The Levitical sacrifice and Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice are both mentioned in the book of Hebrews. The purpose of Hebrews has traditionally been viewed as persuading Christians who were facing severe persecution because of their faith in Jesus not to return to Judaism, their former religion. It is called relapse theory. The author of Hebrews, according to the relapse theory, denigrates the old cultus, the Levitical sacrificial system, in order to present the superiority of the new cultus, Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice. Although there have been several attempts in Hebrews scholarship to situate Hebrews as being on the same line as Judaism, a negative view of the old cultus remains prevalent due to the dichotomic view of the old and new cultus.
In contrast to the prevalent negative views of the old cultus, the thesis of this essay is that the author of Hebrews values the old cultus equally to the new cultus, using the former to emphasize the importance of the latter. Heb 5:1–3 describes the repetitive nature of the old cultus, which appears to be contrasted with 7:26–28, since the new cultus does not require repetition as the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. However, the difference in the number of cultus occurrences cannot be explained by a simple contradiction. When we have a specific hermeneutical lens, we can instead provide a more in-depth illustration of the relationship between the two sacrifices.
When we comprehend Gilles Deleuze’s concept of territorialization, we are able to gain a more profound understanding of the Hebrew concept of sacrifice. The relationship between the Levitical sacrifice and Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice is analogous to the rhizomatic structure of anthropological perspective, as shown by the correlation between territorialization, deterritorialization, and reterritorialization. This understanding allows us to see the continuity between the two cultus. The Levitical sacrifice should be discontinued because Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice completed it, but the former should not be completely abandoned because the old sacrificial system serves as the first step leading to the next and final stage, Christ’s perfect and eternal sacrifice.
This essay begins with a study of the book of Hebrews that focuses on the concept of sacrifice, followed by a brief examination of the history of research on sacrifice in Hebrews and the methodology I intend to use here. Following that, I will introduce Gilles Deleuze, a French philosopher, and his selected thoughts before applying Deleuze’s anthropology to the book of Hebrews, specifically on the concept of sacrifice, and then I will conclude this essay.