Another Egyptian text

Reginald Wallace Ponder, Jr. rwponder at lycos.com
Mon Sep 18 12:47:32 EDT 2000



This is an interesting and provocative proposal.  Clearly there is 
sufficient social/religious intercourse between Egypt and Ancient Israel 
for this kind of "borrowing" to be possible.  But I do not see the evidence 
in the Hebrew text for the kind of ontological speculation that seems to be 
present in the Egyptian texts under discussion.  The Hebrew in Ex. 3:14 is 
easily read as a simple tautology: "I will be what I will be" -- or 
something akin to that.  Not just grammatically but at the 
religious/ideological level this may best be understood tautologically.  
God is telling Moses that He is a trustworthy Deity.  This is consistent 
with Ancient Israelite thought in general -- God's character is a basic 
concern of the Bible.
     Anyway, from my (limited) studied of Egyptian, it seems to be a much 
more complex verbal system than is BH.  Specifically, Classical Egyptian 
contains a number of differentiated grammatical forms to communicate 
diverse modalities.  Therefore, it is possible to explain the apparently 
simpler statement in Ex.3:14 as a function of the BH verbal system.  But 
the simplest explanation is that the author of Exodus has no desire to 
engage in Egyptian-style ontological speculation.
     I am still interested in this, however; I have no ideological bias 
against Egyptian influence at this or any other point.  The Bible both 
resembles, and stands in contrast with, other Ancient Near Eastern texts in 
a variety of ways.
Shalom,
Rev. Reggie Ponder, Jr.         
     
On 09/18/00, "barre at nethere.com" wrote:
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> Here is another Egyptian cosmological text that illustrates the fascination with the verb "to be[come]:
> 
> The Book of Knowing of the rollings[emanations] of Ra, and the overthrowing of Apep.
> 
> [These are] the words which the god Neb-er-tcher spoke after he had come into being:
> 
> "I am he who came into being in the form of Khepera, and I am the creator of everything which came into being; now the things which I had created, and which came forth out of my mouth after I had come into being myself, were exceedingly many.  The sky (or, heaven) had not come into being, the earth did not exist, and the children of the earth, and the creeping things, had not been made at this time.  I myself raised them from out of the Nu, from a state of helpless inertness."
> 
> ---------------------------------------------------
> L.M. Barre, Ph.D.
> 
> Angelfire.com/ca2/AncientIsrael
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> 
> <HTML><BODY BGCOLOR=#FFFFFF>Here&nbsp;is&nbsp;another&nbsp;Egyptian&nbsp;cosmological&nbsp;text&nbsp;that&nbsp;illustrates&nbsp;the&nbsp;fascination&nbsp;with&nbsp;the&nbsp;verb&nbsp;"to&nbsp;<BR>
> be[come]:
> <BR>
> 
> 
> <FONT COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FACE="Garamond">The&nbsp;Book&nbsp;of&nbsp;Knowing&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;rollings[emanations]&nbsp;of&nbsp;Ra,&nbsp;and&nbsp;the&nbsp;<BR>
> overthrowing&nbsp;of&nbsp;Apep.
> <BR>
> 
> <BR>
> [These&nbsp;are]&nbsp;the&nbsp;words&nbsp;which&nbsp;the&nbsp;god&nbsp;Neb-er-tcher&nbsp;spoke&nbsp;after&nbsp;he&nbsp;had&nbsp;<BR>
> come&nbsp;into&nbsp;being:
> <BR>
> 
> <BR>
> "I&nbsp;am&nbsp;he&nbsp;who&nbsp;came&nbsp;into&nbsp;being&nbsp;in&nbsp;the&nbsp;form&nbsp;of&nbsp;Khepera,&nbsp;and&nbsp;I&nbsp;am&nbsp;the&nbsp;creator&nbsp;of&nbsp;everything&nbsp;<BR>
> which&nbsp;came&nbsp;into&nbsp;being;&nbsp;now&nbsp;the&nbsp;things&nbsp;which&nbsp;I&nbsp;had&nbsp;created,&nbsp;and&nbsp;which&nbsp;came&nbsp;forth&nbsp;out&nbsp;of&nbsp;<BR>
> my&nbsp;mouth&nbsp;after&nbsp;I&nbsp;had&nbsp;come&nbsp;into&nbsp;being&nbsp;myself,&nbsp;were&nbsp;exceedingly&nbsp;many.&nbsp;&nbsp;The&nbsp;sky&nbsp;(or,&nbsp;<BR>
> heaven)&nbsp;had&nbsp;not&nbsp;come&nbsp;into&nbsp;being,&nbsp;the&nbsp;earth&nbsp;did&nbsp;not&nbsp;exist,&nbsp;and&nbsp;the&nbsp;children&nbsp;of&nbsp;the&nbsp;earth,&nbsp;<BR>
> and&nbsp;the&nbsp;creeping&nbsp;things,&nbsp;had&nbsp;not&nbsp;been&nbsp;made&nbsp;at&nbsp;this&nbsp;time.&nbsp;&nbsp;I&nbsp;myself&nbsp;raised&nbsp;them&nbsp;from&nbsp;out&nbsp;<BR>
> of&nbsp;the&nbsp;Nu,&nbsp;from&nbsp;a&nbsp;state&nbsp;of&nbsp;helpless&nbsp;inertness."</FONT>
> </BODY></HTML>
> <BR><BR><HTML><BODY BGCOLOR=#FFFFFF>---------------------------------------------------
> <BR>L.M.  Barre,  Ph.D.
> <BR>
> <BR>Angelfire.com/ca2/AncientIsrael</HTML></BODY>
> <BR><BR>Download NeoPlanet at <a href=http://www.neoplanet.com>http://www.neoplanet.com</a>
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