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Moses, the man, liberator of his people, who gave them religion and laws, belonged to an age so remote that the threshold question arises, if he was historical or. 12 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM It has been maintained with good reason that the later history of Israel could not be understood if this were not admitted. Moses and Monotheism is a book about monotheism by Sigmund Freud, the founder of . Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.

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Editorial Reviews. Review. "To deny a people the man whom it praises as the Moses and Monotheism - Kindle edition by Sigmund Freud. Free download of Moses and Monotheism by Sigmund Freud. Available in PDF, ePub and Kindle. Read, write reviews and more. PDF version of Moses and Monotheism by Sigmund Freud. Apple, Android and Kindle by Sigmund Freud. Freud's classic work on monotheistic religions.

Melvin J. New Haven: Yale University Press, Sigmund Freud's last major work, Moses and Monotheism, was conceived and published in the s with the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany.

Its controversial nature stemmed from two sources, one from the book's provocative content and the other from the timing of its appearance at a critical period ofJewish history. The thesis ofthe book was the claim that monotheism is not of]ewish origin but that it was an Egyptian discovery by the pharaoh Amenhotep N Ikhnaton who worshipped the sun-god, or Aton. However, the slave mentality of the Israelites rebelled against the rigors of the faith by killing Moses. They allied themselves subsequently with other Semitic tribes in Midian who believed in a wrathful deity named Yahweh.

In a curious transformation, the Egyptian Moses became the work of a Midianite priest also called Moses. What is religion? I shall try to answer this question by pointing to what it is about.

Even at this fundamental level, we should be pre- pared to meet huge differences among religions.

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Cult Cult is about contact with the divine or the holy or whatever we would like to call this other sphere of reality. It means a kind of giving that is not only an enrichment for the receiver, but also a serious renunciation or abandonment for the donor.

The gift must be precious in order to achieve the desired effects of com- munication, the most important of which is atonement, reconciliation, or satisfaction. Maintaining cosmic order is the most important goal of cultic action, and it requires magical power. Magic is religion and vice versa—at least, magic is the center of the cult and the cult is the center of Egyptian religion.

Magic, in Egypt, means the operation of cosmogonic energies for the purpose of maintaining or restoring order. The energies which were once active in creating the world are still active in maintaining it, and human society is able, even obliged, to partake in this task of maintaining the universe. Giving bread and beer to the dead, for example, may be interpreted as assisting the dead to ascend to heaven and to unite with the sun god. The Egyptian idea of cult as communication with the divine is not, as one might expect, between humans and gods, but about gods and gods.

Sacred kingship is a very widespread idea, but the Egyptian concept of pharaoh as a god on earth and the son of the highest god is extreme in its emphasis on the divinity of the ruler. Reigning is another way of operating cosmogonic energies. It is the continuation of creation under the conditions of the existing world.

The most important aspect of ruling, and the primary role of the king, is to establish and to maintain contact with the divine world. The similarity between divine and mortuary ritual is striking. The basic idea of reconciliation is the same. This seems to be another peculiarity that sets Egyptian religion off from other religions. There is no practice without theory, and implicit theol- ogy is the theory implied in cultic practice.

Explicit theology evolves around problems concerning the nature of the divine. It is One God from whom the world originated, in the form both of emanation and of creation as complementary ways of emergence.

The oneness of transcendent origin and the plurality of immanent manifestation are two dialectically related aspects of the world, with explicit theology focusing on the aspect of cos- mogonic unity, implicit theology on that of manifest plurality.

Humans are well cared for, the livestock of God; he made heaven and earth for their sake. He pushed back the greediness of the waters and created the air so that their nostrils might live. His images are they, having come forth from his body. For their sake he rises to heaven. If he killed his enemies and went against his children, this was only because they thought of rebellion. For their sake he causes there to be light. To see them he travels [the heavens]. He established for himself a chapel at their back.

When they weep, he hears. He created for them a ruler in the egg and a commander to strengthen the backbone of the weak. He made for them magic as a weapon to ward off the blow of happenings. Watching over them night and day, he thrashed the crooked-hearted among them as a man beats his son for the sake of his brother. God knows every name. This kind of monotheism, however, is not a matter of religion, but of genre and perspective.

In the perspective of moral philosophy, this is the only god that really counts, the one god on whom everything else including the other gods depends.

Thus, another problem of theology arises, which is the relationship between this one highest god and the multitude of other gods. An early hymn to Amun- Re, dating back perhaps to a time even before the New Kingdom, adopts the anthropocentric and henotheistic perspective of Merikare.

