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Egyptian Monotheism and Polytheism

 
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azzmiligi
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:30 pm    Post subject: Egyptian Monotheism and Polytheism Reply with quote

Egyptian Monotheism and Polytheism

The Ancient Egyptians believed in One God who was self-produced, self-existent, immortal, invisible, eternal, omniscient, almighty, etc. This One God was never represented. It is the functions and attributes of his domain that were represented. These attributes were called the neteru The term, gods, is a misrepresentation of the Egyptian term, neteru.

Animal Symbolism


The animal or animal-headed neteru (gods/goddesses) are symbolic expressions of a deep spiritual understanding. When a total animal is depicted in Ancient Egypt, it represents a particular function/attribute in its purest form. When an animal-headed figure is depicted, it conveys that particular function/attribute in the human being.
Names in Ancient Egypt were not just labels. A name was like a short resume or synopsis of the principle. For example, the neter (god) Ra (Re) is described in the Unas Funerary (Pyramid) Texts: "They cause thee to come into being as Ra, in his name of Khepri." Khepri is not just another label/name for Ra (Re). Khepri means coming into being.

Far from being a primitive, polytheistic form, this is the highest expression of monotheistic mysticism.

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Delaja
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:52 am    Post subject: Purely Theoretic Reply with quote

The problem with monotheism is demons.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course, the Egyptology has dealt with this subject. So, should someone actually and seriously want to deal with this problem I recommend one of the basics about it, from Erik Hornung:

Der Eine und die Vielen - Altägyptische Götterwelt. - Darmstadt : Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2005. - 6., re-worked and extend. Ed. - ISBN : 3-534-14984-X. - 302, 12 p.

There is also an English version of this book, based on an earlyer edition...

Conceptions of God in Ancient egypt - The One and the many. - [Der Eine und die Vielen (engl.)]. - Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, 1982. - ISBN : 0-8014-1223-4. - 296 p.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:43 am    Post subject: Re: Egyptian Monotheism and Polytheism Reply with quote

Quote:
Far from being a primitive, polytheistic form, this is the highest expression of monotheistic mysticism.


Please will you define "mysticism"? - could it not be argued that the "polytheistic form" negates "mysticism"?

In addition to above ref from Lutz, also: Of God And Gods - Jan Assmann

Interested...
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:53 am    Post subject: Re: Egyptian Monotheism and Polytheism Reply with quote

azzmiligi wrote:
Egyptian Monotheism and Polytheism

The Ancient Egyptians believed in One God who was self-produced, self-existent, immortal, invisible, eternal, omniscient, almighty, etc. This One God was never represented. It is the functions and attributes of his domain that were represented. These attributes were called the neteru The term, gods, is a misrepresentation of the Egyptian term, neteru.

Animal Symbolism


The animal or animal-headed neteru (gods/goddesses) are symbolic expressions of a deep spiritual understanding. When a total animal is depicted in Ancient Egypt, it represents a particular function/attribute in its purest form. When an animal-headed figure is depicted, it conveys that particular function/attribute in the human being.
Names in Ancient Egypt were not just labels. A name was like a short resume or synopsis of the principle. For example, the neter (god) Ra (Re) is described in the Unas Funerary (Pyramid) Texts: "They cause thee to come into being as Ra, in his name of Khepri." Khepri is not just another label/name for Ra (Re). Khepri means coming into being.

Far from being a primitive, polytheistic form, this is the highest expression of monotheistic mysticism.


