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Tip: Books are sorted alphabetically…

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The list of books available on PEP Web is sorted alphabetically, with the exception of Freud’s Collected Works, Glossaries, and Dictionaries. You can find this list in the Books Section.

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Gay, V.P. (1993). In the Shadow of Moloch: The Sacrifice of Children and Its Impact on Western Religions by Martin S. Bergmann New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, xi + 347 pp., $40.00. Psa. Books, 4(4):557-561.
    

(1993). Psychoanalytic Books, 4(4):557-561

In the Shadow of Moloch: The Sacrifice of Children and Its Impact on Western Religions by Martin S. Bergmann New York: Columbia University Press, 1992, xi + 347 pp., $40.00

Review by:
Volney P. Gay, Ph.D.

The scope of this book, the author's questions, and his good will make it enjoyable to read but difficult to review. Clearly the result of many years of reading in diverse fields and of years of discussion with esteemed colleagues, it contends with a vast topic—the development of two world religions—using as its leitmotif the theme of sacrificial infanticide. It is really two books. In Part One, “Sacrificial Infanticide and the Development of Western Religions,” roughly the first 200 pages, Bergmann uses historical and psychoanalytic reconstructions to account for one version of anti-Semitism. In Part Two, “Dialogue with Freud,” about 100 pages, he debates Freud's oedipal theory of religion and supplements it with a restatement of the Laius complex as a mythic expression of parental rage and aggression. Historians of religion and nonexpert audiences may favor the first part, while clinicians may favor the second.

Bergmann, who is a Clinical Professor of Psychology at New York University, a practicing psychoanalyst, and author of previous books on psychoanalysis and culture, sets out his major thesis: that the “Jewish religion as we know it today had its beginning is the prohibition against the sacrifice of children” (p. 3).

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