Prof. St. Quirke is a fruitful Egyptologist, he wrote many scientific articles and books. I have had the opportunity to speak about his personality when I presented to Amazon Customers one of his basic studies ("Egyptian Literature 1800 BC: Questions and Readings"). As in each of his works, the text is written in a fluid, and elegant English, suitable for Egyptologists, and also for students of religion. Quirke's book is an exemplary piece of work, presenting step by step the most important aspects of the sun worship in Ancient Egypt. It is not a simple chronological overview of the cult the sun, one of the central elements of the religious system of Ancient Egypt. The author emphasized the following relationships: the cosmic god Re - the king as "son of Re" - the king as Horus (the ruling god on earth), and the dead king's identity with Osiris. The reader will have the choice to learn about the many aspects of the evidence for the beliefs in the sun god( i. e. the names of the divinity, the scarab as solar symbol, benu the bird of Re, the sun in creation myths, and the family of Re/the famous Ennead from Heliopolis/). A special chapter is devoted to the worship of the solar god, being presented above all the hymns addressed to him. Quirke creatively adopts the results of J. Assmann as concern the definition of myth, and the translations of the solar hymns. We have only scattered information about the lost capital of the sun god, Iunu or Heliopolis in Greek. Very useful are the information regards to the pyramids and obelisks as solar( and in case of pyramids as stellar) symbols. The author's intention was to follow the evolution of the solar divinity in Ancient Egypt, from the Old Kingdom onward, and presenting the most elevated form of his worship: the appearance of the Akhnaton's religious "revolution". In fact, the Old and the New Kingdoms are the two major epoch in the history of the sun god's evolution. Quirke exploring especially the data of the second period presented above, which culminated with the first attempt of "monotheism" in the history of religions. The methodology used by Prof. Quirke is more than logic, his points are cogently argued, and the written examples well chosen. To understand all the aspects related to the sun god's characteristics and evolution, you have to read page by page this well written, documented, and nice printed book.
This is a sometimes complex but always highly readable book about the centrality of the relationship between the sun god and his sole offspring on earth – the reigning king of Egypt. The author is careful to acknowledge the work of other scholars, notably Jan Assmann.
I especially enjoyed Quirke's "reconstruction" of the Amarna period. This is in the context of appropriate emphasis on the theological and other influence of his father, Amenhotep III.
[Note: Assmann's Egyptian Solar Religion in the New Kingdom: Re, Amun and the Crisis of Polytheism is also well worth reading. However, his 2014 book on Akhenaten and Moses seems almost wilfully obscure places and is in considerable part less relevant to this topic.]
'the cult of ra' is a difficult book to initially get into, but its worth the effort. the underscoring of art as vital + divine is thunderstriking stuff, with the author setting the scene by drawing u into the mindset of the ancient egyptians, + he does this in a believable + unique manner. from then on the book makes plausible the unbelievable. i came away staggered that my personal thoughts + theories were shared by such a scholar. and the chronological timeline that is drawn of the 'cult of ra' throughout the book is its main recommendation to serious studies of the egyptian theology. tho' never really brought to the fore, the implication of monotheism in ancient egypt, bubbles just under the surface + the documentation from source to uphold this theory is well reasoned and though provoking. the only 2 flaws i felt was: 1. that not enough emphasis was made on the sun cults premiere role in egyptian + cosmology. but this can be forgiven as u can find this in other works that specialise on this topic. 2. the authors use of technical terms + high syntax ... u'll need to sit with a dictionary, as well as re-read certain sentences to get the full import of whats being said. tho' this is a minor quibble, as im dyslexic. (as im sure uve quessed)