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SACRIFICE as an idea and an institution is deeply rooted in Old Testament thought and has profoundly influenced the development of Christian beliefs and practices. Terms like 'blood', 'covenant', 'atonement', and 'expiation', which appear repeatedly in the New Testament and in later doctrinal discussions, are all related to sacrificial conceptions, and need to be examined against the background of Old Testament religion and worship.

Nowhere in the Old Testament is the rationale of sacrifice explained. The institution is taken for granted as a divine ordinance, and the only principle laid down is that 'the blood is the life'.11   Gen. ix. 4; Lev. xvii. 10-2; Deut. xii. 23. This attitude was maintained in Rabbinical Judaism,22   Cf. The Jewish Encyclopedia, x. 628; G. F. Moore, Article on 'Sacrifice', Encycl. Biblica, col. 4226. and only in comparatively modern times have attempts been made to ascertain its underlying idea. Robertson Smith held that predominantly sacrifice is 'an act of social fellowship between the deity and his worshippers'; it is 'an act of communion, in which the god and his worshippers unite by partaking together of the flesh and blood of a sacred victim'.33   The Religion of the Semites, (1927), 224, 226f. The alternative view is that sacrifice is essentially a gift to God.44   Cf. G. B. Gray: 'Whenever in later times the Jew sacrificed, he was consciously intending his sacrifice to be a gift to God', Sacrifice in the Old Testament, 20; G. F. Moore: 'The prevailing conception of sacrifice and offering in the O.T. is that of a gift or present to God', Encycl. Biblica, col. 4216. 62 It may be doubted whether these theories are mutually exclusive, and it is possible that a more vaguely defined purpose of establishing healthful relations with the gods represents the extent to which the original purpose of sacrifice can be defined. 11   Among recent discussions see E. O. James, Origins of Sacrifice, 21ff., 255ff.; A. C.Welch, Prophet and Priest in Qld lsrael, 136ff.

Popular misconceptions regarding the Old Testament sacrifices are still widespread. It is still widely believed, for example, that the sacrifice was a propitiatory offering intended to appease the anger of Yahweh. It cannot be denied that there are Old Testament stories which give ground for this opinion. An outstanding illustration appears in the words of David when pursued by Saul: 'If it be Yahweh that hath stirred thee up against me, let him smell an offering' (1 Sam. xxvi. 19). Here the implication is that the odour of burning flesh placates the wrath of God. The same idea is implicit in the story of Noah's sacrifice (Gen. viii. 21), and in the account of the numbering of the people by David (2 Sam. xxiv. 25). There was also a reversion to propitiatory human sacrifices in later times, as, for example, in the seventh century B.C. (cf. Jer. xix. 5). This evidence illustrates a persistent tendency in primitive worship, but it cannot be said to reveal the true nature of the Old Testament sacrifices.

The idea that the sacrifice is a substitutionary rite is largely due to a misunderstanding of the act of the worshipper in laying his hands on the head of the victim. This ritual act does not signify the transference of guilt, for the offering is still regarded as holy; it is the worshipper's acknowledgment that the offering is his own, and that he identifies himself with it. 22   Cf. G. B. Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation, 12f.; W. F. Lofthouse, Altar, Cross and Community, 107, 113. Confusion has 63 also arisen in connexion with the ritual of the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement (cf. Lev. xvi.). A long history lies behind the idea of transferring sins to an animal which bears them away into the wilderness.11   Cf. J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, ii. 3, vi.; G. B. Gray, Sacrifice in the Old Testament, 313-8; E. O. James, Origins of Sacrifice, 196-201. The ideas are more primitive than those reflected in the Old Testament sacrifices, and it is important to observe that in the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement the scapegoat is not sacrificed.22   'And Aaron shall ky both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a man that is in readiness into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a solitary land' (Lev, xvi. 21f.).

The distinctive character of the earlier Old Testament sacrifices, the burnt-offering, the meal-offering, and the peace-offering, is their tributary, eucharistic, and conciliatory nature; they are often an expression of joy as well as of contrition.33   Cf. G. B. Gray: 'Sacrifice was more often eucharistic than propitiatory, and it was more often offered with feelings of joy and security than in fear or contrition', op. cit., 95. The sin-offering and the guilt-offering belong to the post-exilic period,44   Cf. R. H. Kennett: There is no instance of this class of sacrifice in the older strata of the Pentateuchal legislation; not probably because such piacular sacrifices were never offered, but because the older strata deal with what is normal,' The Church of Israel, IIIf. but so far from atoning for mortal sins, their scope was mainly ceremonial, the sin-offering covering inadvertent transgressions and acts of ritual defilement and the guilt-offering offences where restitution was not possible.55   So far as the two can be distinguished. Cf. A. C. Welch, Post-Exilic Judaism, 292. In general, the sacrifices are expiatory rather than propitiatory; they are appointed means whereby sin is covered, so that it no longer stands 64 as an obstacle between the worshipper and God. This fact is illustrated by the many examples of the use of kipper, the Piel form of the verb kaphar, 'to cover' or 'to wipe away'.

