Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt by James Henry Breasted

This is a work that few would include in the curricula of secondary education. It should be put there. Its importance transcends Egyptology as it demonstrates how deeply the evolution of religion and that of society are intertwined. As Breasted presents the material, the reader has the opportunity to see his or her society and religion mirrored in those of Ancient Egypt. But, its most vital message is to be found in Breasted's demonstration of how the rise of religious literalism led to the stunting of the development of ethics. Priestly literalism - driven by greed - did great harm to the development of a system of ethics that began in the Middle Kingdom by turning the wrongly named "Books of the Dead" into the equivalent of cosmic "get out of jail cards" very similar to the infamous Papal Indulgences. A deep awareness of how this came about is essential to the ability to recognize the development of such nefarious trends in our own society.

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