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Volumen 2 by César García Muñoz. Battlefield of Love But what symbolic interpreters of Homer and other writings had found, at least as far back as the sixth century, was that the ancient writers had left enigmas in the text with symbolic meanings. Que cara-de-pau! Visit Now. Oracle-Speaker: Bacis enigmatizes this to the air [aer]. Matowitz Jr. Mood - Ole, Ole, Ole L.

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Yet poetry was performed publicly, and poets lived by public patronage. The underlying conservatism of the poets allowed their textual innovations on religion to exist in semiautonomy alongside the religion of everyday social exchange in civic religion. If the Homeric epics or Athenian drama had disappeared, the religion of everyday social exchange would have been little affected. Many of these literate specialists centrally criticized both poetry and the religion of everyday The Religion of Plant and Animal Offerings 43 social exchange.

The opposition of philosophy to poetry is too well known to us. For all of the differences that separated the legitimized poets from the religious entrepreneurs and philosophers, it is important to recognize that they were—excuse the metaphor—playing versions of the same game on a common field. This shared game can be seen—among other ways—in their sense of opposition to one another, one pole of the field to the other.

One side guarded traditional religious sensibilities, and the other attacked these as false religion. Their reading, writing, interpretive practices, and generalizing, even universalizing, points of view allowed both sides to take intellectualist positions on religious matters. The Greek farmer in the religion of everyday social exchange did not take competing positions on the true nature of Demeter or Zeus of the Possessions or on the origins and meaning of some civic cult as an essential part of his religiosity.

Drama, in virtue of its proximity to the less independent side of the field, only took positions in indirect ways, often by voicing difficult theological questions and providing kinds of explanations, including the invention of memorable foundation stories for established civic cults.

In this mythic time and world, gods could be imagined as demanding human sacrifice by a writer who inhabited this literary world. But such imagining was utterly remote from everyday sacrificial practices and not the perception of some essence or origin to sacrifice. The literate products of drama also created other novelties for both civic religion and the religion of everyday social exchange.

In the world of myth, the gods were often irrationally angry, vengeful, seemingly unjust, and undependable. Athenians in their civic religion never spoke of the gods in this way. Furthermore, the gods loved Athens in a way that gods did not love individuals in the religion of everyday social exchange.

One might suspect a divine element in many aspects of life, but one never or hardly ever saw an identifiable god at work. Here knowledge about the gods presented itself as story told by someone from some place. This approach connected with the often-richer divine personalities and language of secure knowledge favored in civic cult, but in terms of the semiautonomous literate practices of this kind of specialist.

The popular and civic understanding of the poets was theologically wrong and immoral. Proper interpretation was required. The priest who wrote the Derveni papyrus laments the ignorant literalist views that most people have.

On this kind of analysis, his famous criticisms of Socrates are predictable. In Peace 38—49 , a slave who has to tend the disgusting dung beetle wonders if some angry god has given him the job as a punishment.

What does the beetle mean? And then an Ionian, sitting next to him, will add, I think he refers this enigmatically to Cleon, who so shamelessly feeds on filth all by himself. The second is surely a reference to the many Ionian philosophers and similar intellectuals who came to Athens in the fifth century or perhaps especially to one of them.

Many of these operated by the allegorical or symbolic interpretation of texts, finding deep meanings not found in civic religion and the religion of everyday social exchange. Pisthetaerus is about to sacrifice a goat for the founding of the new city in the sky when an oracle-speaker chresmologos appears: Oracle-Speaker: Let not the goat be sacrificed. Pisthetaerus: Who are you?

Oracle-Speaker: Who am I? An Oracle-Speaker. Pisthetaerus: Get out! Oracle-Speaker: Wretched man, insult not sacred things. For there is an oracle of Bacis which exactly applies to Cloudcuckooland. Oracle-Speaker: But when the wolves and the white crows shall dwell together between Corinth and Sicyon.

Pisthetaerus: What do the Corinthians have to do with me? Oracle-Speaker: Bacis enigmatizes this to the air [aer]. They must first sacrifice a white-fleeced goat to Pandora, and give the prophet who first reveals my words a good cloak and new sandals. Pisthetaerus: Does it say sandals there? Oracle-Speaker: Look at the book. The Religion of Plant and Animal Offerings 45 The latter interprets a book of oracles by Bacis, the famous oracle-speaker of the fifth century from Boeotia who was credited with important prophecies about the Persian War; prophecies under his name were important during the Peloponnesian War.

Books of his oracles circulated widely and were used at least as late as the second century CE. The figure in the Birds is an expert interpreter of a book that is an accumulation of literate knowledge-practices. Whether these are supposed to be ecstatic prophecies of Bacis committed to writing or prophecies from elsewhere that Bacis collected is not clear.

But the specialist in the Birds applies to the situation of Cloudcuckooland an interpretation that Bacis gave to an oracle in another context. We should not universalize and naturalize symbolic interpretation, as has been done in much literary and anthropological theory. The symbolic interpretation of writings has a beginning and a history. Its modern practitioners have bedeviled the study of sacrifice. In the Birds, aer is, of course, the lower atmosphere where Cloudcuckooland was to be.

