“Humanity came forth from his eyes, the gods came into existence out of his mouth”: Tradition and innovation in the theogonical and anthropogenic accounts of ancient Egyptian religious texts

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Abstract

In ancient Egypt, the Demiurge was responsible for the creation of every cosmic entity and being, including deities and human beings. These two creative processes – theogony and anthropogeny, respectively – are narrated and accounted in several different manners, both diachronically and synchronically. One of the most enduring conceptions is linked to the Demiurge’s body: the creatures would emanate from the Creator’s own biology and corporeality. The Pyramid and Coffin Texts settle a cosmogonical motif that would be continued throughout Egyptian history: deities are the result of mouth-related activities and humans the outcome of an ocular act. However, Egyptian sources exhibit several departures from this tradition, presenting phraseological and content-wise innovations and variations, whilst never abandoning the previous religious and conceptual backgrounds altogether.
This paper focuses on this issue, arguing for a textual and religious continuity of theogonical and anthropogenic conceptions suggested by the Egyptian texts expressed, namely, in the persistence of an efflux-based theology and on the permanence of the wordplay tool in several corpora across time, whilst pointing to innovative shifts between different (con)texts and periods. By pinpointing selected sources, this paper aims at understanding the complexity surrounding ancient Egyptian theogonical and anthropogenic mentions as bio-physic demiurgic acts in the light of the “tradition/innovation” binomial.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTradition and Innovation
EditorsMaria do Rosário Monteiro, Mário S. Ming Kong, Maria João Pereira Neto
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherCRC Press Taylor & Francis
Pages399-406
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-429-29778-6
ISBN (Print)978-0-367-27766-6
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePHI
PublisherCRC Press
ISSN (Print)2639-0191
ISSN (Electronic)2639-0205

Keywords

  • Ancient Egypt
  • Theogony
  • Anthropogeny
  • Cosmogony
  • Religious Texts

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