Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1898-1955) Historian of religions. Studied at the universities of Leipzig, Munich, and Berlin, and received his Ph.D. from Leipzig in 1922. He taught at Leipzig from 1924 until he was dismissed by the Nazi-dominated Saxony government in 1935. He came to the United States, where he taught at Brown University and, from 1945 to 1955, at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.

Wach was primarily a specialist in the history of religion. His major contribution to the social scientific study of religion is his textbook Sociology of Religion (University of Chicago Press 1944). This book provides an erudite, historically well-informed discussion of major issues in the field. (A short essay in which some of Wach's major ideas about the sociology of religion are presented was published in 1945.) In a 1951 essay about church, sect, and denomination, he defines these concepts and provides a wide range of historical cases as illustrations.

See also Religious Studies

William Silverman


J. M. Kitagawa, "Joachim Wach," Encyclopedia of Religion 15(1987):311-313

J. Wach, "Sociology of Religion," in Twentieth Century Sociology , ed. G. Gurvitch and W. E. Moore (New York: Philosophical Library, 1945): 406-437

J. Wach, "Church, Denomination and Sect," in Types of Religious Experience (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951): 187-208.

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