But what symbolic interpreters of Homer and other writings had found, at least as far back as the sixth century, was that the ancient writers had left enigmas in the text with symbolic meanings. The real meanings of these enigmas were often physical and cosmological truths, such as the idea popular from Empedocles to the Stoics that Hera represented aer, both the element and the heavenly realm. Such specialists often criticized the religion of everyday social exchange by claiming that their textually based knowledge disclosed the true and deeper meaning of everyday practices.

Rather than the mundane local perspectives and interests of the first mode of religiosity, the literate specialist, especially those of the more entrepreneurial kind, sought to discover the deep meanings and hidden wisdom about the gods, the cosmos, the structure of the world and human nature. And do not be structured by this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind so that you might test for what is the will of God.

Specifically, he claims that practices, surely involving animal sacrifice, that employ carved and variously formed representations of gods in anthropomorphic, theriomorphic, and other iconic forms are foolish, dishonor God, represent a corruption of rationality, and lead to gross immorality.

From the perspective of this specialist producer, a self-proclaimed expert interpreter of Judean writings, these common practices featuring gods of many locales miss the truth of one transcendent universal god who should be worshipped 46 Theorizing Sacrifice with the right conceptions, a mind in the proper disposition, and the right moral character.

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Religion here is not about the everyday interests of family, clan, friends, and neighbors; good crops; the health of a child; the powers of revenge for a perceived injustice; and so on. This intellectualist origin of Christian religion is why it took centuries for Christians to develop distinctive life-course rituals, such as for weddings, funerals, and local agricultural festivals. In the religion of literate specialists, sacrifice is often not festively eating an animal in the presence of the gods.

It is a cipher for supposedly deeper meanings. Of course, all of these deeper truths required the interpretive skills of the specialist who alone could decipher the meaning of things by means of their literate abilities.

One could include Zeno of Citium, who thought that there was no need for temples at all, and Chrysippus, who read traditional Greek representations of the gods as symbols that pointed to the one theistic-pantheistic god. Plutarch used similar methods to find a different sort of god in a vastly more hierarchical universe. Or it could be Lucian of Samosata, who ridiculed animal sacrifice and ordinary religious practices. The list is very large.

Above all, the practices about the gods that they valued most highly and upon which their power depended were their competitive literate skills. The specialist thinks that what is essential to a practice is its meaning. The most important practices of the literate specialist were acts of translation. Even their writings depended upon interpretive reading activities involving books deemed to have authority of various types.

Fragments of Pherekydes show him interpreting passages from Homer as truly about the fundamental nature of the cosmos.

Christians would likewise translate from Judean scripture into truths about the true nature of the world order, its future, true worship, and a particular figure from recent history. In each case, what ordinary people practiced as local, particular, and unsystematic, the specialist translates into another idiom that tends toward the universal, the nonlocal, and harmonized knowledge.

The writers of the rabbinic literature produced another translation that can be used to illustrate the range of creative possibility available to the specialists. The study and legal discussions themselves of written and oral divine revelations became the central religious practices. Performance of acts with textualized significance became central. Pesachim This is a sentence about ritual speech that, by virtue of its inclusion in the later Passover Haggadah, has itself become ritual speech.

In some ways reminding me of the Attic tragedians, these central practices that connected with everyday practices of the household, like prayer and meals, were set in an epic, mythic framework that intertwined the mythic world with contemporary interpretation and practice. The Mishna and Talmuds discuss and encourage study and discussion of laws imagined for a conflation of these mythic temples as if they were laws for the present.

Another early Greek example of such specialists comes from the Derveni Papyrus. V, XI and alludes to other divinatory practices. In the manner of the literate specialist, he has textualized ritual.

He expresses unhappiness with the people who come to him for rituals. The truly pious have a full understanding of the rituals through the proper interpretation of the texts, while others perform the rituals without the right thoughts col. What they must have for the proper rituals, which include animal sacrifice cols. II, IV—to the Erinyes; col. VI—preliminary sacrifice to the Eumenides, bird to the gods , is a proper allegorical understanding of meaning.

The author-priest interprets the writings of Orpheus as oracular and full of enigmas, riddles to be translated into cosmogonic and cosmological truths.

Important work by David Konstan has convincingly argued that ancient reading practices in general, not just the work of allegorists and the like, featured the search for riddles, problems to be solved, and the underlying meanings in the text.

A more general tendency for the religion of literate specialists entails not only claiming that rituals are about meanings revealed by translation, but also textualizing the rituals. Practices of claiming a fixed text as the truth of a ritual introduce a far different dynamic than the mythic fragments to which the practices of everyday religion allude or the endless strategic variations of oral mythic storytellers.

I believe that modern scholarship on animal sacrifice has been too close to the habits of the ancient literate specialists. Meanings of guilt and atonement, the sacredness of life, sacred violence, the scapegoat mentality, the idea of the sacred and the profane—these are among the very large number of such translations. What is the meaning of lunch? Lunch has as many meanings as it does diners, and those meanings are secondary to the everyday goals of acquiring nutrition and enjoying pleasure in eating and in sharing these ends with others.

