Upon the termination of ice age the Afro-Asian territory started to experience strong climatic changes that led to the siccation of lands. At this time where there were primitive societies before, two or more civilizations appeared. The researches of the archeologists give the chance to consider the siccation process to be the cause of the emergence of the ancient civilizations and religions.
The Religion of Egypt
There was no one general religion in Ancient Egypt. However, there was a big variety of the local cults devoted to the certain deities. The majority of them had a henotheistic character (concentration on the worship to one deity with a simultaneous recognition of the others). Therefore, the Egyptian religion is considered to be polytheistic owning to the geographical separations of the people, living on this territory.
“The geography of ancient Egypt is all about the Nile. But in fact, it wasn’t always that way. Before the days of the Pharaohs, before 5000 BC, the majority of the land was actually full of vegetation and wild animals. There was no need at that time to settle near the Nile. The numerous hunter-gatherer tribes travelled around nomadically following wild animals. They were of different ethnicities and origins”.
The religion of Egypt has passed a long way of the development from fetishism and totemizm, to polytheism and monotheist thinking for the previous 3000 years. In Egypt the monotheism concept was formulated for the first time: the Pharaoh Ikhnaton made an attempt of the religious reform, the goal of which was to centralize the Egyptian cults round the god of the Sun of Aton. During the different periods the deities of Ra and later Amon, Osiris, Isida were the most esteemed ones in Egypt.
The so-called “civilized centers” had not been concentrated in the valley of Nile and Mesopotamia, but arose almost simultaneously together with the basic economic technologies in the range of 9000 – 7000 BC in various places of the planet with the suitable conditions. There had been a gradual adaptation of these technologies to the local conditions and growing population and their perfection during the division of labor and specialization for the following 3-4 millennia. It is rather difficult to overestimate the value of the turn made by the ancient kingdoms in the history of the civilization. The mankind had not created any essentially new productive technology and had not developed any new science since the occurrence of the civilization until the 15th century AD. Even those inventions and discoveries, which had been made during that period, remained almost unclaimed.
The cults of the Egyptian deities which have got to the country of a classical antiquity, naturally “got used” to the religious environment of these countries and gained a local color, sometimes very distinct from their Egyptian original. The research of the shape of the Egyptian deities and their cult has no direct relation to the religion of the Ancient Egypt.
The penetration of the Egyptian religious representations into the Mediterranean pool begins approximately from the 6th century BC, since a closer contact of Egypt with the Greeks. The fact that the Egyptian religious influence took place on the Apennine peninsula is proved by a small bronze figure of the goddess of Uadget in the museum of Bologna.
The Egyptian Influence on Mediterranean’s Countries
The Egyptian influence affected the countries of the Mediterranean, and later the countries of the Roman Empire which included the Balkans, Italy and some other countries of Western and Eastern Europe, except Egypt, which were under the power of Rome.
In the 7th century BC there was an orphic cosmogony in Greece, according to which the egg was the beginning of the world. This image was borrowed from the option of the Egyptian cosmogonic system. The cults of the Egyptian gods are met both in the continental and island Greece, for example on the island Delos.
The main stream of the Egyptian influence is the distribution of a cult of Isida. The idea of Isida was a serious contribution of the Egyptian religion to the religions of the countries of a classical antiquity. The cult of Isida got even into pre-Christian Germany, its traces are found in Cologne, Mainz, Augsburg and Trier.
The cult of the Egyptian goddess was especially attractive to a classical antiquity. The Greek gods, as well as mere mortals, were submitted to a blind destiny. According to the Egyptian representations, the destinies of people were managed by the gods. The prospect of the protection of the gracious and all-powerful goddess attracted all those who sought consolation from the dangers which are concealing in the surrounding terrible world. In other words, the goddess was as though the predecessor of the Christianity. In this plan the Isida’s popularity is clear and scientifically explainable. It is possible to say with confidence that the Isida’s cult cleared the way for Christianity to some extent. The distribution of the Egyptian influence in the antique countries was actively promoted by the Egyptians.
The Egyptian religion always drew a steadfast attention of the civilized people. The ancient Greeks adjoining Egypt showed an interest to it in their works. The religion of the ancient Egypt occupied a huge place in the works of the “father of history” Herodotus and many other antique authors. There is the fact that such a writer as Plutarhus who “is fairly considered the last universal scientist of hellinism” devoted a special work to the Egyptian religion; he testifies to a profound interest to it in the classical antiquity. With the falling of the Egyptian culture and replacement of the Egyptian religion from the arena of the world history of Christianity, the interest to this religion continued to live in a circle of the European scientists despite the fact that the Egyptian language and the Egyptian letter became a “sealed book”.
The scientific studying of the Egyptian religion began only after the ingenious Frenchman Francois Shampolon – “the father of Egyptology” – took a decisive measure to decode the Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822; later he opened new, really immense spheres of the research for a science. The Egyptology paid much attention to studying of the Egyptian religion from the very first steps. Francois Shampolon published his work devoted to this theme. The Egyptology roughly developed in all directions; the research of the Egyptian religion developed and went deep.
Spread of Christianity
In fact, any certain date concerning the spread of Christianity in Egypt would be not definite, up to the beginning of a long episcopacy of Dimitriy Alexandria (188/9-231). The historian needs to be based only on the indirect data and more or less convincing conclusions on the basis of this data. It is necessary to study the early literature written by the Christians and for the Christians of Egypt, and to collect the earliest papyrus fragments of the Holy Scripture which remained in a dry sand of the Nile valley. It is possible to restore the history of the spread of the Church growth in Egypt during the first two centuries of a Christian era.
The Egyptian stream in Christianity can be observed in everything, beginning from the separate motives of the Christian symbolism and finishing with purely dogmatic constructions. Egypt was one of the centers of dogmatic and Christian morals. Egypt took part in the development of the ideology of early Christianity not less than Asia and Syria. Egypt was one of the important areas, the religion’s elements of which anticipated the appearance of the Christianity.
“The primitive view of nature and geographical forces affecting mankind can be traced back to the earliest days of Paleolithic development. Though refined over centuries, such views are still prevalent and many religious traditions teach an end of the world when the forces of nature would once again rebel. For the Ancient Egyptians, it was the return of the snake”.