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Moses and Monotheism Paperback – January 12, 1955
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"To deny a people the man whom it praises as the greatest of its sons is not a deed to be undertaken lightheartedly--especially by one belonging to that people," writes Sigmund Freud, as he prepares to pull the carpet out from under The Great Lawgiver in Moses and Monotheism. In this, his last book, Freud argues that Moses was an Egyptian nobleman and that the Jewish religion was in fact an Egyptian import to Palestine. Freud also writes that Moses was murdered in the wilderness, in a reenactment of the primal crime against the father. Lingering guilt for this crime, Freud says, is the reason Christians understand Jesus' death as sacrificial. "The 'redeemer' could be none other than the one chief culprit, the leader of the brother-band who had overpowered the father." Hence the basic difference between Judaism and Christianity: "Judaism had been a religion of the father, Christianity became a religion of the son." Freud's arguments are extremely imaginative, and his distinction between reality and fantasy, as always, is very loose. If only as a study of wrong-headedness, however, it's fascinating reading for those who want to explore the psychological impulses governing the historical relationship between Christians and Jews. --Michael Joseph Gross
From the Inside Flap
Freud's speculations on various aspects of religion where he explains various characteristics of the Jews in their relations with the Christians.
Top customer reviews
Freud obviously wrestled with issues of importance to him. It’s pretty easy to understand why a professing atheist, undeniably facing his own mortality, developed an intense interest in religion. Since it was written before and after fleeing Vienna, it’s easy to see why the problem of widespread hatred toward Jews weighed heavily on his his mind. It's no wonder he puzzled about the possible connection between the collective unconscious and anti-Semitism.
He seemed to be literally talking in circles and repeating himself, which he himself noticed and did a poor job of defending. I wondered if his communication and reasoning might be hindered by pain medication since he was, after all, dying of cancer while writing this. Especially since he ultimately received so much morphine to relieve his physical pain that he slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness.
The value in this book for me is that Freud seemed to, inadvertently, do an excellent job of demonstrating the “talk therapy” he and his early mentor Josef Breuer used to cure patients. Because the flow of thought doesn’t have to be well researched, persuasive, accurate, organized, grammatically correct, logical or impressive in any way. In fact, talk therapy doesn’t even have to make sense.
The words seemed like those of a dying man who was likely drugged, further hampered by an extremely analytical mind, valiantly struggling with God issues as best he could.
I agree with some of the other reviewers, this is not an impressive theological treatise, but he was a fascinating man who made some great contributions to the field of psychology. And that is what he will always be remembered for.
Not to many people have knowledge of this subject on Freud's writings.
It is amazing to notice the author's courage exposing thesis where he attempt to prove or at least to demonstrate that Moses was an Egyptian and not a Jew.
The argument of the existence of two Moses the one from Egypt and the other from Midia, a Medianite, is also surprising although in any way fanciful.
In some bookstores this book is incorrectly classified in the psych area. This is truly a Bible history research, of course using an approach that places, in his words, religion phenomena as a model of neurotic symptoms of the individual.
As I mentioned in other book comment, this kind of study always carries some dose of speculation. Freud was not an exception but without lost of plausibility.