Of course, someone can always say that lunch on a certain day will be eaten so as to commemorate a certain story. The problem would come from claiming that the essential, basic, or important thing about the everyday practice of eating lunch was that story or its meaning. The activities of living with the gods, including cooking and eating animals, did not need the texts and the meanings of the specialists in order for Greeks to carry on that imagined divinehuman sociality.

This is not to say that sacrificial practices did not do social work by indexing types of participants e. Nor does my approach deny that individuals might sometimes have various symbolic or propositional associations and symbolic intuitions.

Sacrifice like lunch did not encode its own interpretation apart from the implicit practical understandings that constituted it as an act of cooking, eating, giving, and honoring. For Greeks, Romans, and others it was interpretive because it involved divinatory practices: reading the inner organs of the animal, watching the burning and the movements of the fire, and watching the tail, bladder, and behavior of the animal as it processed to the altar.

All of these and more might indicate messages from the gods, but in the form of signs and traces, not the certain propositions or legal opinions of privileged texts and interpreters. Finally, I can only in the briefest way suggest the two additional modes of the analytical typology. These are both something like overlays upon the religion of everyday social exchange and the religion of literate specialists. Both involve the larger scale political and institutional development of one or both of the other modes.

One thinks about these by noting that they both require the religion of everyday social exchange for their existence, but not vice versa. Then one can inquire e. This third mode is the religion of political power and civic ideology, to which I have already alluded in my Greek examples.

The most important practices of this mode are elaborations of the religion of everyday social exchange according to political and civic interests and principles. This mode of religion does not require literate specialists. So, for example, the religion of the Greek city presupposed, built upon, and extended the religion of everyday social exchange.

When temples moved from the houses and lands of kings and aristocrats to the emerging polis, they became places where all families could practice. The main social figure here is the local landowner, forming a hierarchical alliance with the aristocratic landowner; the main practice consists of offerings from such landowners sacrificed at temples, which are centralized to varying degrees. Rituals that involve bounded groups defined as citizens or descendants of common ancestors coming together in centralizing activities orchestrated with calendars are perhaps the most important 50 Theorizing Sacrifice modification of practices from the religion of everyday social exchange.

My hunch is that the further away in physical distance, as well as socially and culturally celebrants were from the very small number of elites who could be accommodated at civic temples and shrines, the more their religion would look like everyday religion, even on civic holidays. I would argue that non-Greek cities in Italy and the Judean temple state were different versions of this same overlay. I call it an overlay because one could have the religion of everyday social exchange, including animal sacrifice, without these political-cultural-institutional elaborations.

The proverbial Arcadian village or Euboean farmer practiced in this mode perfectly well without such developments. History, ethnography, and perhaps cognitive science has shown that the everyday religion is the default mode. I will call this the religion of literate specialists and political power. The Christian churches are the most obvious ancient Mediterranean examples, a religion distant from the agricultural life and economy and requiring specialists with books.

Here the religion of entrepreneurial specialists like Paul, Valentinus, Tatian, Justin, and numerous others received institutionalized forms and political organization that also changed the mode of the religiosity. This mode of politically and institutionally organized literate specialists did not completely leave behind the religion of everyday social exchange, but intellectualized it and tried to subordinate it to the control of the political-institutional literate specialists like priests and bishops.

In a great reversal, literate specialists e. Here the divine was conceived as remote and hierarchically mediated, as in Trinitarian theology. The masses of Christians, including those only ambiguously so, celebrated in cemeteries with familial dead, in martyr-hero shrines, and in other settings of the religion of everyday social exchange.

By the fifth century, those in power were developing or at least allowing a religion that would mediate between the religion of the literate specialist and a religion of everyday social exchange, with the places of saints, martyrs, miracles, and other holy sites spreading across the urban and rural landscape; but ultimate authority rested in the interpreters of books. As this fourth mode emerged from the late second century on, it became important, if difficult, to enforce the right meanings of rituals and to control the entrepreneurial activities of the literate producers.

At the same time, the mode organized institutions for education in the right meanings by the constant repetition of approved teachings The Religion of Plant and Animal Offerings 51 and through rituals that featured approved meanings connected to authoritative, written texts. Now the butchering, cooking, and eating of animals came to seem like a crude gesture that had failed to grasp some deeper proposition or symbols revealed in texts that had been the true essence of the practice all along.

Notes 1. I agree about the baggage, but not about the conclusions regarding the concept s. I find it a false dichotomy that one must choose between accepting conceptions of sacrifice that define it as a kind of killing, destruction, and violence and abandoning the category. The word carries baggage, but no act of language purification could solve the problem, partly because the problem inheres in the history of antiquity itself. It is indeed helpful to show that the typical modes of Mediterranean sacrifice were not important to native Egyptian religion, but I do not understand how this makes the former phenomena less important.

I also believe that Frankfurter has minimized the evidence for sacrificial practices in Greek, Roman, and Hellenized Egyptian contexts. Smith, edited by Willi Braun and Russell T.

McCutcheon London: Equinox, , — Practices are socially organized doings and saying. Thus they are mostly inherited by participants in particular societies and involve implicit norms, that is, they can be done in right and wrong ways.

I am currently working on a second part that attempts to provide the psychological component necessary to a theory of practices. The elite group not only consists of those who claim to represent the religion, but might also be modern scholars e.

