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atonement with it for your souls,' must not be understood as restricting the rôle of the blood in sacrifice to that of expiation for sin. As appears from other portions of Leviticus and of the Bible in general and from the practice of other religions as well, the blood was of equal importance in all forms of sacrifice. Atonement is here spoken of probably because, while atonement for sin is not the primary object of sacrifice, it is, in the Levitical system, the most prominent. It may also be explained by the fact that the Hebrew word 'kipper,' translated in this place by atonement,' includes more than the idea of expiation as we now understand it. The word atonement' itself, although it has come to be regarded as the equivalent of expiation or satisfaction, originally meant reconciliation-at-one-ment.' At-one-ment or reconciliation with the offended deity was the desired result of the act of expiation or satisfaction performed by the repentant sinner, it was not the expiation itself. This latter was the means or process by which atonement was attained. In modern terminology, however, the result of the process has been confused with the process itself.1 Atonement, in its original sense of making the deity and his worshipper 'at-one,' i.e., of effecting a union or re-union between them, may be said, in a very true sense, to be the ultimate object of all kinds of sacrifice, and of the very idea of sacrifice. Hence, all sacrifice, whether expiatory or not, makes atonement for the people.''

As it appears in historical religion, sacrifice is usually divided into two main divisions, named, respectively, honorific and piacular. Under the former division are ranged all sacrifices that presuppose friendly relations between the gods and their worshippers, and that are offered either as acts of homage or in thanksgiving for favours received or in order to obtain new favours. Under the latter are grouped all those sacrifices offered either to obtain or renew such relations with the deity-to propitiate them or to avert their anger. Often these sacrifices are regarded as a means of purification from the stain of sin or from a state of ritual' uncleanness' that is displeasing to the deity. Again, they are often regarded merely as the means of making good some fault committed in carrying out the ceremonial.

1 Hastings, Encycl. of Religion and Ethics, vol. v., art. 'Expiation and Atonement (Christian), p. 641, n. i., (Hebrew) p. 653, n. i.

• Levit. ix. 7; x. 17 (A.V.)

Chief among honorific sacrifices we have the offering of the firstlings of the flocks and herds and often that of the first-born of men. The offering of the first fruits of the earth was not a sacrifice, but a simple oblation, for there was no ritual destruction. The sacrifice of firstlings and the offering of first fruits embody most clearly what would seem to be the original and fundamental significance of sacrifice and oblation.' They are both due to the conviction, firmly rooted in the mind of man, that nothing in this world is really his own. All that he sees around him in nature is under the superior dominion of a being or beings upon whom he himself depends for his life and all its needs. Whether one God alone is the object of man's worship, or whether it is a multitude of different deities-whether again it is a question of 'gods,' in the full sense, or merely of spirits or vague powers' behind the forces of nature-it is always a question of beings more powerful than man himself and beings that are, practically speaking, the lords of creation." Since this is so (and in all religions this conception of the Divine Nature is found), man has no right to make use of, or even to touch any of, nature's goods. And yet, if he refrains from doing so, how is he to live? In order to live he must eat and drink, and eating and drinking means not merely the appropriation of divine property, but its destruction and consumption as well. The problem is how to supply his needs without offending the Powers above or trespassing on their domain?

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This problem finds its solution in the conviction, equally rooted in the human soul, that while everything belongs to the gods, they do not, like tyrants, demand that everything be completely given up to them. On the contrary, they have made a free gift of nature's goods to their human worshippers. All they demand is a fitting acknowledgment of their rights and a continual remembrance, on the part of man, of his own entire dependence upon them. Man must not act as if he were sole and absolute master of his own possessions.

1 Etudes sur les religions Sémitiques, M. J. Lagrange, p. 270; Paris, 1905, Cf. Levit. xix. 23-25; xxiii. 10 & 14; xxvii. 30. For first-born of men and animals cf. Numbers iii. 12 and 13.

2 Lagrange, op. cit. p. 7. Cf. The Study of Religions, by L. de Grandmaison (C.T.S.), Lectures on the History of Religions, vol. i. pp. 1-3; London, 1910. La religion des Primitifs, pp. 191-197, A. Leroy; Paris, 1909.

* Dictionnaire des antiq. grecques et romaines (Daremberg & Saglio), vol. ii. lère partie, art. 'Donarium,' p. 364, n. 3.

The acknowledgment of the divine superiority and sovereign rights is not, however, a mere internal act of the soul. It constitutes the supreme act of human worship, and human worship, of its very nature, tends to express itself in external rites. In the sacrifice of firstlings and the oblation of first fruits we have the outward expression of the internal act of homage owed by men to the deity they worship. The first-born of the flocks and herds-in many cases, as we have seen, the first-born of men as welland the first-fruits of the field are offered to the divine beings as a sign that they alone are the true proprietors of nature and lords of the world, and that they alone have full right to take the gifts of nature for their own use.

The offering of firstlings and first-fruits occurs in all religions and is the only form of sacrifice among actually existing savage tribes. It is, too, the only kind of sacrifice. mentioned in the earlier portions of the Book of Genesis.1 These offerings are the first-fruits of the personal labour of those who offer them-of the shepherd or the cultivator of the soil. They are, as it were, a sacred tax or tribute levied on the property of man by his Supreme Overlord, and since this property is essential to man as the support of life, they are a confession of his dependence upon the deity for his daily bread and his life itself.

