The End of Sacrifice

Religious Transformations in Late Antiquity

Guy G. Stroumsa

Guy G. Stroumsa

Translated by Susan Emanuel
160 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 2009
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9780226777382 Published April 2009
Paper $22.50 ISBN: 9780226007267 Published November 2012

The religious transformations that marked late antiquity represent an enigma that has challenged some of the West’s greatest thinkers. But, according to Guy Stroumsa, the oppositions between paganism and Christianity that characterize prevailing theories have endured for too long. Instead of describing this epochal change as an evolution within the Greco-Roman world from polytheism to monotheism, he argues that the cause for this shift can be found not so much around the Mediterranean as in the Near East.

The End of Sacrifice points to the role of Judaism, particularly its inventions of new religious life following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The end of animal sacrifice gave rise to new forms of worship, with a concern for personal salvation, scriptural study, rituals like praying and fasting, and the rise of religious communities and monasticism. It is what Christianity learned from Judaism about texts, death, and, above all, sacrifice that allowed it to supersede Greco-Roman religions and, Stroumsa argues, transform religion itself.

A concise and original approach to a much-studied moment in religious history, The End of Sacrifice will be heralded by all scholars of late antiquity.

Marianne Djuth | Journal of Early Christian Studies

“Stroumsa’s effort to unravel the complicated maze of ideas that comprises the intellectual heritage of the ancient world is truly remarkable. Perhaps the most admirable quality of this book is its ability to find the common threads of unity among ancient religions without disparaging the differences between them. . . . It is certainly worth reading.”

Sergio Knipe | The Classical Review

“A daring book, particularly in its underlying suggestion that Judaism should be seen as both anticipating and deeply influencing the late-antique shift in religious perceptions. By taking Judaism as a marker for religious change in late Antiquity, Stroumsa confronts the reader with an original historical narrative, and offers one possible (if controversial) way of understanding this important process of transformation.”

Peter J. Leithart | Touchstone
"I have not read a book on classics that packs so much into so little space since Walter Burkert's Orientalizing Revolution."
Letter and Spirit
"This is a wise book and an excellent gateway into the study of Christian origins and comparative religion. And it is a work that helps us to better understand the religious transformations going on in the world today."
Contents
Foreword by John Scheid
Preface
Preface to the American Edition

1.         A New Care of the Self
2.         The Rise of Religions of the Book
3.         Transformations of Ritual
4.         From Civic Religion to Community Religion
5.         From Wisdom Teacher to Spiritual Master

Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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