For classical Athens, one might add to this list many sorts of intellectuals, much religious practice in connection with the dead and heroes, many local and ad hoc rites of 52 Theorizing Sacrifice individuals and groups e. All of these on both lists are often marginalized or excluded in the polis-religion model. My modes are extremely relational and interactive when they exist together and on a continuum of more and less.

Olyan Oxford: Blackwell, Thus I think that older cognitivist approaches, such as those of Robin Horton, Melford Spiro, Ernest Gellner, and Stewart Guthrie, and the recent cognitive science approaches are on the right track. On the latter, see notes 13, 14, 19, and 52 below. By my count, in classical Athens, Zeus went by at least twenty-eight different names or titles.

My statement should not be taken in an overly instrumental way. The two sides can be represented by Jon D. Mikalson argues that Athenians did not have one unified Zeus in all of their cults, and he also emphasizes the distance between the gods of everyday cult and of the poets.

My approach undermines this idea of a totalizing official religion of the Greek city that formed a kind of systemic symbolic order. In my estimation, the idea of polis religion came about from a scholarship deeply influenced by structuralism, the ideology of the European nation-state, and from viewing Greek religion through the lens of the civic and official sources—literary, iconic, and epigraphical. This is a basic premise of the recent cognitive psychology of religion, but was already a central assumption of older cognitivist or so-called intellectualist approaches.

The groundbreaking book that definitively undermined symbolic interpretation is Dan Sperber, Rethinking Symbolism Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, For an excellent treatment of some issues regarding symbolism, see the chapter by William Gilders in this volume.

Again, at least in classical Athens. On this point and the following discussion, recent work in cognitive science of religion matches well with the Greek and Roman evidence e.

There is much important ferment and renewal in the study of Roman religion, generating insightful and work that implicates extremely challenging problems e. My translations. The old distinction between Olympian and Chthonian rites should be completely abandoned. The Christian influence can be seen in the numerous theories of sacrifice that construe it as ritual violence and focus on the death of the animal and on some sort of transformation of the sacrificer. Faraone and Dirk Obbink, eds.

The tendency of scholars to separate magic from religion is still an enormous impediment to understanding ancient religion. Miller Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, forthcoming. It is also important not to confuse my types with the distinction between popular and elite religion.

The civic religion dominated by aristocratic classes did not require literate practices; religious specialists and elites themselves might not even be highly literate.

Parker, Polytheism and Society, , Which is not to say that practitioners would have been little affected. Documenting the category would require a book. The unfortunate tendency of many classicists not only to describe admirably and fully , but also to use categories internal to the traditions instead of analytical categories i. The Religion of Plant and Animal Offerings 55 Parker, Polytheism and Society, I do not mean that in civic cults people knew what the gods were up to or thought, but that they spoke confidently of particular deities, of what they had done in the past, and of their benevolent disposition toward Athens.

Such knowledge was a requirement of civic cults where particular temples and festivals belonged to particular gods. See note 48 below and the associated text. For the example and translation, see Peter T. On such allegorical and symbolic interpretation, in addition to Struck, see Heraclitus: Homeric Problems, edited and translated by Donald A.

Struck, Birth of the Symbol, By contrast, the practices of animal sacrifice, as I have argued, were related to agriculture, animal husbandry, and the land. Not writing, reading, interpretive techniques, oratory, position-taking about truth, but special versions of butchering, cooking, and eating what came from the land and watching for signs were the central religious skills of the sacrificer.

My translation. Struck, Birth of the Symbol, 26— The critical text is still unpublished. See, for instance, most of the approaches in Jeffrey Carter, ed.


For a brief discussion of the concept, see Harvey Whitehouse and James Laidlaw, eds. Do they need it? It is humans, these ancient texts claim, who stand in need of things from the gods, things like fertility, protection, and general good will.

So what of sacrifice? Is it useless, incoherent, or even offensive to the gods? Many of these ancient authors respond with the same resounding no. That is, the same authors who claim that the gods do not need sacrifice also argue for continued participation in sacrifice. The group of ancient authors whose texts contain such seemingly paradoxical positions is large and varied, ranging from Greek, Roman, and Jewish philosophers to Hebrew Bible authors, Roman satirists like Lucian, and Christian authors like Paul—just to name a few.

This apparent paradox serves as the focal point of this chapter. The fact that these positions appear paradoxical to us is, I argue, evidence that current models for understanding ancient discussions of animal sacrifice are flawed. This chapter attempts to reposition the views of such ancient authors and to offer a new model for understanding their texts. First, the critique model ignores the complexity of the ancient debate over animal sacrifice by collapsing a diverse range of positions into the single, ill-defined category of critique.

Second, the present model serves to inscribe a modern, largely Christian narrative onto the history of animal sacrifice. This narrative presents the debate over animal sacrifice as an evolution from primitive barbaric practice to pure enlightened religion. The first part of this chapter lays bare the faults of the critique model. I argue that texts that have traditionally been interpreted as critiques of sacrifice must be seen not as critiques, but as part of an ongoing competition over the meaning and purpose of animal sacrifice.

