Creation of Humans in Ancient Israelite and Egyptian Thought

There are several Middle and Late Egyptian texts describing the creation and teleology of human beings that appear similar to what we encounter in Genesis 1-2. Often in comparative studies dealing with creation accounts in the Bible the comparisons are focused on details preserved in Assyrian or Babylonian texts out of the assumption that Israel developed or refined their theological convictions during their time in exile. When Egyptian cosmologies are considered, like in the case of James P. Allen’s Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts, the creation and teleology of humans is not discussed in detail.
The following paper seeks to fill the gap by examining descriptions where humans are created and commissioned with purpose in Egypt. Beginning with the Coffin Texts, we analyze what is said about creation and continue with the Instructions of Merikare, Legend of Isis, Papyrus Leiden, and Instructions of Amenemope—all of which date to the second millennium B.C. By tracing the development of such themes in ancient Egyptian thought and comparing the findings with Genesis 1-2, we aim to deepen understanding of the biblical descriptions concerning the nature and purpose of humans.

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