Religion in Human Evolution

Religion in Human Evolution

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


history.”


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


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


history.”


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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