Thursday, October 3, 2013

On Egyptian Apocalyptic Literature

Recently there has been an increase in interest in Egyptian apocalyptic literature. The Egyptian apocalyptic literature "creates the picture of the evil into which Egypt has fallen" (Roberto B. Gozzoli, The Writing of History in Ancient Egypt during the First Millennium BC (ca. 1070-180 BC) (London: Golden House Publications, 2006), 301.) In Roberto Gozzoli's treatment of the subject, he notes the following features of the genre:
Glorification of pharaohs immediately preceeding a foreign invasion, or fighting against an invader.
Demonisation of any foreign invasion.
The pharaoh's return
The glorious warrior of the past. (Gozzoli, The Writing of History in Ancient Egypt, 302-304.)
He observes that
it was unbelieveable for the ancient Egyptians to accept that their country might have been occupied by foreigners, unless the political situration in Egypt was weakened by some misconduct of a bad pharaoh. (Gozzoli, The Writing of History in Ancient Egypt, 303.
Yet for all its emphasis on the rottenness of the situation in Egypt, Egyptian apocalyptic literature is not necessarily dreary:
The destruction of a country and in this particular case, Egypt, is never an end, but only a representation of a fallen reality which will be some day restored to the pristine glory, once the original conditions of religious respect will be reinstated. (Roberto B. Gozzoli, The Writing of History in Ancient Egypt, 304.)
 In that sense, apocalyptic literature could actually be described as hopeful.