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10923Re: [ANE-2] End of human sacrifice

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  • Clark Whelton
    Jun 30, 2009
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      gfsomsel wrote:
      >>>>>>In other words, (Hyam Maccoby) goes well beyond the evidence into
      >>>>>>pure speculation -- much like the speculation that the HB is dependent
      >>>>>>upon Berossus and Manetho. No evidence, assertion only. Why should we
      >>>>>>understand Cain and Abel as anything other than what it is presented
      >>>>>>as being?



      Maccoby bases his arguments on evidence. He notes "that in the original
      version of the Cain story, Cain was not a murderer at all. He was the
      performer of a human sacrifice, and in the very earliest form of the story,
      there was no guilt attached to his deed; on the contrary, it was a
      meritorious act, just as the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham would have been,
      if God had allowed it."

      Like Romulus, Cain becomes the founder of a city. Supposedly, the two men
      are murderers, and yet the crimes they commit have only good consequences.
      We can accept their legends at face value or we can look behind the
      "distancing devices," to use Maccoby's term, that, over time, have been
      added to their stories. These devices make it difficult to see the truth
      about their notorious deeds. They help to diffuse guilt but they also tend
      to obscure the subject of human sacrifice in general..


      Thus, Jascha Kessler accepts the distancing device that bad luck -- "Hebrew
      roulette" -- was the cause of Jephtha's sacrifice of his only child. Kevin
      Edgecomb sees "parallelomania" in the suggestion that the sacrifice
      stories of Iphigenia and Jephtha's daughter are "in any way related in their
      composition, whether in one direction or the other."

      It's not composition that necessarily links these stories but the ways that
      elaborate distancing devices have been employed to deny that either girl was
      actually killed. Many commentators interpret the text in Judges 11 to mean
      that Jephtha's daughter was really sent away to spend her life in temple
      service. Numerous Greek myths save Iphigenia from the altar. She is
      mysteriously whisked away to Tauris or is rescued by Artemis, the very
      goddess who demanded her sacrifice in the first place.

      What separates these stories are the fates of the two sacrificing fathers.
      Jephtha is a classic 'sacred executioner,' who seeks to evade guilt by
      blaming the victim and who goes on to lead a respected and successful life.
      Agamemnon, otoh, blames his evil deed on the demands of Artemis and on the
      needs of the state. But he never escapes the "legacy of guilt" for
      sacrificing Iphigenia. Unlike Cain, Romulus and Jephtha, Agamemnon is not a
      sacred executioner. The fate of his daughter leads directly to his own
      degrading death.



      Clark Whelton
      New York
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