Moses: Freud's ultimate project

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Moses and Monotheism was the last work of Sigmund Freud, known as the founder of psychoanalysis. It is not a study of psychoanalytical issues, but mainly a study on the biblical figure Moses, albeit with psychoanalytical applications. Freud attempts to prove that Moses’ original monotheistic religion, which he, an Egyptian, gave to the Israelites, was one without sacrifices and priests, whereas the Israelite religion known from the Bible was not even strictly monotheistic. Moses’ religion was according to Freud the religion of Ikhnaton, the similarity of which to Israelite religion Freud in fact was the first to realize. The religion of Moses, which Freud thought he was able to reconstruct, was in my view in fact Judaism, which later developed from Israelite religion. Freud was a stern atheist, but nevertheless also an uncompromising Jew, who never thought atheism would exclude Jewishness. As such he stands as a fine example of Judaism being something more and else than religion and ethnicism. Freud worked on Moses and Monotheism in his five last years. What apparently pushed him was Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, which meant a threat to Freud personally and for his life work, since the Nazis outlawed psychoanalysis. This threat became reality when Germany occupied Austria in 1938. Freud fled to London where finished Moses and Monotheism, published only months before his death in September 1939. In this work Freud’s appreciation of Judaism finds a remarkable expression.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)223–242
JournalScripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis
Volume27
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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