From Publishers Weekly
In 1939, just before he died, Freud published Moses and Monotheism
, his last creative effort. He applied psychoanalytic insights to the story of Moses. Using a somewhat similar approach, augmented by her skills in literary analysis, Zornberg (The Beginning of Desire
), a Jerusalem resident and biblical scholar with a Cambridge Ph.D. in English literature, looks at several figures from the Bible, including Adam, Eve, Noah, Jonah, Esther, Abraham, Rebecca, Isaac, Joseph and Ruth. Unfortunately, Zornberg lacks Freud's ability to write clearly, so her text is dense and studded with such odd words as facticity, dysprovidential, conversive, transferential, problematizes, futural, asymbolia and performative. Also, she displays her impressive erudition by quoting obscure Talmudic, psychological and literary sources. The result is a hard-to-read treatise that will be of interest only to a small group of academics. (Mar.)
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In Praise of The Murmuring Deep
“A book for readers who seek out that rare sensibility capable of explaining, exploring, and deepening our sense of what it means to be a human being of faith in a world as fractured and fragmentary as ours.”
“Zornberg tries to lay bare the process by which biblical characters act as they do, and she shows how the Bible employs not just the intelligible, well-ordered language of conscious speech but also the elusive idiom of the unconscious. [The text] becomes in her hands, yet again, a work of mystery.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Zornberg’s breadth of knowledge is awe-inspiring. Because she is steeped in such varied sources of knowledge, she speaks to readers of varied backgrounds and interests. This is a book to be savored. There are gems throughout.”
—The Jerusalem Report
“In Zornberg's brilliant new work, we have a heroic reconstruction of the rabbinic canon in ways that seek to make it relevant to contemporary readers, allowing them to use their education to incorporate Jewish texts into their actual lives. By opening up the midrashic traditions, Zornberg has given us the freedom to open up the book of our own psychological lives and to understand how the ancient traditions illuminate who we are and what we can become. If education is the very core value of Judaism, it is by reading books like The Murmuring Deep
that we can fulfill the precept of Torah study. Avivah Zornberg has permitted us to witness the greatness of the Jewish sages in a freshly creative and intensely dynamic way. The path of such understanding is not simply to allow us to be more religious, but also to better assert our human ethicality and our place in this vast and complex universe.”
“The effect of each chapter is a humble display of quoted erudition. The art of these readings, like that of collage-making or quilting, resides in the unique coherence of the final assemblage. . . . The trusting reader is rewarded with that deeper, more vivid experience of life that comes from confronting the existential, traumatized self and from finding consolation in the Torah’s prolific elusive meanings.”