This is quoted from

Egyptian Divinities: The All who are the One
Moustafa Gadalla - 2001

One of the Amazon reviews says:
Quote:

While I enjoyed reading [hiis books], I don't think that the assertions he makes qualify as proof.
As a scientist, Mr. Gadalla should know that the only absolute in science is data you can measure and results you can verify. Everything else is just theory that fits the data. But just because a theory fits the data does not mean that the theory is truth; it just means we have yet to find any conflicting data. All of the data present here, of course, fully supports Mr. Gadalla's theories.
To me, this book contains some intriguiing theories that appear to fit the historical data, but I would like to hear from a professional Egyptologist who might be able to present conflicting evidence before I make a decision.
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neseret
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 11:39 am    Post subject: Re: Egyptian Monotheism and Polytheism Reply with quote

rakovsky wrote:
azzmiligi wrote:
Egyptian Monotheism and Polytheism

The Ancient Egyptians believed in One God who was self-produced, self-existent, immortal, invisible, eternal, omniscient, almighty, etc. This One God was never represented. It is the functions and attributes of his domain that were represented. These attributes were called the neteru The term, gods, is a misrepresentation of the Egyptian term, neteru.

Animal Symbolism


The animal or animal-headed neteru (gods/goddesses) are symbolic expressions of a deep spiritual understanding. When a total animal is depicted in Ancient Egypt, it represents a particular function/attribute in its purest form. When an animal-headed figure is depicted, it conveys that particular function/attribute in the human being.
Names in Ancient Egypt were not just labels. A name was like a short resume or synopsis of the principle. For example, the neter (god) Ra (Re) is described in the Unas Funerary (Pyramid) Texts: "They cause thee to come into being as Ra, in his name of Khepri." Khepri is not just another label/name for Ra (Re). Khepri means coming into being.

Far from being a primitive, polytheistic form, this is the highest expression of monotheistic mysticism.


This is quoted from

Egyptian Divinities: The All who are the One
Moustafa Gadalla - 2001

One of the Amazon reviews says:
Quote:

While I enjoyed reading [hiis books], I don't think that the assertions he makes qualify as proof.
As a scientist, Mr. Gadalla should know that the only absolute in science is data you can measure and results you can verify. Everything else is just theory that fits the data. But just because a theory fits the data does not mean that the theory is truth; it just means we have yet to find any conflicting data. All of the data present here, of course, fully supports Mr. Gadalla's theories.
To me, this book contains some intriguiing theories that appear to fit the historical data, but I would like to hear from a professional Egyptologist who might be able to present conflicting evidence before I make a decision.


The reviewer is wise to not buy Gadalla's works, for the claims he makes do not correspond to what we know about ancient Egyptian religion.

Lutz has suggested Erik Hornung's Conceptions of God: the One and the Many, which I heartily concur, as one of the best works on explaining ancient Egyptian concepts of their gods.

I also suggest the following as equally good works:

Allen, J. P. 1988. Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. Yale Egyptological Studies (YES) 2. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Egyptological Seminar, Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Graduate School, Yale University.

Assmann, J. 2001. The Search for God in Ancient Egypt. D. Lorton, transl. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Baines, J. 1991. Society, Morality, and Religious Practice. In B. E. Shafer, Ed., Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice: 123-200. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Clarysse, W., et al., Eds. 1998. Egyptian Religion: The Last Thousand Years. 2 Vols. OLA 84/85. Leuven: Peeters.

David, A. R. 1982. Ancient Egypt: Religious Beliefs and Practices. London/New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Goedicke, H.1986. God. JSSEA 16/2: 57-62.

Helck, W., Ed. 1987. Tempel und Kult. Ägyptologische Abhandlungen 46. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Hornung, E. 1992. Idea Into Image: Essays on Ancient Egyptian Thought. E. Bredeck, transl. New York: Timken Publishers.

Kees, H. 1956. Der Götterglaube im alten Ägypten. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

Lloyd, A. B., Ed. 1998. Gods, Priests and Men: Studies in the Religion of Pharaonic Egypt by Aylward M. Blackman. Studies in Egyptology. London: Kegan Paul International.

Morenz, S. 1973 (1960). Egyptian Religion. A. E. Keep. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

________. 1964. Die Heraufkunft des Transzendenten Gottes in Ägypten. Sitzungsberichte der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig. Philologisch-historische Klasse Band 109/2. Berlin: Akademie.

