Biblical Literacy and Two Classical Sociologists
Keywords:Max Weber, politics and science as a vocation, biblical literacy, W.E.B. Dubois, biblical allusions, the souls of black folk
This article explores aspects of the biblical literacy of two classical sociologists, Max Weber (1864–1920) and William Dubois (1868–1963) and after discussing two examples in some depth and drawing comparisons, briefly reflects on what kinds of biblical literacy is required of contemporary readers of Weber and Dubois, if they are to make sense of their sociology given the continuing legacy of the Bible in their work. The examples of their use of biblical ideas, themes and figures are taken from Weber’s lectures, “Politics as a Vocation and Science as a Vocation,” and from Dubois’ The Souls of Black Folk. It is argued that whilst Weber uses biblical quotation to share with his audience a situation with some sociological analogy to their own case, Dubois utilises the continuing authority of the Bible amongst his White and Black audiences to affect social change and to provide an identity and purpose for Black folk post emancipation in the American South.
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