Egyptian Religion by Siegried Morenz, translated by Ann E Keep, from Cornell University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“During the present century Egypt has become a centre of attraction for ever-growing numbers of people. The Nile valley and its monuments are visited by tens of thousands of tourists each year. The political and economic life of the Arab peoples evoke equal interest of a different kind. The country’s development is taking place in a rich historical context, which reaches back beyond classical antiquity and ancient Israel to the earliest advanced civilizations of the Orient. This growth of interest in Egypt has long since ceased to be the preserve of a few specialists, but finds expression in school curricula and influences the outlook of ordinary men and women. All this creates a need for books which can enable lovers of ancient Egypt to enter into the spirit of its great civilization.”
“Yet behind all aspects of life of those who dwelt on the Nile in ancient times—behind their art, political structure and cultural achievements— one may sense forces at work which are religious in origin. To penetrate into this alien but fascinating field of inquiry is the desire of many and a necessity for all who seek a clearer understanding of ancient Egypt.”
“Above all I have tried to see Egyptian religion as the faith of the Egyptian people. Political, economic and social events are, so dar as I am concerned, only ‘the conditions in which phenomena appear’, to use Goethe’s words. The focal point for these phenomena, in my opinion, is man’s relationship to God.”
“While engaged upon this work I realized that one has to have experienced oneself the meaning of religion and of God if one is to interpret from the sources the relationship between God and man in an age remote from our own. But one also realizes that the great, simple concerns of mankind are the same through all eternity, whatever variations are introduced by physical circumstances and differences of mental outlook. One further perceives that preoccupation with a particular religious creed may open up avenues for an understanding of religion as such, just as the student of a foreign language or culture will often thereby obtain profounder insight into his own language and culture. I have come to be convinced that Egyptian religion can fulfil the same purpose for those who immerse themselves in it.” — from the Foreword