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On Sacrifice
Moshe Halbertal

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"[T]here is no doubt that Halbertal is a master guide through both foreign and familiar terrains. He has the rare ability to revivify arcane topics and texts without sacrificing their complexity on the altar of relevance. The result is a rich and genuinely exciting discussion, one that leaves the philosophically inclined reader with a deep sense that the seemingly narrow and dated topic of sacrifice may be central to contemporary attempts to understand what it is to live a meaningful life."--Jeremy Wanderer, Jewish Review of Books

"This brief book is a compact, in-depth analysis of the meanings of sacrifice in Jewish-Christian culture; it points out both the benign and malignant aspects that have tethered the philosophical- theological conversation swirling around this issue down the centuries. Halbertal is a scholar’s scholar."--Donald J. Dietrich, European Legacy

"Moshe Halbertal . . . has written a masterpiece. Sacrifice is the most primary and basic form of ritual, and in On Sacrifice, Professor Moshe Halbertal has made that eminently clear. Like his other writings, this is profound and deep work, and one definitely worth reading."--Ben Rothke, Times Of Israel


"Moshe Halbertal has a tremendous knack for turning arcane topics and esoteric texts into the most exciting and topical ideas to think about. On Sacrifice moves from biblical practices of animal sacrifice to modern ideas about self-sacrifice in war. The book is at its most profound in sorting out the relation between violence and sacrifice. Altogether, this is a very moving and deep book--philosophically, anthropologically, and religiously."--Avishai Margalit, author of On Compromise and Rotten Compromises

"A rich, fresh, and gently intense meditation, and one that will engage anyone interested in what the author calls 'the most primary and basic form of ritual' known to humankind. Halbertal is especially compelling in his treatment of the slippery dynamics between the violent and transcendent aspects of sacrifice, and their echoes across moral and political registers of the real."--Peter Cole, translator and editor of The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950--1492

"This is an important book, full of wonderful ideas about biblical sacrifice, which demonstrates Halbertal's unique ability to conceptualize biblical and rabbinic texts, drawing philosophically interesting implications from their language and narratives. His account of sacrifice as a gift in a hierarchically asymmetric structure provides a corrective to those who would simply appropriate Mauss' theory, and Halbertal's take on the relation between sacrifice and violence reverses in many ways Girard's approach."--Josef Stern, University of Chicago

"Halbertal's brilliant book unearths deep connections between practices of religious sacrifice and modern sacrifice for the state in war and peace."--David J. Luban, Georgetown University

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File created: 11/22/2015

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