Moses And Anthropology: A New View Of The Exodus -- By: T. D. Proffitt, III
JETS 27:1 (March 1984) p. 19
Moses And Anthropology:
A New View Of The Exodus
European historiography has developed several views of the exodus. Peder-sen in 1934 and Noth in 1958 took the view that Exodus 1–15 was a “passover festival legend, holding that it came into being over the course of centuries.”1 Taking an opposite view, Mowinckel in Le Décalogue in 1927 viewed the first fifteen chapters as a description of a cultic festival or covenant renewal festival. Others tried to associate different parts of the exodus experience with different groups of Israelites. But some, like Osswald and Schmid, viewed the book of Exodus as “the product of accumulated tradition” without reference to Moses.
The most clever view was that of Freud. His Moses and Monotheism, following Seller’s work of 1922, was an attempt at applying his psychology to Near Eastern historiography. Freud’s thesis was that religion is a neurosis, a view not dissimilar to that of Karl Marx. Taking his cue from the evolution-of-religion school of historiography, Freud maintained that primal sexual latency erupted in Atenism. One of Akhenaten’s disciples, Moses, following the demise of Atenism, converted Asiatics to the pharaonic faith and united them with Midian, only to be murdered. Freud also postulated two men named Moses. Later, under the prophets, Atenism was re-established as Judaic monotheism.2
H. L. Philp criticized Freud for his methodology.3 Freud ignored the facts and misunderstood Akhenaten and his reforms. Furthermore Israel was little affected by Egyptian religion, according to T. J. Meek.4 Freud’s chronology is questionable, although in fairness it must be said that recent finds in the Gaza Strip evidence a continuation of Amarna art styles into the reign of Seti I (1302–1290 B.c.), according to Israeli archaeologist Trude Dothan in a 1981 illustrated lecture at UCLA. Freud treats the primary source, Exodus, as a nose of wax. Freud selected his facts to fit his theory, ignoring those that were contrary. Nor can the exodus or historical monotheism be explained in terms of any supposed historical evolution from polytheism.5 Neither is there any evidence for two per-
*T. D. Proffitt is a research fellow for the Organization of American States in Tijuana, Mexico.
JETS 27:1 (March 1984) p. 20
sons named Moses as Freud believed. Fohrer describes Moses as
first and fore...
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