- Paperback: 504 pages
- Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (October 21, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801479738
- ISBN-13: 978-0801479731
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt 1st Edition
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"Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt serves as a compendious introduction to how ancient Egyptians approached their mortality as well as their impending immortality. Throughout, Assmann continues to build upon his vast store of important publications, yet again bringing to his work a deep background in theoretical literature, especially anthropology and philosophy. This gives his work a decidedly comparative flair, citing parallels or contrasts with cultures ancient or modern, Near Eastern or otherwise. Much of Assmann's Egyptological work has become required reading, and Death and Salvation will be no exception. Controversial, insightful, incredibly informed, and in constant contact with the primary textual material, this volume will continue to inspire discussion for years to come."―Journal of Near Eastern Studies
"Assmann astounds the reader with his deep knowledge of religious texts from all periods of Egyptian civilization and from the Greeks and Romans too. He is equally familiar with evidence from art and architecture. . . . He leads the reader through the maddeningly opaque pronouncements of Egyptian intellectuals about the nature of death, its origin, its meaning, its importance. Every page shines a fresh light on a topic that fascinates us all, but leaves us puzzled. Assmann's book will take its place as classic study and shows again why he is justly regarded as one of the great Egyptologists writing today."―Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"This very important book represents the fruit of many years of reading, thinking, and writing about the Egyptian conceptions of death and the afterlife, and constitutes a comprehensive analysis of the subject. It is a complex, multilayered interpretation that reveals the great depth and breadth of Jan Assmann's knowledge. He systematically investigates the processes of and reactions to the experience of death, the reconstitution of the body/person of the deceased, and rites and texts that relate to the afterlife."―Gerald Kadish, Binghamton University
About the Author
Jan Assmann is Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at Heidelberg University. His books include The Search for God in Ancient Egypt and Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, both from Cornell.
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The book is long and not easy to read but very informative. It's organized thematically. The first part dedicates a chapter to every major perspective on death: "Death as Social Isolation", "Death as Enemy", et cetera, ending with the more positive aspects that emphasize the attainment of immortality. The second part treats the texts and rituals surrounding death, although the final chapters are more about summarizing everything that's gone earlier in the book.
Assmann doesn't much discuss how afterlife beliefs evolved over the course of Egyptian history, so Death and Salvation should ideally be read alongside Following Osiris by Mark Smith, which addresses exactly those changes. Smith also objects to some of Assmann's basic claims, like the idea that reaching the afterlife entailed becoming one with Osiris. Perhaps even more importantly, Assmann still assumes that commoners were not believed to enter the afterlife until the end of the Old Kingdom. That assumption came under serious assault in the late 2000s, with Smith leading the charge, and may soon be abandoned entirely. Nevertheless, this book is a dense but vivid examination of the Egyptians' perspectives on the afterlife and the only one to show how they all related to each other.