Loren Fisher’s Tales From Ancient Egypt: The Birth of Stories is now available. In this latest book, Loren provides fresh translations, notes, and introduces to
- The Story of Sinuhe: A Wander on the Earth
- The Enchanted Prince
- The Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor
- The Journey of Wen-Amon
- A Dialogue between a Man and His Ba
All five of these tales are wonderful and enlightening. Loren brings the skills of the scholar and the poet to his translations.
While these stories are extremely important in their own right, they are also relevant to the cultural context of the whole of the Ancient Near East including ancient Israel.
As Loren says in his introduction,
Unlike some other ancient states, both Israel and Egypt wrote epic tales in Prose. This prose, with a scattering poetry, is not only important for our understanding of Israel and Egypt, but it is also important for a clear understanding of the history of world literature.
I think it unfortunate that while many current biblical scholars know at least a smattering of Akkadian and Ugaritic, it’s relatively uncommon these days to find those that know much ancient Egyptian. And yet, the Hebrew Bible displays obvious indebtedness to ancient Egyptian culture in much the same way it displays indebtedness to ancient Mesopotamian culture. One needs look no further than Proverbs 22:17-24:22’s relationship to the Instruction of Amenemope or the collection of Egyptian loanwords in Hebrew for verification. Contributing to the mix of rather obvious cultural influences is the use of hieratic numerals in epigraphic Hebrew. And yet, scholars often pass over or depreciate the role of the Egyptian story when discussing stories from ancient Israel. Loren’s book, if it receives the reading it deserves, will go a long ways to correct this deficiency.
Go to Loren’s website to learn what Baruch Levine and John Cobb have to say about Tales From Ancient Egypt: The Birth of Stories. If you’ve’ heard enough already and just want to purchase it, head over to Cascade Books to place an order.