Why do people attack stones?: On Jan Assmann and Mnemohistory


According to the contemporary German egyptologist Jan Asmann, the birth of monotheism during the reign of king Akhenaten (1400 BCE) was a kind of revolution that caused traumatic experience to the polytheistic society of ancient Egypt. That is why after he died 17 years later, all memories of this revolution were suppressed, and the name of Akhenaten was erased from the list of pharaohs. All that was known about him came from archaeological excavations in  modern times until Assmann began to look for traces of this event by examining official histories of Hellenistic Egypt in Greek and Latin and to name them mnemohistory, i.e. history which is born from collective traumatic experience. He claims to have discovered (1) the earliest incidences of anti-Semitism and (2) the dark side of monotheism.


Emanuel Gerrit Singgih is professor of theology at Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW).  Since earning his PhD from the University of Glasgow, UK, in 1982, he has written numerous books and journal articles on contextual theology and biblical exegesis. He teaches courses on philosophical hermeneutics and biblical interpretations at ICRS.

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