Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Manyby Erik Hornung Cornell University Press
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- Hbk 296 pages
- AU$112.00 NZ$115.65
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Osiris, Horus, Isis, Thoth, Anubis - the many strange and compelling figures of the Egyptian gods and goddesses seem to possess endless fascination. The renowned Egyptologist Erik Hornung here studies the ancient Egyptians' conceptions of god, basing his account on a thorough reappraisal of the primary sources. His book, now available in English for the first time, is the most extensive exploration yet undertaken of the nature of Egyptian religion.
Hornung examines the characteristics, spheres of action, and significance of Egyptian gods and goddesses, analyzing the complex and changing iconography used to represent them, and disentangling the many seemingly contradictory aspects of the religion of which they are a part. He seeks to answer two basic questions: How did the Egyptians themselves see their gods? Did they believe there was an impersonal, anonymous force behind the multiplicity of their deities? Throughout, he attempts to evoke the complexity and richness of the religion of the ancient Egyptians and of their worldview, which differs so greatly from our own.
A work of extraordinary distinction, Hornung’s book will appeal to anyone interested in ancient Egypt, in ancient religion, and in the history of religion, as well as students and scholars of ancient history, anthropology, and archaeology. Sensitively translated by John Baines and with a new preface by the author, this edition has been amplified and updated with an English-language audience in mind.
"After surveying the approaches to Egyptian religion from antiquity through twentieth-century scholarship, Hornung... considers aspects of divinity, the iconography and characteristics of the gods, and the relationship between gods and believers.... A masterly, scrupulously documented work that combines close attention to textual and artifactual evidence with penetrating theological insights."
"An excellent historical overview of the gods... It is a recommended necessary reading for those studing Ancient Egyptian religion."
"Hornung asks usually neglected questions concerning what the Egyptians themselves thought about their gods, thus meeting these people on their own terms. Along the way he carefully examines evidence that has been marshaled in favor of monotheism or monotheistic tendencies within what appears to be a vast Egyptian pantheon. Adding to the pleasure and usefulness of this work is the fine translation by John Baines.... Containing a full index, a glossary of gods, and appropriate illustrations, this is a significant volume."
"It is not often that an introduction to the thorny topic of ancient Egyptian religion can be recommended unreservedly.... Over the past thirty-five years the acceptable introductions to Egyptian religion can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and all are from the pens of scholars trained in a Germanic tradition! The present work by Erik Hornung maintains this excellent, though rare, standard."