Ancient Judaism (book)

Ancient Judaism (book)

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Ancient Judaism, also known as Ancient Palestine: Society and Religion, is a book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

 written by Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

, a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

 and sociologist, in early the 20th century. The original edition was in German - the essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

s on Ancient Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 appeared originally in the 1917–1919 issues of the Archiv fur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialforschung. Marianne Weber
Marianne Weber
Marianne Weber, , sociologist, women's rights activist and wife of Max Weber.-Girlhood, 1870-1893:...

, his wife, published the essays as Part Three of his Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie in 1920–1921. An English translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

 was made in 1952 and several editions were released since then.

It was his fourth and last major work on the sociology of religion
Sociology of religion
The sociology of religion concerns the role of religion in society: practices, historical backgrounds, developments and universal themes. There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history...

, after
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician. Begun as a series of essays, the original German text was composed in 1904 and 1905, and was translated into English for the first time by Talcott Parsons in 1930...

, The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism
The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism
The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism is a book written by Max Weber, a German economist and sociologist. It was first published in German under the title Konfuzianismus und Taoismus in 1915 and an adapted version appeared in 1920...

and The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism
The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism
The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Butthism, also known as just The Religion of India, is a book on the sociology of religion written by Maximilian Weber, a German economist and sociologist of the early twentieth century. The original edition was in German...

. In this work he attempts to explain the factors that were responsible for the early differences between Oriental and Occidental
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

Religiosity, in its broadest sense, is a comprehensive sociological term used to refer to the numerous aspects of religious activity, dedication, and belief . Another term that would work equally well, though is less often used, is religiousness...

. It is especially visible when the asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 developed by Western Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 is contrasted to mystical contemplation developed in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Weber's premature death in 1920 prevented him from following Ancient Judaism with his planned analysis of Psalms, Book of Jacob
Book of Jacob
The Book of Jacob is the third book of the Book of Mormon. Its full title is The Book of Jacob: The Brother of Nephi. According to the text, it was written by the ancient prophet Jacob, brother of the prophet Nephi, believed to have lived during the 6th century BC.While this book contains some...

, Talmudic Jewry, early Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...


Weber wrote that
Weber notes that Judaism not only fathered Christianity and Islam, but was crucial to the rise of modern Occident state, as its influence were as important to those of Hellenistic and Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....


Types of asceticism and the significance of ancient Judaism

Weber noted that some aspects of Christianity sought to conquer and change the world, instead of withdrawing from its imperfections. This fundamental distinctiveness of Christianity (when compared to Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

 religions) stems originally from the ancient Jewish prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

. Weber stated his reasons for investigating ancient Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...


History and social organization of Ancient Palestine

Weber analysed the interaction between the Bedouins, the cities, the herdsmen and the peasants. The conflicts between them and the rise and fall of United Monarchy
United Monarchy
According to Biblical tradition, the united Kingdom of Israel was a kingdom that existed in the Land of Israel, a period referred to by scholars as the United Monarchy. Biblical historians date the kingdom from c. 1020 BCE to c...

. The brief time of United Monarchy divided the period of confederacy
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

 since the Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

 and the settlement of the Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

s in Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 from the period of political decline following the Division of the Monarchy. Weber discusses the organisation of the early confederacy, the unique qualities of Israelite relations to the God of Israel, influence of foreign cults, types of religious ecstasy and the struggle of the priests against ecstasy and idol worship. Later he describes the times of the Division of the Monarchy, social aspects of Biblical prophecy, social orientation of the prophets, demagogues and pamphleteers, ecstasy and politics, ethic and theodicity of the Prophets.

Those periods were significant for religious history, as the basics doctrines of Judaism that that left their mark on the Western civilisation arose during those times.

Reinhard Bendix
Reinhard Bendix
Reinhard Bendix was a German American sociologist.Born in Berlin, Germany, he briefly belonged to Neu beginnen and Hashomer Hatzair, groups that resisted the Nazis. In 1938 he emigrated to the United States. He received his B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and subsequently...

 summarising the Weber work writes:


See also

  • External link section of Max Weber article for websites containing online works of Max Weber.

Further reading

  • Ancient Judaism, Max Weber, edited by Hans H. Gerth, Don Martindale
    Don Martindale
    Don "Wink" Martindale was the former defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League...

    , Free Press, 1967, ISBN 0-02-934130-2
  • Ancient Judaism: Biblical Criticism from Max Weber to the Present, Irving M. Zeitlin, Polity Press, 1986, ISBN 0-7456-0297-5
  • Jacob Neusner
    Jacob Neusner
    Jacob Neusner is an American academic scholar of Judaism who lives in Rhinebeck, New York.-Biography:Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Neusner was educated at Harvard University, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America , the University of Oxford, and Columbia University.Neusner is often celebrated...

    . Max Weber revisited: Religion and society in ancient Judaism. Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, 1981.