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Re: [WSW] The Jyau Sacrifice

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: WSW Cc: Synoptic In Response To: David Pankenier On: Jyau Sacrifice From: Bruce Since most sacrifices seem to have been dedicated to eminent ancestors in
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 14, 2009
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      To: WSW
      Cc: Synoptic
      In Response To: David Pankenier
      On: Jyau Sacrifice
      From: Bruce

      Since most sacrifices seem to have been "dedicated to eminent ancestors in
      association with 天 or 帝," meaning either ancestral spirits or Heavenly = God
      on High, the inscriptional information on the unnamed sacrifices David P
      cites does not seem very distinctive. In particular, I am not clear how a
      lake or moat relates to the idea of the land forming the outer periphery of
      the capital city, which is what I take jyau to mean.

      Water in sacred precincts seems to be a recurring motif, in Chinese
      contexts, but perhaps not one that readily associates itself with other
      recurring motifs, and one that sometimes occurs nearly unmixed. My sense is
      that the sacrificial calendar as it stabilized somewhat in the middle
      Warring States (at least the Dzwo Jwan people, writing at that time, were
      certainly confident that they knew what ought to be done, and when), is not
      inherited from antiquity, but is a hybrid and composite of several different
      strands of tradition, some of them Jou and a few of them Shang and some very
      likely other. If from a platform of general Warring States familiarity, we
      suddenly jump back into actual documents from much earlier periods, we can
      thus expect to find them strange at many points, and it seems to me that
      this is exactly what we do find.

      Anybody have a thought about water and pools and sacrifices? What, for
      instance is this business of the Pool of Bethzatha (or what text variant you
      will; Jn 5:2f) or that of Siloam (Jn 9:7), which have curative powers of
      their own, and no obvious connection with the normal sacrificial assumptions
      of the Jerusalem Temple, which involve blood and Heaven? What about dragons,
      which represent the power of water quite apart from the patronage of the
      Sky? What about John the B? What about the Witch of Endor, a momentary
      recrudescence of an officially suppressed necromancy tradition in an earlier
      period? These look to me like survivals of early ideas, or intrusions from
      popular into priestly practice. I think we get a lot of this in WS, not
      least because the social mixing of that time is so well documented, and so
      central to the main events of the period.

      The dragon is sometime portrayed (eg, in the hexagram version of the Yi) as
      ascending to the sky. So is the spirit of the horse sacrificed in the
      Asvamedha. I doubt that either element is original in the respective
      traditions. I think they are composites and assimilations and default
      developments. Notice that an intruded early commentary at Jn 5:4 has
      attempted to explain the water power by linking it with heavenly power, in
      the form of an angel. To me, it is not so much an explanation as a coverup.
      The Older Powers are showing through, and they make the expositors of the
      Newer Powers extremely uncomfortable.


      [E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst]
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