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The Legacy of Moses and Akhenaten: A Jewish Perspective
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Return to Book Page. The Legacy of Moses and Akhenaten: A Jewish Perspective by Sheldon Lebold. Modern historians and scholars, beginning with Sigmund Freud, have debated the controversial theory that Pharaoh Akhenaten, vilified and deposed for establishing monotheism in Egypt, was also Moses of the Exodus. After an exhaustive examination of evidence from a variety of sources, author Sheldon Lebold suggests that Were Moses and the Pharoah Akhenaten One and the Same?
After an exhaustive examination of evidence from a variety of sources, author Sheldon Lebold suggests that crucial pieces of the story have been overlooked. Through a thoughtful analysis of ancient texts, historical documents and contemporary research, Lebold not only presents the Legacy of Moses and Akhenaten from a Jewish perspective, but also demonstrates how one man's vision laid the foundations for Judaism as we understand it today.
Documented in its pages are the life and ideals of a man who insisted that God could be experienced in the flow of history and that religion should be expressed through ethical actions. It is the story of the pharaoh who helped define and establish the religious and ethnic identity of the Jewish people. Paperback , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Legacy of Moses and Akhenaten , please sign up.
Be the first to ask a question about The Legacy of Moses and Akhenaten. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Jun 15, Cindie Harp rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book is not for everyone. When I picked it up and said, "ooooh," I am pretty sure some eyes rolled. But I love any kind of text analysis, and, when added with some archaelogy, I am in heaven. It was academic in tone, but had a couple person anecdotes to spice it up. All the technical words were explained in sufficient fashion so I, the ultimate layman and novice, could follow it.
I have no idea if this is a respected theory or another "Look we found Jesus' brother's grave" kind of thing. In any case, this book kept me engaged for its pages including appendices, which I read. We extrapolate them from the literary reorganization that transformed them with each new use. The narrative we read is supposed to reveal tendencies, but with no knowledge of the facts transcribed, we have no way of understanding them SE The truth lies elsewhere.
A twofold modernity was making its way onto the scene. Philology was accompanied by a certain anthropology and by psychology. The former, external to psychoanalysis, was essentially based on the work of the Cambridge school, represented by Jane Harrison, J. The other modernist basis is secondary in this book; it consists of proofs derived from clinical exploration. In fact, the anthropological framework allowed Freud to project psychological knowledge, acquired from individuals and their neuroses, onto a universal collective, based on the study of ritual and beliefs.
Freud speaks of analogy. In general, he relies on his imagination, and it brings him no more than a probability; he then succeeds in confirming that probability by interpreting the documentation. But imagination comes first. It is important to classify the readings according to these divergent interests. However, Freud uses the earlier work above all as a methodological reference. The experiences of analysis in fact accompany the research into an unfamiliar domain; they support it without being confused with its practice. There is nothing new in the book that expands knowledge gained elsewhere from clinical study.
A second trend focuses instead on the application of anthropological discoveries, an external dimension that Freud had included in his earlier research for Totem and Taboo. The historical construction is closely linked to that situation. A third orientation places the focus on Judaism; it considers that the Jewish question and the upsurge in anti-Semitism form the real content of the book. Some of these studies emphasize the religious aspect. Others derive more directly, and in my opinion quite rightly, from the situation in Europe during the s. The relation to psychoanalysis in Moses and Monotheism is problematic.
The rationale certainly relies on clinical experience, always by means of an analogical relation between the concepts of the masses and the individual, a relation that is hard to master, as Freud himself acknowledges. We might say that the whole construction of the book and the very course of its demonstrations proceed without psychoanalysis, or at least could do so in theory. It is true that he refers above all to his most anthropological work, Totem and Taboo , which is in some ways the most speculative. In the new work, he is dealing with a timely topic that is separate; it offers no new knowledge, no confirmation in the area of his clinical research.
Psychoanalysis is put in parentheses, so to speak. Freud speaks in his own name in a relationship that history has imposed on him, still in keeping with his work but as an addition.
The Legacy of Moses and Akhenaten: A Jewish Perspective - Sheldon Lebold - Google Книги
Grubrich-Simitis takes no account of the political situation at the time. Thirdly, she suggests that the book is basically a self-analysis, similar to the one in The Interpretation of Dreams. However, that driving force accounts for the lack of completion. All the arguments in the book are formulated intermittently and repeatedly, revealing even in their haste a strong concern for precision. They touch on Judaism, and particularly on anti-Semitism.
Neither self-analysis nor a return to origins can be primordial here; if the reason Freud penned these reflections has to do with the global struggle, it does not reside in the self unless it renders the self a Jew and a liberator. According to her reading, the child Freud transferred this event onto the financial difficulties his father had experienced Grubrich-Simitis sees this event as the key obtained through analysis; it explains the passage in the essay from ontogeny to phylogeny, which is related to the father.
