Uses and Abuses of Moses: Literary Representations Since the Enlightenment


Product Details

University of Notre Dame Press
Publish Date
March 15, 2016
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.81 inches | 0.01 pounds

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About the Author

Theodore Ziolkowski is professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at Princeton University.


"On a micro-level, [Ziolkowski] analyzes many individual works, demonstrating the ways in which the figure and story of Moses were appropriated during the 19th and 20th centuries; on the macro-level, Ziolkowski performs his analysis with an eye for the larger contextual issues that explain how and why the thematic undercurrents of these appropriations change from one generation to the next. To date, there has yet to be published a more holistic study of the character and story of Moses, without the usual forms of use and abuse Ziolkowsi so thoroughly illustrates."--Reading Religion
"Is there another figure in the Bible who has been claimed, disclaimed, argued and fought over, or enlisted in as many contradictory causes as Moses? Here at last in Ziolkowski's book we have a clear-headed, richly researched, and fluently crafted volume that casts a welcome light on an immensely important personage in history and in our collective imagination."--Harvey Cox, author of How to Read the Bible
"Ziolkowski explores the immense latitude that interpreters of the Moses tradition have taken in rendering the material useful for them. . . . [This] study invites us to the awareness that we ourselves, in our own interpretive work, continue bold readings of the text with the permit given by our predecessors in the urgent duty of interpretation."--The Christian Century
"Uses and Abuses of Moses deals with writings about and interpretations of the biblical Moses primarily in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One original feature of the text is that these interpretations belong to numerous genres and kinds of discourses: fiction, drama, and poetry, interspersed with theological, philosophical, and psychological essays."--Virgil P. Nemoianu, William J. Byron Distinguished Professor of Literature and Ordinary Professor of Philosophy, Catholic University of America
"With Uses and Abuses of Moses: Literary Representations since the Enlightenment, Theodore Ziolkowski has delivered a magisterial account of the history of uses of Moses. Ziolkowski is the preeminent interpreter of how the Bible has been received by and has shaped modern literature; this book demonstrates an encyclopedic breadth of vision as well as a concise and convincing assessment of significance."--John Barbour, St. Olaf College
"Ziolkowki . . . has amassed what seem to be any and all representations of the Moses figure in literature since the Enlightenment, and he references dozens of precursors in earlier texts. The author's claim that Moses has been the most frequently explored Old Testament character in both literature and art is supported by the staggering number of authors and artists Ziolkowki considers."--Choice
"Ziolkowski surveys representations of Moses in novels, poems, symphonies, operas, theatre, and film during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, finding him continually recast to fit any number of religious and ideological functions from the pious to the satirical and from the learned to the preposterous....Uses and Abuses of Moses is an enjoyable and valuable examination of biblical themes in literature that is recommended for academic libraries supporting programs in religious studies or comparative literature"--Catholic Library World
"Published more than forty years after his meticulous Fictional Transfigurations of Jesus (1972), Theodore Ziolkowski's Uses and Abuses of Moses is an extraordinarily rich exploration of the figure of Moses in modern literature, culture, and film. Beginning with the contrasting assessments of Hitler, Churchill, and Wiesel, this book looks back, rather than forward from Mount Pisgah, on the liberator lawgiver and prophet who continues to haunt the Western imagination--a forerunner of Christ who forms an 'animate seismograph' of the modern mind from the Enlightenment to the present. Ziolkowski's book is a triumph of learning and interdisciplinary scholarship."--David Jasper, University of Glasgow
". . . an encyclopedic overview of a staggering number of novels, poems, plays, and films about Moses from multiple perspectives: Zionist, anti-Zionist, feminist, Methodist, Mormon, magical realist, satirical, and even cynical. The book is descriptive rather than interpretive but in all ways astonishing."--The Christian Century
"Uses and Abuses of Moses represents a type of critical scholarship rarely seen these days: it is an encyclopedic work of deep learning written with the patience to identify and wade through all these sources, many of which are mediocre and tedious; more important, it generously synthesizes the works in a chronological and taxonomical scheme that, like the biblical Moses, accommodates many sensibilities."--Journal of Religion