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Moses and Monotheism Paperback – January 12, 1955
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Top Customer Reviews
Despite the ongoing controversy regarding, increasing skepticism towards, and perhaps dismissal of his major ideas, Freud still engages us as one of the most influential thinkers of the past century, and this work, which, surprisingly, may come to be regarded as his masterpiece (it is a masterpiece - do not doubt that), written as he was dying of cancer of the jaw and fleeing from the Nazis (Freud was Jewish - and among all the things that it is, the book is his response to that singular experience), is his signal contribution to religious studies.
The story is that:
1) Moses was an Egyptian, likely of royal birth, that he learned monotheism from the renegade Egyptian monarch, Akenaton, who, during his brief and probably aborted reign, unsuccessfully attempted to displace the long-standing polytheism and its attendant institutions with a unitary sole deity - a sun god - not represented in any form or art .
2) - That he may have been the proprietor or governor of a fringe province, the Biblical "land of Goshen" with a population of Hebraic or Semitic descent, to whom he taught the new religion. At some point during the exodus, Moses was murdered by his followers.Read more ›
Who founded Judaism and monotheism is indeed a tricky but nevertheless intriguing question? Tom Cahill, in his wonderful and lyrical piece "The Gift of the Jews," lists monotheism as an important Jewish contribution to civilization. On the other hand, Dr. Frances Cress Welsin, in the Isis Papers, and others of her Africanist cohorts, suggest that Judaism -- as well as Christianity -- are but off-shoots of well-established Egyptian myths, rituals and religions.
While it is one thing for free-lance interlopers on either side of this issue to speculate on these matters, it is quite another when the father of modern psychology himself, Sigmund Freud, does so -- even if it is done as his last professional act.
Using his earlier work, Totem and Taboo as the psychological foundation and backdrop, Freud in his final book, spins out a not altogether unconvincing tale that Moses was an Egyptian Prince who was killed by his sons, and that monotheism was the necessary cultural invention and outcome that ultimately prevented the cycle of fratricide from continuing.
It is a fascinating read even if not up to Freud's normal high standards of analytical rigor. Despite its speculative nature, this thesis has global implications for contemporary religion, the Western worldview, and for how our current structure of morality was established and continues to work. Five stars
A conspiracy book by a mediocre paranoid is par for the course; but one written by a genius of the first order is bound to be outstanding.
To fully understand M&M one has to be somewhat conversant with Totem and Taboo, and Freud reiterates those basic premises here as well. Briefly they are as follows:
The origin of society begins with a tribe in which the dominant male gets all the women, including his sisters and Mommy.
His sons are understandably upset at being left out of the fun and complain, so Dad kills or castrates them. Or makes the mistake of being lenient and simply drives them off.
The sons, unable to find females of their own, band together go back and murder dad. Then, of course, they eat his body.
There being too many sons (and feeling repressed guilt at killing their old man) they make taboos against incest thus establishing the rule of law.
(Bet you didn't know this was the origin of Magna Carta, et al).
This keeps the gene pool safe from inbreeding but leads to all sorts of guilt feelings which get acted out politically-- not the least of which is a worshipping of Mommy, which leads to LHM -a Literal Historical Matriarchy.
(And to think feminists dislike Freud)
Next, they get fed up with being bossed about by Mom (and who wouldn't?) so they re-establish the patriarchy; only this time they stick to the rule of law, because they can't afford further fraticidal bloodshed and they invent polytheism to boot.
But deeply repressed father hatred looms within, which leads to the final step: monotheism, in which God is an avenging Father who must be appeased before he starts castrating again. . .Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book probably reveals more about Freud than Moses or monotheism. It is not extensively or objectively researched. No new revelations for me. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Texasgoldengirl
A pretty dumb book by someone who thought very highly of himself.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
It gave me a view of the connection between Judaism and Christianity I had never understood fully.Published 5 months ago by Vbalop
This book was, in the words of Jimmy Walker: "Dyn-o-mite!" Seriously, the conclusion that all religious sentiments/impulses are basically a form of neurosis relating to... Read morePublished 7 months ago by christopher Guffey
Not Frued's greatest work undoubtedly. Great speculative analysis of the cultural and mythological development of Hebrews however. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Drake Y.
While I praise Freud for his great research and thoughtful information, some of his opinions on religion as a whole come across negatively because of his own atheist beliefs. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jamie