Empire Of Ancient Egypt, by Wendy Christensen
I have to admit that this book was far more in-depth and detailed than I thought it would be. Having read quite a few of this kind of book, I tend to think that they will be short enough and superficial enough that they will provide interest mainly to early readers and at best Middle School students, but I have to admit that this particular book includes information that would surpass that which most adults have concerning ancient Egypt over a large span of history. And any book which offers a reminder of obscure Egyptian history or (if a reader is not as interested in the subject) a great deal of insight is something that I can definitely appreciate. If Egyptian history offers plenty that I am not particularly fond of, it does at least provide some insight into some of what the Bible has to say about heathen religion and the importance of avoiding it. The author, of course, does not have an explicitly biblicist position and as a result this book is far more positive about heathen religion than I would be personally. That must be taken into account when reading a book like this one.
This book is a bit more than 150 pages and is divided into two parts and six chapters and numerous supplementary materials. After an introduction the author launches into a history of ancient Egypt (I) that lasts for three chapters. This section includes a discussion of Egypt before its imperial period going back even to the predynastic period and by no means ignoring the first and second intermediate periods as well as the Old and Middle Kingdoms (1). After that the author discusses the period of the New Kingdom and Egypt’s empire in the Levant and Nubia (2) as well as the long decline from that period until Egypt became an imperial possession of various empires, seeking independence but frequently being crushed by invasion after invasion (3). After that the author turns her attention to society and culture (II), with chapters on Egyptian society in its various classes (4), everyday life in ancient Egypt (5), as well as various matters of religion, science, and culture that many readers will find very interesting (6). The book then ends with an epilogue, timeline, glossary, bibliography, suggestions for further reading, picture credits, an index, and information about the author, all of which will provide additional context to the history of ancient Egypt.
What relevance does Egypt have for us? Ancient Egypt is not well known by those who are not fans of the Pyramids, but aside from tourism there is a great deal that Egypt offers to students of history. The study of the Egyptian language and its eventual deciphering offered students of Egyptology with a great deal of insight into Egyptian sources of history, religion, and proverbial wisdom, and the occasionally interesting account. Egypt’s politics and religion offer a strong foil with biblical views on these two subjects and provides a model for countries that like a strong intelligencia as well as socialist government and appealingly prostrate peasant masses. This is not the sort of country that I would have enjoyed living in, but one must admit that the Egyptians did offer at least something to the world even if they did not operate according to the sort of ways that I would most appreciate living in as a person. Other people may fancy themselves more likely to be pharaohs and priests and not peasants and put-upon merchants, though, which accounts for at least some of the popularity of this nation in the eyes of many people who romanticize the past.