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In this important new book, the distinguished Egyptologist Jan Assmann provides a masterful overview of a crucial theme in the religious history of the West - that of 'religio duplex', or dual religion. He begins by returning to the theology of the Ancient Egyptians, who set out to present their culture as divided between the popular and the elite. By examining their beliefs, he argues, we can distinguish the two faces of ancient religions more generally: the outer face (that of the official religion) and the inner face (encompassing the mysterious nature of religious experience).
Assmann explains that the Early Modern period witnessed the birth of the idea of dual religion with, on the one hand, the religion of reason and, on the other, that of revelation. This concept gained new significance in the Enlightenment when the dual structure of religion was transposed onto the individual. This meant that man now owed his allegiance not only to his native religion, but also to a universal 'religion of mankind'.
In fact, argues Assmann, religion can now only hold a place in our globalized world in this way, as a religion that understands itself as one among many and has learned to see itself through the eyes of the other. This bold and wide-ranging book will be essential reading for historians, theologians and anyone interested in the nature of religion and its role in the shaping of the modern world.
Jan Assmann is Professor of Egyptology at the University of Konstanz.
Table of Contents
I. Egyptian Foundations: The Dual Meaning of Signs
Religio Duplex and the Endgame of Egyptian Culture
Sacramental Interpretation: The Dual Meaning of Signs
Iamblichus and the Egyptian Mysteries
The Two or Three Scripts of the Ancient Egyptian Culture of Writing
From Pictures to Letters: The History of Writing as History of Religion
II. From the Dual Meaning of Signs to Dual Religion
Verba duplicata: Moses Maimonides
Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Mosaic Laws: John Spencer
The Platonic Construction of Dual Religion: Ralph Cudworth
III. ‘Religio duplex’ and Political Theology
John Toland and the Critique of Political Theology
William Warburton and the Redemption of Political Theology
Secrecy under the Banner of Morality and Politics
IV. ‘Religio Duplex’ and Freemasonry
Secret Society Novels
Secrecy under the Banner of Nature and Revelation
Ignaz von Born and the Vienna Mysteries Project
The Magic Flute: ‘Opera Duplex’
V. In the Era of Globalization: ‘Religio Duplex’ as Dual Membership
Globalization, Cosmopolitanism and Cultural Memory
Waves of Globalization and Universalist Initiatives
All Gods Are One: Religious Cosmopolitanism
The Parable of the Ring: Tolerance as a Cosmopolitan Project
Moses Mendelssohn and the Idea of a ‘Religion of Mankind’
Patriot and Cosmopolitan: Lessing’s ‘Ernst and Falk’, with a Glance at Herder and Wieland