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The Stepping Stone of Sacrifice

Very few films capture horror like Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. Set in the decaying Mayan civilization, we see Mayan warriors raiding neighboring villages to kidnap victims and march them back to their city to be eviscerated and decapitated as offerings to their god.

The scenes of savage ritual are a stark reminder that from the beginning of history, sacrifice has been a core element of religion. The archeologists and anthropologists tell us that in virtually every primitive society, sacrifice of some kind was practiced.

The Hebrew religion rose above the ancient Near East cults inasmuch as they eschewed the human sacrifices to Moloch and Baal, substituting animals. Furthermore, their system of sacrifice was linked to a more sophisticated understanding of religion. Sacrifice for the Hebrews was not a simple action of appeasing a capricious god. Instead the animals were offered up for reconciliation, forgiveness and peace.

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