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Sacrifice and Modern Thought$
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Julia Meszaros and Johannes Zachhuber

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199659289

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199659289.001.0001

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Using Hubert and Mauss to think about Sacrifice

Using Hubert and Mauss to think about Sacrifice

(p.147) 10 Using Hubert and Mauss to think about Sacrifice
Sacrifice and Modern Thought

Nick Allen

Oxford University Press

This classic essay by Hubert and Mauss was both an early contribution to Durkheim’s struggle to establish an academic discipline studying social phenomena and, for the authors, the start of a collaborative study of religious phenomena. 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). The essay is enriched by the authors’ introduction when they reprinted it in 1909, and the chapter ends with a selective account of more recent reactions to it.

Keywords:   émile Durkheim, Marcel Mauss, Henri Hubert, Vedic India, Early Judaism, the sacred, desacralization, scapegoat, totemism, ritual

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