The linguistic usage of kipper is one of great interest. In cases where it means 'to appease' or 'pacify', the reference is to man.11   Cf. Gen. xxxii. 20 and Prov. xvi. 14. In other passages it is used of expiation for sin apart from sacrifice,22   Cf. Ex. xxxii. 30; Num. xvi. 46f., xxv. 13; 2 Sam. xxi. 3. and where God is the subject the meaning is 'to forgive' or 'to purge away'.33   Cf. Dent. xxi. 8, xxxii. 43; 2 Chron. xxx. 18; Psa. Ixv. 3, Ixxviii, 38, Ixxix. 9; Jer. xviii. 23; Ezek. xvi. 63; Dan. ix. 24. The commonest use of the verb is in connexion with the sacrificial rites, and here the thought is that of covering ritual imperfections or of expiating sins. The illustrations of this usage are far too numerous to be given in full, and the following must serve as examples.

Lev. xvi. 33: 'And he shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary'

Ezek. xliii. 26: 'Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and purify it.'

Lev. i. 4: 'And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.'

Numb. xv. 25: 'And the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and they shall be forgiven.'

2 Chron xxix. 24: 'And they made a sin offering with their blood upon the altar to make atonement for all Israel.'

It would not be safe in all passages of this kind to press the root meanings of 'covering' or 'wiping away', for the verb comes to be used conventionally, like the English 'make atonement for'; but echoes of these ideas, especially 65 that of 'covering' can be found in most cases.11   Underlying all these offerings there is the conception that the persons offering are covered by that which is regarded as sufficient and satisfactory by Yahweh', Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, Brown, Driver, Briggs, 498. The idea of 'cleansing' is expressed in Lev. xvi. 30: 'On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you: from all your sins shall ye be clean before the Lord.' In an invaluable study of 'ilaskestho', and cognate words C. H. Dodd has shown that 'the LXX translators did not regard kipper (when used as a religious term) as conveying the sense of propitiating the Deity, but the sense of performing an act whereby guilt or defilement is removed'.22   The Bible and the Greeks 93. 'Thus', he adds, 'Hellenistic Judaism, as represented by the LXX, does not regard the cultus as a means of pacifying the displeasure of the Deity, but as a means of delivering man from sin, and it looks in the last resort to God himself to perform that deliverance, thus evolving a meaning of 'ilaskestho', strange to non-biblical Greek.'33   Ibid.

In addition to the indications supplied by the linguistic usage, the representative and inclusive character of the Old Testament sacrifices reveals the true nature of the cultus as a means of maintaining or restoring fellowship with God. The sacrifices are vehicles of self-expression; they make possible religious activities with which the worshipper can associate himself, and so in a very real sense make his own. This aspect of the sacrifices is evident in the various elements which enter into the ritual. Bishop Hicks44   Cf. The Fullness of Sacrifice, II-4. has distinguished six stages which may be summarized briefly as follows: (1) The worshipper 'draws near' with his offering; (2) He lays his hands (or leans or rests them) on the victim's head; (3) He himself, and not 66 the priest, slays the victim; (4) The priest presents the blood to God by pouring it upon, or dashing it against, the altar; (5) The flesh, or part of it, is burnt, and so is transformed in order that it may ascend to heaven, the dwelling-place of God; (6) A portion of the offering is eaten by the priests and the worshipper, except in the case of the burnt-offering, while the flesh of the sin-offering and the guilt-offering is reserved for the priests, except when atonement is made for their own sins.11   Cf. Lev. v. 13, x. 16-20. This is, of course, a composite and idealized picture. We cannot suppose that the significance of the various stages was always present to the mind of the worshippers, since the tendency was to fulfil the prescribed rites because they were ordained by God. But the value of the description is that it shows how inclusive the rite was; it is not any one of the six stages which are distinguished; the whole is the sacrifice. Its representative character is also manifest; the worshipper identifies himself with his offering, and while it is presented to God, he participates in it himself.

From what has already been said it is apparent how erroneous it is to limit the idea of sacrifice to that of the death and destruction of a victim. This popular belief22   The "man in the street", and many who are more familiar with theology than he, would still, if they were asked to describe a sacrifice, suggest an altar, with a living victim bound upon it, and a priest standing over it with a knife in his uplifted hand. Translated into the language of the Christian Sacrifice, that is the conception of Christ offering Himself upon the Altar of the Cross, of sacrifice as equivalent to, and completed in, death,' F. C. N, Hicks, The Fullness of Sacrifice, 327. isolates one element in the ritual and misconceives its purpose, for destruction is not the primary intention. The victim is slain in order that its life, in the form of blood, may be released, and its flesh is burnt in order that it may be transformed or etherialized; and in both cases the aim 67 is to make it possible for life to be presented as an offering to the Deity. More and more students of comparative religion, and of Old Testament worship in particular, are insisting that the bestowal of life is the fundamental idea in sacrificial worship.11   The fundamental principle throughout is the same; the giving of life to promote or preserve life, death being merely a means of liberating vitality. Consequently, the destruction of the victim, to which many writers have given a central position in the rite, assumes a position of secondary importance in comparison with the transmission of the soulsubstance to the supernatural being to whom it is offered,' E. O. James, Origins of Sacrifice, 256. 'Life -- its recovery, uplifting, and communication is the ruling conception of sacrifice: life as shared between God and man, and between man and man . . .,* F. C. N. Hicks, op. cit., 177.

