In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Ancient Egypt and the Hebrew Bible

  • Introduction
  • General Overview
  • Bibliographies
  • Egyptian and Biblical Literature

Biblical Studies Ancient Egypt and the Hebrew Bible
Bernd U. Schipper, Jan Moje
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 March 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 March 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0234


Providing a brief but representative overview of ancient Egypt and the most important Egyptological studies is a nigh impossible task, as “ancient Egypt” signifies more than three thousand years of cultural history, numerous monuments, papyri, and archaeological artifacts. Moreover, even though “Egyptology” is a relatively young academic discipline—it was founded after Jean-François Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphs in 1822—there are extensive scholarly debates on its religion, literature, art, and architecture. Given that this article is part of a bibliography in Biblical Studies, this overview is structured by three aspects: (1) It provides a brief overview on the history, religion, literature, art, and architecture of ancient Egypt, highlighting the main avenues of research. (2) It determines the most relevant and qualified resources, whether textbooks and overarching articles or books, which can lead to deeper research on a particular subject. (3) It is guided by the question of what resources and books could be helpful for a scholar in biblical studies who is not a specialist on ancient Egypt. This is also the reason for a separate section on Egypt and the Bible. This article is driven by our view that any research on Egypt and the Bible has to take into account two fundamental facts: (a) the shift in Egyptology during the late 20th and early 21st century from the classical, pharaonic period to the late and Greco-Roman period; and (b) the insight in the field of biblical studies that the formative period of biblical literature has to be dated not to the first half of the first millennium BCE (the time of the kings of Israel and Judah) but to the second half. Previous research on the subject was more or less oriented toward material from the New Kingdom (particularly the Ramesside period) and not toward the rich material from Egypt from the first millennium BCE. In this regard, the authors of this overview hope to provide new resources for a fresh look on the subject in light of previous research.

General Overview

For a first orientation in the wide field of Egyptology and scholarly research on ancient Egypt, three resources are helpful. All of them are comprehensive encyclopedias and offer insight into several special topics related to ancient Egypt. The individual entries also contain further literature concerning the relevant themes. The Lexikon der Ägyptologie (Helck and Westendorf 1975–1992), started in 1975, was the first extensive attempt to summarize the state of knowledge in a clearly and easily available form. Another printed encyclopedia on Egypt is Redford 2001. However, the continuously extended online encyclopedia from UCLA (see UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology) represents is the newest reference work.

  • Dieleman, Jacco, and Willeke Wendrich, eds. UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2008–.

    This online encyclopedia is the successor of the meanwhile partially outdated Helck and Westendorf 1975–1992. Structured in a similar manner and supported by the worldwide community of Egyptologists, peer-reviewed online articles appear successively, representing an up-to-date status each.

  • Helck, Wolfgang, and Wolfhart Westendorf, eds. Lexikon der Ägyptologie. 7 vols. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 1975–1992.

    This is the first extensive lexicon in Egyptology presenting several aspects of ancient Egypt in six volumes plus an index volume. Several authors, treated as experts in their topics from all over the world, contributed entries including references and further literature.

  • Redford, Donald B., ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

    This lexicon provides a comprehensive overview on ancient Egypt in several different aspects.

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