Quirke, S. 1992. Ancient Egyptian Religion. London: British Museum Press.

Redford, D. B., Ed. 2002. The Ancient Gods Speak: A Guide to Egyptian Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shafer, B. E., Ed. 1991. Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Simpson, W. K., Ed. 1989. Religion and Philosophy in Ancient Egypt. Yale Egyptological Studies (YES) 3. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Teeter, E. 2011. Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Tobin, V. A. 1989. Theological principles of Egyptian religion. American University Studies. Series 7, Theology and Religion 59. New York: Peter Lang.

-----------------

The above is only a small selection of the work of Egyptologists on the subject of ancient Egyptian religion. Certain features covered in all of the above include:

a) the various "schools" of Egyptian religion (Heliopolitan, Memphite, Esnan, Saite, and Hermopolitan, being the 5 "great schools" of Egyptian religion thought);

b) the belief in a single creator, know by various names across each school of thought;

c) the creation of the universe, including other deities and humans, by said creator, through a variety of methods;

d) the initial closeness of the gods with humans in religious thought, only to be supplanted in the late New Kingdom by the belief that the gods "transcended" the material world in existed on a different plane of existence, away from humans (on this, see the work, Morenz, S. 1964. Die Heraufkunft des Transzendenten Gottes in Ägypten, listed above).

There are numerous works on ancient Egyptian religion that cover the cult aspects, the requirements of ritual purity, the religious aspects of funereal beliefs, etc. So, there is no lack of works on ancient Egyptian religion which can give you far more information and explanations of better quality than Gadalla's works.

I can say, for example, that I have over 150 books and articles on the subject of ancient Egyptian religion in my professional library (which accounts for over 15%+ of the total in my library), and I, by no means, have a complete listing of all works on ancient Egyptian religion.

So, rather than read Gadalla, I suggest starting off with works such as Morenz, Schafer, Quirke, and Hornung (as noted by Lutz) as your first stop to reading about the various aspects of ancient Egyptian religion, and progress from there to works such as Assmann's Search for God in ancient Egypt, Kees' Der Götterglaube im alten Ägypten, and Tobin's Theological principles of Egyptian religion. By then you should have a good understanding of ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, and can progress further to specific beliefs, deities, etc.

HTH.
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rakovsky
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the excellent sources.
Is there anyone in particular that you recommend?

I am familiar with Hornung and a bit with Assmann.

What conclusions did you come away with?

This part is interesting for me:
Quote:
Scholars have long debated whether traditional Egyptian religion ever asserted that the multiple gods were, on a deeper level, unified. Reasons for this debate include the practice of syncretism, which might suggest that all the separate gods could ultimately merge into one, and the tendency of Egyptian texts to credit a particular god with power that surpasses all other deities. Another point of contention is the appearance of the word "god" in wisdom literature, where the term does not refer to a specific deity or group of deities.[118] In the early 20th century, for instance, E. A. Wallis Budge believed that Egyptian commoners were polytheistic, but knowledge of the true monotheistic nature of the religion was reserved for the elite, who wrote the wisdom literature.[119] His contemporary James Henry Breasted thought Egyptian religion was instead pantheistic, with the power of the sun god present in all other gods, while Hermann Junker argued that Egyptian civilization had been originally monotheistic and became polytheistic in the course of its history.

In 1971, Erik Hornung published a study[Note 3] rebutting these views. He points out that in any given period many deities, even minor ones, were described as superior to all others. He also argues that the unspecified "god" in the wisdom texts is a generic term for whichever deity the reader chooses to revere.... Hornung's arguments have greatly influenced other scholars of Egyptian religion, but some still believe that at times the gods were more unified than he allows...

ames P. Allen says that coexisting notions of one god and many gods would fit well with the "multiplicity of approaches" in Egyptian thought, as well as with the henotheistic practice of ordinary worshippers. He says that the Egyptians may have recognized the unity of the divine by "identifying their uniform notion of 'god' with a particular god, depending on the particular situation."

