Oedipus on the Cross

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So, I’m entertaining the thought of posting a paper I wrote for my psychology of religion class entitled Oedipus on the Cross. My hesitancy in posting stems from an insecurity not only over the historical accuracy but also the validity of the exegesis. Here’s a brief sketch, if I get more time maybe I can edit and present it in full.

If one conceives of the Oedipal drama and its typical triad: son, mother, father, how might this structure illumine our understanding of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth? It is my contention that if one can cogently argue that Judas acts as the mother in the Oedipal drama between Jesus and God the Father, then some interesting parallels develop between psychoanalysis and Christianity. Freud’s psychosexual view of development proceeds through five stages: oral stage (0-18 mos), anal stage (18 mos-3 yrs), phallic stage (3-6 yrs), latency period (7-11), puberty. I would argue that Jesus’ relationship with his Father goes through similar developmental stages from the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane to the Cross to Holy Saturday to Easter Sunday.

One immediately notices the challenges Jesus experiences in each setting are analogous to the same developmental challenges the child must go mature through to enter normal sexual functioning. In the oral stage the child wrestles with issues of trust and mistrust. Likewise, the saga of the Last Supper circulates around Jesus’ trust in his disciples (especially Judas). During the anal stage the child must confront the authority and law for the first time in his young life. Jesus comes to struggle with autonomy and submission as perfectly illustrated through his blood-stained tears in his “Let this cup pass from me” prayer. The child’s oedipal stage revolves around issues of jealous, envy, and ultimately identification with the opposite-sex parent. Jesus’ cries on the cross suggest issues of anger, abandonment, and ultimately identification with the Father “Into your hands I commit my Spirit”. The child experiences no sexual activity during the latency period, and on Holy Saturday the world reaches it true atheistic climax (the day God was not on earth). The rebirth of healthy sexuality in puberty and reconciliation in the Christian narrative focuses around Jesus of Nazareth’s resurrection and his embrace of all creation. No longer is there a divide between man and God, we are forgiven, eternal life is promised through the Son’s defeat of evil and death.

This is a rather cursory overview. I’ll admit that the meat of the paper deals with re-envisioning Jesus’ complicated relationship with Judas (with the help of Yoder’s Politics of Jesus). Would anyone be interested in reading that if I made the appropriate revisions?

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2 Responses to “Oedipus on the Cross”

  1. Collin Says:

    You should post it, that sounds very interesting and an absolutely valid exegesis!

  2. Jeremy Says:

    I’m not sure about that. i treated the gospels as if they were the same four stories written by the same author, but oh well. Now, I’ve read enough New Test Lit to know what is and isn’t legitimate. I’ll try and get around to it.

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