From Akhenaten to Moses: Ancient Egypt and Religious Change

From Akhenaten to Moses: Ancient Egypt and Religious Change

by Jan Assmann


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The shift from polytheism to monotheism changed the world radically. Akhenaten and Moses—a figure of history and a figure of tradition—symbolize this shift in its incipient, revolutionary stages and represent two civilizations that were brought into the closest connection as early as the Book of Exodus, where Egypt stands for the old world to be rejected and abandoned in order to enter the new one.
The seven chapters of this seminal study shed light on the great transformation from different angles. Between Egypt in the first chapter and monotheism in the last, five chapters deal in various ways with the transition from one to the other, analyzing the Exodus myth, understanding the shift in terms of evolution and revolution, confronting Akhenaten and Moses in a new way, discussing Karl Jaspers’ theory of the Axial Age, and dealing with the eighteenth-century view of the Egyptian mysteries as a cultural model.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789774167492
Publisher: American University in Cairo Press, The
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 168
Sales rank: 861,075
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Jan Assmann is a German Egyptologist widely known for his work on the origins of monotheism. Formerly professor of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg, he is now honorary professor of cultural studies at the University of Constance. He is the author of Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism and The Price of Monotheism.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Structure and Change in Ancient Egyptian Religion
The Guidance of Life
Chapter 2: Myth and History of the Exodus: Triumph and Trauma
The Mnemohistory of the Exodus
Narrative Structure
Remember the Exodus
The Seder Liturgy
Exodus and Utopia
Chapter 3: From Poly- to Monotheism: Evolution or Revolution
Evolution in Nature and Culture
From Monolatry to Monotheism
Egypt and Religious Change
Chapter 4: Moses and Akhenaten: Memory and History
Moses and Akhenaten
The Egyptian Trauma
The Legend of the 'Lepers'
The Reinterpretation of the Pyramids
Exodus and Trauma
Chapter 5: Ancient Egypt and the Theory of the Axial Age
The Theory of the Axial Age
Writing as an Agent of Change
Literacy and Cultural Memory
Secondary Canonization and the Rise of Exegesis
Chapter 6: Egyptian Mysteries and Secret Societies in the Age of Enlightenment
The 'Mystery Fever' in the Late Eighteenth Century
The Imagined 'Egyptian Mysteries' and their Grammatological and Topological Basis
The Magic Flute and the Egyptian Mysteries
Chapter 7: Total Religion: Politics, Monotheism, and Violence
The Concept of Ernstfall
The Religious Ernstfall
The Maccabean Wars: An Early Case of Religious Violence
Depoliticizing Religion

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