Chapter

The Religion of Plant and Animal Offerings Versus the Religion of Meanings, Essences, and Textual Mysteries

Stanley Stowers

in Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738960
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918676 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738960.003.0001
The Religion of Plant and Animal Offerings Versus the Religion of Meanings, Essences, and Textual Mysteries

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Focusing on a distinction between two modes of ancient Mediterranean religion, the religion of everyday social exchange, in which the main focus was on plant and animal offerings, and the religion of literate cultural producers, which relies upon the former but re-defines practice as a product of the mind, Stanley Stowers argues that ancient cultural producers textualized sacrificial practice, turning sacrifice into a matter of truths and meanings and overlooking the function of sacrifice as a strategic, practical system of reciprocity between gods and human beings. Modern studies of sacrifice too often depend upon these ancient textual performances, privileging theologies of sacrifice over the underlying and un-theorized practical system of sacrificial exchange in their own attempts to extract meaning. Stowers encourages a renewed focus on sacrifice as a strategy of daily living that avoids the obfuscating fascination with beliefs and discursive rationales common to ancient and modern discourses alike.

Keywords: plant and animal offerings; sacrificial practice; civic religion; Greek religion; reciprocity

Chapter.  11536 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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