Freud and Monotheism: Moses and the Violent Origins of Religion

Freud and Monotheism: Moses and the Violent Origins of Religion

Freud and Monotheism: Moses and the Violent Origins of Religion

Freud and Monotheism: Moses and the Violent Origins of Religion

Excerpt

Gilad Sharvit and Karen S. Feldman

There are many points of entry to Sigmund Freud’s monumental Moses and Monotheism (1939). Freud’s last work presented a remarkable contribution to a wide array of topics. the book revisited neo-Lamarckian theories of heredity, offered a theory of the formation of religions, mounted radical criticism against modern historiography, and presented a new psychoanalytic theory of the collective mind and of trauma. the historical context of the book, and Freud’s personal motivations, however, fed the book’s sense of urgency. Freud began to work on his new book on “The Man Moses” in Vienna in the summer of 1934. It was only a year after his works were added to the Nazi list of blacklisted books and burnt in the great fire that portended the dark times to come. in Moses and Monotheism, Freud addressed that upheaval. His book originated out of a desire to shed light on the anti-Semitism that would come to motivate the horrors awaiting Europe. As he revealed to his close friend the Austrian author Arnold Zweig, Freud would use his psychoanalysis to explain the long history of the hatred of his people.

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