Zhdanov Vladimir

Myth, gods, man: "speculative theology" as a cultural and religious phenomenon of Ancient Egyptian thought of the 15th-13th centuries BC

Zhdanov Vladimir (2022) "Myth, gods, man: "speculative theology" as a cultural and religious phenomenon of Ancient Egyptian thought of the 15th-13th centuries BC ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2022, vol. 101, pp. 99-117 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI2022101.99-117


This paper studies the features of the so-called “speculative theology” of Amun-Re, the most prominent trend of ancient Egyptian religious and theological thought of the XV-XIII centuries BC on the example of two of its most significant texts, Cairo (Pap. Boulaq 17 Pap. Kairo CG 58038) and Leiden (Pap. Leiden I 350) hymns to Amun. Unlike earlier forms of Egyptian spiritual culture, for the first time in the history of ancient Egyptian religion, it creates the image of a transcendent deity, the connection of the believer with whom is now carried out through direct personal contact, and not through traditional forms of worship for the Egyptian religion. At the same time, many features of the image of Amun in the Theban “speculative theology” of the New Kingdom can already be considered as an attempt at a fundamentally new reflection of traditional categories of ancient Egyptian culture, such as, for example, “Maat” (world-order, justice, truth), both based on traditional values and departing from them. The reason for this was the crisis of traditional ideas about Maat after the Amarna era, which fundamentally changed the nature of popular piety and at the same time the basic principles of Egyptian religious and political ethics. From the point of view of the mythogenic conception of the genesis of philosophy, “speculative theology” - both in Egypt of the New Kingdom and somewhat later in archaic Greece – is of exceptional interest as the most important "transitional form" on the path of transformation of primitive myth into philosophical discourse and at the same time an interesting example of the interpenetration and joint evolution of mythological, religious and emerging philosophical worldview. Not always turning into a full-fledged philosophical tradition (this is exactly what happens, in particular, with the Theban “speculative theology” of Amun-Re), it nevertheless demonstrates the complex ways of transforming the spiritual world of the ancient man of the Eastern Mediterranean, thanks to which the spiritual transformation of the "axial time" became possible in many ways. By the example of the image of Amun, the transformation of ideas about religious experience in the Egyptian culture of the era of the New Kingdom is also studied.


pre-philosophy, theology, mythology, axial age, divinity, theocosmogony, Amun


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Information about the author

Zhdanov Vladimir

Academic Degree: Doctor of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Academic Rank: Associate Professor;
Place of work: Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); Moscow, Russia;
ORCID: 0000-0002-0239-6315;
Email: tashidelek23@gmail.com.

*According to ISCED 2011, a post-doctoral degree called Doctor of Sciences (D.Sc.) is given to reflect second advanced research qualifications or higher doctorates.


This paper has been supported by the RUDN University Strategic Academic Leadership Program, and was funded by the Russian Science Foundation, grant no. 22-28-00162, “The 'Axial Age' Conception in Intercultural Dialogue”.