Review Essay

Robert Bellah's Religion in Human Evolution


  • E. N. Anderson University of California, Riverside
  • Seth Abrutyn University of Memphis



religion, evolution, sociology



Author Biographies

E. N. Anderson, University of California, Riverside

E.N. Anderson is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside.

Seth Abrutyn, University of Memphis

Seth Abrutyn is an Asssistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Memphis.


Abrutyn, Seth. 2013. ‘Conceptualizing Religious Evolution: Toward a General Theory of Macro-Institutional Change’, Social Evolution and History 12.2: 5-36.

Albertz, Rainer. 1992. A History of Israelite Religion in the Old Testament Period: From the Beginnings to the End of the Exile (London: SCM Press).

Bellah, Robert N. 1964. ‘Religious Evolution’, American Sociological Review 29.3: 358-74. Doi:

———. 2005. ‘What Is Axial about the Axial Age?’, European Journal of Sociology 46.1: 69-87.

———. 2011. Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press). Doi:

Bellah, Robert N. et al. 1985. Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (New York: Harper & Row).

Bellah, Robert N., and Steven M. Tipton. 2006. The Robert Bellah Reader (Durham: Duke University Press).

Brandt, Richard B. 1954. Hopi Ethics: A Theoretical Analysis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

Chaves, Mark. 2004. Congregations in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

Dever, William G. 2001. What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).

Donald, Merlin. 1993. Origins of the Modern Mind: Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).

Durkheim, Emile. 1973 [1925]. Moral Education: A Study in the Theory and Application of the Sociology of Education (New York: Free Press).

———. 1995 [1912]. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (trans. Karen Field; New York: Free Press).

Eisenstadt, S.N. 1984. ‘Heterodoxies and Dynamics of Civilizations’, American Philosophical Society 128.2: 104-13.

Eisenstadt, S.N. (ed.). 1986. The Origins and Diversity of Axial Age Civilizations (Albany: State University of New York Press).

Elkana, Yehuda. 1986. ‘The Emergence of Second-Order Thinking in Classical Greece’, in Eisenstadt 1986: 40-64.

Farella, John. 1984. The Main Stalk: A Synthesis of Navajo Philosophy (Tucson: University of Arizona Press).

Geertz, Clifford. 1973. ‘Religion as a Cultural System’, in The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books): 87-125.

Goody, Jack. 1986. The Logic of Writing and the Organization of Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Doi:

Hayes, John H., and J. Maxwell Miller (eds.). 1977. Israelite and Judean History (Philadelphia: Westminster Press).

James, William. 1903. The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Longmans, Green).

Jaspers, Karl. 1953. On the Origin and Goal of History (London: Routledge).

Kohlberg, Lawrence. 1983. Moral Stages (Basel: Karger).

Ladd, John. 1957. The Structure of a Moral Code: A Philosophical Analysis of Ethical Discourse Applied to the Ethics of the Navaho Indians (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

Lerro, Bruce. 2000. From Earth Spirits to Sky Gods: The Socioecological Origins of Monotheism, Individualism, and Hyperabstract Reasoning from the Stone Age to the Axial Iron Age (Lanham: Lexington Books).

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1979. Myth and Meaning (New York: Schocken Books).

Loewe, Michael, and Edward Shaughnessy (eds.). 1999. The Cambridge History of Ancient China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Doi:

Lowie, Robert. 1948. Primitive Religion (New York: Liveright, 2nd edn).

Machinist, Peter. 1986. ‘On Self-Consciousness in Mesopotamia’, in Eisenstadt 1986: 183-202.

Mazar, Amihai. 1992. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000–586 B.C.E. (New York: Doubleday Anchor).

Midgeley, Mary. 1996. ‘Sustainability and Moral Pluralism’, Ethics and the Environment 1: 41-54.

Myers, F.R. 2002. Painting Culture: The Making of an Aboriginal High Art (Durham, NC: Duke University Press).

Oppenheim, A. Leo. 1975. ‘The Position of the Intellectual in Mesopotamian Society’, Daedalus 104.2: 37-45.

Parsons, Talcott. 1966. Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice–Hall).

Radin, Paul. 1957a. Primitive Man as Philosopher (New York: Dover, rev. edn).

———. 1957b. Primitive Religion (New York: Dover, rev. edn).

Rappaport, Roy A. 1999. Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Doi:

Roetz, Heiner. 1993. Confucian Ethics of the Axial Age (Albany: SUNY Press).

Rose, D.B. 2000. Dingo Makes Us Human: Life and Land in Australian Aboriginal Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Singer, Peter. 1981. The Expanding Circle: Ethics and Sociobiology (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux).

Stark, Rodney. 2008. What Americans Really Believe (Waco: Baylor University Press).

Steward, Julian. 1972 [1955]. Theory of Culture Change (Champaign: University of Illinois Press).

Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava (ed.). 2002. Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

Tucker, Mary Evelyn, and John Berthrong (eds.). 1998. Confucianism and Ecology: the Interrelation of Heaven, Earth and Humans (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

Weber, Max. 1948. ‘Science as a Vocation’, in Hans Gerth and C. Wright Mills (eds.), From Max Weber (London: Routledge, Kegan Paul): 129-58.

Wilson, J.A.P. 2009. ‘The Life of the Saint and the Animal: Asian Religious Influence in the Medieval Christian West’, Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 3: 169-94.



How to Cite

Anderson, E. N., & Abrutyn, S. (2014). Review Essay: Robert Bellah’s Religion in Human Evolution. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 8(1), 111–127.



Review Essay