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Maat in Egyptian Autobiographies and Related Studies


Lichtheim, Miriam (1992). Maat in Egyptian Autobiographies and Related Studies. Freiburg, Switzerland / Göttingen, Germany: Universitätsverlag / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Abstract

The first of five studies explores "Maat", the Egyptian term for the moral order that governed men and gods in their respective spheres. The growth of the concept of Maat is traced from the Old Kingdom to the Late Period by a sequence of autobiographical and other texts in which individual Egyptians define and declare their understanding of, and adherence to, the code of right action were truthfulness and fairness. Adherence to Maat created the good order of society, while abandoning Maat plunged society into chaos. Man's knowledge of right, and his ability to do it, were defined as originating in his heart and in his nature: virtue was innate and inner-directed. In the texts of the New Kingdom the gods came to be addressed as partners of man's rightdoing by providing inspiration and guidance. At no time, however, were the gods given the role of formulating moral precepts. Man remained the maker of his ethos.
The second study demonstrates that the "Negative Confessions" of the Book of the Dead were based squarely on the moral declarations of autobiographical inscriptions, declarations which the scribes of the Book of the Dead rephrased in negative terms, in keeping with the BD's ritual-magical purpose.
The third study pinpoints in vocabulary form the principal terms for the virtues and vices used in the texts cited.
The fourth study shows that the grammatical constructions of the "Appeal to the Living" - the request by the deceased for the prayers of the living - underwent changes which scholars have failed to recognize, a failure resulting in unwarranted emendations and faulty translations.
Lastly there is a grave stela of Polemaic date with a text which, instead of the usual hopefulness, records a long cry of despair.

Abstract

The first of five studies explores "Maat", the Egyptian term for the moral order that governed men and gods in their respective spheres. The growth of the concept of Maat is traced from the Old Kingdom to the Late Period by a sequence of autobiographical and other texts in which individual Egyptians define and declare their understanding of, and adherence to, the code of right action were truthfulness and fairness. Adherence to Maat created the good order of society, while abandoning Maat plunged society into chaos. Man's knowledge of right, and his ability to do it, were defined as originating in his heart and in his nature: virtue was innate and inner-directed. In the texts of the New Kingdom the gods came to be addressed as partners of man's rightdoing by providing inspiration and guidance. At no time, however, were the gods given the role of formulating moral precepts. Man remained the maker of his ethos.
The second study demonstrates that the "Negative Confessions" of the Book of the Dead were based squarely on the moral declarations of autobiographical inscriptions, declarations which the scribes of the Book of the Dead rephrased in negative terms, in keeping with the BD's ritual-magical purpose.
The third study pinpoints in vocabulary form the principal terms for the virtues and vices used in the texts cited.
The fourth study shows that the grammatical constructions of the "Appeal to the Living" - the request by the deceased for the prayers of the living - underwent changes which scholars have failed to recognize, a failure resulting in unwarranted emendations and faulty translations.
Lastly there is a grave stela of Polemaic date with a text which, instead of the usual hopefulness, records a long cry of despair.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Monograph
Communities & Collections:Special Collections > Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Dewey Decimal Classification:200 Religion
290 Other religions
930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
Language:English
Date:1992
Deposited On:10 Jul 2018 12:14
Last Modified:11 Jul 2018 07:20
Publisher:Universitätsverlag / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Series Name:Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Volume:120
Number of Pages:211
ISBN:3-7278-0846-2
Additional Information:Digitalisat erstellt durch Florina Tischhauser, Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar, Universität Zürich
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:http://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/54117/

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