Einfuhrung in die agyptische Religion ptolemaisch-romischer Zeit nach den demotischen religiosen Texten. By Martin Andreas STADLER. Einfuhrungen und Quellentexte zur Agyptologie, vol. 7. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2012. Pp. x + 241. 19.90 [euro] (paper).
This book offers a coherent and up-to-date survey of Egyptian religious texts written in Demotic Egyptian. As the preserved manuscripts date, with one or two exceptions, to the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods, the book offers a window into how Egyptian religion was practiced and how it developed in these periods. As such, it fills a gap in the existing literature on Egyptian religion in general and Greco-Roman Egypt in particular. The past twenty-five years have seen a surge in annotated editions of Demotic religious manuscripts, but little attempt towards synthesis. In this book, Martin Stadler brings the results of these disparate publications together into a meaningful framework.
The book will be of particular interest to JAOS readers who are interested in the interactions between Egyptian religion and the other religions of the Greco-Roman world. As the author rightfully notes (p. 18), there is still a tendency among historians of religion to rely on the same small body of Egyptian religious texts (Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, Book of the Dead, etc.). This is due to the simple fact that these texts have been readily available in anthologies of translations for many decades. Most date, however, to the late third and second millennium B.C.E., many centuries before the Greeks and Romans were in contact with Egypt. The Demotic religious texts, on the other hand, are contemporaneous and therefore potentially more fruitful sources. The author therefore hopes that the book will raise awareness of the considerable size and significance of the neglected corpus of Demotic religious texts outside the confined circles of Demotists.
The book has obvious merits, but, as the author warns from the outset, also limitations. As the overall organization by text genre makes clear, the book is by no means a comprehensive study of Egyptian religion in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Archaeological data and material culture are not discussed. Moreover, the author uses a restrictive definition of religion, adopting Jan Assmann's narrower rather than wider concept of Egyptian religion (p. 13). Only those texts that deal with a transcendent reality--that is, the world of the gods and the dead--and further, those that...