Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Further Reading on Egyptian Religion

Dear Omegans!

I am usurping the blog for a moment to give you a few hints about things to read if you want to investigate religion in ancient Egypt or the topic of monotheism.  Your one-stop shopping author for all your Egypt needs is: Jan Assmann (remember the two n's at the end of the name; I once got some strange looks at the bookstore when I typed in "assman" into their online catalogue). He is a fully authoritative Egyptologist, but has also established himself as a major scholar of ancient religion generally and a cultural theorist, particularly in relation to the notion of cultural memory ("mnemohistory").

On Egyptian religion I highly recommend The Search for God in Ancient Egypt.

On monotheism in relation to Egypt and Israel, his short book Of God and Gods: Egypt, Israel, and the Rise of Monotheism is a riveting good read.

On Egyptian culture generally, I would also recommend The Mind of Egypt: History and Meaning in the Time of the Pharaohs.

Also of interest is his book about the tradition of making Moses an Egyptian: Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism.

Lastly, for a good short and authoritative book on the reign of Akhenaten (which leans towards a heavily political reading of the Pharaoh's cult of Aten), try Nicholas Reeves' Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet.

For a book more narrowly about his religious revolution, try Erik Hornung's Akhenaten and the Religion of Light.

As I hope you have discovered by now, Egypt is a rich and vibrant topic well worth exploring at greater length, and we will return to it time and again over the semester.

And now back to our discussion about dead guys...

—Richard Armstrong

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