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Human Sacrifice?


Drewm777

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For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice. (Alma 34:10)

Does this fit into a Mesoamerican, Ancient Near East, or 19th century rural USA world view best?

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Does this fit into a Mesoamerican, Ancient Near East, or 19th century rural USA world view best?

I've never understood that verse as referring to "human sacrifice" (that is, that the sacrifice itself was a human). Rather, I understood it as saying that no mortal person could perform a sacrifice (of a beast or fowl) that would be sufficient to atone for the sins of man. The Mosaic Law, which required humans to sacrifice beasts/fowls, was inherently insufficient to atone. Consequently, a sacrifice that is sufficient must be "infinite and eternal."

-Smac

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I've never understood that verse as referring to "human sacrifice" (that is, that the sacrifice itself was a human). Rather, I understood it as saying that no mortal person could perform a sacrifice (of a beast or fowl) that would be sufficient to atone for the sins of man. The Mosaic Law, which required humans to sacrifice beasts/fowls, was inherently insufficient to atone. Consequently, a sacrifice that is sufficient must be "infinite and eternal."

-Smac

ah yes, I see your view. Makes more sense actually. Good thing we have a trained lawyer here who can read a text properly! ;) I think you're 100% on target. The meaning would be "For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice [performed by] man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a sacrifice [performed by a human]; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice [performed by a God]. (Alma 34:10)

PS Way to kill the thread! Geeze.

PPS Way to make me look dumb! :P

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Go to Mayavase.com and type 8351 into the "Kerr Number" field to see a Classic period Maya vase from the Dallas Museum collection that depicts a human being sacrificed, with a jaguar and a macaw next in line. Human, beast, and fowl. Alma 34:10 looks extremely Mesoamerican to me.

I would have posted the picture myself but couldn't figure out how to do it.

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Here, I'll at least CPR for a minute or two:

Mormon 4:14 And they did also march forward against the city Teancum, and did drive the inhabitants forth out of her, and did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods.

Mormon 4:15 And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and seventh year, the Nephites being angry because the Lamanites had sacrificed their women and their children, that they did go against the Lamanites with exceedingly great anger, insomuch that they did beat again the Lamanites, and drive them out of their lands.

-=-=-=

Also, I think Amulek might have been talking about the death penalty, for example:

Alma 34:11 Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.
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thanks, grego

Also, I think Amulek might have been talking about the death penalty,

Do you think the verse then, when speaking of "human sacrifice" might in fact be speaking of death penalty as administered for paying the penalty for sin? In other words, Amulek is saying that even though there was such a practice of "human sacrifice" for sin (the death penalty), it didn't remit sin since only an infinite sacrifice could do that?

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Mormon 4:14 And they did also march forward against the city Teancum, and did drive the inhabitants forth out of her, and did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods.

Mormon 4:15 And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and seventh year, the Nephites being angry because the Lamanites had sacrificed their women and their children, that they did go against the Lamanites with exceedingly great anger, insomuch that they did beat again the Lamanites, and drive them out of their lands.

The sacrifice of women and children also makes sense in a Mesoamerican context. Ethnohistoric documents from the Aztec attest to the sacrifice of women and children, with the expectation that their tears would bring forth the rains through sympathetic magic. John Sorenson has argued convincingly that warfare in the Book of Mormon happened during the dry season, so women and child sacrifice would certainly be appropriate in that context.

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Right on. (See esp. that the verse I quoted--Alma 34:11--is right after the one you started with--Alma 34:10.)

Shoooting from the hip: if the just temporal law from God didn't allow one man to atone for the sins of another in temporal matters, how could it ever be true for spiritual matters--and even if one man could, he could only die once--so who, then, would atone for *his* sins? And another, and another, and another (remember Dr. Seuss's story "King Looie Katz"--about King Louie or such and the tailholders?)--everyone would have to die in a chain, or each person themself, just to atone for everyone's death-penalty temporal sins. But here you have many spiritual death-penalty sins. It would take someone who could be allowed to die for another--thus, a God, not a man--and he had to be able to take all the sins in one death--infinite, to human understanding (I've got about a million sins x 4 billion x how many generations x how many worlds x ??).

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Right on. (See esp. that the verse I quoted--Alma 34:11--is right after the one you started with--Alma 34:10.)

Shoooting from the hip: if the just temporal law from God didn't allow one man to atone for the sins of another in temporal matters, how could it ever be true for spiritual matters--and even if one man could, he could only die once--so who, then, would atone for *his* sins? And another, and another, and another (remember Dr. Seuss's story "King Looie Katz"--about King Louie or such and the tailholders?)--everyone would have to die in a chain, or each person themself, just to atone for everyone's death-penalty temporal sins. But here you have many spiritual death-penalty sins. It would take someone who could be allowed to die for another--thus, a God, not a man--and he had to be able to take all the sins in one death--infinite, to human understanding (I've got about a million sins x 4 billion x how many generations x how many worlds x ??).

Excellent points. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. So, is it possible then that the verse actually refers to human sacrifice? If so, I submit that it fits well into a Mesoamerican context.

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I am not sure if it was mentioned but when I think of Human Sacrifice of the Aztecs and others I think of this scripture:

(Mormon 4:11-14) "And it is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually. And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people. And it came to pass that the Lamanites did take possession of the city Desolation, and this because their number did exceed the number of the Nephites. And they did also march forward against the city Teancum, and did drive the inhabitants forth out of her, and did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods."
It seems that they had degenerated to the point where they made sacrifices to the same idols as the Mesoamericans that we have other records of. As for why, they may have developed a perverted form of the Law of Sacrifice in the Gospel or the Law of Moses.
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The sacrifice of women and children also makes sense in a Mesoamerican context. Ethnohistoric documents from the Aztec attest to the sacrifice of women and children, with the expectation that their tears would bring forth the rains through sympathetic magic. John Sorenson has argued convincingly that warfare in the Book of Mormon happened during the dry season, so women and child sacrifice would certainly be appropriate in that context.

Verse 11 of the same chapter also seems to me to fit into a Mesoamerican environment. There were those in Mesoamerica who sacrificed their own blood to the gods. Notice that it does not say anything like "sacrifice himself" in the text of verse 11; it says "sacrifice his own blood." An incision was made and the blood was dripped onto bark paper and burned as a sacrifice to atone for what is displeasing to the gods by feeding them (and for other reasons as well, I imagine). So far as I am aware, North American tribes did not sacrifice blood, just as they did not appear to have alcoholic beverages like those in Mesoamerica, which also implied by the Book of Mormon itself with its descriptions of various sorts of alcoholic beverages.

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Sheesh! Haven't you guys seen Apocalypto? If you haven't, please don't. It was gross. I'm still trying to figure out who Mel Gibson's target audience was.

Roman Catholics of European extraction who have no trouble with the concept of Maya/Aztec cultural depravity which only the Christian message, delivered by Conquistadors at the point of a gun, could aleviate.

USU "And maybe, just maybe, they're right" 78

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If they had access to the Pentatuch as claimed, they were aware that human sacrifice was done by heathen nations surrounding Israel. In fact, God specifically told Isrealites they were NOT to sacrifice their sons and daughters. Also, remember Abraham being told to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac. That was typical of the idol worship of heathens of that area.

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If they had access to the Pentatuch as claimed, they were aware that human sacrifice was done by heathen nations surrounding Israel. In fact, God specifically told Isrealites they were NOT to sacrifice their sons and daughters. Also, remember Abraham being told to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac. That typical of the idol worship of heathens of that area.

Right, this is very true. However, the context of the sermon seems to imply a practice that was actually going on among them or people around them. Either way, your point is very valid.

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Does this fit into a Mesoamerican, Ancient Near East, or 19th century rural USA world view best?

I will tell you that, from my point of view, it does not seem to fit in with my cultural background (21st century American).

The reason I say this is because I have always felt a certain "jarring" when reading this verse; which I can explain only as it doesn't jibe with my cultural affinities. In other words, this idea of its not being a "human sacrifice" makes little sense to me in a culture where humans are not sacrificed.

But, as Hashbaz points out, when it is looked at through the lens of Mayan practice, which included not only human, but animal and fowl sacrifices, all of a sudden it makes a lot more sense; being a more comfortable "fit" in that context.

I think this is one of those instances where a particular verse indicates a connection with a different culture than the one in which it was published (early 19th century America); and yet is at home in a very foreign culture which also happens to be the numero uno proposition for the lands of the Book of Mormon.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Sheesh! Haven't you guys seen Apocalypto? If you haven't, please don't. It was gross. I'm still trying to figure out who Mel Gibson's target audience was.

That would be me.

Loved it!

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So far as I am aware, North American tribes did not sacrifice blood, just as they did not appear to have alcoholic beverages like those in Mesoamerica, which also implied by the Book of Mormon itself with its descriptions of various sorts of alcoholic beverages.