The fact that man, even when the sense of personal possession and proprietary rights was fully developed, still felt himself bound to acknowledge his dependence upon his God as the true proprietor from whom he held his possessions, and as having the first right to their use, seems to be sufficient proof that in earlier ages, when he was as yet face to face with virgin nature-awanderer on the face of the earth'-he would feel this dependence and the need to acknowledge it even more deeply still. Among modern savages, who possess neither lands nor cattle, these offerings are are taken as a fact from the spontaneous products of nature-the first fruits or nuts found in the forest and the first victims killed in hunting.2 Sacrifice is thus, in a very real sense, a 'food-offering not, however, in the sense of an offering to feed the gods, but on the contrary, as an acknowledgment that it is the gods who feed men.

1 La Révélation Primitive et les données actuelles de la Science, R. P. G. Schmidt (transl. Lemonnyer), pp. 217, 218; Paris, 1914.

Schmidt, op. cit. p. 186; Leroy, op. cit. pp. 325-327.

But sacrifice is more than this. We have already seen that life has always been regarded as sacred and mysterious, and that blood-as the vehicle of life or even as being itself the life-belongs in a very special manner to the deity. To interfere with life-to slay, and especially by shedding blood-is therefore full of danger for whoever does so with impunity. The deity alone has the right to blood, that is to life, and he alone has the right to dispose of it. And yet men must cat the flesh of animals in order to support life, and in order to eat flesh they are obliged to slay and to shed blood. Even if killing without shedding of blood were permissible, it would still be unlawful to eat the flesh with the blood '-the blood must be shed in order that flesh may be eaten.

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Hence it is that from very early times men have endeavoured to satisfy at once their own needs and the claims of their deities by investing the dread act of shedding blood with a sacred character-transforming it into an act of religious worship. The shed blood was gathered up and poured out in some holy place at an altar or sacred stone or else it was allowed to flow forth upon the ground and was then reverently covered with earth. In this way the victim's life in the blood was offered or rather surrendered to those who alone had a right to it. This act of respect and submission once performed, the flesh of the victim could be enjoyed with a clear conscience.

If this be considered too highly developed a notion for 'primitive man,' the outpouring of the blood as a religious act (and that it was so regarded everywhere, seems to be certain) was at least a witness to man's dread of interfering with the mystery of life and to his desire of avoiding the possible displeasure of those beings whose control over life and over all nature was more extensive than his own.

In the outpouring of the blood at the sacrificial stone [or merely upon the ground] we may perhaps recognize the feeling that this is the safest disposition of it as well as the belief of a somewhat more developed theology that it belongs to the deity of right . . . . . . such a disposal of the blood starting from a genuine and deep-rooted primitive motive [viz., the recognition of the sacred character of blood as the life, and that man has no right to interfere with or dispose of it as he chooses], would form a nucleus round which the later usages and ideas would easily cluster.1

The offering of the blood was the religious consecration

1 Hastings, Encycl. of Religion and Ethics, vol. ii., art. Blood,' p. 719, § 8.

of the feast which followed. By means of this consecration the feast acquired also a sacred character. Every meal in fact-those, at least, in which the flesh of animals was eaten-was thus, in early times, a sacrifice, or rather the occasion of a sacrifice. This, then, would seem to be the simplest explanation of 'bloody sacrifice,' and the one that best accords with the evidence afforded by the study of religion and anthropology.1

'Bloody sacrifice,' i.e., the offering of a living animal or rather of the life of an animal-has always been considered as the most perfect form of sacrifice. It is in fact 'sacrifice' in the full and complete sense. Offerings of food and drink were in all religions, of but secondary importance. They accompanied the sacrifice of the living victim, forming a part of its ritual. When offered alone they were usually offered as substitutes for it. Nothing can be more sacred or more pleasing to the Divinity than the offering of life. As for oblations that, like the firstfruits, were merely presented to the deity and taken back again for human use, or that were consecrated to his service and rendered taboo to all men, these were sacrifices in but an imperfect or inchoate form. They symbolized the prior rights of the deity over nature and the need of asking his permission to use its gifts. But sacrifice involving the destruction and consequent entire abandonment of these gifts to the deity was a still more striking witness to this truth and implied as well his supreme right to slay and to destroy-a power man instinctively feared to arrogate to himself alone.


It is not for a moment maintained that the conception of these divine rights over life and over all nature was a clearly reasoned-out idea, explicitly recognized by primitive Nor is it maintained that he consciously regarded his deity as the lord and master of all things. Probably his actions were prompted by fear of what might happen to him if he neglected to take precautions rather than by any distinct sentiments of veneration for a Supreme Power or Powers. Still, we may believe that such sentiments

1 Revue Biblique, July, 1906, p. 472, footnote.

2 Daremberg & Saglio, op. cit. vol. iii. 21ème partie, art. 'Lustratio, ' p. 1410. Lagrange, p. 270.

Revue Liturgique et Benedictine, October, 1911. Nature de la Liturgie, Dom M. Festugière, O.S.B., pp. 483-489.

• By 'primitive man is not meant the First Man, but man in the early ages of the world, after the Fall.

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