Moses and Monotheism
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Cover of the 1939 first edition
|Original title||Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion|
Published in English
Moses and Monotheism (German: Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion) is a 1939 book about monotheism by Sigmund Freud, published in English translation in the same year. It shocked many of its readers because of Freud's suggestion that Moses was actually born an Egyptian,[vague] rather than merely raised as an Egyptian.
The book consists of three essays and is an extension of Freud’s work on psychoanalytic theory as a means of generating hypotheses about historical events. Freud hypothesizes that Moses was not Hebrew, but actually born into Ancient Egyptian nobility and was probably a follower of Akhenaten, an ancient Egyptian monotheist. The biblical story of Moses is contradicted by Freud, who retells the events, claiming that Moses led only his close followers into freedom (during an unstable period in Egyptian history after Akhenaten's death ca. 1350 BCE), that they subsequently killed Moses in rebellion, and still later joined with another monotheistic tribe in Midian who worshipped a volcano god they called Yahweh. Freud supposed that the god of Moses was fused with Yahweh, and that the deeds of Moses were ascribed[vague] to a Midianite priest also called Moses.[vague] Freud explains that centuries after the murder of the Egyptian Moses, the rebels regretted their action, thus forming the concept of the Messiah as a hope for the return of Moses as the Saviour of the Israelites. Freud said that the guilt from the murder of Moses is inherited through the generations; this guilt then drives the Jews to religion to make them feel better.
The mythologist Joseph Campbell wrote that Freud's suggestion that Moses was an Egyptian "delivered a shock to many of his admirers". According to Campbell, Freud's proposal was widely attacked, "both with learning and without." Campbell himself refrained from passing judgment on Freud's views about Moses, although he considered Freud's willingness to publish his work despite its potential offensiveness "noble". The theologian Rowan Williams concluded that Freud's accounts of the origin of Judaism are "painfully absurd", and that Freud's explanations are not scientific but rather "imaginative frameworks".
The philosopher Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen and the psychologist Sonu Shamdasani write that in Moses and Monotheism Freud applied to history "the same method of interpretation that he used in the privacy of his office to 'reconstruct' his patients' forgotten and repressed memories."
- Assmann, Jan (1998). Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism Harvard University Press.
- Certeau, Michel de (1988). The Fiction of History: The Writing of Moses and Monotheism. [1975.] The Writing of History, pp. 308–354. (Translated by Tom Conley.) Columbia University Press, New York. ISBN 0-231-05574-9
- Chaney, Edward (2006). 'Egypt in England and America: The Cultural Memorials of Religion, Royalty and Religion', Sites of Exchange: European Crossroads and Faultlines, eds. M. Ascari and A. Corrado. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.
- Chaney, E, 'Freudian Egypt', The London Magazine (April/May 2006), pp. 62–69.
- Chaney, E, 'Moses and Monotheism, by Sigmund Freud’, 'The Canon', THE (Times Higher Education), 3–9 June 2010, No. 1,950, p. 53.
- Edmundson, Mark (2008). The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days Bloomsbury United States ISBN 978-1-59691-430-8
- Ginsburg, Ruth; Pardes, Ilona (2006). New Perspectives on Freud's Moses and Monotheism. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer.
- Paul, Robert A. (1996). Moses and civilization: The meaning behind Freud’s myth. ISBN 0-300-06428-4
- Rice, Emanuel (1990). Freud and Moses: The Long Journey Home. Albany, New York: State University of New York.
- Rice, Emanuel (1999). Freud, Moses, and the Religions of Egyptian Antiquity: A Journey Through History Psychoanalytic Review, 1999 Apr; 86(2):223–243. PMID 10461667
- Yerushalmi, Y. H. (1991). Freud's Moses. New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Yerushalmi, Yosef (1991). Freud's Moses: Terminable and Interminable. Yale University Press. pp. 3–4. ISBN 0-300-04921-8.
- Campbell, Joseph (1965). The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. London: Secker & Warburg. pp. 125–127.
- Williams, Rowan (1983), "Freudian Psychology", in Alan Richardson; John Bowden, A New Dictionary of Christian Theology, London: SCM Press, p. 220, ISBN 0 334 02208 8
- Borch-Jacobsen, Mikkel; Shamdasani, Sonu (2012). The Freud Files: An Inquiry into the History of Psychoanalysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 179–180. ISBN 978-0-521-72978-9.
- Moses and Monotheism text at archive.org