The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious (Paperback)
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg informs her literary analysis of the biblical text with concepts drawn from Freud, Winnicott, Laplanche, and other psychoanalytic thinkers to make a powerful argument for the idea that the creators of the midrashic commentary, the medieval rabbinic commentators, and the Hassidic commentators were themselves on some level aware of the complex interplay between conscious and unconscious levels of experience and used this knowledge in their interpretations.
In her analysis of the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, Abraham, Rebecca, Isaac, Joseph and his brothers, Ruth, and Esther, Zornberg offers fascinating insights into the interaction between consciousness and unconsciousness as she enhances our appreciation of the Bible as the foundational text in our quest to understand what it means to be human.
About the Author
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg earned a Ph.D. in English literature from Cambridge University, and worked as a lecturer in the English Department at Hebrew University before turning to the teaching of religion. She has conducted classes in Torah for thousands of students at several different institutions in Israel. She also lectures widely in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and holds a visiting lectureship at the London School of Jewish Studies, an affiliate of the University of London.
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.”