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An award-winning writer and international journalist leads the general reader through ancient Egypt in a 2-volume work that explores the maze of facts and fantasies, and 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.
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.
(Volume I, ISBN 978-0-87586-221-7, 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. It surveys the religious underpinnings of the society, including the founding of the first nation - and the first nation to proclaim its sacred nature. Divine kingship, the holy city and capital city were invented here.)
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.
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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.Review:
Not since Siegfried Morenz's Egyptian Religion (1973) has such a systematic effort on the topic been attempted. An independent scholar with a background in journalism, Najovits has based his book on careful reading and thorough analyses, using all the best scholarship and translations of Egyptian sources, with broader results than Claude Traunecker in the Gods of Egypt (CH, Apr '02). Beginning with the transition out of Neolithic 'agro-sedentary society' along the Nile with its need to give expression in writing, architecture, and art, Najovits identifies and compares those religious concepts for which the peculiar, nearly isolated Egyptian landscape with its totemic elements allowed the development of profound metaphors of meaning. He opposes all 'loonies of Egyptomania,' and in volume 2 gives a full narrative of how the contexts discussed in the first volume yield diverse consequences. ...This volume could be valuable on many academic levels for those studying the origin and history of religion and of Egypt. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. C.C. Smith, Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, River Falls. --CHOICE February 2004
Najovits provides a remarkably evenhanded introductory survey of Egypt.... Najovits contends that scholarly focus on ancient Greece and Rome and on Christianity and Judaism has tended to obscure Egyptian contributions to the development of culture. Egyptian religion was highly original, he says: 'Never before had such an elaborate religion and such an all-inclusive mythology been invented.' As to its lasting contributions, the Egyptians, he says, invented the belief that the body could be preserved and stay alive after death. They were also, he claims, the first monotheistic culture, although monotheism waxed and waned under various pharaohs. They developed a belief in a savior god, Osiris, whose resurrection led to a belief in the afterlife. Najovits even concludes that the holy family of Osiris, Isis and Horus offers the mythological foundations upon which later cultures constructed their own foundational holy families (e.g., Jesus, Mary and Joseph). Egypt also provided examples of early jurisprudence and political systems, primarily in its extensive legal codes and its focus on kingship. On balance, Najovits offers a detailed and original historical survey of Egypt as a cradle of civilization. --Publishers Weekly: July 21, 2003
A French specialist in systems of religious belief recounts his exploration of the Egyptian patrimony society from 3100 BC to AD 395. The first volume looked at the matrix from which the Egyptian religion, political system, and contexts emerged. This, the second volume, traces how Egyptians developed distinctive features to address their own concerns. --(c)2003 Book News, Inc.
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