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Rice, E. (1999). Freud, Moses, and the Religions of Egyptian Antiquity: A Journey Through History. Psychoanal. Rev., 86(2):223-243.

(1999). Psychoanalytic Review, 86(2):223-243

Freud, Moses, and the Religions of Egyptian Antiquity: A Journey Through History

Emanuel Rice, M.D.

Since the first appearance of Moses on the world's stage as an abandoned infant floating on a river in Egypt—be it recorded fact, fanciful memory, or utter fantasy—he has played a central role in human history through the present day. In recent years there have appeared a number of books pertaining to Sigmund Freud's (1939) treatment of Moses in his penultimate work, Moses and Monotheism (e.g., Paul, 1996; Rice, 1990; Yerushalmi, 1991). In my own work (Rice, 1990), I highlighted the very personal meanings that Moses had for Freud and why the subject took on such importance for him. I noted that regardless of the historical and biblical accuracies or inaccuracies, as the case may be, Moses and Monotheism was an autobiography in disguise, a love story between father and son, that is, between Jacob Freud and Sigmund, dressed in aggressive garb. It has been said that every idea had its own autobiography, and that certainly is the case here. Freud was expressing his ambivalence toward his father and his religion. This motive was betrayed by the idiosyncratic scenario that Freud created regarding the history of the Iewish people and the central role that Moses played in it. Nevertheless, Moses and Monotheism can, on some level, be treated as a historical document, a point to which I shall return later.

Akhenaten, Moses, and Freud

Freud first became interested in the figure of Moses early in the early 1900s, when he was irresistibly attracted to the statue of Moses by Michelangelo (Freud, 1914) when he visited Rome.

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