At this point it will be useful to summarize the principal defects and advantages of the sacrificial system.

A marked weakness of the system was the passive character of the victim or offering. Its purity and innocence were non-moral; the qualities of purity and innocence were merely symbolized. In consequence, the worshipper could identify himself only with objects which suggested ethical qualities; there could be no personal bond between himself and his offering; the moral value of his sacrifice was limited by its cost and by the degree to which an external object could focus, discipline, and direct his penitence Godwards. A second defect of the system was its liability to abuse. It is always easy scrupulously to fulfil the external requirements of a cultus without genuine repentance, and even to make costly gifts a cover for extortion and wrong. The ritual may evoke no spiritual response; it may foster unethical conceptions of God and of sin, and encourage unhealthy dependence upon a priesthood. The story of Israel and the protests of the prophets show how serious these dangers were. A third weakness of the sacrificial system was its limited range. It had to do mainly with ritual 68 transgressions, with sins which the modern man would hardly regard as sins at all; whereas for sins done 'with a high hand' there was no provision save in the special rites of the Day of Atonement. The exception is significant; for, in adopting the ancient rite of the scapegoat, those who shaped the Levitical system departed from its basic principles. In admitting that sins could be put upon the head of an animal and borne away into the wilderness, they confessed the inadequacy of the existing system. Uneasiness with the system, as well as spiritual perception, is also revealed in the emphasis which the later Rabbis laid upon repentance as the sine qua non of sacrifice. It is noteworthy that it is the New Testament writer who more than all others has seized upon and utilized the sacrificial principle, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who emphatically says: 'It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins' (x. 4). By its limitations the Old Testament system was driven into an impasse and failed where its help was needed most.

These defects are so obvious that it is easy to overlook the many excellent features in the cultus, but the merits are as certain as the defects and include elements which are of imperishable value to religion and to the practice of the devotional life.

The most notable advantage of the cultus was that it held out to the worshipper the possibility of fellowship with God. Its aim was to make that fellowship actual by overcoming the obstacles which prevented its attainment. Frequent failure cannot hide the greatness of the objective or obscure the fact that it was often realized. A further merit was that, within its limitations, the system sharpened the conscience of the worshipper. Sin was felt to be something which must be treated seriously; it could not be dismissed with a wave of the hand, but must be 69 expiated before fellowship with God could be perfected. Again, the cultus gave real help in focussing and directing penitence towards God. Passive though the offering might be, it served to create a centre in the mind around which a strong and healthy sentiment of penitence might be established. The worshipper was not left to struggle alone with fugitive and fitful feelings of remorse. On the contrary, there was at his disposal a medium, material though it was, through which his contrition could be offered and his longing for better things could be expressed. Further, the cultus brought home to the mind the thought of reconciliation as a costly process. Doubtless there was a real danger that the worshipper might count the cost of his offering as a thing of merit, but at all events he was delivered from the easy belief that reconciliation can be taken for granted as an axiom of religious experience. More important still, the sacrificial system suggested that a surrendered and dedicated life was the basis of true fellowship with God. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews grasped this principle when he wrote: 'And according to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission' (ix. 22). No doubt the shed blood might be regarded as if it were endowed with magical properties, but the instructed and thoughtful worshipper knew that it was the symbol of dedicated life and of a life with which he could identify himself. Thus, the way was prepared for richer applications of the sacrificial principle in Christianity. Finally, the system made possible a social, as well as an individual, approach to God. In the sacra fublica the worshipper was reminded of common needs and communal sins in which he was involved as an individual within a clan, while in the sacred meal, which he celebrated with his family, his neighbours, and 70 his guests, he enjoyed in common with others the sense of God's presence and favour.

In estimating the relative significance of these defects and advantages Old Testament scholars are divided. Much depends on whether the sacrificial system is regarded in the light of its origins, which to the modern man often appear revolting, or whether it is viewed from the standpoint of its religious possibilities. It is from the former point of view that G. B. Gray says: 'The truth is whatever is the root idea . . . that root idea belongs to a grossly material view of religion and of man's relation to God.'11   Sacrifice in the Old Testament, 54. It is from the latter standpoint that the same writer says that the real movement of Old Testament religion is upward towards a completely spiritual goal. 'It rises', he observes, 'to the conception that there is a gift which man can make to God, a gift of something that is his own and that God desires to receive; man can give himself; his will is his own, he can make it his present to God.'22   Ibid.

Each of the standpoints indicated is required if history is to be more than a summary of facts. Each, moreover, has its characteristic dangers. In recording facts the investigator will mark the gross beginnings of sacrifice, the different stages in the growth of the cultus, and the significance they appear to have borne for the ordinary worshipper. If, however, his study is to be complete, he must try to assign to sacrifice its real place in the story of man's religious development; and for this purpose he will need to examine the facts revealed by archaeology and ancient literature with insight and imagination. It is part of his task to note implications which may have been recognized by few in ancient times, but which are full of meaning for the story of later religious developments.


