David L. Weddle

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780814764916

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814764916.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Theories of Sacrifice

Theories of Sacrifice

(p.25) 2 Theories of Sacrifice
Sacrifice in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

David L. Weddle

NYU Press

Most theories of sacrifice regard the practice as contributing in some way to social formation. This chapter examines examples of functional theories offered by Durkheim, Mauss, Robertson Smith, Girard, Jay. Unlike most reviews of theory, this one devotes considerable space to the view of Bataille that sacrifice seeks to restore individuals to a “lost intimacy” with the sacred realm of immanence by releasing both what is offered and the one making the offering from economies of exchange in which their value is determined by productivity. The offering is the “accursed share” of excess goods that must be abandoned (but not necessarily destroyed) in a gesture of liberation from humanly constructed systems of meaning, whether social, political, or religious. For Bataille, sacrifice enacts the mystical “way of negation” (via negativa) taken to the extreme of denying the enduring reality of either God or the self as defined by conventional theology or ethics.

Keywords:   theories of sacrifice, Durkheim, Girard, Jay, Bataille, accursed share, via negativa

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