Moses and Monotheism

by Sigmund Freud

Other authorsKatharine Jones (Translator)
Paperback, 1939




New York : Vintage, 1939.


This volume contains Freud's speculations on various aspects of religion, on the basis of which he explains certain characteristics of Jewish people in their relations with Christians.  From an intensive study of the Moses legend, Freud comes to the startling conclusion that Moses himself was an Egyptian who brought from his native country the religion he gave to the Jews. He accepts the hypothesis that Moses was murdered in the wilderness, but that his memory was cherished by the people and that his religious doctrine ultimately triumphed. Freud develops his general theory of monotheism, which enabled him to throw light on the development of Judaism and Christianity.

User reviews

LibraryThing member mporto
An outstanding and audacious book.

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.
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LibraryThing member amydross
Even admirers of Freud tend to be pretty dismissive of the argument here, but I don't think it's so far-fetched... Until he gets to the stuff about genetic memories, which is pretty untenable. But say what you will about Freud, he's never dull.
LibraryThing member carlym
This is a laugher. Freud argues that Moses was an Egyptian, not a Jew, and he ties this into his psychological theory of how monotheistic religions developed. His arguments are based on things like "Moses" being an Egyptian name (ignoring the fact that an Egyptian adopting a Jewish baby is pretty likely to give the baby an Egyptian name) and the sort-of congruence between Freud's version of the story with a particular myth framework. He fits facts to his theory, and where there are no facts, he just says that research would undoubtedly prove him correct. His psychological theory depends on all of humankind having experienced a primeval conflict with a father figure and having passed this down through the generations genetically (not through oral history). The book is interesting from a historical standpoint because of Freud's fame and influence, but if you're looking for a scientific/historical analysis of religion as a social phenomenon, this isn't a good choice.… (more)


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