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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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The Embarrassment of Blood

The Embarrassment of Blood

Early Christians and Others on Sacrifice, War, and Rational Worship

(p.142) 7 The Embarrassment of Blood
Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice

Laura Nasrallah

Oxford University Press

Laura Nasrallah analyzes first- and second-century discourses concerning human sacrifice, both in contemporary Roman art and in the language of Roman and Christian writings. She identifies four major discursive sites in which sacrifice was thematized: first, in polemical accusations of human sacrifice; second, in discussions of humans as appropriate living, rational sacrifices to the gods, if those humans are philosophically and theologically trained; third, in the context of interpretations of Christ’s death; and, finally, in the rarely discussed theological realm of Roman political-religious life. Focusing on this final category, Nasrallah emphasizes how a strong link between war and human sacrifice haunts the literary and sculptural imagery of this period; visually, on the altar of the Temple of the Flavian Emperors at Ephesus and on the Column of Trajan at Rome, as well as in the literary texts of Tatian and Plutarch, among others.

Keywords:   human sacrifice, Roman sacrifice, war, ideology, art, Roman empire, Christianity

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