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Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt [Paperback]

Erik Hornung , John Baines , Erik M. Hornung
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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In classical antiquity the seemingly abstruse deities of Egypt already aroused reactions of antipathy and scornful rejection. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the many books on the subject Feb. 2 2004
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?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for the Study of Egyptian Religion Aug. 8 2003
By Shepen
This book is at the top of many lists for those wishing to study ancinet Egyptian religion in-depth. Upon reading it, I can see why! This book explores what exactly the ancient Egyptians thought god(s) were, how the gods reacted to humans, and how humans reacted to the gods. Given the unique and often confusing nature of the concept "ntr" or god, this book is very useful indeed.
It is extermely detailed, (though admittedly dry,) and leaves the reader with a good idea of what the Egyptian Gods were like and how they developed throughout the millenia. The beginning also nicely addresses the erroneous notion that the Egyptians were really monotheists from the start, and that only the ignorant common people held polythistic beliefs; a Victorian bias that taints the studies of many ancient cultures. Horning clearly has a great deal of respect for the ancient Egyptian religion, and as a Kemetic pagan, I really appreciate that this book exists in English.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Single best book on ancient Egyptian Religion April 9 1999
Hornung is a top scholar in the field of Egyptology, yet he manages to avoid the condescending tone that many scholars fall victim to. John Baines' translation is precise and engaging, while a useful glossary is included at the back. For both the interested reader, and the serious scholar of ancient Egyptian religion, this would be the place to start. Basic concepts are discussed, such as the concept of god itself, the oft-perplexing issue of names & combinations of gods, depictions of gods, and the interaction between the living and divine.
Hornung's book "Idea into Image", a collection of lectures, is also highly recommended, but I think it is now difficult to find. It deserves to be reprinted too!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent exposition of Egyptian polytheism March 9 1999
Several books have eloquently discussed the monotheism of central African groups, but this book clearly espouses the polytheism of the Ancient Egyptians, building upon work by Frankfort, and specifically refuting monotheistic interpretaions advanced by, for instance, Morenz and Budge. If you come to this book with an open mind you will find it truly exhilating, a demonstration why the mind-set of polytheism is necessary for the understanding of modern quantum mechanics. Henri Frankfort's "Ancient Egyptian Religion: an Interpretation" provides additional exposition and explanation. While this last book is out of print, libraries have it.
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By A Customer
Most of us think of Ancient Egyptian religion as being polytheistic. After meeting a missionary to the Zulus in Africa who wrote a PhD thesis on their religion proving that the Zulu had 20 names for God, but only one God, I was not surprised to find a similar study done on Ancient Egyptian religion. The work is well documented from original and secondary sources (papyri and their translations), and is a convincing argument that there is really one great mysterious creator God that was known at least to the priests. Now one asks the question, was Akhenaton a heretic or just a believer in the one great God? Dr. Constance T. Johnson, Ph.D.
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