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Sacrifice: Symbol Transformation in Various Traditions Research Paper

Traditionally, religion sacrifices referred to an act of offering food, animals, burning of alter and priest dismemberment (Rothgeb 72). Priests did this in honor of a deity, and as an act of cleansing of the community. However, some sacrificial rites transformations were further exercised through custom head shaving in contemporary and ancient religion’s sects (Rothgeb 72).

The shaving of a head in the ancient religion was associated with rebirth of purity or rebirth of a state where the differences in the association depended on the beliefs of the religion. In addition, different religions had different sacrificial rites that they performed in different occasions, times and seasons.

However, sacrifice may be referred to as a response to various problems as the Leviticus prescribed (Bergen 67). This gives a different meaning to the word sacrifice as a devotion or determination given towards solving certain problems without minding the outcomes. In this paper, the word sacrifice is used as a response to solve various traditions as a means to bring transformation.

The perception of the traditions in different cultural set ups brought about the sacrifice of some people to bridge the gap between these disparities. These sacrifices had consequences but they strived towards accomplishment of their missions. Transformation of the traditions was first realized through transformation of oral traditional materials to written materials (Bergen 67).

Different cultures had different perceptions on the written materials. “In the western world we have a different attitude towards texts than other cultures” (Bergen 67). The start of this transformation was tough but eventually the target was achieved. “It may have been part of a larger collection of scrolls, but was certainly not part of an easily accessible lending library, even if most people had been able to read” (Bergen 67).

This indicates that sacrifice was offered to ensure that people were able to read. The first book to be transformed from oral traditions was the book of Leviticus that was in form of a scroll. The access to this book created possibilities of new structures, new relation between the worshipers and priests and new hierarchies of power (Bergen 67).

People started viewing differences between text and access to oral tradition, reading and storytelling and written tradition and oral tradition (Bergen 67). This transformation of oral traditions to written traditions was a sacrifice done by people who despite the challenges and views of different cultures on the written records succeeded and consequently, their sacrifice gave rise to the written materials in all fields.

Similarly, the transformation of the traditional blood offerings to the current offerings that do not involve blood shedding was a sacrifice (Bergen 72). Western people did not believe that live sacrifices championed the transformation but they sacrificed their time, resources and energy to ensure that there were transformations in the mode and types of sacrifices offered to the deities.

There was devotion to ensure this kind of transformation was due to the change of the old means of worship as seen in the Old Testament to the new means of worship as in the New Testaments (Rothgeb 74). In the Old Testament, religions and societies used to offer blood sacrifices in worshiping God, and cleaning of sins (Rothgeb 74).

Contrary, the New Testament gave a new form of sacrifices that came through the sacrifices that God gave to the world through the death of His son on the cross for the sins of the world while the son sacrificed His life to save the world.

The sacrifice of the missionaries who through their tireless work penetrated different corners of the world brought about transformations from the Old Testament’s way of offering sacrifices to the New Testament’s way. There people only believed in the Son of God and other forms of offerings such as gifts and tithes.

This transformation together with the introduction of the Bible brought about changes in the traditions especially in the African culture. In addition, the death of Christ as a sacrifice to save was a form of transformation of the body. It transforms man from the sinful nature of the body to a holy nature.

Similarly, in Buddhist and Juan, they sacrificed their traditions to oppose the habit of live offerings that they supplemented with domestic rituals that transformed the impure to pure, and mundane to spiritual. As Christian, so the Buddhist started offering gifts, gestures and sacred fires rather than offering live sacrifices (Ara 26).

Another transformation due to the sacrifice is the change in custom beliefs. Traditionally, people, societies and religions had different beliefs that governed them such as taboos, traditional medicines and other penalties that were to be penalized to people who committed different kinds of sins. Every society and religion had its own beliefs, though some religion borrowed some taboos from others (Mitra 28).

Most of these beliefs had effects associated with the community. For instance, there were communities that believed that their God heals and to them, going to hospitals or even take their children to the hospitals was a sin. This caused several people to suffer while others died of diseases that were curable.

However, through the sacrifices of the missioners during their work, they brought about changes to some of these beliefs (Rothgeb 75). During that time, they faced several objections from different religions but through persistence due to the sacrifices, they had offered to solve the problems of beliefs, and they managed to transform a large number of people from these beliefs (Rothgeb 76).

Another aspect of sacrifice as a symbol of transformation is on freedom. The United States former president George Bush repeatedly talked of sacrifice as a necessity in ensuring freedom is maintained (Rothgeb 72). Traditionally, many people were slaves of several rites, customs and beliefs. To ensure that this people were set at liberty, several people had to offer themselves as sacrifices in different ways.

They enlightened the traditional societies as well as convincing them of the drawbacks of their religions. Their sacrifices had also to go hand in hand with the sacrifices of the people who were slaves. They had to sacrifice their traditions for them to have their liberty.

In the United States, they believed that when the army went to the battlefield, they ought to sacrifice themselves as they use their resources while at the same time risking their lives (Rothgeb 76).

A sacrifice, in the case of these soldiers, usually calls for risks that may rise from the efforts to bring transformation. For the traditional people to have their freedom, they sacrificed their beliefs which finally brought about transformation.


Sacrifice, as illustrated in the paper, is a response to solve a certain problem that calls for devotion and determination. As the soldiers in the battlefield, those who offer their sacrifices must be ready for counter attacks that sometimes are challenging as they may cost even their lives.

During the missionary work, the missioners who had sacrificed themselves to bring transformation from the traditional religion and beliefs encountered opposition. However, finally, they managed to bring several transformations and from these missioners, it is evident that sacrifice calls for persistence.

Works Cited

Ara, Mitra. Eschatology in the Indo-Iranian Traditions: The Genesis and Transformations of a Doctrine. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2008, 26-28.

Bergen, Wesley. Reading ritual: Leviticus in postmodern culture. New York: Clark International, 2005, 67.

Rothgeb, Carrie. Abstracts of the Collected Works of C.G. Jung. London: BPCC Wheaton, 1992, 72-76.

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"Sacrifice: Symbol Transformation in Various Traditions." IvyPanda, 3 July 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/sacrifice-symbol-transformation-in-various-traditions/.

1. IvyPanda. "Sacrifice: Symbol Transformation in Various Traditions." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sacrifice-symbol-transformation-in-various-traditions/.


IvyPanda. "Sacrifice: Symbol Transformation in Various Traditions." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sacrifice-symbol-transformation-in-various-traditions/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Sacrifice: Symbol Transformation in Various Traditions." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sacrifice-symbol-transformation-in-various-traditions/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Sacrifice: Symbol Transformation in Various Traditions'. 3 July.

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