The authors of the texts in question were elite, 58 Theorizing Sacrifice educated textual specialists—persons that Pierre Bourdieu refers to as cultural producers. What is the relationship between humans and the divine? And how should one live in light of all this? One part of this larger struggle involved parsing the act of animal sacrifice, that is, explicating how sacrifice works and how it should be done.

Rather than critiquing some intrinsic meaning or interpretation of sacrifice, they are competing with each other, through the medium of textual production, to define that very meaning. The model that I propose involves a transition to new terms and new concepts; that is, it involves a rectification of categories specifically three categories.


In this view, ancient authors found something endemic to the practice of animal sacrifice that was fundamentally wrong, be it corruption, amorality, economic exploitation, incoherence, or some other purported flaw. Indeed, individual passages, when removed from any social context and often from their own literary context , can appear to be biting condemnations of sacrifice. For example, Epicurus, the founder of the eponymous philosophy, argued that the gods do not need sacrifice, nor can they receive sacrifice living as they do in a separate realm from earthbound humans , nor can they respond to sacrifice since, in the Epicurean view of the cosmos, the gods have no agency in the human world.

One might conclude from this that Epicurus would reject the practice of sacrifice, but, in fact, our sources suggest Contesting the Meaning of Animal Sacrifice 59 the opposite: Epicurus and his school taught that sacrifice was a good and proper religious act. He practiced sacrifice himself and instructed his followers to do the same. Epicurus, of course, would disagree. His seemingly contradictory position was possible because he had his own ideas of what sacrifice did and how it worked, which were fully compatible with his understanding of the nature of the gods and the workings of cosmos.

He does not critique the practice of sacrifice itself. Rather, he critiques only a rival interpretation of the practice. Thus, the critique model appears to produce strange inconsistencies in the data: texts condemn sacrifice but then just as quickly praise it; philosophers critique sacrifice but then continue to participate and encourage their followers to do the same.

A similar paradox is visible within Judean tradition. The Hebrew Bible appears to contain texts that reject sacrifice, but Judean tradition seemingly ignores these texts and continues to sacrifice in spite of them. All of this creates a sense of incompleteness—that the texts are driving towards some goal they do not quite reach. Scholars have at times reinforced this trend by suggesting that figures like the classical philosophers or the Hebrew Bible prophets wanted to change or abolish the practice of animal sacrifice but were forced to acquiesce to popular opinion and the power of traditional religion.

It turns ancient authors into people with remarkably modern concerns and assumptions. Certainly there is nothing in the texts themselves to indicate acquiescence. The Greek and Roman philosophers, for example, show little squeamishness when attacking other aspects of popular religion.

I think we must conclude that if these authors wanted to attack and reject sacrifice they would have. Indeed, other ancient authors do just that. These include some Pythagoreans, Cynics, Orphics, and others to whom I will return later.

In sum, the critique model cannot explain why so many ancient authors supposedly critiqued sacrifice but still genuinely supported the continuation of the practice. The tendency to see these texts as preliminary or incomplete attempts to change the practice of animal sacrifice feeds directly into a second trend in scholarship on sacrifice, evolutionary interpretations. In the realm of practice, this interpretation often takes the form of a progression from crude ritual to some model of pure or spiritual worship.

This tendency within religious studies is well known, and its impact on the issue of sacrifice has been recently addressed well by Jonathan Klawans.

It begins with 60 Theorizing Sacrifice enlightened voices like the classical philosophers and the Judean prophets, who critique the act and pave the way for its demise. These preliminary critiques lead directly to Jesus, the so-called cleansing of the Temple, and the rightful abolishment of all sacrifice under the aegis of a Christian empire.

The critique model thus reinforces modern misinterpretations of the practice of animal sacrifice and the supersessionist view that sees Christianity, with its rejection of animal sacrifice, as the pinnacle of true religion.

In some ways this is not surprising as, I will argue, the critique model itself has its roots in early Christian theologizing about the relationship between Christianity, on the one hand, and Judaism and Greek and Roman religion, on the other. It was Christian authors who first defended Christian nonparticipation in sacrifice through an appeal to what they argued were critiques of sacrifice within the Hebrew Bible and Greek philosophers.

It was these Christian authors who first turned debate over the meaning of sacrifice into critique of sacrifice. Discursive Versus Nondiscursive Practices I argue that we must understand the ancient evidence in a very different way. The orienting point for my approach is the concept of practices. A distinction between these two types of practice is crucial for coherent social analysis to take place. To give an example, a book about carpentry will discuss various carpentry practices, but writing a book about carpentry does not involve any carpentry practices.

The writers of such books may, in fact, be carpenters, but they are not being carpenters when they write books; they are being authors. A blurring of the line between these two levels of analysis has caused a great deal of confusion in present scholarship. A clear distinction between them is crucial to moving beyond the critique model. In short, writing a text about sacrifice is a completely different practice from actually participating in sacrifice.

The key difference between animal sacrifice itself and texts about sacrifice is the difference between discursive and nondiscursive action. In analysis of sacrifice, this issue most often comes to the fore in debate over the meaning, origin, or essence of sacrifice.

Numerous thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, Émile Durkheim, Walter Burkert, René Girard, and others claimed to have discovered some essential deep meaning that is universal to all sacrificial practice. In each case, the author focuses on one aspect of animal sacrifice in a particular tradition, turning it into the essence of sacrifice generally, while ignoring other key elements of sacrificial practice both within the subject Contesting the Meaning of Animal Sacrifice 61 culture and cross-culturally.

