By Jan Assmann
The shift from polytheism to monotheism replaced the realm noticeably. Akhenaten and Moses-a determine of historical past and a determine of tradition-symbolize this shift in its incipient, progressive levels and characterize civilizations that have been introduced into the nearest connection as early because the e-book of Exodus, the place Egypt stands for the outdated global to be rejected and deserted that allows you to input the recent one.
The seven chapters of this seminal examine make clear the nice transformation from varied angles. among Egypt within the first bankruptcy and monotheism within the final, 5 chapters deal in quite a few methods with the transition from one to the opposite, studying the Exodus fantasy, figuring out the shift when it comes to evolution and revolution, confronting Akhenaten and Moses in a brand new method, discussing Karl Jaspers' idea of the Axial Age, and working with the eighteenth-century view of the Egyptian mysteries as a cultural version
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Additional resources for From Akhenaten to Moses : ancient Egypt and religious change
4 Secular theories of cultural evolution, in particular, tend to proceed in three steps. In the eighteenth century, Adam Ferguson divided cultural development into the three stages of “savagery,” “barbarism,” and “civilization,” and this division was followed in the nineteenth century by the very inﬂuential anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan. Marx and Engels turned this scheme into the triad of tribal, enslaving, and capitalist societies, promot� ing like Joachim a Flores a new age to come, the class-free society as the secular form of the messianic age.
Why ten of them? And why this sequence, which does not show a clear climactic logic? 1. turning the water of the Nile into blood 2. frogs 3. lice 4. insects 5. pestilence striking livestock 6. boils afﬂicting humans and beasts 7. hail smiting humans, beasts, and plants 8. locusts 9. killing of the ﬁrstborn The multiplication of the motif of the plague by the factor ten has a clear mnemonic function. Like the Ten Commandments, it is based on human hands with their ten ﬁngers. 13 The tenth plague, the killing of the ﬁrstborn, is set apart by a totally different form of narration; we shall return to this.
Change excludes planning, in the same way as natural evolution excludes breeding. Development refers to ﬁnite units such as institutions, towns and cities, arts and technologies, even states and empires that may rise and fall. Evolution refers to units whose size or complexity transcends planning, such as religion, civility, mentality, and culture or civilization itself. On the level of culture, unlike that of nature, the notion of evolu� tion may be confronted with an opposite term: that of revolution.
From Akhenaten to Moses : ancient Egypt and religious change by Jan Assmann