Oedipus and Jesus: psychoanalytic readings of the crucifixion

Hunt, Jane (2023) Oedipus and Jesus: psychoanalytic readings of the crucifixion. Religions, 14(10) (1307). pp. 1-9. ISSN 2077-1444


This paper outlines various theoretical formulations of the Oedipus complex, as elaborated in selected writings of Sigmund Freud, Paul Ricoeur and Hans Loewald and considers how these can be used to provide psychoanalytic interpretations of the death of Jesus as understood in Christian theology. It is argued that Freud’s interpretation of the death of Jesus fails to engage with the Trinitarian shape of the orthodox Christian narrative and as a result lacks resonance with believers. This paper therefore turns to the work of Hans Loewald in dialogue with Ricoeur and Freud, to provide a more contemporary alternative reading of the death of Jesus as presented in the Christian tradition. In providing oedipal readings of the crucifixion, this paper does not argue for or against the truth of the Christian narrative, but instead considers what psychological truths or wisdom can be found in the symbolism of the crucifixion.

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