Posted by: Ken Brown | July 2, 2009

Klawans on Ancient and Modern Animal Sacrifice

Jonathan Klawans, Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple: Symbolism and Supersessionism in the Study of Ancient Judaism:

Our society–and much of our scholarship–recoils from “primitive” sacrificial practices, but at the same time, our own food supply is remarkably susceptible to significant ethical charges. We can begin, of course, by noting that the slaughterhouse is surely no more of a welcome place for an animal than an ancient temple…. On the other hand, one can identify another realm of sacrificial practice–one even more hidden from view. On a daily basis, in public and private institutions, animals are subjected to pain and death by respected and trained professionals, all under the justification of an ideology that is essentially sacrificial: better them than us. I refer, here, to animal testing (a practice that, just to make clear, I do not categorically oppose)…. [A]nyone familiar with the ways animal deaths are routinized in laboratories, hospitals, and biology classrooms can recognize that even if ritual sacrifice were entirely eliminated, one could certainly still question whether modernity has brought any improvements at all to the lives of animals. (pg. 40)

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