Review of Gee, John. “Edfu and Exodus.”

Gee, John.  “Edfu and Exodus.”  In Temple Insights: Proceedings of the Interpreter Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference “The Temple on Mount Zion” 22 September 2012, edited by William J. Hamblin and David Rolph Seely, 67-82.  Temple on Mount Zion Series 2.  Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation / Eborn Books, 2014. [Egypt/Israel/Tabernacle/Architecture/Design]

Egyptologist John Gee examines the potential relationship between the Tabernacle described in Exodus 25-28, with the Egyptian temples of the same and earlier periods and finds a number of parallels.  There are more than 150 Egyptian temples of which many archaeological remains and inscriptions remain.  Associated with some of these temples a book referred to as “The Book of the Temple” has been discovered.  Many versions exist in hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, and Greek.  Over twenty versions were found in one site.  All but one date from the Roman Period, the outlier is from the Ptolemaic Period. These have not been collated and published as yet, but there are bandeau inscriptions on many temple walls which it is believed are adapted from this book.  The bandeau inscription is basically a description of the building of the temple and of its rooms–something of a guidebook.  Gee examines the bandeau inscription from the temple at Edfu, which is apparently the most extensive one extant and  finds a number of similarities between the Exodus account of the Tabernacle and the Edfu inscription on literary, architectural, and ritual levels.  Some of the rituals are found in “The Daily Temple Ritual” Egyptian text found in Berlin.

Gee postulates that an examination of temples contemporary with and earlier than Edfu, would help scholars determine if “The Book of the Temple” was used to construct earlier temples.  If their architecture, decorations, and rituals are similar this would be an argument that the text was older than the extant versions.  Though there are 150 Egyptian temples, the problem is not as easy to solve as might first appear.  Nevertheless, Gee does find some evidence that the pylon of the Medinet Habu temple which goes back to the New Kingdom, was constructed and decorated the same as Edfu.  Thus, he believes that at least a portion of “The Book of the Temple” may go back that far, and also suggests a possible connection between it and the book of Exodus.

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