The Cross

Chappell, Sophie-Grace (2018). The Cross. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 26(3) pp. 478–498.



My aim is a philosophical understanding of sacrifice, and especially of the Christian conception of sacrifice. Initially distancing myself a little from the strictly ritual notion of sacrifice, work with a concept of sacrifice as 1) a voluntary choice (2) to forgo or lose or give away (3) something costly, perhaps supremely costly, (4) as an expressive action, where (5) what is so expressed typically is or includes devotion or loyalty to something exalted. I consider three historical examples of political sacrifices, sacrifices made for a cause, and three literary examples of personal sacrifices, sacrifices made by one person for another. I note that in the Christian context it is very common for sacrifices either political or personal to be taken to be imitations of Jesus’ sacrifice as presented in the New Testament, and ask therefore how we are to understand that. My conclusion is that Jesus’ sacrifice can be seen as involving both a political and a personal aspect—but that in fact, it is can only be made as intelligible as may be by understanding it, as the Letter to the Hebrews does, in ritual terms.

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