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Hail, Re, lord of justice, whose chapel is hidden, lord of the gods; Khepry in his boat at whose command the gods emerge; Atum, creator of human beings, who differentiates them and makes them live, who distinguishes people by the color of their skin, who hears the prayers of those in distress and is well disposed to those who call on him, who rescues the fearful from the overbearing, who judges between rich and poor.

Lord of perception, on whose lips is the creative word, it is for his sake that Hapy the inundation has come; lord of sweetness, great of love, it is to make people live that he has come. However, as Eric Voegelin writes: This single event, which overturned traditional religion in Egypt in the most fundamental way, proves the eminent place held by theology in ancient Egyptian reli- gion.

The culmination of these tendencies was reached when the whole pantheon came to be seen as just aspects of one supreme god. All gods are three: Amun, Re, and Ptah, whom none equals. He who hides his name as Amun, he appears to the face as Re, his body is Ptah. People fall down immediately for fear if his name is uttered knowingly or unknowingly. There is no god able to call him by it. The traditional paradigm of creation and sovereignty is now complemented by the new paradigm of hiddenness and manifestation.

The traditional concept of primacy has both a temporal and a hierarchical meaning. Primacy means all-ness. Creation turns into cooperation. Oneness is the quality of chaos or preexistence, whereas existence and cosmos are characterized by difference, diversity, antago- nism, and cooperation. Maintenance is teamwork. The One must become a partner. The leading model for expressing the maintenance of the world in terms of cooperation and partnership is the mythology of the Solar Course, which shows the sun god sailing in a boat through the sky and the underworld, an action in which virtually all of the gods take part.

In both aspects —being subject to periodic death and rebirth, and being confronted by a counter-power of chaos—the sun god as maintainer of the world differs from the sun god as creator of the world in that he himself becomes dependent, becomes integrated into a system of interdependence. During the Eighteenth Dynasty, this traditional cooperative model of the solar circuit had already started to give way to a different model, whose main tendency was to increase the distance between god and gods or god and the world.

Rather, he circulates around the world on a solitary course and maintains the world in a way that is very similar, if not identical, to primordial cre- ation.

This leads to a certain de-temporization of the concept of divine oneness, which is no longer restricted to chaos and preexistence, but becomes connected to the sun in relation and opposition to the world.

Thus, in a sun hymn on a pre-Amarna stela, we read: You have settled very remote, very far away; you have revealed yourself in heaven in your aloneness. Every god on earth, their arms are held out in praise at your rising. You shine, and they see, they raise themselves, their arms bent in respect before your display of power. The god confronts the world in sublime solitude. The distance between god and world has become extreme. His innovations include: Yet another hymn opposes the One and the Millions as aspects of God himself: But there being millions of lives in you for you to make them live.

In the paradigm of manifestation, God does not resign from his sublime Oneness in creating or becoming the world. From this con- cept follow two theological assumptions that will play an important role in Hellenism: God is the soul of the world and the world is the body of God.

As the ba, the soul animating the world, God is nameless and hidden, a deus absconditus: He is ba-like, hidden of name like his secrecy.

Creation is emanation. The world is created not out of chaos or prima materia, nor ex nihilo, out of noth- ing, but ex Deo, out of God. God is limitless; so is the world; God is the world. In Amarna, the One is the sun, the absolutely and overwhelmingly manifest and visible god, opposite to and animating the world, which has no divinity of its own.

In Ramesside Thebes, the One is the absolutely hidden and secret ba animating the world from within. Thus, Ramesside theology is able both to retain and to surpass the Amarna idea of Oneness.

In this context, the formula of One-and-millions returns frequently and in a number of variants. He is both one and millions, unity and plu- rality, hidden and present at the same time, in that mysterious way which this theology is trying to grasp by means of the ba concept. As ba, God is the hidden power that manifests itself in the world. However, these manifestations may also be called ba. The Bes with seven heads. The great lion who generated by himself, The great god of the beginning, The ruler of lands and the king of gods, The lord of heaven, earth, underworld, water, and mountains Who conceals his name from the gods, The giant of millions of cubits, The strong.

Your eyes are the sun and the moon, your head is the sky, your feet are the underworld. We are dealing here with the origin of a conception of the divine which was to become supremely important in late antiquity: You are the ocean. This text and many similar ones are in Greek and date from late antiquity. In spite of all these changes, however, the theological discourse con- tinues, and there is a remarkable consistency of questions and answers.

