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Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many Gebundene Ausgabe – 27. Januar 1983


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Gebundene Ausgabe, 27. Januar 1983
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4.0 von 5 Sternen One of the many books on the subject 2. Februar 2004
Von Roberto P. De Ferraz - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I bought this book after reading Freud's "Moses and Monotheism", where it is attached to the pharaoh Akkenaton the origin of a monotheist cult and religion to the god Athon( or Athun), later to be dismissed and abandomned by his son Tutankamom who pulled back to polytheism. The importance of the debate is big, nothing less than the influence this type of cult had on the formation of the Jewish religion (Jews were held captives in Egypt at Akenaton's time) and later on Christianism and Catholicism.
"The Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt - The One and the Many" was written in German in the 1970's and translated into English in the 80's. Dates are of the utmost importance here due to the archeological material available to the researcher, which has in his hands much more pertinent information than a writer 50 years ago. Both writer and translator are eminent figures of modern Egyptology who has in German and in France many of its most important researchers. The task they face is gigantic, nothing less than trying to interpret the meaning of abstract religious concepts, the concept of God being the foremost.
Religion is one of the most important aspects of a Culture, if not the most important aspect, and has to be interpreted by its own sticks and standards and not by the stick and measures of any other Culture, and this is the essential point which shows the true hardship of managing this subject and then avoiding the acceptance of standars of Western theology. Thus, many questions appear which ask for the most excruciating analisys from the part of the author : what was the meaning of God for the Ancient Egyptian? Is the word God equivalent to the (consonantal) word for god in the language of old Egypt, ntr? Was Egypt first polytheist and later monotheist or the other way around? What is the rule syncretism played in the religion? Was there a people's religion parallel to a cultured religiosity? How the representation of God evolved in time from fetishism (the representation of gods trough not animated things, an staff for instance) to representation of gods trough animals (hawks, ibises, crocodiles etc) and, in the later stages, trough human forms or anthropomorphism and even in a triad of mixed forms (staff, hawk and human)?
"The Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt" is a challenging book but it is not an introductory book targeted for the lay reader, who must be familiar with a difficult vocabulary; wadi, ostraca, papyri, nome, ennead are some of the words in English that crop up in the text and are not conveniently explained by Erik Honnung neither easily found in a good English lexicon. Also a good old Egyptian glossary is missing, thus making the understanding of the texts a real nightmare to the common reader. Finally, also is lacking a good map of ancient North Africa to better locate the cities and geographical accidents cited in the book. As a good add-on, there is a good cronological map of the dynasties of Egypt and a much interesting glossary of the names of the many gods quoted in the book with some paralel with their Greek counterparts.
To sum it up, the book is a pretty good one but could not be taken as an easy read for any one not familiar with things of old Egypt.
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