William Robertson Smith: Sociologist or Theologian?

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William Robertson Smith is often considered to be the first modern sociologist of religion. I argue that Smith was truly a pioneering sociologist of religion, but of “primitive” and ancient religion only. He pitted primitive and ancient religion against modern religion, which for him was religion of the individual rather than of the group. I suggest that Smith's sociologising of religion, as revolutionary as it was, stops short. Where his sociology ends, his theology begins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-24
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Early online date3 Mar 2008
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


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