For Paul’s gospel to be effective, he had to tap into man’s primeval and archaic heritage. Freud says that Paul’s success
“was certainly mainly due to the fact that through the idea of salvation he laid the ghost of the feeling of guilt. It was also due to his giving up the idea of the chosen people and its visible sign – circumcision. That is how the new religion could become all embracing, universal.” Thus, he concludes that Paul effected a “continuation of primeval history,” and that both Christianity and Judaism stem from “the religion of the primeval father, and the hope of reward, distinction, and finally world sovereignty is bound up with it.
Freud also says that Paul shifted the focus from the father to the son, seizing upon the feeling of guilt for father murder and tracing it to its primeval source:
This he (Paul) called original sin; it was a crime against God that could be expiated only through death… A son of God, innocent himself, had sacrificed himself, and had thereby taken over the guilt of the world… The Mosaic religion had been a Father religion; Christianity became a Son religion. The old God, the Father, took second place; Christ, the Son, stood in his stead, just as in those dark times every son had longed to do. Paul, by developing the Jewish religion further, became its destroyer.
Of course it was St. Augustine, not Paul, who developed the idea of “original sin.” But Freud’s insights remain relevant. We will explore his interesting insights into the reason for anti-Semitism in our next post. Until then, peace…