The Bible

Abraham and the Laius Complex

With the development of psychoanalysis as a form of literary criticism, there have been many controversial new interpretations of religious texts, including the Bible. One such interpretation is that the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are dominated by the desire for the sons to be subservient to the father figure. This is what Georges Devereux calls a "Laius Complex," named after the father who tried to kill his son Oedipus because he was afraid he would kill him first (Delaney 211). While there are many instances of the Laius Complex in both the Greek and Hebrew traditions, I will focus primarily on the Akedah, the binding of Isaac, in Genesis 22. This story demonstrates ancient Hebrew culture's desire to maintain patriarchy at all costs.

In Genesis 22, God says to Abraham "Take your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you" (v. 2). Abraham does not protest, and leaves the next morning with Isaac in tow. We already know that Abraham was not afraid to argue with God. He pleaded with Him in an attempt to save the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33). It is especially...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 723 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4152 literature essays, 1399 sample college application essays, 171 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in