The Scapegoat: ideas so far

Back in July Simon had the idea that we discuss the idea of the scapegoat (& the festival of Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement) and scapegoating in society, possibly with a view to putting on an artistic/ worship event around the theme.

When we had an initial brainstorm we had thought about different connotations associated with the idea of scapegoat, depending on context. In our first session we looked at scapegoating in contemporary life – the idea of scapegoating is a divisive one, blaming an-other (group) for problems. In looking at the biblical concepts of the scapegoat (animal) at the day of atonement & then that as a picture that is fulfilled in Jesus, we see a different theme. In that initially we are seen all-together in the group of those who are on the outside (of what we should be, of being ok to be in the presence of God, of being ok to be the people of God) and in need of someone else to take evil from us so that we can all-together be inside (where we should be, in the presence of God, being the people of God). We then brainstormed artistic ways to express these ideas… hopefully more to come later…

See the post below/ above for a description of the first discussion on the term, scapegoat.

Due to us all deciding to be away on the same weekend, the open book discussion moved into the slot of “the scapegoat in media & research” and the following readings from the bible were discussed:

(Leviticus 16)

We looked at the instructions for the celebration of Yom Kippur = The day of Atonement.
Things We Noticed (please keep adding to this!):
The priest has to make atonement for his own sins and to cleanse the tabernacle itself before he can go on to offer atonement for the sins of all the people.
The goat that is chosen to be the scapegoat is the only other living being that is permitted to go into the tabernacle at this time. Its movement is then from the presence of God, to having the sins of the people openly confessed & placed on it, & then out from the people into the desert, as if the goat is God’s agent.
We noticed that central to the whole concept is the confession of the sins of all the people, that as one collective (both “native-born” and “foreigner residing among you”) they declare all their “wickedness and rebellion.”

We then moved on to looking at
(Isaiah 53)

We noticed in this reading that the “sufferring servant” (has he has been named) is described in terms that relate to both a sacrificial animal (several different kinds of situation of sacrifice seem to be being referenced) and as the scapegoat. We thought the part that references the scapegoat of the day of atonement most clearly was: “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
However, we also noticed that in terms of identification with those who are outsiders and ‘scapegoated’ today that this phrase seems particularly relevant: “By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested?”

We then also had a quick peek at Acts 7

We noticed that the thing which is so provocative about Stephen’s speech is that is goes out of his way to describe God speaking OUTSIDE of Israel and it’s ending with a CONFESSION of their (his own included as this was his people) acts of rebellion and wickedness. We also noticed how Stephen is then ‘scapegoated’ for daring to venture this opinion.

There are a few readings that we have not yet covered that we felt may also relate. One is a key one that we hope to focus on alongside our compline meditation next week:

Hebrews 9

And we also thought this is relevant:

1John chapter 1v5-9


2 thoughts on “The Scapegoat: ideas so far

  1. Hi, any more techie people able to figure out why the links I put in for the readings don’t work – they’re there when I looked at it in HTML, but just don’t seem to appear! Hence why I’ve just put the typed in stuff above them. Until we get that sorted, suggest anyone wanting to look up on net can go to as that’s where links were to go.

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