However, Nazism was a threat not just to culture and wellbeing, but to human survival, an aspect of Nazism well illuminated by the history of religions. Psychoanalysis, in the minds of more than a few readers, should have nothing to do with politics. Lyricism, too, was supposed to preserve its autonomy lest it be lost. However, the war had changed everything, even for Freud. Whence, late in life, such an unexpected and timely investigation. In fact, both Freud and Lacan confine themselves to the myth and to its profound truth. Lacan read it differently, but he expresses fascination with the Freudian construction.
Oedipus is led to commit his actions by the god who is to annul his forbidden birth. Jakob Hessing, a professor in Jerusalem, sees Freud as forced by events to return to his Jewish origins Hessing In reality, he had never lost sight of them. Hitler did not lead Freud to abandon an earlier dissidence; he just pushed the psychoanalyst to defend himself. Science may be Jewish, but it is not reserved to Jews.
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Foreignness, throughout history, must be thought of in these terms: This is the inevitable outcome of persecution. Is the aim of interpretation to prevent a real reading? It has been read by being written and re-written in inevitable projections. The Jews could not be defended in any other way. In response to racism, we can say that the Jews are not a race; they freed themselves by transforming their religious practice—they are anti-racist because they are enlightened by science, the sole possible outcome of religion.
This is the way Freud declared his Jewishness, the way he wanted to be Jewish, neither assimilated nor converted. In practice this position encompasses both science and the Freudian being, in perfect harmony. At this point we cannot avoid discussion of the moment at which Freud was writing. The Jews rediscovered in Hitlerism the savage state in which they themselves had participated in their distant past, and from which they had managed to break away. It was thus an essential moment in history, thanks to their achievement of a position in absolute contradiction to the exercise of violence posited by Hobbes.
The Hebrews must have struggled as they tried to reconcile the influence to which they were subject under the aegis of despotic deities with the memory of a vision that embodied justice through the workings of the mind. This struggle, remarkably powerful because of the adversarial positions involved, led them to move on to a new stage.
Two opposing elements combined. It no longer had the status of the initial revelation. It was no longer expressed in the discourse for internal consumption that Moses had proffered in Egypt; it was a real entry into history, a delayed entry, one might say. This fact had an impact on Freud, and then on us, and it continues to do so right up to the present day. Hitler embodied a return to a stage that the Jews had left behind. This perspective radically shifts Athens from its central role. According to Freud, Greece skipped monotheism, despite all its philosophy.
It never experienced an absolute break in the religious sphere; religion, unlike philosophy, was linked to the life of the people. The study of anti-Semitism points to a bifurcation in religious history: The Jews were persecuted because they abandoned a tradition that survived elsewhere. The split was necessary. The war Hitler declared against that spirituality defines precisely the opposite pole, in direct contradiction with his actions. All people of learning are Jewish. For Freud, mono- or heno- theism is not merely symbolic of a principle of order or organization on a universal scale.
He was the one struck down with the father. Once dead, he could be worshipped by the murderers, his descendants. Freud recalls the belief in oneness, the better to distance himself from it, and to emphasize that power was a unified whole reigning on earth before it disappeared and was mistaken for an idol, a protective authority SE Evolution leads to the return of the god-father who inherits from the murdered and devoured despot the quality of being-one and being all powerful. The monotheism of Akhenaten is directly related to, indeed it ensues from, the primal murder; this monotheism involved the illusory transference of a reality, in this case the incarnation of a sun god, Aton.
It needed to be re-translated and brought back to the constitution of humanity within the realm of the living. Unity came first, before divinization. When monotheism reappeared, it had been freed of the elements that had distorted it; it had become science. A negative experience, the loss of knowledge, had had a positive effect. Remnants of the religion appeared as its inverse, still a religion, but stripped of anything associated with magic or the supernatural.
The theory of monotheism was based on the experience of the Egyptian empire it was thus a byproduct of imperialism. God was the reflection of the unlimited power represented by the sovereign. The Jews had not been in this situation; before Moses they had worshipped one of the gods peculiar to small nations. This did not prevent them from considering themselves, as a people, the favorite child. Freud imagined Judaization as a foreshadowing of himself; he felt it working within him in this ethnic form, inspired by the descriptions of the sacred. The conversion happened once; it can only be imagined through the entelechy of a primal murder, productive in its very negativity, which however masked an identification.
That is what Freud wrote five years after Hitler seized power, acting against religion.
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- The Legacy of Moses and Akhenaten: A Jewish Perspective by Sheldon Lebold.
Freud did not neglect to mention the political situation around him. The object of persecution was science, his own perhaps first and foremost, a science considered supreme, in spite of everything, in its liberating aspects. Freud places Christ within the sphere of the Jewish tradition and as a stage in its evolution. What Freud is defending is a continuity, with the conversion of Paul, in the framework of universality, a likeness and not a difference.
Saul of Tarsus introduced the guilty conscience, the awareness of culpability, which replicates original sin. The murder still cried out for atonement. One of the sons, one of the descendants of those who had killed the father, had allowed himself to be killed as an innocent man. At the same time, Paul was hostile to the primitive tradition. The new religion did not maintain the intellectual level of Judaism. The transformation brought about by spiritualization Geistigkeit was impaired, adapted to needs that were inferior but more pressing.
