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Rice, E. (2000). Freud And The Legacy Of Moses: Richard J. Bernstein, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998, xii & 151 pp., $59.95. Psychoanal. Psychol., 17(1):180-185.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 17(1):180-185

Freud And The Legacy Of Moses: Richard J. Bernstein, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998, xii & 151 pp., $59.95

Review by:
Emanuel Rice, M.D.

After Sigmund Freud's last work, Moses and Monotheism (1939/1964), was published, there was a thunderstorm of criticism and protest not only of the data and hypotheses derived therefrom but for the fears of the negative effect that the book might have on the Jewish people especially at such a crucial time in world history. The Jews on the European continent were living in mortal fear as they watched the exponential rise of anti-Semitic fervor with the potential, and later actual, catastrophic consequences. Prominent Jews applealed to Freud not to publish but to no avail. For Freud, what he deemed to be the pursuit of the truth was a far more important consideration. Heated discussion of Moses and Monotheism abated somewhat with the outbreak of World War II and soon receded with the withering effect of time. The past three decades, however, have witnessed a remarkable resurgence of interest in this controversial work. There was the work of Robert (1976), Bergmann (1976), Rice (1990), and Yerushalmi (1991) among numerous others. Note that all of these studies, for the most part, treat Moses and Monotheism as a psychological document of Freud's inner life. A change in approach, from psychological motivation and meaning to an understanding of the text itself, in depth, was initiated and exemplified in the superb study by Paul (1996), who used his area of expertise, anthropology, to add another meaningful dimension to Freud's text. Assmann (1997), in a most penetrating use of historic texts on the subject of the biblical character of Moses, applied his knowledge of Egyptology to the same end.

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