Egypt, however, is the civilization where these ideas can be traced back to a much earlier age than elsewhere and where they can be explained as the result of a long development. The importance of theology within the structure of ancient Egyptian religion cannot be overestimated. The enormous proliferation of impor- tant and highly original theological hymns, especially during the New Kingdom, the rapid evolution of ideas that took place within the theolog- ical discourse, and the range of their social and political consequences as shown by the Amarna revolution have scarcely any parallel in the ancient world before the rise of monotheism.

Even in the Old Testament there are few texts that can compare with the most advanced theological hymns of Ramesside Egypt. The Guidance of Life The norms of leading a good life, or moral philosophy, is the point where ancient Egypt differs most from our modern concept of religion.

Ques- tions of how to lead a good life are dealt with, in Egypt, not in religious but in secular texts. Lifestyle, in Egypt, is a secular, not a religious, concern. This is the idea of a judgment after death. Pharaoh was believed to ascend to heaven and unite with the gods. A plethora of rituals and recitation texts surrounded this ascension.

The decisive transformation of Egyptian funerary beliefs came with the breakdown of the Old Kingdom when these rituals, texts, and beliefs became accessible to a greater number of people all over the country. At that point, the originally royal concept of afterlife lost its political meaning and was generalized and extended to virtually every- body. The distinction between royals and mortals was transformed into the distinction between good and bad, worthy and unworthy, just and unjust.

In the Old Kingdom, this idea was ritually staged in the form of the Osiris myth. The deceased king plays the role of Osiris, his son and successor the role of Horus. This is the mythical model of the pharaonic victory over death as it was acted out in the royal funerary cult of the Old Kingdom.

Death, in mythical thought, was considered a crime that must be vindicated. The primary purpose of the judgment is to purge the soul of guilt. Guilt is interpreted as a kind of immaterial pollutant causing death and corruption of the moral self, much in the same way as the bodily pollutants which the embalmment ritual seeks to remove might cause death and corruption of the bodily self.

The court that judges the wretch, You know they are not lenient On the day of judging the miserable, In the hour of doing their task. It is painful when the accuser has knowledge. Do not trust in length of years. They view a lifetime in an hour! When a man remains over after death, His deeds are set beside him as a sum. Being yonder lasts forever. A fool is he who does what they reprove!

The question of whether or not one reaches the lords of eternity is not decided by the performance of a ritual but by a good life. The answer to this need is chapter of the Book of the Dead BD The great achievement of this text was that it made explicit the moral expectations of the judges.

The mythical model of a lawsuit between Osiris and Seth had disappeared altogether.

The whole procedure now more closely resembled an examination and an initiation. The deceased had to present himself before Osiris, the president of the court, and before a jury of forty-two judges.

Every lie would make the heart sink a little deeper on the scale. BD belongs to the genre of funerary literature, meant to equip the dead with necessary knowledge. But nothing speaks against the assump- tion that this text was important for the living as well. I have come to this town of eternity, having done good on earth. I did not rob, I was blameless, my name was not uttered for any mistake, nor any vileness and crime.

It is an effective guard for its speaker, on the day he arrives at the court that judges the distressed, discerns qualities, punishes the criminal, destroys his ba. I am without blame, I have no accuser! I am a noble and pleased with right, who conformed to the laws of the Hall of Truths, for I planned to reach the necropolis without baseness attached to my name. I am one truly straight, free of wrongdoing, who put the god in his heart and is aware of his might.

There is no room left for more than just an allu- sion to this arguably most decisive innovation in the history of Egyptian religion. Thus I offer one small example to illustrate this change. Tomorrow lies in the hands of God. It is not only about the foundation of Judaism being annually retold and literally relived through every Seder night;1 it also inspired revolutionary movements such as the Reformation, the Puritan revolt in England, and the emigration of the Puritans to America and the Boers to South Africa.

Every founder of a new religion marched in the footsteps of Moses. The very idea that religions may be founded, based on the revelation of a higher truth that puts every existing religion and tradition in the position of untruth or error, is rooted in the myth of the Exodus from Egypt. And even for Christians, who no longer locate the Promised Land in Canaan or any other geographically localizable region but in the heavenly Jerusalem or the Kingdom of God, the idea of Exodus, of leaving the old life behind in order to follow Christ, has a poignant meaning.

