"The god, in human form, still carried at first the head of an animal; later on he was wont to assume the guise of the same animal. Still later the animal became sacred to him and his favourite companion or else he was reputed to have slain the animal, when he added its name to his own. Between the totem animal and the god the hero made his appearance; this was often an early stage of deification. The idea of a Highest Being seems to have appeared early; at first it was shadowy and devoid of any connection with the daily interests of mankind. As the tribes and people were knit together into larger unities and the gods also become organized into families and hierarchies. Often one of them was elevated to be the overlord of gods and men. The next step, to worship only one God, was taken hesitatingly, and at long last the decision was made to concede all power to one God only and not to suffer any other gods beside him."
In this, his last book, Freud argues that Moses was an Egyptian nobleman and that the Jewish religion was in fact an Egyptian import to Palestine. Freud also writes that Moses was murdered in the wilderness, in a reenactment of the primal crime against the father. Lingering guilt for this crime, Freud says, is the reason Christians understand Jesus' death as sacrificial. "The 'redeemer' could be none other than the one chief culprit, the leader of the brother-band who had overpowered the father." Hence the basic difference between Judaism and Christianity: "Judaism had been a religion of the father, Christianity became a religion of the son." Freud's arguments are extremely imaginative, and his distinction between reality and fantasy, as always, is very loose. If only as a study of wrong-headedness, however, it's fascinating reading for those who want to explore the psychological impulses governing the historical relationship between Christians and Jews. Amazon
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