Religion of the Father? Judaism, Anti-Judaism, and the Family Romance


One of the most common clichés of our culture defines Judaism as the “religion of the Father.” For some this is just a neutral description referring to the fatherly aspect of the Jewish
God; for others this is the very epitome of the patriarchal prejudice which privileges the masculine Father Figure at the expense of everything maternal. In my essay, however, I would like to challenge this staple association, by pointing to the simple fact that Jews themselves very rarely – if ever – describe their religion in openly patriarchal terms. In fact, when described in psychoanalytic terms, the role of the Father is here merely transitory: he is to inaugurate a series of subsequent detachments, starting from the disintegration of the first bonds of love (to maternal body and, more generally, to the body of nature) and ending with the complete neutralisation of the “family romance.” The Father Figure, therefore, is called upon only to counteract the power of the primordial “attachments” and initiate a process of separation which will allow the subject to establish himself as a free and mature moral agent, truly “born” into the world.

Assmann, Jan, 1998: Moses the Egyptian. The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Bielik‑Robson, Agata, 2011. The Saving Lie. Harold Bloom and Deconstruction. Chicago, Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Bloom, Harold, 1990: The Book of J. New York: Harper Publishers.

Ferenczi, Sandor, 1994: Thalassa: A Theory of Genitality. London: Karnack Books.

Handelmann, Susan, 1982: The Slayers of Moses. The Emergence of Rabbinic Interpretation in Modern Literary Theory. Albany: SUNY Press.

Lacan, Jacques, 2004: Le séminaire, livre X. L’angoisse. Ed. Jacques‑Alain Miller. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Lacan, Jacques, 2005: Des noms‑du‑père. Ed. Jacques‑Alain Miller. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Lyotard, Jean‑Francois, 1989: “Figure Foreclosed.” In: Lyotard Reader. Trans. Andrew Benjamin. Oxford: Blackwell.

Marquard, Odo, 1979: Der Lob des Polytheismus: Über Monomythie und Polimythie. Haag: de Gruyter.

Marquard, Odo, 1985: “Aufgeklärter Polytheismus – auch eine politische Theologie.” In: Marquard, Religionstheorie und politische Theologie. Bd.1, Der Fürst dieser Welt. Carl Schmitt und die Folgen. Ed. Jacob Taubes. Paderborn: Schöningh.

Rank, Otto, 2010. The Trauma of Birth. Eastford: Martino Fine Books.

Santner, Eric L., 2001: On Psychotheology of Everydaylife. Reflections on Rosenzweig and Freud. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Taubes, Jacob, 2009: “On the Current State of Polytheism.” In: From Cult to Culture. Fragments Towards a Critique of Historical Reason. Ed. Aleida Assmann. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Treml, Martin, 2012. “Reinventing the Canonical: The Radical Thinking of Jacob Taubes.” In: Escape to Life: German Intellectuals in New York: A Compendium on Exile After 1933. Eds. Eckart Goebel and Sigrid Weigel. New York: Walter de Gruyter & Co.

Bielik-Robson, A. (1). Religion of the Father? Judaism, Anti-Judaism, and the Family Romance. Romanica Silesiana, 12(1). Pobrano z

Agata Bielik-Robson