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Jones, E. (1958). The Birth and Death of Moses. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 39:1-4.

(1958). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 39:1-4

The Birth and Death of Moses

Ernest Jones

Nearly fifty years ago I was helping to plan the first International Psycho-Analytical Congress. Since then I have read papers at many Congresses, but always on the basis of evidence open to verification. Today for the first time I propose to discuss a topic about which there is no direct evidence whatever and which is more clouded over by hypotheses and guesswork than any other I know of. My purpose is to add to this guesswork by offering a reconstructed story of some aspects of the position held by Moses, but I must add at once that none of it rests on firm historical data since no such data exist. A great many books have been written on Moses and there is an immense store of Jewish, Egyptian, and Greek legends concerning him. I have spent some months trying to hack my way through this jungle with the very blunt machette of my comparative ignorance and am offering you some of the very tentative conclusions I have reached.

To study hopeless problems may not seem a very profitable occupation, but I think there is room in the world for sheer interest even in such matters and one can never tell whether something useful may not emerge from the densest fog. It was, as you all know, the intrepid and astonishing imagination of Freud that has rekindled interest in the life of Moses.

His last book Moses and Monotheism was remarkable in many ways: the unusual circumstances in which it was written, its curiously irregular arrangement, the bold originality of its ideas, and its close association with Freud's own emotional life.

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