It is with much sadness that we report the death this week of Rabbi James Cohn. For more than a decade, Rabbi Cohn was a close friend and dedicated supporter of the Julian Jaynes Society, and a promoter of Julian Jaynes’s theory.
His 2007 book (expanded and revised in 2013), The Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness, is both highly readable and a major contribution to the advancement of our understanding of Jaynes’s theory.
Rabbi Cohn first spoke on Jaynes’s theory at the 2008 Julian Jaynes Conference on Consciousness in Prince Edward Island. In the fall of 2012, he taught a course at Marshall University titled “The Brain, the Self, the Voice of God,” that centered on Jaynes’s theory and used The Julian Jaynes Collection as the course text. In 2013, Rabbi Cohn helped to fund, organize, and co-chair “The 2013 Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies” — the largest conference ever held on Jaynes’s theory. The conference is a major highlight in the history of the Julian Jaynes Society, and it simply would not have been possible if it were not for the efforts of Rabbi Cohn.
James Cohn served as a rabbi for more than forty years, retiring this past June. He was a talented speaker and writer with a deep understanding of both Biblical history and Jaynes’s theory, as well as the ability to understand and translate ancient languages.
He will be greatly missed.
Interview with Rabbi Cohn on the 2013 Julian Jaynes Society Conference on Consciousness and Bicameral Studies:
“Consciousness in the Bible” – Rabbi Cohn’s lecture at the 2013 conference:
The Minds of the Bible by Rabbi James Cohn: