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Of God and Gods: Egypt, Israel, and the Rise of Monotheism Paperback – May 21 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (May 21 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299225542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299225544
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 376 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #662,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"A masterful achievement--brimming with fundamental and challenging insights about monotheism and polytheism, religious violence and exclusivity. It is a tough-minded inquiry in every sense, with the cultural semantics of theology brought to the center of historical reflection. With this work, Assmann solidifies his stature as one the premier historians of religious ideas in our generation."--Michael Fishbane, Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, The University of Chicago

"A masterful achievement-brimming with fundamental and challenging insights about monotheism and polytheism, religious violence and exclusivity. It is a tough-minded inquiry in every sense, with the cultural semantics of theology brought to the center of historical reflection. With this work, Assmann solidifies his stature as one the premier historians of religious ideas in our generation."-Michael Fishbane, Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, The University of Chicago

"An important contribution to the fields of Egyptology, Biblical studies, and the general study of religion."--Israel Knohl, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

“An important contribution to the fields of Egyptology, Biblical studies, and the general study of religion.”—Israel Knohl, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

“A masterful achievement—brimming with fundamental and challenging insights about monotheism and polytheism, religious violence and exclusivity. It is a tough-minded inquiry in every sense, with the cultural semantics of theology brought to the center of historical reflection. With this work, Assmann solidifies his stature as one the premier historians of religious ideas in our generation.”—Michael Fishbane, Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, The University of Chicago

“Of God and Gods deserves to be studied carefully by all scholars and students of the history of monotheism, and Assmann’s unique ability as a scholar of comparative religion and as an Egyptologist has allowed him to access the biblical texts with an insight and vigour mostly unmatched by those who have attempted to study the Hebrew Bible in isolation on this very relevant topic.”—Brian R. Doak, "Religion"

"Of God and Gods deserves to be studied carefully by all scholars and students of the history of monotheism, and Assmann's unique ability as a scholar of comparative religion and as an Egyptologist has allowed him to access the biblical texts with an insight and vigour mostly unmatched by those who have attempted to study the Hebrew Bible in isolation on this very relevant topic."--Brian R. Doak, "Religion"

About the Author

Jan Assmann is professor emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg. He is also Honorary Professor of Cultural Theory at Konstanz University and had been a visiting professor at the école des Hautes études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, Yale University, the University of Chicago, and the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. A prize-winning scholar, he has published extensively on religious history and ancient Egyp

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9c9231d4) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ca072ac) out of 5 stars Essential May 20 2014
By Q - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's ironic but also appropriate that an Egyptian specialist has written a definitive defense of the revolutionary character of ancient Hebrew monotheism (contra the "evolutionary" view that monotheism is a "natural" development of polytheism, via the recognition that "all gods are one") His key claim, here and in his other books, is what he calls the "Mosaic distinction," that Mosaic monotheism divides the world into good and evil, true worship and idolatry, the one, only true God and false idols. The truth of this claim should be apparent to readers of Homer. Homer doesn't demonize either side of the Trojan war. There are no "good guys" and "bad guys" as such, just more or less flawed yet heroic warriors (as well as priests, women, children, parents, gods, etc.)

The larger question is whether the Mosaic distinction fosters more religious violence than otherwise. He considers both sides without taking a definite stand. He does claim, however, that monotheism taken rightly should critique religious violence. Frankly, I found the issue of violence to be a side issue and more or less a concession to a sensational topic after 9/11.

Assmann really knows the Egyptian and Near Eastern polytheistic background to Judaism, and the key differences between them. For example, in polytheistic religions, the King stood in for god and administered justice. Also, the legal system was separate from religious cultic practices. In Judaism, justice is integrated deeply into religion, with the prophets constantly denigrating sacrifice in favor of taking care of orphans and widows etc. At the same time, the Hebrew God doesn't support the institution of kingship but just the opposite.

Overall, the book is full of valuable insights. I don't agree with some of his points, but his work is mostly solid and well-nigh essential for scholars writing on this period. It is also of interest for anyone who is seriously interested in monotheism (Judaism, Christianity, Islam).
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ca17f0c) out of 5 stars A rare analysis of religion and violence Feb. 26 2013
By Martin Gurri - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a scholar's book parsing the relationship between religion - both polytheistic and monotheistic - and violence, obviously written under the vast shadow of 9/11. Jan Assmann is a German Egyptologist with a smile-inducing last name, but he is interested in understanding his subject rather than scoring points against religion. Neither monotheism or polytheism are inherently violent. Both, as practiced in ancient Israel, Egypt, and the Fertile Crescent, inspired violent outbursts at times. By the depth of the author's knowledge and the fairness of his judgments, this book stands above and apart many of the recent rants inspired by this subject.
HASH(0x9c8e1888) out of 5 stars Five Stars July 16 2016
By Malcolm Thomson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great studty, good service
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ca17f48) out of 5 stars Definitive Dec 19 2013
By Maulrus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is dry and to the point. One read through and you will have a leg up on most people, especially Bible Thumpers.


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