If this is the nature of a scientific investigation, those scholars are justified who insist that the most significant conception in sacrifice is that of life offered to God, with which the worshipper can associate himself through appropriate ritual acts. This conception unquestionably leads to an exalted estimate of the value of sacrificial worship, for, in the last analysis, it means that sin is expiated because, by the aid of a traditional cultus, the worshipper has presented to God in penitence and faith nothing less than himself.

It would be folly to pretend that this conception of sacrifice is taught in the Old Testament or was a theme of Rabbinical teaching. There are reasons for this. In part, the absence of explanation is due to the lack of an adequate religious and psychological terminology, but to a greater degree it is accounted for by the belief that sacrifice was a system of divine appointment. Such an idea does not encourage reflection; still less when it is associated with a strong belief in the sovereignty of God and the inscrutability of His will. These beliefs gave stability to the sacrificial system, but they discouraged speculation and threatened the ethical and spiritual development of the cultus. None the less, the evidence afforded by the Psalms proves that the barrier was not insurmountable. The significance of a ritual must be found in itself and in the religious spirit with which it is accompanied, and not merely in traditional explanations. If this is so, we are far from idealizing unduly the Old Testament sacrificial system if we assert that for many worshippers it was the vehicle of a truly spiritual approach to God and an opportunity for self-offering and surrender.

The use of a ritual does not preclude the possibility of a spiritual approach to God; it certainly was not so in the case of Old Testament religion. Far from being an 72 unworthy substitute for self-surrender to God, the ritual provided at the time the only means whereby the idea could live in an ethical and spiritual form. No Hebrew could think of offering himself as he was, frail and sinful to a holy and a righteous God,11   Cf. Isa vi. 5-8, while the idea of a purely spiritual offering would have seemed to him abstract and meaningless. The life offered must be that of another, innocent and pure, free from all impurity and sin, and yet withal the symbol of an ideal life to which he aspired and with which he could identify himself. It is because of this fundamental conviction that the idea of self-sacrifice is wanting, or is present only in germ, in the Old Testament. Ideas, however, are often implicit in a ritual before they gain an independent existence. In Old Testament worship the idea of self-sacrifice was waiting to be born, secured by its bonds from the cheap and attenuated expressions it has often suffered in later religious systems. The main obstacle to a healthy development was the passive character of the Levitical offering; the worshipper faced the demand of identifying himself with that which could neither will nor experience the glory of vicarious sacrifice. If the system could have supplied this want, in a form which was at once both ethical and spiritual, it would have been able to furnish a perfect ritual of expiation, available not only for ceremonial defects, but also for desperate sins done 'with a high hand'. To say this is only to make the just acknowledgment that underlying the Old Testament sacrificial system lay noble spiritual ideas, capable of being enlarged and purified, which belong to any doctrine of atonement worthy of the name.

Before examining the attitude of Jesus to the sacrificial principle it is necessary to consider the significance of the 73 prophetic reaction to the cultus.11   Among recent discussions see R. H. Kennett, The Church of Israel, 120-8; J. Skinner, Prophecy and Religion, I78ff; W. Eichrodt, Theologie des Alten Testaments, i. 64-82; F. N. C Hicks, The Fullness of Sacrifice, 55-91; W. L. Wardle, History and Religion of Israel, 18of.; C. R. North, Expository Times, xlvii. 252f.; T. H. Robinson, Hebrew Religion, 201f.; A. C. Welch, Prophet and Priest in Old Israel, 47f., 76-102. This inquiry is necessary because the two questions are closely related in current discussions; it is also required in view of the opinions stated above.

While a study of the Old Testament reveals a noble idea at the heart of sacrifice, it no less clearly shows how easily sacrificial worship can be perverted and debased, so that it becomes a moral opiate and a substitute for righteousness. This danger is manifest from the protests of the prophets of the seventh and eighth centuries B.C. which in some cases are carried so far as to amount to a repudiation of the cultus. Amos declares that God will not accept the burnt-offerings and sacrifices of the people, and indignantly asks: 'Did ye bring unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?' (v. 21-6). 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than22   Or 'apart from'. Cf. J. Skinner, Prophecy and Religion, 179; R. H. Kennett, op. cit., 12 in. burnt offerings' is the message of Hosea (vi. 6). Isaiah denounces the Temple treading of men whose hands are full of blood, and cries: 'To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats' (i. II). In a well-known passage Micah, or a later writer, asks whether Yahweh will be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousands of rivers of oil, and shows that what He requires is 'to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God' (vi. 7f.). Similar views are expressed in some of the 74 later Psalms, notably in Psa. xl. 6, l. 13, and li.16 f,11   But see the comments of C. A. Briggs, I.C.C., The Book of Psalms i. 354, 419, ii. 9. but the most pronounced opposition to sacrifice is that voiced by Jeremiah who sarcastically bids the people eat their burnt-offerings as well as the flesh they are accustomed to eat when offering sacrifice, and then roundly declares as his message: 'For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: but this thing I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you' (vii. 22f.). In these words,22   Cf. J. Skinner, Prophecy and Religion, 183; R. H. Kennett, of. cit., 123f.; G. A. Smith, Jeremiah, I58f. and perhaps also in those of Amos,33   Cf. E. A. Edghill, The Book of Amos, 57; R. S. Cripps, The Book of Amos, 27. Cripps points out that in the wilderness wanderings there was little opportunity for sacrifice, and says that the words of Amos 'fall short of the implication of those of Jeremiah,' op.cit., 339. See also W. O. E. Oesterley and T. H. Robinson, Hebrew Religion, its Origin and Development: 'But that Amos contemplated the entire abrogation of the sacrificial system at the time at which he lived ... is difficult to believe,' p. 299. the sacrificial system is expressly rejected, and the demands of a purely spiritual and ethical religion are set in its place. All the prophets place the ethical requirements of God in the foreground, but in the case of Jeremiah they are made a substitute for the cultus. Thus, when he announces the new covenant which Yahweh will make with the house of Israel, it is described in significant contrast with the covenant of Sinai. It is 'not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt' (Jer. xxxi. 32). Yahweh's law will be put 'in their inward parts' and written 'in their heart'. No mention is made of sacrifices or of 'the blood 75 of the covenant', as in Exodus xxiv. 8, and the forgiveness of God is promised directly. 'And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying. Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more' (Jer. xxxi. 34).

