n HTS : Theological Studies - Between family and temple : Jesus and sacrifices

Volume 58, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0259-9422
  • E-ISSN: 2072-8050



Sacrifice generally aims at obtaining from and by supernatural force the right to exercise control over life. As far as Jewish sacrifices are concerned, according to Leviticus, victims' blood serves to purify the holy places of the temple and no sacrifices can expiate voluntary sins. In Mt 6:12 God's forgiveness is obtained through a trilateral relationship between the sinner, the "debtor", and God, without any expiatory sacrificial act being required. Jesus did not, however, reject the sacrificial rituals of the temple, those rituals that did not serve to expiate voluntary sins. In Jesus' proposal, the forgiveness by one individual of another implies a social conception, which includes the absence of debt, reconciliation, justice and equality. Jesus transforms and relocates two aspects of the religion of the Second Temple. In his conception, the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning of people's lives brought about by the Jubilee can happen anywhere (not only in the temple) and at any time (not only once a year for Yom ha-kippurim).

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