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Terms related to this article: Judaism Analysis  Midrash Analysis  Hermeneutics Analysis 

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Continued from page 6

Fromm, by contrast, functioned as a kind of exegete of the biblical tradition. He seems to have seen Freud and Freudianism as marking the most significant, contemporary juncture in the tradition of hermeneutics. It was not the Bible as such that Fromm interpreted, or even the Bible according to Freud, but rather the Bible because of Freud, the Bible as the heritage of psychoanalysis by virtue of Freud. (In this sense, Freud saw himself as a kind of Moses-figure.) Yet both Fromm and Freud no longer perceived the Bible as the Word of God. To them, it became an important vehicle of understanding and interpreting the human psyche.

In a letter to Arnold Zweig about Moses and Monotheism, Freud confessed that "the essay doesn't seem to me to be too well substantiated, nor do I like it entirely.... This historical novel won't stand up to my own criticism." [44] Marthe Robert observes ironically, but convincingly that if Freud "had stuck to his original idea of a 'historical novel,' he might have avoided a good deal of regretful or acrimonious criticism.... He would have written a kind of historical fiction claiming only to communicate a certain amount of psychic truth as any novel is entitled to do. But once he abandoned his projected novel for a scientific work, he staked his good name as a scientist in a dubious undertaking, which instead of serving science and history, exploited them unscrupulously." [45]

The irony of Moses and Monotheism is that the "scientific," "critical" Bible-study that Freud set out to write became just another midrash. [46] At the very best, the book is today regarded as an unorthodox, whimsical midrash. Paul Ricoeur is more than kind when he refers to it as containing "an impressive number of hazardous hypotheses." [47] The tragedy is that Freud had a genuine aptitude for critical understanding of the Bible against its historical environment. He even approximated the observation of the great Bible scholar, Professor Yehezkel Kaufmann, that pagan religion, as opposed to biblical religion, emphasized a fate that controlled deity. [48] But Freud's own conflicting feelings about Jews, Judaism, and Moses probably prevented him from achieving objectivity and success as a Bible scholar. Instead, he created a midrash known as psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis is a hermeneutical tradition; and David Bakan asserts that in psychoanalysis, "each person is a Torah." He goes so far as to observe-- and not without at least a little truth--that the name of one of Freud's early patients, Dora, about whom he wrote extensively in evolving his views, is strikingly similar in sounds to the word Torah. [49] Unfortunately, Bakan strains to show that it is the kabbalistic tradition that influenced Freud, even though he admitted that "we are unable to hypothesize that Freud actually read any kabbalistic literature." [50] Bakan does not seem to realize that the hermeneutic devices he attributes to Freud are actually reminiscent of rabbinic midrash, which influenced kabbalistic thinking as well.

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