The greatness of this conception and of the personality of Jeremiah are undoubted, and there is no need to speak of the blessings which have attended the 're-discovery of the prophets'. These things are plain to read for him who runs. In life, however, as it exists, advantages are not unaccompanied by corresponding disadvantages, and in return for its unbalanced appreciation of the teaching of Jeremiah modern theology has paid a heavy price. It is astonishing that it has been so little observed that Jeremiah makes impossible demands on human nature and too easily assumes that man can fulfil the demands of a holy God. Of the symbolism of sacrifice and its value for frail and erring men he has no appreciation, nor can he penetrate beneath pagan excesses to those underlying principles which find a sublimated expression in the figure of the Servant of Yahweh. The truth is that Jeremiah identified sacrifice, with its abuses, and in this he displays the characteristic vice of an ardent reformer. His true greatness lies in his splendid affirmations and in his unsparing condemnation of magical practices; his failure is his inability to see the greatness of the system he condemns. It is not too much to say that his rough rejection of sacrifice, as endorsed by many commentators, has not a little to do with the widespread modern assumption that an objective Atonement is unnecessary, for, if his teaching is valid, the sole function of the Cross of Christ is that it gives a final revelation of the love of God.


With the exception of Jeremiah, and possibly also of Amos, the teaching of the pre-exilic prophets does not amount to a repudiation of the sacrificial system,11   See the important article of A. R. Johnson, 'The Prophet in Israelite Worship', Expository Times, xlvii. 312-9. but is a vigorous and healthy protest against its patent abuses. This protest did not go unregarded, and in the post-exilic period every effort is made to establish and commend a purified system. Thus, Ezekiel who speaks of 'a new heart' which God will give to His people and 'a new spirit' which He will put within them (xxxvi. 26), puts sacrifice at the very centre of Jewish ritual in his picture of the worship of the restored Temple (cf. xl.-xlviii.); and Haggai and Zechariah urge upon the people the supreme necessity of the rebuilding of the Temple (Hag. i. 4-11; Zech, i. i6f.). This change of attitude is partly to be explained by the fact that the abuses against which Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah had thundered were now a thing of the past, but it is also due to growing conceptions of the divine holiness (cf. Ezek. i. 26-8). The later Psalms not only reecho the teaching of the pre-exilic prophets, but also reveal the joy with which sacrifice was offered and the spiritual ideas with which it was associated. The writer of Psa. xxvi, desires to wash his hands in innocency and to compass Yahweh's altar, and says:

'Lord, I love the habitation of thy house,

And the place where thy glory dwelleth.'

Psa. xxvii. speaks of offering in God's tabernacle 'sacrifices of joy' and of singing praises unto Yahweh (verse 6), and the same spirit appears in Psa. lxvi. 3-5:

'I will come into thy house with burnt offerings,

I will pay thee my vows,

Which my lips have uttered,


And my mouth hath spoken, when I was in distress.

I will offer unto thee burnt offerings of fatlings,

With the incense of rams;

I will offer bullocks with goats,'

and in Psa. cvii. 21f.:

'Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness,

And for his wonderful works to the children of men!

And let them offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving,

And declare his works with singing.'

In Ecclesiasticus the son of Sirach emphasizes the ethical demands of righteousness in the spirit of the earlier prophets, when he says (xxxiv. 18f.) :

'He that sacrificed! of a thing wrongfully gotten,

His offering is made in mockery;

And the mockeries of wicked men are not well-pleasing.

The Most High hath no pleasure in the offerings of the ungodly;

Neither is he pacified for sins by the multitude of sacrifices,'

but he also exalts the priesthood of Aaron who was chosen,'To offer sacrifice to the Lord, Incense, and a sweet savour, for a memorial, To make reconciliation for thy people' (xlv, 16), [/poem]

and describes at length and with enthusiasm the glory of the high priest Simon, the son of Onias, the way in which he received the portions out of the priests' hands while his brethren were 'as a garland round about him', and how afterwards the sons of Aaron shouted and sounded trumpets of beaten work, while the people fell down upon the earth on their faces 'to worship their Lord, the Almighty, God Most High' (l. 1-2 1).