Theories have been formed about the causes of the ten plagues: Collision with a meteorite? A climate catastrophe because of the eruption of the Thera volcano? What could have caused the parting of the sea? A storm? Archaeology in Palestine focused on the goal of discovering traces of the conquest of Canaan that followed the emigration: Levels of destruction? A dramatic change of material culture?

Jericho in particular has been investigated, with the sole discovery that the site was deserted in Biblical times and the destruction antedates by far the events recounted in the book of Joshua.

In spite of all this desperate research, not a single trace has turned up that could shed light on what really happened. This will be the aim of this chapter.

Moses: Freud's ultimate project

On the contrary, there is a plethora of historical events and experiences that may have left their traces in the Biblical record: Where, why, how, and when? Let us ask our mnemohistorical questions: Who were the prophets? They were early and passionate mono-Yahwists, as I would like to call them, preaching exclusive loyalty to Yahweh alone. These prophets lived under the last kings of the Northern Kingdom and witnessed their desperate struggle between the two superpowers Assyria and Egypt.

The meaning of their message is obvious: We read at the beginning of chapter 2 of his book: How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear. Hosea reminded the people of the Exodus in order to warn them not to defect from the quasi-matrimonial relationship with their God; Haggai, by contrast, recalls the Exodus to encourage them to believe in the alliance with God and his promise.

Hosea is a prophet of disaster, Haggai a prophet of hope and comfort. Here, the events of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt are narrated in great detail.

Moses and Monotheism

Most of the prescriptions and prohibitions that follow from the covenant and are listed in the book do not make any sense without the story of liberation that explains and determines them. A political alli- ance between a god and a people is an absolutely new, unheard of, and unprecedented concept. As such, it requires a certain amount of historical motivation and explanation.

This is the reason why the story is told. It points to a cycli- cal construction: There are clear corre- spondences between 1 and 7, 2 and 6, and 3 and 5. Scene 2 narrates the revelation of God to Moses in the burning bush, 6 the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai. We are dealing here with a careful composition, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The tabernacle is a perfect ending of the story, which could have ended here. This motif concludes the emergence of a new reli- gion by describing its institution. The last scene 9 , the conquest, is told in the book of Joshua, which is separated from the Torah proper and relegated to the second group of books, the Prophets.

The Torah ends with the death of Moses. The story that begins with the suffering of the children of Israel in the hands of the Egyptians ends, not with the conquest of Canaan, but with the death of Moses, turning the story into a biography of Moses. It is liquidated by the life work of Moses, who has turned a mass of slaves into the people of God and has instituted a covenant in the form of a law, a cult, and a temple scene 7. The Israelites have achieved this status even before entering the Promised Land, and it is, therefore, independent of their dwelling there.

The point of the narrative is not conquest—from destitution to possession—but liberation: The Bible is careful in drawing the distinction between savior Moses and conqueror Joshua and in assigning the conqueror to the second rank.

The lasting achievement of Moses is the covenant that God has formed with him and his people. The covenant has only to be remembered in the Promised Land in order for the Israelites to enjoy the freedom that the liberation from Egyptian serfdom has bestowed on them.

To be and to remain free means to stay within the covenant and its stipulations; to abandon the covenant means to fall into the hands of other slaveholders and symbolically to return to Egypt. Why ten of them? And why this sequence, which does not show a clear climactic logic? This may explain their number. It is not one punishing and liberating event; it is a message to be forever retained and taken to heart. The motif of the ten plagues elaborates the aspect of triumph, corresponding to the aspect of trauma by which the book begins: The narrative of the Exodus proper starts with trauma and ends with triumph, the most exultant expression of which is the song of Moses in chapter 15, unfor- gettably set to music by George Frideric Handel as the third part of his oratorio Israel in Egypt.

We must not forget, however, that the story is told in a post-trau- matic situation. Exodus leads to the sealing of the cov-- enant at Mount Sinai.

This leads to the conquest of Canaan, and the centuries of living in Canaan, with all its inevitable compromises, end in the catastrophe of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile: Exodus—Covenant—Conquest—Kingdom s —Catastrophe. A new beginning and a renewal of the promise can only succeed under the condition of integrat- ing the apparently meaningless, catastrophic recent past into a broader view of sacred history—that is, by means of a feat of memory.

Remember the Exodus The theme of memory is central in the tradition about the Exodus from Egypt. As a historical narrative, the book of Exodus is in itself an act of memory. In Egypt, this was a period of a very pronounced archaism. Texts were copied, and architectural, sculptural, and pictorial 32 Myth and History of the Exodus: However, there is a decisive difference: Israel not only looked back like its neighbors, it also looked forward.

