At the pinnacle of his career, the renowned sociologist Robert Bellah did not choose to write a magnum opus refining the influential work of a lifetime, focused particularly on contemporary American society. Nor did he choose to offer an unbuttoned reflection on the future of his discipline or the culture he had so closely studied. Instead, he devoted thirteen years to a project of breathtaking scope, religion in the evolutionary history of the human species, from the primordial soup to the Dalai Lama. He asked where religion had come from, not where it was going. He eventually felt compelled to truncate this story at the “axial age,” in the first millennium before the Common Era. This 700-page “fragment” of the original vision (before his recent death, he held out hope for a smaller companion book to round it off) is a work of judicious audacity. It is high tribute to Bellah's intellect and industry that it merits the first modifier no less than the second.