ATONEMENT PATTERNS IN BIBLICAL NARRATIVE: REBELLIOUS SONS, SCAPEGOATS AND BOY SUBSTITUTES
The paper gives an overview of Atonement ritual patterns and symbolism before examining how Atonement elements are played out in certain biblical narratives. I survey a number of narratives from Genesis, Joshua, Judges and 1 Samuel before exploring the atonement patterns in the 2 Samuel story of the rebellion and death of Absalom. The Day of Atonement was not unique to the ‘Israelite’ Temple/s. While I believe ‘Israel’ had its own unique understanding of Atonement, ‘Israelite’ Temple symbolism, rituals and motifs are derived from and are part of a broader family of Middle Eastern Temple theologies and practice. Atonement is related to the New Year and world renewal, celebrating the divine overcoming of Chaos e.g Marduk vs Tiamat, El/Athirat vs Yam/Leviathan, Baal vs Yam & Mot, YHWH vs Yam/Leviathan(/Azazel?). Over 30 years ago, Rictor Norton identified a homo-erotic element in such mythologies and associated sacrificial rituals. My reading of Atonement patterns in the Absalom narrative highlights such homo-erotic possibilities.