Smith16, and Harvey Whitehouse17, shows that the search for the origin or essence of sacrifice is a misguided pursuit. Sacrifice, like many religious practices, is a nondiscursive action. Nondiscursive actions, including most religious rituals,18 do not, and cannot, encode their own deep meaning or essence.

Getting gas into the tank requires a series of nondiscursive tasks for which many people have practical understandings. These practical understandings are not meanings, at least not in our normal understanding of the term. In fact, discussion of meanings is often foreign to nondiscursive practices.

Questioning the meaning of a nondiscursive action is often very puzzling for practitioners. For example, what is the meaning of removing the filler cap on your car? This crucial aspect of ritual has been shown time and time again when ethnographers analyze indigenous religious groups.

Upon singling out some aspect of their ritual that seems particularly momentous, researchers are often baffled to find that practitioners do not have a satisfying or consistent explanation for what such an action means. This is not to say that actions do not have meanings. Nondiscursive actions can, and very often do, have discursive meanings attached to them. However, these discursive meanings are not necessary for the practice to be done.

Likewise, unity of discursive meaning is not necessary for the doing of the action. An Epicurean philosopher who denied any interaction by the gods in the human world could stand shoulder to shoulder at a sacrifice with a farmer begging for rain. The fundamental nature of nondiscursive practices meant that there could be a multitude of different positions on the meaning and purpose of sacrifice.

This fact made an entire arena of cultural competition possible. All these things are open for debate. Where there is the possibility of debate, there will be competition among debaters. Debate over the meaning of sacrifice must be understood as part of this ongoing competition between cultural producers, not as critiques of some essential or universal meaning or purpose of animal sacrifice. Insights from cognitive science of religion shed light on this subject by suggesting that rituals such as sacrifice take their logical cue from human social patterns.

If gods are a projection of human-like agency, then one can interact with gods just like one would interact with a human. The assumption that one can have a human-like reciprocal relationship with a god follows intuitively from the belief that gods are human-like agents. Modern misrepresentations of the logic of reciprocity are partly responsible for the success of the critique model. Sacrifice is a practice based on the logic of reciprocity as a mode of exchange. To understand this logic, it is necessary to divorce ourselves from the most pervasive modern mode of exchange, economic exchange.

It is also necessary to divorce ourselves from notions of altruism, egoism, and do ut des relationships. These categories are elements of a particular discourse about action. They are neither objective nor analytical and serve only to confuse discussion of sacrifice by imposing a secondary discourse upon it.

All of these elements introduce categories and relationships that are foreign to the logic of reciprocity. Reciprocity, simply put, is a system of different and differed return. Because the things exchanged in reciprocity have no definite value or, if they do, this fact is ignored for the purposes of exchange , balance between parties can never be achieved, nor is it sought.

As a result, reciprocity creates a relationship between the people making the exchange, not the commodities exchanged. This is the opposite of economic exchange, in which goods or services have finite value, and the relationship created exists between the things exchanged, not the persons exchanging them. In any given instance of reciprocity, there will usually be one party able to give more and one able to give less.

This situation, repeated again and again, over a broad range of reciprocal exchanges, creates complex social networks of nested superiorities and dependencies. A key component of the social workings of reciprocity is what Bourdieu calls misrecognition. This allows both parties to view the objects of exchange as free gifts, although each party understands the social realities involved.

In our own society, economic exchange is the most prevalent Contesting the Meaning of Animal Sacrifice 63 mode; however, reciprocity, in the form of gift giving, still plays an important role in the formation of social relationships. From the time we are children, we all learn the etiquette of gift giving and receiving—the rules of the game. For example, one always removes the price tag before giving a gift.

One does not give someone the exact same gift they previously gave you. These rules do not make practical sense, but they make perfect sense within the logic of reciprocity. The actions just mentioned are too close to economic exchange, which we see as antithetical to gift giving. The very language used for reciprocal exchange highlights the misrecognition involved. In gift giving, we use terms like favor, reward, or token of appreciation. We avoid words that would hint at economic exchange, such as return, repayment, debt, etc.

Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew had similarly subtle vocabulary. Navigating this social minefield takes a fair amount of effort, but it is something that most of us master at a young age. Ancient participants in animal sacrifice had similar mastery in the arts of reciprocity. Different gods and different circumstances demanded different sacrifices.

The ritual must fit the occasion, and the offering must fit both the giver and the deity. For example, the various gods of the ancient Mediterranean household generally received different sacrifices, in different locations, and for difference reasons as compared to the gods of the city. Even considering the modern parallel of gift giving, reciprocity played a much larger role in ancient Mediterranean society than it does in our own. Thus, it was natural that when these people imagined superhuman beings, or gods, they modeled their relationships with these beings on their relationships with each other.

That is, they imagined a system of reciprocity with the gods that mirrored the system of reciprocity that governed their everyday life. It was not a reason to abstain from sacrifice. Sacrifice was not an indication that the gods were beholden to humans for food, attention, or praise. Such conclusions are a misunderstanding of the logic of reciprocity. To cite a modern albeit potentially apocryphal parallel, students give apples to teachers.

