Blood for Thought
The Reinvention of Sacrifice in Early Rabbinic Literature
University of California Press 2017
New Books in Biblical StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Jewish StudiesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network April 5, 2018 Phillip Sherman
Mira Balberg‘s Blood for Thought: The Reinvention of Sacrifice in Early Rabbinic Literature (University of California Press, 2017) delves into a relatively unexplored area of rabbinic literature: the vast corpus of laws, regulations, and instructions pertaining to sacrificial rituals. Balberg traces and analyzes the ways in which the early rabbis interpreted and conceived of biblical sacrifices, reinventing them as a site through which to negotiate intellectual, cultural, and religious trends and practices in their surrounding world. Rather than viewing the rabbinic project as an attempt to generate a non-sacrificial version of Judaism, she argues that the rabbis developed a new sacrificial Jewish tradition altogether, consisting of not merely substitutes to sacrifice but elaborate practical manuals that redefined the processes themselves, radically transforming the meanings of sacrifice, its efficacy, and its value.
Phillip Sherman is Associate Professor of Religion at Maryville College in Maryville, TN.