The story of the Exodus is a story of promise. The covenant at Mount Sinai looks back to the Exodus from Egypt and forward to a blessed future in the Promised Land and in union with God—on the condition of the Israelites adher- ing faithfully to the covenant and its statutes, commandments, and prohibitions. All depends on this one condition: In order to secure the keeping of the covenant, a mnemotechnique must be devised.

This corresponds to traditional usage. Treaties have to be laid down in writing on durable material, such as a silver tablet to be deposited in the temple but also—and this is crucial—to be read aloud at regular intervals before the parties concerned.

The Assyrian king Esar- haddon devised yet another ritual of commemoration. He summoned his subjects and vassals to the capital in order to swear an oath of loyalty to his designated successor Assurbanipal.

Foreseeing, however, that the change of frame, when the subjects and vassals return to their homes, will cause them to forget, Esarhaddon devised a mnemonic ritual: You speak in your heart: But then you will go away to your towns and your districts, You will eat bread and forget these oaths. But as soon as you drink from this water, You will remind yourself and you will keep this swearing-in which I have enacted on behalf of king Esarhaddon.

This mnemotech- nique far surpasses anything comparable in the ancient world. Like Esarhaddon, Moses foresees that the people will forget their obligations once they live in the Promised Land, eat bread, and become sated. And it shall be when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land he swore unto thy fathers. Learning the text of the covenant by heart. Promulgation by public inscription: Celebrating the three commemorative fests, Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, all of which provide a frame for collective commemoration of the sojourn in Egypt, the Exodus, and the Torah.

Concerning Pass- over it is said: Leviticus Moreover, it is stipulated that every seventh year the whole text of the Torah shall be read aloud to the people during Sukkot The seventh device concerns oral poetry. Moses teaches the Isra- elites a song dealing with the event of the Exodus, which they are commanded to learn by heart and to hand down orally to future gen- erations ch. This sevenfold mnemotechnique is sealed by a formula of closure and canonization: The Biblical story of the Exodus is, therefore, not only a feat of memory—remembering a profoundly decisive event of the distant past—but also and above all the foundation of a memory, part and object of a mnemotechnique that frames and supports the covenant.

To remember the Exodus and the covenant means always to remember the promise, to look into the future. As stated above, the Mosaic mnemotechnique is laid out, not in Exodus but in Deuteronomy. Yet the book of Exodus also contains instructions for a ritual of commemoration. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.

Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it.

This is how you are to eat it: For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.

For the same commemorative reason, the ritual has to be performed in the family and not in the synagogue, because the Israelites spent this night in their homes when the killing angel of the Lord struck the houses of the Egyptians.

Moses is scarcely mentioned in the Seder liturgy. This is the biggest difference between the book of Exodus, where Moses is the protagonist, and the myth of the Exodus, as reenacted in the Seder ceremony. Why do we perform these rites and obey these laws? Because we were slaves in Egypt.

In liturgical memory, history is turned into myth, into a set of archetypal patterns with regard to which the present is made transparent so that these patterns shine through and render the present readable.

As The New York Times put it some years ago: With the Seder, we move on to the level of non-everyday behav- ior. This shift from an everyday frame to a festive and exceptional one is explicitly marked and foregrounded in the Haggadah, the script for the feast.

The arrangements have to be so exceptional that they strike the minds of the uninitiated, and the youngest child has to ask the question that will trigger the chain of explanations and commemorations: God is praised for having made a difference: These passages are collected in this Midrash and attributed to four types of sons: The wise one—what does he say? The wicked one—what does he say? And since he excluded himself from the people at large, he denies the foundation of our faith.

So you 38 Myth and History of the Exodus: The simple son—what does he say? As for the one who does not know how to ask, you must begin for him, as it is written: The Midrash of the four sons is a mini-drama about memory, history, and identity. The identity question is expressed by the play with the per- sonal pronouns: I and me, us and our, you and he.

The entire ceremony is about telling the story. This is history as it is remembered and told, not as it might have happened. The Seder provides a frame for telling and explaining the story.

Who tells the story? The father and the adult participants, who play the role of the emigrants from Egypt. To whom? Because this is the story that tells us who we are. By which means, in which form? Trauma and triumph go together in liturgical memory. The triumph culminates in the crossing of the Red Sea where the persecuting Egyp- tians are drowned. This is the decisive act of liberation.

