Encyclopedia Article


An object that is given in thanks, generosity, or even supplication, often to a higher power. An offering usually consists of something that is precious, of symbolic significance to a culture, or perhaps is even rare or exotic. Animals and humans have also been used as offerings. Cannonical world texts, such as the Old Testament, offer evidence of the deep tradition of great sacrifice associated with offerings, and most cultures around the world have left a record of a range of sacrificial practices through which offerings have been made. Offerings, similar to tithes, are also collected as a sort of obligatory spiritual gesture and social donation, with the collected wealth being distributed to those in need within the community.

Photo Credit: 

Ghiberti's "The Sacrifice of Isaac," bronze, 1401, Gates of Paradise, Baptistery, Florence, Italy, photographed by by Richardfabi.

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