Religion in Human Evolution

777 Pages · 2012 · 3.85 MB · English

  • Religion in Human Evolution

    religion in human evolution Religion in

    Human Evolution

    From the Paleolithic

    to the Axial Age

    Robert N. Bellah

    the belknap press of

    harvard university press

    Cambridge, Massachusetts

    London, England

    2011 Copyright © 2011 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College

    All rights reserved

    Printed in the United States of America

    Library of Congress Cataloging- in- Publication Data

    Bellah, Robert Neelly, 1927–

    Religion in human evolution : from the Paleolithic to the Axial Age / Robert N. Bellah.

    p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN 978- 0- 674- 06143- 9 (alk. paper)

    1. Religion. 2. Human evolution— Religious aspects. 3. Th eological anthropology.

    4. Ethnology— Religious aspects. 5. Religions. I. Title. II. Title: From the Paleolithic

    to the Axial Age.

    BL256.B435 2011

    200.89'009—dc22 2010054585 In memory of Melanie Bellah

    and for our grandchildren,

    and theirs . . . Contents

    Preface ix

    Ac know ledg ments xxv

    1. Religion and Reality 1

    2. Religion and Evolution 44

    3. Tribal Religion: Th e Production of Meaning 117

    4. From Tribal to Archaic Religion: Meaning and Power 175

    5. Archaic Religion: God and King 210

    6. Th e Axial Age I: Introduction and Ancient Israel 265

    7. Th e Axial Age II: Ancient Greece 324

    8. Th e Axial Age III: China in the Late First Millennium bce 399

    9. Th e Axial Age IV: Ancient India 481

    10. Conclusion 567

    Notes 609

    Index 715 Preface

    Very deep is the well of the past.

    thomas mann, Joseph and His Brothers

    Th ose moments which the spirit appears to have outgrown still

    belong to it in the depths of its present. Just as it has passed

    through all its moments in history, so also must it pass through

    them again in the present.

    hegel, Reason in History

    When one reads the poems and the writings of the ancients,

    how could it be right not to know something about them as

    men? Hence one should try to understand the age in which they

    have lived. Th is can be described as “looking for friends in


    mencius 5B:8

    Th is is a large book about a large subject. It is therefore incumbent on me to

    give the reader an explanation of why it is so long (it could be many times lon-

    ger), a road map, and a response to certain objections that may leap to the

    mind of some readers. I will begin by using the three epigraphs above to give

    an idea of what I am trying to do.

    Mann’s metap hor of the past as a well, in the opening sentence of his book,

    is complemented immediately by his second sentence: “Should we not call it

    bottomless?” It becomes clear in the long prologue that starts with these sen-

    tences that Mann is afraid, as he embarks on a story that reaches back into the

    second millennium bce, that he will fall ever further into the past, lose his

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