[118]Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003). The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson.


This use of a generic term for God was one that EA Budge pointed to as referring to the idea of one true absolute God.

If Budge's writings include correct translations of the text, it seems like since he was a major Egyptologist that his conclusions could be still relevant and helpful.[/b][/i]
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rakovsky
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the excellent sources.
Is there anyone in particular that you recommend?

I am familiar with Hornung and a bit with Assmann.

What conclusions did you come away with?
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neseret
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rakovsky wrote:
If Budge's writings include correct translations of the text, it seems like since he was a major Egyptologist that his conclusions could be still relevant and helpful.[/b][/i]


Well, sadly they don't. For one, Budge was not considered a "great Egyptologist" by his contemporaries, who possessed far greater knowledge of ancient Egyptian that Budge did, primarily due to the advances into the ancient Egyptian language of the Berlin School (such as Erman/Grapow (who wrote the professional lexicon on ancient Egyptian, called the Wörterbuch der Aegyptischen Sprache (7 Vols), generally referred to as the Wb, and which is still a living/revising publication even today).

Budge's translations are considered some of the worst resources you can use in Egyptology. In general, his hieroglyph renderings can be used as an initial resource (but one must always look for the numerous errors even there), but generally speaking, Budge's translations are always considered a poor resource.

For one, most of Budge's works never went into second editions during his lifetime, and most were reprinted after his death, usually once they were out of copyright. During his lifetime, Budge's publications weren't considered scholarly or up to date at the time of their publication, while even his popular works on ancient (he wrote a few for "popular" reading, mainly as introductions or for positing Christian values upon the ancient culture of Egypt) are now long forgotten and did not make him a great deal of money during his lifetime.

As the work, Who Was Who in Egyptology, Morris Bierbrier (ed), [Third Revised Edition] (EES: London, 1995) noted in its discussion of Budge's life and work:

"In his text editions, Budge was too prolific for careful work, and many of them are inaccurate by modern standards; he persisted in the use of an old system of transcription, and did not utilize many of the grammatical discoveries of the Berlin School." [p. 72]

Further, in doing a review of Budge's life, Dennis Forbes of KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt, was more detailed, noting that:

"After Howard Carter, Budge is, arguably, the Egyptologist best known to the English-speaking public. This is due in large part to the plethora of books by him which have, in recent years, been re-issued by Dover publishers, now that they are in the public domain. Regrettably, many lay individuals who are just discovering ancient Egypt as a topic of personal research and study turn to Budge's wide-ranging volumes -- chiefly because of their easy availability -- without realizing they were written, many of them, nearly a century ago and are very much out of date. This is because a great deal of the author's scholarship was flawed in its time, or today has been negated by new discoveries and a far-better understanding of the ancient Egyptian culture than was possessed by Budge during his heyday. In the world of modern scholarship, matriculating students and Ph.D's alike are particularly careful not to cite E.A. Wallis Budge as a source of authority for their own research or writings, unless it is a negative reference.
<...>
But Wallis Budge is to be most faulted for his extraordinarily prolific output of 140 separate books and editions (some of the latter running into several volumes), a great many, if not most, of which failed to achieve the highest critical standards of scholarship, as a result of too speedy publication and Budge's habit of disregarding the work and publications of his Egyptological contemporaries, many of whom were advancing understanding of the written language and cultural nuances of ancient Egypt somewhat beyond Budge's own
."

Dennis Forbes. "Giants of Egyptology: E.A. Wallis Budge (1857-1943)," KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt, Vol. 8/2 (Summer 1997): 78-80.

When a modern scholar today refers to Budge's work, it is for his rendering of hieroglyphic texts in a printed format, in my experience (not his transcription NOR his translation). However, even these texts must be occasionally corrected against the actual texts in Egypt (where they still exist) and more updated information on Egyptian language. Budge's printed hieroglyphic texts are useful for many scholars as a starting point for additional and more extensive research, but are NEVER relied upon totally.
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