In the Rabbinical writings the importance of repentance as a necessary condition in sacrificial worship is stressed. In the Mishnah it is laid down that 'death and the Day of 78 Atonement effect atonement if there is repentance' (Yoma, 8). A man is not to presume on the possibility of expiation by saying 'I will sin and the Day of Atonement will effect atonement'; if he does so, 'then the Day of Atonement effects no atonement'. It is also said that 'for transgressions that are between a man and his fellow the Day of Atonement effects atonement only if he has appeased his fellow' (Yoma 9).11   Cf. H. Danby, The Mishnah, 172. The destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 naturally raised the greatest problems in Jewish minds regarding sacrifice. A well-known story tells that when R. Joshua ben Hananiah saw the Temple in ruins, he said to his teacher, R. Johanan ben Zakkai, 'Woe to us, for the place where the iniquities of Israel were atoned for us is destroyed!' 'Do not grieve', was the reply of Johanan, 'for we have an atonement which is equal to it, namely, deeds of mercy, as the Scripture says, "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice".'22   Cf. G.F. Moore, Judaism, ii. 172. A saying of R. Nehemiah explains that sufferings 'are a better atonement than sacrifice, for sacrifices are of a man's property, sufferings in his person, and "all that a man hath will he give for his life" (Job ii. 4)'.33   See Strack-Billerbeck, ii. 277. These noble sayings show how deeply the ethical teaching of the prophets had influenced the minds of Jewish thinkers in later times; it would be a mistake, however, to suppose that they came to repudiate the sacrificial cultus. In the 'amidah the devout Jew prays: 'Mayest Thou bring back the sacrifice to Thy holy house, and the fire-offerings as well as their prayers receive with favour'44   Cf. F.C.N. Hicks, The Fullness of Sacrifice, 107., and in the additional 'amidah for sabbaths, new moon, and festivals he asks that 'the prayers of our lips may be 79 accounted, accepted, and esteemed before Thee, as if we had offered the daily sacrifice at its appointed time, and had been represented by our delegation'.11   M. Gaster, The Prayer Book and Order of Service of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, i. 11, cited by E. O. James, Origins of Sacrifice, 264.

The question: What was the attitude of Jesus to the sacrificial system? must now be faced. This question is of great importance because it is bound up with the further question whether He thought of His suffering and death in terms of sacrifice.

The variety of critical opinion upon these questions is in itself a sufficient warning that the true answer is not easy to find. Our previous discussion of such themes as the Kingdom of God, Messiahship, and the Suffering Servant predisposes us to expect that His attitude to sacrifice will display the same originality and distinctiveness we have found elsewhere. This, in fact, proves to be the case.

On the one hand, an attitude of detachment from the cultus on the part of Jesus is visible in the Gospel records. It is remarkable that there is no evidence to show that He ever participated in the Temple sacrifices. Not even in the Fourth Gospel, where there are several references to 'feasts' at Jerusalem,22   Cf. Jn. ii. 13, v. 1, vi. 4, vii. 2, 10, x. 22. is it said that Jesus offered sacrifice or was present at the time of offering. The only evidence which might suggest that He did take part in the sacrifices is the story of Preparations for the Passover (Mk. xiv. 12-6) and the saying: 'With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer' (Lk. xxii. 15). This evidence, however, is uncertain because, while the Passover counted as a sacrifice,33   Cf. G.B. Gray, op. cit., 352. its character at the time was 80 mainly that of a memorial meal.11   Cf. G.B. Gray, op. cit. 376; R. H. Kennett, op. cit., 135. Moreover, the offering of the lamb is not mentioned. The argument from silence always needs to be stated with care, and it may be accidental that no positive tradition has survived, but the probabilities are that Jesus stood apart from the Temple rites without questioning their validity. This attitude is further illustrated in the story of the Cleansing of the Temple (Mk. xi, 15-7). It is probably too sweeping a conclusion to infer, with R. H. Kennett,22   Op. cit., 133. that the story implies an attack by Jesus upon the cultus, but there is in His action an implicit condemnation of the traffic in victims inseparably connected with the sacrifices, as well as a protest against the greed and the secular spirit which turns 'a house of prayer' into 'a den of robbers' (Mk. xi. 17).33   Cf. A.E.J. Rawlinson, St. Mark, 156.

On the other hand there is no sufficient evidence to show that Jesus shared the attitude of some of the pre-exilic prophets in repudiating the sacrificial system. The only passages which might seem to point in this direction are Mt. ix. 13a, xii. 7 and Mk. xii. 33f.

