cover image A Woman Called Moses: A Prophet for Our Time

A Woman Called Moses: A Prophet for Our Time

Jean-Christophe Attias trans. from the French by Gregory Elliott. Verso, $26.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-78873-639-8

Attias (The Jews and the Bible), professor of medieval Jewish thought at Université PSL in Paris, eschews popular depictions of Moses and paints a picture of what he sees as a complicated and tender person in this persuasive analysis. Reflecting on a series of scenes from the prophet’s life—as recorded in the first five books of the Bible or commented on in Rabbinical, Christian, and Muslim tradition—Attias introduces a traumatized, often inadequate, and even feminine Moses. By considering a Moses who “reveals himself by hiding,” Attias performs close readings of scriptural passages to explore Moses’s role in conveying God’s message through his acts, such as his response to the creation of the golden calf. Such a depiction of the “first of the teachers” of Judaism could be construed as desacralizing Moses’s life; however, Attias’s respect and attention to Moses’s example and legacy shines through. While this will not appeal to readers unwilling to look past traditional understandings of Moses’s role, Attias’s take invites readers to reflect on what Moses can teach about the greatness of humility, vulnerability, and magnanimity. “The best homage... [is] to learn from him and, by making ourselves small, have the chance to one day achieve a semblance of grandeur.” Open-minded readers are in for a thought-provoking treat. [em](Apr.) [/em]