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Ritual and Metaphor

Sacrifice in the Bible

Edited by Christian A. Eberhart

The sanctuary and rituals that formed the heart of ancient Judaism ceased to exist a long time ago, yet their images and concepts, especially that of “sacrifice,” have remained essential to the rhetoric of politics, religion, and secular culture. Pervasive sacrificial metaphors range from religious foundations for human ethics to attempts to glorify victims of military operations or natural disasters to much-debated ideas of vicarious atonement within Christianity. The essays in this volume deal with central aspects of sacrificial rituals and processes of metaphor development and spiritualization in Judaism and Christianity. The contributors include Christian A. Eberhart, Göran Eidevall, Stephen Finlan, George P. Heyman, Dominika Kurek-Chomycz, Jeffrey S. Siker, Jason Tatlock, Timothy Wardle, and James W. Watts.

Dennis Pardee

The Ugaritic ritual texts provide the only extensive documentary data for Late Bronze cultic practice in the greater Syro-Palestinian region. These texts, in a West-Semitic language that belongs to the same family as Hebrew and Aramaic, reflect the actual practice of a sacrificial cult in the city of Ugarit in the late twelfth–early eleventh centuries B.C.E. Based on new collations of the tablets, these texts and translations provide ready access to this direct witness to the form taken by one of the predecessors of the biblical sacrificial cult. In addition to the narrowly ritual texts, which were composed in prose and in a very laconic form of expression, a number of poetic texts are presented that reveal the ideological link that existed between cultic practice and the concept of royalty. While the prose ritual texts document a regular system of offerings to the great deities of the pantheon, related directly to the lunar cycle and less directly to the solar year, some of the poetic texts reveal the desire on the part of the kings of Ugarit to maintain ties with their departed ancestors. The kings saw their effective power as consisting of a continuum from the royal ancestors through to the reigning king and the passage of this power as being effected by ritual practice. More mundane concerns were also addressed ritually, such as protecting horses or other equids from snakebite, finding a cure for a sick child, or defending people from attack by sorcerers. The practice of divination at Ugarit is documented by other texts, both in the form of “manuals,” collections of omens from past practice, and in the form of accounts of real-world consultations of a divinatory priest by someone seeking guidance.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

Blood Expiation in Hittite and Biblical Ritual

Origins, Context, and Meaning

Yitzhaq Feder

This pioneering study examines the use of blood to purge the effects of sin and impurity in Hittite and biblical ritual. The idea that blood atones for sins holds a prominent place in both Jewish and Christian traditions. The author traces this notion back to its earliest documentation in the fourteenth- and thirteenth-century B.C.E. texts from Hittite Anatolia, in which the smearing of blood is used as a means of expiation, purification, and consecration. This rite parallels, in both its procedure and goals, the biblical sin offering. The author argues that this practice stems from a common tradition manifested in both cultures. In addition, this book aims to decipher and elucidate the symbolism of the practice of blood smearing by seeking to identify the sociocultural context in which the expiatory significance of blood originated. Thus, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the meaning and efficacy of ritual, the origins of Jewish and Christian notions of sin and atonement, and the origin of the biblical blood rite.

Ritual, State and History in South Asia

Essays in Honour of J.C. Heesterman

D.H.A. Kolff

Edited by van der Hoek and M.S. Oort

The contributions to this liber amicorum extend over the whole range of Indian civilisation. The contents are arranged into two sections. In the first part those articles are brought together which bear upon the earlier stages of Indian history or upon the reconstruction of a certain epoch. The contents of this section, which, in historical terms, span the period from the Indus civilisation up to medieval times, include several fine pieces of textual analysis. The second section contains contributions on the more recent history of South Asia alongside articles that examine ancient features which have persisted till the present day.
Part 1: 'Ritual and State from the Earliest History': H.T. Bakker, H.W.A. Blezer, H.W. Bodewitz, R.N. Dandekar, W. Doniger, E.C.L. During Caspers, T.Y. Elizarenkova, H. Falk, S. Gupta, F.B.J. Kuiper, H. Kulke, A. Lubotsky, M. Nihom, G. Oberhammer, M.S. Oort, A. Parpola, H. Scharfe, H.-P. Schmidt, D.D. Shulman, H.J. Tieken, P.C. Verhagen, and A. Wezler.
Part 2: 'Ritual and History up to the Present': S. Bayly, J. Brouwer, H.M. de Bruin, J.G. de Casparis, S.N. Eisenstadt and H. Hartmann, A. Hiltebeitel, A.W. van den Hoek, R.B. Inden, D.H.A. Kolff, D. Kooiman, A.G. Menon and G.H. Schokker, R. Rocher, J.F. Staal, G. Toffin, K.W. van der Veen, P.T. van der Veer, R.J. Zwi Werblowsky, A. Wink, and M. Witzel.

Thinking ritually

Rediscovering the Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini


Vedic Ritual

The Non-Solemn Rites

J. Gonda

The Rituals and Myths of the Feast of the Goodly Gods of KTU/CAT 1.23

Royal Constructions of Opposition, Intersection, Integration, and Domination

Mark Smith

In a fresh, in-depth study of the Ugaritic text often called “The Birth of the Beautiful Gods,” Smith applies the tools of detailed philological analysis and recent theoretical advances in the study of myth and ritual to illuminate this text as a sophisticated, integrated whole. In a series of rituals and myths, “The Feast of the Goodly Gods” captures a ritual moment of cosmic integration between the beneficial deities and the destructive cosmic enemies, in particular the gods after whom the text is named. This important volume not only brings the world of this fascinating Ugaritic text to life, setting it clearly within its royal context, but also provides a model for the integration of philological analysis and contemporary theories especially ritual studies in the interpretation of ancient texts, including the Bible.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

Sylvie Debevec Henning

Current Studies on Rituals

Perspectives for the psychology of religion

Edited by Hans-günter Heimbrock and H. Barbara Boudewijnse

The Jyotisṭoma Ritual

Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa I, 66-364

Edited by H.W. Bodewitz