The Sociology of Religion as a Recapitulation of Christian Replacement Theology: Max Weber and the Prophetic Roots of Western Rationalism
Since Weber’s Ancient Judaism, it has been widely held that the Jews, on account of having survived the Babylonian exile only as a “pariah people”, characterized by a morality which distinguished the in-group from the out-group, became unable to bestow a universalistic dynamic to the main intellectual achievement of their own Prophets, namely, the doctrine of a universal God. However, the argument goes, there appeared Jesus and, after his death, the missionary labors of Paul, which offered the Jews an opportunity to get rid of their pariah condition and, as a result, made the access to God universal. A distinctive “Christian ethic of everyday life” could then arise in late first century and replace the then prevailing Pharisaic ethic. This replacement turned out to be the very root of Western rationalism. The paper discusses the dependence of this allegedly sociological line of reasoning on Christian replacement theology. Replacement theology is the view, which can be traced back to the patristic apologist Justin, Martyr, that Jesus’ sacrificial death made Judaism obsolete because it made universal the access to divine grace which the latter had confined to a supposed “Chosen People”.
Keywords: Sociology of Religion, Christian Replacement Theology, Hebrew Prophecy, Western Rationalism
Dr. Renan Springer de Freitas
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Antropology, Federal University of Minas Gerais