Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt

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"In his new book, Egyptologist Jan Assmann explores images of death and of death rites in ancient Egypt to provide new insights into the particular character of the civilization as a whole. Drawing on the unfamiliar genre of the death liturgy, he arrives at a comprehensive view of the religion of death in ancient Egypt." Assmann describes in detail nine different images of death: death as the body being torn apart, as social isolation, the notion of the court of the dead, the dead body, the mummy, the soul and ancestral spirit of the dead, death as separation and transition, as homecoming, and as secret. Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt also includes a discussion of rites that reflect beliefs about death through language and ritual.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801442414
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 504
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet 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.

David Lorton, an Egyptologist, is the translator of many books, including Erik Hornung's books The Secret Lore of Egypt and Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, both from Cornell.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : death and culture 1
Ch. 1 Death as dismemberment 23
Ch. 2 Death as social isolation 39
Ch. 3 Death as enemy 64
Ch. 4 Death as dissociation : the person of the deceased and its constituent elements 87
Ch. 5 Death as separation and reversal 113
Ch. 6 Death as transition 141
Ch. 7 Death as return 164
Ch. 8 Death as mystery 186
Ch. 9 Going forth by day 209
Ch. 10 Mortuary liturgies and mortuary literature 237
Ch. 11 In the sign of the enemy : the protective wake in the place of embalming 260
Ch. 12 The night of vindication 280
Ch. 13 Rituals of transition from home to tomb 299
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