For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Egypt, Trunk of the Tree, A Modern Survey of an Ancient Land, Vol. 2.
The Consequences
  • Simson Najovits
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Egypt, Trunk of the Tree,  A Modern Survey of an Ancient Land, Vol. 2.. The Consequences
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An award-winning writer and international journalist leads the general reader through the history of ancient Egypt, Egyptian culture and d Egyptian technological achievements, exploring the maze of facts and fantasies. He examines Egypt's place in the history of religion and monotheism in particular. He shows how Egypt both influenced and mystified other civilizations for centuries.

(Volume I situates the Egyptian religion, political system and society within the contexts — some of them stretching back as far as before c. 4000 BC — of the early history of religion, mythology, technology, art, psychology, sociology, geography and migrations of peoples.)

This, Volume II, discusses the major consequences that arose from Egypt's system. The religious, funerary, afterlife and societal views of Egyptians are compared to the other major religions and societies. Their probable influence on Greek religion and on Hebrew and Christian monotheisms is carefully traced, as are Egypto-Hebrew relations. The highlights of Egypt's religious, political, colonial, artistic and literary life are examined as well as the subsequent decline of Egypt.


About the Author

Simson Najovits is a former Editor-in-Chief of Radio France International in Paris, where he wrote and broadcast on lifestyles, politics and religion. His essays, articles, stories an poems have been published in the United States and Canada. He is a winner of Canada Arts Council and Quebec Arts Council awards. Educated at Concordia University, he is a specialist of systems of religious beliefs. In this, his first American book, he shares the inexhaustible pleasure of exploring the Egyptian patrimony and capturing the glow of ancient Egyptian society.

About the Book

Writing in an easy to read narrative literary style while respecting the norms of Egyptological scholarship, the author examines the contradictory opinions of major Egyptologists (and the major loonies), and brings us closer to Egypt's core...

Writing in an easy to read narrative literary style while respecting the norms of Egyptological scholarship, the author examines the contradictory opinions of major Egyptologists (and the major loonies), and brings us closer to Egypt's core meaning and influence. Along the way, he illuminates the enchanting, imaginative beauty of the Egyptian saga.

Ancient Egypt built a society on a remarkable mixture of the new, the useful and the beautiful, while retaining primitive magic, obscurantism, and the infantile but extraordinarily poetic. Egypt was also one of the most optimistic nations ever founded, inventing optimistic answers to many of man's fundamental questions.

This, Volume II, discusses the major consequences that arose from Egypt's system. The religious, funerary, afterlife and societal views of Egyptians are compared to the other major religions and societies. Their probable influence on Greek religion and on Hebrew and Christian monotheisms is carefully traced, as are Egypto-Hebrew relations. The highlights of Egypt's religious, political, colonial, artistic and literary life are examined as well as the subsequent decline of Egypt.

 


Excerpt

(Excerpt from Chapter 9)

Osirisian concepts lie at the center of gravity between what the Egyptians invented before and after the rise of Osiris. Unsurprisingly, and even mundanely, the Egyptian goal was to live well, to have pleasure, reschut, long life, ankh, prosperity, udja, and good health, seneb. Magical appeasement and then the manipulation of the gods had been standard practice (for probably thousands...

(Excerpt from Chapter 9)

Osirisian concepts lie at the center of gravity between what the Egyptians invented before and after the rise of Osiris. Unsurprisingly, and even mundanely, the Egyptian goal was to live well, to have pleasure, reschut, long life, ankh, prosperity, udja, and good health, seneb. Magical appeasement and then the manipulation of the gods had been standard practice (for probably thousands of years before Egypt) to obtain these goals in this life. But before the Egyptians, what occurred in the afterlife remained a vague notion.

Death was scandalous to the Egyptians, perhaps more than to other peoples. The Egyptians developed an overriding obsession towards finding a solution to the problem of death, and this distinguished the Egyptian religion from all other religions for thousands of years. The goal became not only to live well but, because life was so good, to eternally and happily “repeat life,” wehem ankh, after death. The Egyptian goal was endless life, the defeat of death.

ETERNAL OPTIMISTS

Thus, one of the great peaks which mark the achievements and illusions of human history, which constitute the specific nature of man, occurred in Egypt. And this peak emblematically took the form of an accelerated search for a solution to the problem of death. As we shall see in this chapter, “repeating life,” wehem ankh, was a highly complex system involving aper, being “equipped” — that is, material and magical architectural, artistic, ritualistic and bodily preparations; threats and supplications to the gods; a sprinkling of decent behavior and judgment (a kind of proto-morality); and a vast magical system of survival of the body and several souls in the afterlife.

The Egyptian approach to the problem of death and the afterlife was the most optimistic solution ever elaborated until their time. The end of life, death, was simply unacceptable. This reflected their optimistic nature, their love of the body and the joys it procured, a contrario to the Hindu solution to the problem of death which reflected a pessimistic nature and the rejection and destruction of the body. Death was intolerable for the Egyptians; it was desirable for the Hindus.

Perhaps, above all, the Osirisian revolution represented the highest point of optimism and hope reached in the ancient world before the evolution (from the sixth century BC) of Zoroastrian/Hebrew/Christian resurrection/afterlife concepts. Death posed such difficult problems for man that it took over 60,000 years or more, the interim between the Neanderthals and the Egyptians, to come up with radically new ideas and launch a new trajectory of wishful thinking and illusion which would eventually lead to the inventions of Paradise and Hell based on morality and the final judgment and final destiny of all mankind. Egypt, probably largely independently and right from the start of the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3100–2686 BC), innovated, made major breakthroughs and may have exercised significant influence on other peoples in the search for a solution to the problem of death. What had somehow occurred in Egypt was a fabulous bringing to fruition of all of man’s imaginative efforts and abstract reasoning concerning death. The Egyptians sketched out and invented a new type of afterlife aimed at permanently defeating death.

The origins of the notions of an afterlife, Paradise and Hell are enveloped in considerable obscurity. At least sixty thousand years ago, the Neanderthals...


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Year: 2003
LC Classification: BL2441.N23
Dewey code: 932—dc21
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ISBN: 978-0-87586-256-9
Price: USD 23.95
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ISBN: 978-0-87586-257-6
Price: USD 29.95
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