10923Re: [ANE-2] End of human sacrifice
- Jun 30, 2009gfsomsel wrote:
>>>>>>In other words, (Hyam Maccoby) goes well beyond the evidence intoMaccoby bases his arguments on evidence. He notes "that in the original
>>>>>>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
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
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