Egypt, Trunk of the Tree: A Modern Survey of an Ancient Land - Vol. 2

Egypt, Trunk of the Tree: A Modern Survey of an Ancient Land - Vol. 2

Egypt, Trunk of the Tree: A Modern Survey of an Ancient Land - Vol. 2

Egypt, Trunk of the Tree: A Modern Survey of an Ancient Land - Vol. 2


In the first of a planned two volumes, Najovits, former editor in chief of Radio France International, provides a remarkably evenhanded introductory survey of Egypt. He observes that the earliest Egyptian culture, with the introduction of farming and animal husbandry, can be traced to around 5800 B.C., but his own overview begins around 4000 B.C., with an investigation of the predynastic Naqada culture and its religious system of totemism, animism and magic. 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 andwaned 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.



Like many revolutions, the Osirisian revolution began in obscure ways. It is impossible to unravel many of its constitutive aspects and attribute them solely to Osirisian-type thinking. Nevertheless, 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.

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