Max Weber (1864-1920) Edit
Max Weber was a German sociologist, often thought to be one of the founders of sociology. For biblical scholars using sociological approaches, Weber is an essential theorist with whom to engage. In his concept of sociology, Weber focused not on society itself, but on the individuals and groups who act in and create society. He introduced the concept of “status group” as an alternative to class. These groups are bound by both shared ideas and material interests, while class is only economically determined. Another
important concept of Weber’s is the “ideal type,” models of authority through which actual historical examples can be understood.
Weber also approached religious institutions through the lens of status groups. In its fullest extent, a social group is separated by rituals, conventional, and legal restrictions. Weber applied this to post-exilic Israelites in Ancient Judaism (1917-1919). Weber also explored how religion contributes to social change. It injects a new view via the charismatic, which is then “routinized” by the creation of new laws and institutions. This process, Weber argued, accounts for both the origin of Israel and its later outsider status after the exile (Weber called them a pariah people).