Friday, December 29, 2006

Sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the other


One can always interpret the monotheisms as sacrificial archaisms, but the texts don't prove that they are such. It's said that the Psalms of the Bible are violent, but who speak up in the psalms if not the victims of the violence of the myths: "The bulls of Balaam encircle me and are about to lynch me"? The Psalms are like a magnificent lining on the outside, but when turned inside out they show a bloody skin. They are typical of the violence that weighs on humans and on the refuge that they find in their God.

Our intellectual fashions don't want to see anything but violence in these texts, but where does the danger really come from? Today, we live in a dangerous world where all the mob movements are violent. This crowd or mob was already violent in the Psalms. Likewise in the story of Job. It – the "friends" – demanded of Job to acknowledge his guilt; they put him through a real Moscow trial. His is a prophetic trial. Is it not that of Christ, adulated by the crowds, then rejected at the moment of his Passion? These narratives announce the cross, the death of the innocent victim, the victory over all the sacrificial myths of antiquity.

Is it so different in Islam? Islam has also formidable prophetic insights about the relation between the crowd, the myths, victims, and sacrifice. In the Muslim tradition, the ram Abel sacrificed is the same as the one God sent to Abraham so that he could spare his son. Because Abel sacrificed rams, he did not kill his brother. Because Cain did not sacrifice animals, he killed his brother. In other words, the sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the brother and the son. That is, it furnishes an outlet for violence. Thus Mohammed had insights which are on the plane of certain great Jewish prophets, but at the same time we find a concern for antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity that may negate our interpretation.

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