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Barzilai, S. (2004). Mind The Gap: Some Midrashic Propositions for Moses and Monotheism. Psychoanal. Rev., 91(6):831-852.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Review, 91(6):831-852

Mind The Gap: Some Midrashic Propositions for Moses and Monotheism

Shuli Barzilai


Moses and Monotheism (Freud, 1939) has been frequently described as a fragmented work, a kind of textual patchwork. The book itself was literally delivered, if not conceived, in pieces. Briefly to recapitulate the convoluted sequence of events that led to the final published version: In 1934 Freud attempted to write a “historical novel” about Moses (inspired by his reading of Thomas Mann's Joseph novels) that he found himself unable to complete. He then wrote two essays on the origins of Moses that appeared in 1937 in successive issues of volume 23 of Imago. Last, the three-part work titled Moses and Monotheism (Der Mann Moses und die Monotheistische Religion: Drei Abhandlungen), which begins with the previously published essays, appeared in 1939 after Freud's escape from Vienna to London (Jones, 1957, pp. 192-194; Strachey, 1939). Freud (1939) himself was the first to acknowledge the piecemeal character of his book. “I miss the consciousness of unity and intimacy,” he wrote in the second of his prefaces (“June 1938 [London]”) to Part Three, “that should exist between the author and his work.” However, as he hastened to add, his belief in the content had not faltered over the years: “This does not mean that I lack conviction in the correctness of my conclusions. That conviction I acquired a quarter of a century ago, when I wrote my book on Totem and Taboo” (pp. 70-71).1


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