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Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice$
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Jennifer Wright Knust and Zsuzsanna Varhelyi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738960

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738960.001.0001

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Egyptian Religion and the Problem of the Category “Sacrifice”

Egyptian Religion and the Problem of the Category “Sacrifice”

(p.75) 3 Egyptian Religion and the Problem of the Category “Sacrifice”
Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice

David Frankfurter

Oxford University Press

Exploring ancient sacrifice from the perspective of Egyptian religion, David Frankfurter calls into question the notion that sacrifice was as central to ancient religion as many contemporary scholars assume. Animal killing and blood sacrifice were not central to Egyptian cult practice, he shows; rather, the manifestation and procession of the divine image was the more common ritual. Moreover, any killing that took place occurred off stage, away from the zone of pilgrims and worshippers. Thus, the actual slaughter of the animal was so peripheral, and the forms of dedication so different, that the term “sacrifice” and all it conveys cannot effectively capture Egyptian rites or frame their effective comparison with other historical rituals. The category sacrifice is therefore too general to offer useful theoretical insights into religion as a whole, despite the scholarly tendency to view sacrifice as the one practice capable of uniting all Mediterranean religions.

Keywords:   Egyptian religion, cult processions, dedications, pilgrimage, divination

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