Sovereignty and the Sacred challenges contemporary models of polity and economy through a two-step engagement with the history
of religions. Beginning with the recognition of the convergence in the history of European political theology between the
sacred and the sovereign as creating "states of exception"--that is, moments of rupture in the normative order that, by transcending
this order, are capable of re-founding or remaking it--Robert A. Yelle identifies our secular, capitalist system as an attempt
to exclude such moments by subordinating them to the calculability of laws and markets. The second step marshals evidence
from history and anthropology that helps us to recognize the contribution of such states of exception to ethical life, as
a means of release from the legal or economic order. Yelle draws on evidence from the Hebrew Bible to English deism, and from
the Aztecs to ancient India, to develop a theory of polity that finds a place and a purpose for those aspects of religion
that are often marginalized and dismissed as irrational by Enlightenment liberalism and utilitarianism.
this close analogy between two elemental domains of society, Sovereignty and the Sacred offers a new theory of religion while
suggesting alternative ways of organizing our political and economic life. By rethinking the transcendent foundations and
liberating potential of both religion and politics, Yelle points to more hopeful and ethical modes of collective life based
on egalitarianism and popular sovereignty. Deliberately countering the narrowness of currently dominant economic, political,
and legal theories, he demonstrates the potential of a revived history of religions to contribute to a rethinking of the foundations
of our political and social order.