The Christians were Jewish and yet they were not.
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The adversary was there. Within this context, there was no religion more just than that of the Hebrews, which separated itself from the others by sublimating them. Freud learned to identify and analyze this violence and the nature of the enemy. Hitler was fighting a mindset that challenged him. That, for Freud, was what it meant to be Jewish. Under Hitler, science was proscribed; the mind was proscribed. The struggle against persecution was a struggle against these proscriptions, whether one was the founder of psychoanalysis or not.
In London in , Freud returned to the theory of socialization, which explains how the phenomenon of religion could be elevated to the status of a research topic. He recalls the central role of psychology in his demonstration; psychology is his guide. The bases of psychoanalytical research are used as referents, but more or less marginally. He does not really go back to the history of the Jews brought out of Egypt, but limits himself to the idea of monotheism, and what it meant for the good of humankind. The discourse of anti-Semitism has led to the current Nazi period, singled out by name.
Freud recognizes in National Socialism a new offensive against monotheism coming from the baalim the false gods , and going back further in time to a primeval violence. Significantly, Freud concludes his history of religions with the history of anti-Semitism, itemizing the reasons that continue to drive it. He lists eight of these SE Murder is not among them. The Jews did not admit that they had killed the father, the archetype of the idol: Christ is included in these reincarnations. Father and son are one. Freud could not avoid being torn by this situation.
If he fled from the edge of the abyss, it was not even because psychoanalysis, considered a Jewish practice, was being trampled underfoot.
The Nazis could have tolerated it if need be, provided it were entrusted to Aryans. Persecution proved that the science itself was Jewish. Psychoanalysts were condemned along with others, equally fated to defend science and fight against the enemy. Under Hitlerism religion was newly unleashed. The two domains, science and Judaism, were closely linked; the situation proved it, but they were far from being joined in public opinion, despite past experience.
In , Einstein was about to leave the United States; he was preparing to return to Germany, but he then turned around for good.
In the end, he too had to surrender to the terrifying evidence. When he conceived of the book, the irrational held sway; it ended up winning over Austria and the Vienna of psychoanalysis, so dear to his heart. Struggling against a devastating oral cancer, the man had to abandon everything, not only Vienna and the symbolic address on the Bergstrasse: One could no longer, as had been the case in traditional enlightened circles, see the Jewish God as the incarnation of justice, nor could one see the faithful whom this God protected as the people of the Book.
Nazism occupied the religious stage with brutes similar to all those the Jews had encountered in the wilderness. The baalim had taken over and had once more spread their terror; they were dreadful gods. The Semitic people had allowed themselves to be convinced by an exceptional individual, but then the age-old ideas gained the upper hand, among them and all around them.
It was not a restoration of the royal tradition, as in Egypt. Murder made it different. They rebelled and denied him, but retained the mark of a heritage. With them monotheism passed into the wider world, whether by a rupture or a denial. The murder of Moses calls to mind the protohistorical primal murder of the father. But these are two distinct murders. Moses was not resorting to violence. The common thread exists only in oneness, which was perceived as an intolerable constraint that required denying impulses so as to maintain social order. Certain aspects of collective psychology can be found elsewhere and seem widely shared.
Now we have thinking man, freed from his animal nature. Freud speaks in the name of a persecuted community, but he is not addressing Jews alone; he is writing as the founder of a threatened science. He wants to make people understand the gravity of the situation. We can deduce that the problem of Jewishness and of being Jewish remained a central preoccupation for Freud, notwithstanding the horrific events that have left their mark on the world since the Great War. No doubt he is dealing with a personal problem that he tries to analyze and understand. But we should add that these thoughts cannot be separated from his reflections on genocide.
On this issue, it is better to distinguish the question of anti-Semitism from that of affiliation; it is not tied to the individual so much as to the Jewish community, even if that community includes atheists. Was he not called upon, as Freud and as a Jew, to take a public stand and to explain the origins of such a terrifying threat? This is the challenge that Moses and Monotheism takes up; this is the appeal to which Freud responds. It is the book of a psychoanalyst, not a book on psychoanalysis. If the author is combating anti-Semitism, it is because he thinks that he has the tools to do so, that he can prove that evil is never episodic or fortuitous, that this is a matter of tremendous importance that concerns humankind and what constitutes its humanity.
Is humanity not Jewish, and anti-Semitism inhuman? The treatise was neither a testament nor an apologia, but specifically a response, the most substantial of all the counter-attacks that Freud could conceive. It was published in at the beginning of the hostilities; it had been written and produced in great haste, not only because the author was in ill health and losing his strength, but because time was short: The book explained in depth the causes of anti-Semitism in the midst of a global conflict.
Did it not propose a remedy to war? Did it not come to the rescue of all humanity? Looked at in this light, there is no way to read the book within the framework of psychoanalysis; Freud had to step firmly outside that domain. It pained him to do so; he knew that it was a gamble, but he took the risk, despite his physical frailty. The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism.