Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Sacrifice I: Terminology

Part I: Terminology

Samaritan Priests Sacrificing Lambs on Mt Gerizim at Passover.  Source.  See also.

I have a number of posts that I want to make throughout today on sacrifice, which is appropriate given that today is Good Friday.  I think I will start out with terms, because most of us are so far removed from this act in its traditional practice that the terms have moved around on us and become rather vague.  Definitions are taken from from The Online Etymological Dictionary.
sacrifice (n.)
mid-13c., from O.Fr. sacrifise (12c.), from L. sacrificium, from sacrificus "performing priestly functions or sacrifices," from sacra "sacred rites" (prop. neut. pl. of sacer "sacred," see sacred) + root of facere "to do, perform" (see factitious). L. sacrificium is glossed in O.E. by ansegdniss. Sense of "something given up for the sake of another" is first recorded 1590s. Baseball sense first attested 1880. The verb is first recorded late 13c. Related: Sacrificed; sacrificing.
early 15c., from O.Fr. oblation "offering, sacrifice," from L. oblationem (nom. oblatio) "an offering, presenting, gift," in L.L. "sacrifice," from L. oblatus (see oblate (n.)).
1540s, "to sacrifice, kill as a victim," originally an adj. (1530s), from L. immolatus, pp. of immolare "to sacrifice," originally "to sprinkle with sacrificial meal," from in- "upon" + mola (salsa) "(sacrificial) meal," related to molere "to grind" (see mallet). Related: Immolated; immolating.
late 15c., "living creature killed and offered as a sacrifice to a deity or supernatural power," from L. victima "person or animal killed as a sacrifice." Perhaps distantly connected to O.E. wig "idol," Goth. weihs "holy," Ger. weihen "consecrate" (cf. Weihnachten "Christmas") on notion of "a consecrated animal." Sense of "person who is hurt, tortured, or killed by another" is first recorded 1650s; meaning "person oppressed by some power or situation" is from 1718. Weaker sense of "person taken advantage of" is recorded from 1781.
altar (n.)
O.E. alter, altar, from L. altare (pl. altaria) "high altar, altar for sacrifice to the great gods," perhaps originally meaning "burnt offerings" (cf. L. adolere "to worship, to offer sacrifice, to honor by burning sacrifices to"), but influenced by L. altus "high." In M.E., often auter, from O.Fr. auter. Reintroduced from Latin 1500s. As a symbol of marriage, by 1820.
An example of using these in a sentence in this way would be: "When it was time to perform the sacrifice, the priest immolated the victim on the altar as an oblation to his deity."  The later usage to mean, "giving up something for something else" would seem to derive from the earlier, technical use of the word sacrifice.  The self-sacrifice, the vicarious sacrifice, looms large in our consciousness because of the impact of an interpretation of an event that occurred in the first century of the common era.

Crucifixion - Cano Alonso, Spanish, 17th Century
~Coming up~
Part II: Tangled

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