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Lecture 11

Lecture 11 notes


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC250Y1
Professor
Joseph Bryant
Lecture
11

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2010-12-01
Lec #11
CHURCH โ€“ 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 a โ€˜school for sinnersโ€™ โ€“ 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 = โ€˜salvation democratizedโ€™
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 โ€˜compromiseโ€™ 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
conversionist โ€“Salvationist 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
โ€œfaith-basedโ€ accounts, not history; NT writings โ€œfulfillโ€ the prophecies of the Hebrew
scriptures, ~imitative modelling
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Historical context: From pompeyโ€™s 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 โ€˜covenantโ€™ between a people and [a/the] God: โ€œI will take yout o me for a people. And I
will be to you a Godโ€ Exodus 6.7 God also promises โ€œall the land of canaan, for an everlasting
possessionโ€ 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: โ€œthe kingdom of God is at handโ€
(2) Reversal of the present social order โ€œwoe unto you rich... the last shall be first... the meek
shall inherit the earthโ€
(3) Upsurge and release of emotional enthusiasm: โ€œliving in the spiritโ€
(4) Intial social constituency largely of the disprivileged, the marginal.
*from the latin โ€˜millenniumโ€™= 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
Jโ€™s message features a โ€œcosmic politicsโ€:
The coming kingdom of God (basileia tou theou), so โ€œrender unto Caesar the things that are
Caesarโ€™sโ€ Matt. 22.21 โ€œwhosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twainโ€ Matt 5.41
โ€˜compelโ€™ = technical term angarial angareuein, โ€˜forced labourโ€™, transport service that occupying
forces commonly imposed, conscripting the local animals as well.
Jesus of Nazareth (6-2 BCE 26-36 CE) charismatic founder: โ€œbut I say unto youโ€ J Claims
intimate relation with God the Father (โ€˜Abbaโ€, J was โ€œsent by his fatherโ€, โ€œdoing his fatherโ€™s
workโ€)
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