Rather, we parse this action for what it is, an attempt to foster a relationship of reciprocity. Sacrifice is no different. In each situation, the reciprocal relationship is paramount, while the actual items exchanged are secondary.

Ancient authors who discuss sacrifice are not critiquing some universal essential meaning of the act. Rather, they are themselves attempting to argue for one particular interpretation.

They are attempting to impose their own discursive parsing of sacrifice upon the practice; they are trying to say definitively what sacrifice does, how it works, and how it should be done. These authors are not typical or average sacrificial participants. They are members of an elite, literate, educated class that comprised a very small percentage of ancient society. Their explication of the meaning and purpose of sacrifice was part of their participation in a larger field of cultural production that brought them power, authority, and prestige through textual expertise.

Exempla I will discuss three examples to illustrate the approach outlined above. One of the early commentators on sacrifice is Plato. Plato identifies what he takes to be two areas of potential problem with sacrificial practice: 1 the moral condition of the sacrificer, and 2 the conception of the gods that the sacrificer holds in his or her head.

Plato is concerned that people think morality does not matter in sacrifice. He is one of the first philosophers to voice this concern, which is echoed by almost every other writer on the topic.

Therefore all the great labor that impious men spend upon the gods is in vain, but that of the pious is most profitable to them all. First, the passage is not a critique of sacrifice itself, only a critique of a particular view of the conditions necessary for the ritual to be efficacious.

The view of sacrifice Plato rails against relates directly back to my earlier discussion of reciprocity.

It is one that sees sacrifice as automatic reciprocity. Plato argues that, just as a good man would not accept gifts from a wicked man and thereby enter into a reciprocal relationship with him , the gods will not accept sacrifices from a wicked man.

Thus, sacrifices made by immoral individuals are useless because they will not produce the desired reciprocal relationship. The gods cannot be bribed with sacrifices to overlook wrongdoing. On the other hand, the sacrifices of good people will be accepted and will bring the favor of the gods. In each case, philosophers attempted to interpret the practice of animal sacrifice, what it means and what it does, according to their own understanding of the gods and the cosmos.

The Stoics argued that the divine was a power that pervaded all matter. Humans, for their part, must understand this and act in accordance with nature. Animal sacrifice was an opportunity to reinforce these Stoic interpretations and ideals. Most importantly, this interpretation masks the reality of what these writers be they Platonists, Stoics, or Epicureans are attempting to do—that is, impose their own interpretation on a key religious ritual.

Similar conclusions can be derived from the analysis of Hebrew Bible texts, of which I will give two examples. Hebrew Bible statements on sacrifice are some of the most well known of the so-called critiques.

This is the case because the Hebrew Bible served as rich source material for later Christian authors, who took these passages out of context and presented them as if they were critiques—that is, they used them as proof texts for their own positions against animal sacrifice. In their original context, however, these passages are not critiques. In fact, I argue that these texts are an excellent example of the alternate model I am proposing.

The first text I would like to discuss is Psalm — O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

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Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar. It is clear in this example that the first part of this passage, if taken out of context, could appear to be a biting critique of animal sacrifice; and, in fact, this is exactly how later Christian authors used it. Burnt offerings are unacceptable given the current state of estrangement from God, but contrition will lead to reconciliation.

For the psalmist, ideal sacrifice requires a restored Jerusalem and a restored relationship between God and Israel. The Hebrew Bible prophets provide a similar example. Rather, just like the texts above, they provide an interpretation of the act of sacrifice in light of their understanding of Yahweh and the cosmos. The main feature of this interpretation is the assertion that the relationship between Yahweh and Israel is more important that the amount of stuff sacrificed.

An example of this is a passage from Isaiah: What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? Says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or lambs, or of goats.

Isa —12 Once again this isolated passage appears to condemn sacrifice, but when the book of Isaiah is considered as a whole a different picture emerges. There is no suggestion in Isaiah that the temple cult with its animal sacrifices should be abolished. Rather, the text dwells on the notion that Israel must repent, reform, and return to God. Only then will their sacrifices be appropriate. Again, the logic of reciprocity is foremost. Lavish sacrifices are not necessarily more efficacious sacrifices, nor are they automatic.

In other words, the author of Isaiah is arguing that specific moral states must accompany animal sacrifice; endless sacrifice without the correct moral state is useless and is actually offensive to God. None of this is a critique of sacrifice itself, only a critique of what the author of Isaiah sees as an incorrect interpretation of Yahweh and his relationship with his people. Exactly the same conclusions hold for the other Hebrew Bible prophets.

This is not to say that no ancient authors critiqued or rejected the practice of animal sacrifice. There is evidence for a small number of groups throughout the Greek and Roman periods who reject the practice of animal sacrifice and abstained from it.

These include some Pythagorean, Cynic, and Orphic groups. Rather, I wish to stress the need to separate this data from the texts and authors discussed above. Some Greek and Latin cultural producers did in fact critique and reject animal sacrifice as a religious practice, but they Contesting the Meaning of Animal Sacrifice 67 are a minority.

Many other producers debated the meaning and purpose of sacrifice without questioning the actual practice itself.