Interesting. :P

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Oh, those Mesoamericans were quite creative in their preparations of intoxicating beverages. They made them out of many things, ranging from certain cacti to maize.

Something else of interest to me is the fact that the Maya stayed up in the highlands of Guatemala for the most part, and in certain areas of the Yucatan. But, they never had much influence in the heart of Mexico until sometime after 385 A.D. I have always been curious as to what kept them from spreading their influence until that time, when they spread down into the lowlands rapidly after that time. Certainly they could have swept the entire region long before that time. Why did they not appear to do so? What prevented it from happening?

It is tempting to see Book of Mormon peoples as the reason. It is tempting because of the date as well. What makes it more tempting is the fact that many Book of Mormon scholars place Zarahemla and environs in the lowlands located in the heart of southern Mexico. Something seemed to have kept the Maya out of the region until the time of the demise of Nephite civilization. What was it? Coincidence? Or, am I just ignorant of facts of which I am not aware? :P

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Oh, those Mesoamericans were quite creative in their preparations of intoxicating beverages. They made them out of many things, ranging from certain cacti to maize.

Something else of interest to me is the fact that the Maya stayed up in the highlands of Guatemala for the most part, and in certain areas of the Yucatan. But, they never had much influence in the heart of Mexico until sometime after 385 A.D. I have always been curious as to what kept them from spreading their influence until that time, when they spread down into the lowlands rapidly after that time. Certainly they could have swept the entire region long before that time. Why did they not appear to do so? What prevented it from happening?

It is tempting to see Book of Mormon peoples as the reason. It is tempting because of the date as well. What makes it more tempting is the fact that many Book of Mormon scholars place Zarahemla and environs in the lowlands located in the heart of southern Mexico. Something seemed to have kept the Maya out of the region until the time of the demise of Nephite civilization. What was it? Coincidence? Or, am I just ignorant of facts of which I am not aware? ;)

Obviously you haven't yet learned that anything that seems to support the Book of Mormon is a coincidence while anything that seems to oppose it is science.

:P

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Oh, those Mesoamericans were quite creative in their preparations of intoxicating beverages. They made them out of many things, ranging from certain cacti to maize.

Something else of interest to me is the fact that the Maya stayed up in the highlands of Guatemala for the most part, and in certain areas of the Yucatan. But, they never had much influence in the heart of Mexico until sometime after 385 A.D. I have always been curious as to what kept them from spreading their influence until that time, when they spread down into the lowlands rapidly after that time. Certainly they could have swept the entire region long before that time. Why did they not appear to do so? What prevented it from happening?

It is tempting to see Book of Mormon peoples as the reason. It is tempting because of the date as well. What makes it more tempting is the fact that many Book of Mormon scholars place Zarahemla and environs in the lowlands located in the heart of southern Mexico. Something seemed to have kept the Maya out of the region until the time of the demise of Nephite civilization. What was it? Coincidence? Or, am I just ignorant of facts of which I am not aware? :P

I think you may have confused the Maya with the Teotihuacanos. There influence was absent prior to 385 AD and then became prominent for a time. The date 385 is significant because that was the time period when Teotihuacan placed one of their own as a king in the Maya country.

There is evidence of Maya culture in the lowlands long before 385 AD.

See "The Ancient Maya" by Robert J. Sharer.

It was customary for the Maya to build new structures on top of previous structures. Most of the classical structures were built over as many as three or more previous buildings.

It is only recently that interest in preclassic Maya has surfaced. The Maya Meetings in Austin last year focused on this period with many reports on the Mayan presence in the lowlands. One of th talks was about the San Bartolo site in the Guatemala lowlands which dates to 400 BC to 200 AD.

Larry P

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I think you may have confused the Maya with the Teotihuacanos. There influence was absent prior to 385 AD and then became prominent for a time. The date 385 is significant because that was the time period when Teotihuacan placed one of their own as a king in the Maya country.

There is evidence of Maya culture in the lowlands long before 385 AD.

See "The Ancient Maya" by Robert J. Sharer.

It was customary for the Maya to build new structures on top of previous structures. Most of the classical structures were built over as many as three or more previous buildings.

It is only recently that interest in preclassic Maya has surfaced. The Maya Meetings in Austin last year focused on this period with many reports on the Mayan presence in the lowlands. One of th talks was about the San Bartolo site in the Guatemala lowlands which dates to 400 BC to 200 AD.

Larry P

Thanks for the clarification. Fascinating indeed.

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