Of these passages, the first two are quotations of Hos. vi. 6: 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' Both are Matthaean insertions in Markan stories, Mt. ix. 13a in the story about Eating with Publicans and Sinners (Mk. ii. 16), and Mt. xii. 7 in the story of Cornfields on the Sabbath Day (Mk. ii. 23-8). It would be a rash interpretation to say that in using this quotation Jesus was repudiating the cultus. The attitude implied is that of Isaiah, Hosea, and other prophets who condemned unethical sacrificial practices. There is a bold assertion of the superiority of moral claims over those of ritual, but nothing parallel to the root and branch rejection 81 characteristic of Jeremiah. This view is confirmed by the more important passage in Mk. xii. 33f. where Jesus agrees with the scribe who says concerning God: 'To love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.' Again, there is the same healthy recognition of the supremacy of the ethical over the ceremonial, shown by the reply of Jesus: 'Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.' No one, however, would suppose that the scribe meant his words as a rejection of the Old Testament sacrificial system, nor can the reply of Jesus be interpreted in such a sense. The point of view is bold and detached, but it is not one of repudiation.

Far from rejecting the cultus, Jesus on occasion commanded its observance. When He healed the leper, He said: 'Go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them' (Mk. i. 44), and in the story of the Ten Lepers He says: 'Go and shew yourselves unto the priests' (Lk. xvii. 14). The significance of these words is seen only when it is remembered that the requirement of the Levitical Law included the sacrifice of lambs and a meal offering of fine flour mingled with oil (Lev. xiv. 10). If it is said that only by fulfilling the commands of the Law could lepers be certified as clean, it remains true that recourse to the cultus could never have been enjoined by one who repudiated it, unless he had made it clear that his advice was merely in the interests of conventional prudence. Of this attitude, however, there is no evidence in the records, and the suggestion is not in accord with the mind and spirit of Jesus.

Even more significant is the saying recorded in Mt. v. 23f.: 'If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, 82 and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.' These would be strange words on the lips of one who rejected the sacrificial system! Not only is the spirit in which sacrifices are to be offered indicated, but a command or, at least, an invitation to 'come and offer' is given.

In view of these passages the conclusion must be drawn that, in relation to the sacrificial system, the attitude of Jesus was not that of an iconoclast, but rather that of one who, while alive to its limitations, recognized its place in the religious life of the nation. It may safely be said that, if Jesus had condemned the sacrificial system, early Christian tradition would not be as silent as it is, for the Gospels faithfully record His condemnation of scribal teaching in relation to the Sabbath, Korban, fasting, tithing, and ceremonial washings. But no word of His in opposition to that system can be cited, other than the inconclusive passages already examined, while, as we have seen, other sayings point in the opposite direction. It is therefore impossible to agree with the opinion of R. H. Kennett, that 'our Lord accepted and indeed "fulfilled" the teaching of the great pre-exilic prophets on the subject of sacrifice'.11   0p.cit., 135. Apart from the quotation from Hosea in Mt. ix. 13a, xii. 7, it is just the well-known anti-sacrificial Old Testament sayings which are so markedly wanting in the quotations of Jesus; and it is worth noting that, while He quotes the words of Isaiah freely,22   Cf. Mk. iv. 12, vii. 6f., ix. 48, xi. 17, xii. 1, xiii. 8, 24f.; Mt. v. 4, 35, vi. 6, xi. 5 (= Lk. vii. 22), xi. 23 (=Lk. x. 15); Lk. iv. 18f, xxii. 37. His use of Jeremiah is sparing.33   Cf. Mk. xi. 17 ('a den of robbers'); Mt. vii. 22 ('prophesy by thy name,') xxiii. 38 (= Lk. xiii. 35, 'Your house is left unto you desolate'). 83 It is often said that, when Jesus spoke of a 'new covenant', He was referring to Jer. xxxi 31. If, as is probable, this assertion is true, it must be inferred that He was correcting, or at least adding to, Jeremiah's teaching; for He spoke of 'the new covenant in my blood' or of 'the blood of the covenant', an idea which is quite foreign to the prophet's forecast, and for which it is necessary to go to the account of the institution of the Covenant, with its accompanying sacrifices, described in Exodus xxiv. 811   'And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.' See further the discussion in Part II, p. 136f.

The respect with which Jesus regarded the cultus is in harmony with His attitude to the Temple. While He foretold the destruction of the Temple (Mk. xiii. if.), it is clear from the evidence supplied by the Gospels, and especially the M source, that He held it in high esteem. He was often to be found teaching in the Temple-courts (Mk. xi. 27, xii. 35, xiv. 49; Lk. xix. 47, xxi. 37f.); and paid the annual tax of half a shekel for its support (Mt. xvii. 24). He spoke of the Temple as sanctifying the gold by which it was adorned (Mt. xxiii. 17), and of the altar as sanctifying the gift that was brought to it (Mt. xxiii. 19). The Temple was for Him the dwelling-place of God (Mt. xxiii. 21), and Jerusalem was 'the city of the great King' (Mt. v. 35), In consequence, it must be concluded that when He spoke of the doom of the Temple buildings, it was with the sorrow of a patriot rather than with the wrath of an iconoclast.22   Cf. B.H. Branscomb: 'Whatever the facts may be as to the charge that he threatened to destroy the Temple, we may be sure that he spoke of its coming destruction rather in the prophetic manner of a punishment to come upon the nation than as a divine judgment against the Temple itself,' Jesus and the Law of Moses, 114.