In short, not every discussion of the meaning and purpose of sacrifice in ancient texts is a critique. The critique model is the result of the imposition of essentialist interpretations of sacrifice on ancient thinkers, interpretations that these people did not hold i.

Once the critique model is rejected, it is possible to appreciate the complexity and sophistication of ancient debates over this practice. It is also clear that this debate is taking place among a small number of elite, literate cultural producers, each vying to impose their own interpretation on the practice of sacrifice.

Christian texts must be seen as part of this ongoing competition. Christian Data In the remaining space, I would like to highlight the ways in which the previous discussion forces a reevaluation of the early Christian data.

How do Christian authors fit into the ongoing cultural competition we have sketched? A final benefit of this brief foray into Christian positions is that it illustrates the historical origins of the critique model I have argued against, and it begins to explain the pervasiveness of this model. I begin with two key observations on the early Christian data.

First, positions on sacrifice within Christian authors are highly dependent on chronology. This is a simple observation, but it has been argued against so frequently that it bears highlighting.

In short, the finely articulated positions on animal sacrifice found in later Christian authors from the second century onwards are not present in the earliest Christian texts. This change, therefore, demands explanation. Second, Christian positions on sacrifice do not show smooth progression or linear development. Rather, early Christian texts contain numerous independent, often contradictory responses to animal sacrifice. The earliest sources Paul and the New Testament Gospels show no rejection of animal sacrifice.

Paul, as a Judean, rejects Greco-Roman animal sacrifice. He does this on the grounds that Greek and Roman gods are not real gods, only the Judean god is a real god and only he is worthy of sacrifice. The New Testament Gospels take a similar position. They say nothing against animal sacrifice. In fact, they imagine Jesus and his followers participating in animal sacrifice. The so-called Last Supper in the synoptic Gospels is, after all, a dinner of sacrificial meat.

With the possible, but in my view unlikely, exception of Mark, all of the Gospels were written 68 Theorizing Sacrifice after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 CE. This means that they were written after many Christians had become de facto nonparticipants in sacrifice. But the texts themselves do not give any reflection of this fact.

This is a key piece of evidence; it shows that historical circumstances distance from Jerusalem for many Christians before 70 CE and the nonexistence of the temple after this date made Christians nonsacrificers first. It was left to later Christian writers to theologize this situation and provide an explanation for Christian nonparticipation. The centrist Christians, in contrast to other Christian groups e.

This meant that they had to explain why so much of their own sacred writings were rules and regulations for animal sacrifice. Why then did the Christians not do it? Moreover, if God wanted a sacrificial cult in Jerusalem, and the Hebrew Bible clearly indicates that he does, why did he allow the Romans to destroy his temple?

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These were major problems for the centrists and vulnerable points in their battles with other Christian groups. For example, the author of the Epistle of Barnabas argued that God never really wanted sacrifice. All of the passages in the Hebrew Bible that appear to mandate animal sacrifice were actually, according to this author, allegories for Jesus and the Christian church.

Thus, according to Barnabas, the whole edifice of the Jerusalem Temple was an unfortunate case of overly literal reading. The author of Barnabas claims that the Hebrew Bible prophets critiqued sacrifice and tried to put a stop to it.


He does so by taking Hebrew Bible passages including the two presented above out of context and presenting them as critiques. Other early Christian authors fashioned other positions.

For example, Justin Martyr d. He claimed that God gave the Judeans their sacrificial cult in an attempt to prevent their habitual apostasy and idol worship the logic apparently being that worshiping the right god in the wrong way is better than worshiping the wrong god altogether, Dial. Here one sees the supersessionist model being formed. Justin argues that Christianity is the replacement for animal sacrifice, which was always meant to be temporary.

Other Christian authors formulate still more positions, which cannot be elaborated here. Todos eles fazem naturalmente. É por isso que eles recomendam este blog para todos os seus amigos. O que posso dizer, as pessoas me amam. Um ingresso online para toda a temporada de concertos custa euros. Se quiserem baixar um bilhete para o concerto de têm que enviar o vosso pedido para a Filarmónica no dia 2 de Janeiro Impreterivelmente!!! Tenho saudades de te ver em pista, a chateares Piquet e olhares Senna nos olhos.

Um bom domingo para mim, claro. Tom Jobim morreu a 8 de Dezembro de em Nova Iorque. Nasceu no Rio de Janeiro a 25 de Janeiro de Este é outro mail muuuito engraçado que anda por aí sobre as diferenças entre homens e mulheres: Michael Schumacher torna-se, entre eo derradeiro resquício da minha Fórmula 1. Depois do sucesso do meu Bacalhau ehehe decidimos repetir a dose, mas com pratos de outro país. Contribuidores Raquel Paulo Raquel Paulo. Os bilhetes podem ser adquiridos no site visave.

Nasceu no bairro da Tijucano Rio de Janeiro e um ano depois a família mudou-se para Ipanemaonde foi criado. A do combate agressivo, do risco inerente à velocidade, da rivalidade dura e dos arqui-inimigos de pista. Mas afinal quem é que é complicado, hein? Radetzky MarchWiener Philharmoniker.

Logo na primeira volta. Ao piano Arminda Barosa.