Archaeology Odyssey 5:6, November/December 2002


The Search for God in Ancient Egypt

Jan Assmann, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 2001) 275 pp., $45.00 (cloth), $19.95 (paper)

The Gods of Egypt

Claude Traunecker, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 2001) 134 pp., $27.95

Newcomers to Egyptian religion often find the vast profusion of deities confusing, especially because many of them appear in a multitude of different forms and in seemingly contradictory roles. The same goddess, for example, may sometimes be a benevolent maternal icon and at other times a raging murderess bent on destroying humanity.

A related question has occupied scholars since the earliest days of Egyptology: Were these many gods and goddesses believed to be manifestations of a single divine being? Were the Egyptians in some way really monotheists?

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