Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism by Jan Assmann from Harvard University Press:
Assman is an Egyptologist by profession, but this book is a more general work of “mnemohistory,” in which he sets forth a history of the development of the “Mosaic distinction.” It is an example of the best and most responsible sort of historical deconstruction, with the aim of sleuthing out “religious antagonism and its overcoming,” which should be welcome to sagacious readers everywhere. It provides a serious, detailed treatment about the historical figure of Moses as it has been alternately opposed to and aligned with evolving appreciation for ancient Egyptian religion.
After some intellectual background, the first set of chapters begin by treating classical literary sources, and then work through an historical sequence beginning with English Hebraist John Spencer (1630-1693), and progressing through Renaissance Hermetists, Enlightenment freethinkers (at which point expressly Masonic contributions to the topic start to appear), Spinozists, Friedrich Schiller, and 19th Century “cosmotheism,” to Freud’s Moses and Monotheism.
That survey concluded, Assmann returns to ancient Egypt and shares some of the latest contemporary research on the Amarna religion (or anti-religion) of Akhenaten, long espoused as the possible point of origin for Western monotheism. That chapter should be of value to anyone interested in mysticism or esoteric traditions, as it treats an ancient approach to the divine as Light. [via]
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“It is, of course, common knowledge that great secret systems of the Mysteries (referred to in, our lectures as ‘noble orders of architecture,’ i.e., of soul-building) existed in the East, in Chaldea, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, Italy, amongst the Hebrews, amongst Mahommedans and amongst Christians; even among uncivilized African races they are to be found. All the great teachers of humanity, Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras, Moses, Aristotle, Virgil, the author of the Homeric poems, and the great Greek tragedians, along with St. John, St. Paul and innumerable other great names—were initiates of the Sacred Mysteries.” [via]