It is interesting to note that the ten plagues, this strangest element of the Exodus narrative, play such an important role in the later adaptations and retellings of the story, starting with Psalms 78 and that reduce the number to 7 which is also the number of the plagues that are prophesied in the revelation of St.

Liturgical memory—in the same way as cultural memory—provides a society with a connective structure working in both the social and the temporal dimensions. In the temporal dimension, cultural connectivity works as a principle of continuity linking past, present, and future, in that it creates meaning, memory, and expectation by integrating the images and stories of the past into a continuous present.

This aspect is the basis of myths and historical narratives such as the Exodus from Egypt. Exodus and Utopia This is the utopian aspect of Exodus. If we apply this pattern to Exodus, the parallels but also the differences become obvious.

The departure is not for the absolutely unknown: Nevertheless, there is a departure, there is an ideal constitution—to be received at Mount Sinai—and there is the land of milk and honey, a clear model of Cockaigne, the Schlaraffenland. Still, there is a utopian element in the myth of the Exodus that is responsible for its extraordinary radiance and vitality within and outside of Judaism. The Puritans in the early seventeenth century, the time when Fran- cis Bacon wrote Nova Atlantis, crossed the Atlantic Ocean and set out for America as a new Promised Land, identifying with the children of Israel going out of Egypt.

The myth, idea, or symbol of Exodus has two utopian aspects: The political aspect stresses the promise of milk and honey in the Promised Land. The religious aspect stresses the promise of a union, a kind of cohabitation with God, who plans to dwell in the midst of his people. In its religious or theological aspect as a story of conversion, Exodus symbolizes the turn from polytheism to monotheism, and from primary religions, whose history stretches back to time immemorial, to secondary religions that were founded in historical time, supplanting, absorbing, and extinguishing everything that went before.

The Exodus of the chil- dren of Israel from Egypt stands for the emancipation of humanity from its embeddedness in the world and its political, natural, and cultural powers, and for the emancipation of the divine from mundane immanence. Seen in this light, we realize that this exodus has never been fully completed. There have always been relapses, counter-movements in the direction not of freedom but of bondage.

It was this undefeatable continuity of spiritual and political tyranny and oppression—sometimes latent, sometimes manifest—that kept the idea, the myth, the book, and the symbol of the Exodus alive.

This turn is commonly understood as a process of evolution. The most important differences between natural and cultural evolu- tion consist, I would argue, in two points: Natural evolution is based on the rhythm of sexual reproduction, that is, on the sequence of generations, which, depending on the species, may be a matter of days or of decades.

Cultural evolution, on the other hand, is based, to use a term introduced by the late Jacques Derrida, on iteration and reiteration, the various ways in which cultural memory is produced, reproduced, circulated, and com- municated. Nature has neither memory nor any means of self-observation.

Natural evolution, therefore, is not aiming at any goal; it does not imply any teleology, any logic of opti- mization.

In the minds of some, to be a Jew is to be a bit strange, even, still, suspect of something one might not suspect anyone else of. The history of Jews in relation to other peoples cannot remotely be handled here, nor is it being handled by an intellectual master like Freud in his book. What might be pointed out is the delicacy with which Moses and Monotheism feels it must proceed.

The text itself starts more than once, first when Freud began his project in Vienna and wondered at the reception it might get from Catholic authorities, and then again when he emigrated to England, a freer place, but at a yet more dangerous time, after the Nazi Anschluss with Austria.

To be a Jew then was to be marked by a political anthropology aimed to eliminate them. From our vantage, we see the results.

Freud could only suspect, but his eyes were open. Critics of Freud took him to task years before not just for upsetting religious orientations, but for challenging the Victorian air everyone at that time breathed. His sacrilege — if we wish to call it that — was both his dedication to science and his stretching its borders to the edge of myth.

The scientific view of the modern sensibility simply had no room for religion or myth as explanation.When writing is intro- duced into this domain, however, there is a high degree of probability that it will lead to far-reaching transformations. This overwhelmingly traumatic experience provided a frame of coherence and meaning for older memories of comparable character: The Bes with seven heads. Until that point, people were living in a world whose limits coincided with the borders of Egypt.

A realm of understanding emerged comprising different tra-- ditions, from China to the west, and three thousand years of history. On the contrary, there is a plethora of historical events and experiences that may have left their traces in the Biblical record: From Monolatry to Monotheism Yet the transition from polytheism to monotheism is certainly not a matter of ritual but of ideas about the divine.

Pharaoh was believed to ascend to heaven and unite with the gods.