Lecture 11 notes

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13 Feb 2011
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2010-12-01
Lec #11
CHURCH – An organization where charismatic sanctity is objectified not in the individual
members, but in the institution itself. In the priestly order, the sacraments and rituals, the sacred
texts a church is an enterprise in salvation, dispensing holiness to its members on conditions of
loyalty = mass religiosity the church is aschool for sinners’ – lower standards of purity,
knowledge, so long as members remain loyal to the church and its leadership, which extends
forgiveness and absolution, drawing upon the treasury/repository of grace and holiness held by
the church =salvation democratized’
The historical-sociological tension
New religious movements typically begin in a sectarian mode of heroic or virtuoso
religiosity and zeal, but to become a powerful or stable social presence, they must win
over those less disposed to such intense religiosity, ie, they must ‘compromise’ on the
high principles and virtuoso standards to permit a mass or popular following
THE MAKING OF ORTHODOXY (ie what is the true message, the true teachings, the
requirements etc?) so a protracted struggle over:
Successful sects thus move in the direction of becoming churches
This sets the stage for a new upsurge of sect formation
The successful again become churches
Weber sees a general cyclical pattern, passing from tradition to charismatic upsurge of rigor,
enthusiasm, zeal, which eventually leads to a new tradition, opening space for new charisma...
Christianity:
(1) Originates as a sectarian reform movement within Judaism ... (2) develops into a new
conversionistSalvationist cult religion ... (3) eventually achieving imperial church status
Source problems: no contemporary accounts of H;s ministry or career NT texts are ex post facto
faith-based” accounts, not history; NT writingsfulfill the prophecies of the Hebrew
scriptures, ~imitative modelling
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Historical context: From pompeys conquest of the region in 63BCE, the Jews were under roman
control previously: Assyrian conquest 772, Babylonian 586, then Cyrus and his Persian empire,
in 535 (rebuilding of the second temple in Jerusalem, dedicated in 515), Alexamder the Great (d
324) and his successors, Maccabean revolt and Hasmonean dynasty...
Jewish covenantal monotheism could not easily accommodate foreign domination, and exhibited
strong opposition to polytheism idolatry.
Berith, a ‘covenant’ between a people and [a/the] God:I will take yout o me for a people. And I
will be to you a God” Exodus 6.7 God also promisesall the land of canaan, for an everlasting
possession” genesis 17.8
Foreign domination thus generated ongoing religio-political tensionsL practical realism,
accommodation Idealist fervour, resistence.
Sociologically, the Jesus movement is eschatological millenarian cult*:
(1) Promise of heaven on earth:the kingdom of God is at hand”
(2) Reversal of the present social order “woe unto you rich... the last shall be first... the meek
shall inherit the earth”
(3) Upsurge and release of emotional enthusiasm:living in the spirit
(4) Intial social constituency largely of the disprivileged, the marginal.
*from the latin ‘millennium’= one thousand years; chiliasm in Greek. The belief there will be a
golden age or paradise on earth, under the rule of the returning Christ, to last up to the Day of
Judgment and the final settling of fates: eternal salvation or damnation derived from the book of
revelation
J’s message features a “cosmic politics:
The coming kingdom of God (basileia tou theou), so “render unto Caesar the things that are
Caesars Matt. 22.21 “whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” Matt 5.41
‘compel’ = technical term angarial angareuein, ‘forced labour’, transport service that occupying
forces commonly imposed, conscripting the local animals as well.
Jesus of Nazareth (6-2 BCE 26-36 CE) charismatic founder:but I say unto you” J Claims
intimate relation with God the Father (Abba, J wassent by his father”,doing his father’s
work”)
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