Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews God’s Phallus: And Other Problems for Men and Monotheism by Howard Eilberg-Schwartz [also] from Beacon Press:
This thoughtful and provocative book, like the equally-rewarding Moses the Egyptian of Jan Assman, owes a great amount to reflection on Freud’s final work: Moses and Monotheism. Eilberg-Schwartz considers the ways in which divine maleness creates dilemmas for human masculinity, in the context of hetero-normative monotheism. He discusses the peculiarities of ancient Hebrew theophanies, as well as the aniconic dimensions of the tradition. He musters a persuasive case that it was the maleness of God that was problematic for Hebrews at the time of the composition of the Torah, rather than mere corporeality or even anthropomorphism.
Eilberg-Schwartz proposes that the “solutions” to the dilemma shifted with the development of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, but the underlying difficulties are still present in all these phases of the Abrahamic tradition. His call for a “polymorphously perverse” theology to loose the inherited bonds of the masculine amounts to a proposed erasure of what Assman calls the “Mosaic distinction” that provides for the existence of aniconic monotheism in the first place. In the traditions of Western religion, such a move is truly iconoclastic. [via]
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