The attitude of Jesus to the sacrificial system is entirely 84 in keeping with His attitude to the Law of which that system formed part. On the one hand, there is unmistakable evidence that His attitude to the Law, both oral and written, was singularly free and even revolutionary in its implications; on the other hand, it is equally clear that He reverenced the Torah and estimated its principles and its commands in the highest terms. He subordinated the claims of the law of the Sabbath to the demands of compassion (cf. Mk. ii. 23-8, iii. 1-5); He reinterpreted the law of divorce (cf. Mk. x. 2-12; Lk. xvi. 18); He repudiated the growing demand that laymen should be ceremonially pure before partaking of food (cf. Mk. vii. 5-8); He condemned oaths which stood in the way of duties towards parents (cf. Mk. vii. 9-13); He roundly assailed the principle fundamental to taboos on food when He declared: 'There is nothing from without the man, that going into him can defile him: but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man' (Mk. vii. 15).11   Mark adds to the similar saying in vii. 18f.: 'making all meats clean.' In these passages the stage is set for those who would contend that Jesus rejected the Torah, but such a conclusion would be entirely erroneous, for both in Q and in M there are sayings of a totally different kind. From Q comes the saying on tithing at the expense of judgment and the love of God, which ends with the words: 'But these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone' (Lk. xi. 42; Mt. xxiii. 23); and the declaration: 'It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the law to fall' (Lk. xvi. 17 ; cf. Mt. v. 18).22   The Matthaean form of this saying may be derived from M. Even more striking are the sayings taken from M the claim of Jesus that He came, not to destroy, but to fulfil the law and the prophets (Mt. v, 17); the assertion that the man who breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be 85 called least in the kingdom of heaven (Mt. v. 19); the saying which sets the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees as a standard to be exceeded if men are to enter into the kingdom (Mt. v. 20); and, most remarkable of all, the recognition that the scribes and the Pharisees 'sit on Moses' seat', and the command: 'All things therefore whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not after their works; for they say, and do not' (Mt. xxiii. 2f.). It is reasonable to urge that some of these sayings have been sharpened in the course of transmission, and have been given a definiteness which originally they did not possess,11   Cf. B.H. Branscomb, Jesus and the Law of Moses pp. 212, 231f.; B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels, 256f. but it is in the highest degree unlikely that they are inventions, without any historical basis in the actual teaching of Jesus. The conflict between the more liberal section in the primitive Church, represented by Paul, and the more conservative party at Jerusalem, represented by James, is inexplicable if both sides could not appeal to sayings of Jesus which, taken in isolation, supported the claims of each. It is impossible, therefore, to argue with any justice that Jesus rejected the Torah; on the contrary, we must conclude, with B.H. Branscomb, that while 'Paul stands out in a new and stronger light as an interpreter and exponent of the teachings of Jesus', yet, at the same time, 'Jesus had been no iconoclast', but 'had spoken of the Torah in terms of deepest appreciation'.22   Op. cit. 279f.

In the present argument it would be right to claim that the greater includes the less, and that the attitude of Jesus to the Law excludes the suggestion that He repudiated the sacrificial system. Investigation, however, yields a more positive result; it shows that in both cases His attitude was actually the same. Accordingly, we must 86 conclude that, while perceiving the limitations of sacrificial worship, Jesus was no less conscious of its abiding religious values.

This conclusion raises a presumption in favour of the view that Jesus thought of His death in terms of sacrifice. The two passages which are usually cited in this connexion are Mk. x. 45: 'The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many' (lutron avti pollon), and Mk. xiv. 24: 'This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many.'11   Matthew adds: 'unto remission of sins' (xxvi. 28). In I Cor. xi. 25 the saying appears in the form: 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood.' Cf, Lk. xxii. 20. These sayings must receive detailed consideration later. Here it is sufficient to say that certainly the second, and probably also the first saying, indicates that, when Jesus spoke of His death, His thought was influenced by Old Testament teaching regarding sacrifice. In the case of the first passage, this conclusion cannot be established on linguistic grounds, but depends on whether the phrase 'a ransom for many' reflects the influence of Isa. liii., and whether the idea of the Servant, as Jesus understood it, was a sacrificial concept. In the second passage the sacrificial interpretation is inescapable. The term 'blood' does not simply indicate a violent death; its association with the idea of a 'covenant' in all the variant forms in which this saying appears fixes its meaning as blood poured out in sacrifice, and this interpretation is confirmed by the words 'which is shed for many'. Whatever explanation of the death of Jesus we may give to-day, there can be no doubt at all that Jesus Himself understood its meaning in terms of sacrifice.

Is it possible to express this broad conclusion more precisely? It is quite improbable that Jesus thought of 87 His death as a higher substitute for any one of the Old Testament sacrifices, such as, for example, the sin-offering or the guilt-offering. This would be altogether too crude an explanation of His thought and would do justice neither to His detached attitude to the cultus nor to the character of these particular sacrifices. It is much more likely that the ideas implicit in sacrificial worship influenced His thinking, and, in particular, the idea of a representative offering to God in which men might share. Whether He entertained this belief depends on whether He thought of His death as representative and as mediatorial; and this question depends in turn upon the interpretation we give to His sayings and to the character of His mission and destiny as He saw them in the course of His ministry.

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