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Throughout Your Generations Forever: Sacrifice, Religion, and Paternity.

Throughout Your Generations Forever: Sacrifice, Religion, And Paternity. By Nancy Jay. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1992. Pp. xxvii + 194. $27.50.

In the deductive style of social science, Jay posits a relationship between sacrificial practices, gender, and social organization. She picks her way through the patrilineal kinship of the British structural functional ethnographers, examining societies where the father-son relationships are strong and interest with practices of communal or expiratory sacrifice. Jay's thesis is that sacrifice legitimates the strength of these relationships and the resulting male dominance, thus transcending women's reproductive powers.

Jay explores the threefold relationship of patriliny, sacrifice, and male dominance in ancient Israel, particularly the Priestly and Yahwist accounts in Genesis, and in the Church after Vatican II. Her work ends with a brief consideration of selected theories of sacrifice and an acknowledgement of her indebtedness to the Durkheim school.

For many today, both structuralism (Durkheim school) and structural functionalism are Procrustean beds where cultural descriptions seem tailor-made to fit the theory. If theory so strongly shapes ethnography, it is difficult to have that ethnography in turn justify theory brought to bear in other instances, namely, biblical Isreal and the post-Vatican II Church. Nevertheless, Jay's bold position concerning the link between notions of sacrifice, hierarchical structure, and male dominance are intellectually stimulating, and in a Levi-Straussian sense, "good to think".

Mary Schweitzer

Winthrop University, S.C.
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Author:Schweitzer, Mary
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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