Jan Assmann

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Jan Assmann 2018

Jan Assmann (* 7. July 1938 in Langelsheim as Johann Christoph Assmann ) is a German Egyptologist , religious scholars , cultural scientist and professor emeritus of the Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg . Assmann is particularly concerned with cultures of remembrance .

Live and act

Jan Assmann 2007

Jan Assmann, son of an architect, grew up in Lübeck and Heidelberg. He is married to the literary scholar Aleida Assmann . They have five children together. Jan Assmann now lives in Heidelberg and Konstanz.

Assmann studied Egyptology, Classical Archeology and Greek Studies in Munich , Heidelberg, Paris and Göttingen . He was promoted to Dr. phil. PhD. In 1966/1967 he received a travel grant from the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo. Here he worked from 1967 to 1971 as a freelancer and fellow of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Jan Assmann completed his habilitation in 1971 and followed a call to the University of Heidelberg for the Chair of Egyptology in 1976, where he taught until his retirement in 2003. This was followed by an honorary professorship for general cultural studies at the University of Konstanz , which he still holds today (2017).

Research stays in Germany and abroad

Visiting professorships

Scientific work

Since 1967 Assmann has been involved in epigraphic- archaeological field work in Thebes-West for the burial of civil servants in the Saiten and Ramesside times and from 1978 onwards he headed a research project in Luxor (Upper Egypt).

Theory of cultural memory

As a cultural scientist, Jan Assmann developed the theory of cultural memory , partly in collaboration with his wife Aleida Assmann , which was based on the concept of collective memory developed by the French sociologist and psychologist Maurice Halbwachs . His publications on this topic also made him known internationally.

Emergence of Israelite monotheism

Assmann became known further beyond the narrow Egyptological circle through his interpretation of the emergence of monotheism , the beginnings of which, according to him, are connected with the time of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt . Assmann regards it as an urgent need to have a greater understanding of those cultures that are not part of monotheism. In this context Jan Assmann explains the theological change from divine pluralism to Israelite monotheism:

“I see the task of our philological preoccupation with the biblical texts in historicalizing them, that is to say to say: This had its place in a certain time. The language is understood from this time. […] I read about the fifth book of Moses in such a way that 'Canaan' actually means my own pagan past. And the ardent hatred of the Canaanites expressed in these texts is in truth a retrospective self-hatred, a hatred of the past from which one would like to free oneself. "

This was accompanied by the development of an absolute concept of truth , which in the long term made the pluralistic coexistence of the ancient pantheon impossible and which has gone deep into the cultural memory of modern man. Since then, a “price” has to be paid for monotheism, which includes, among other things, intense religious, cultural and political disputes.

Honors and memberships

Jan and Aleida Assmann on the occasion of the 2018 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade


  • The image of the father in ancient Egypt , in: "The father image in myth and history: Egypt, Greece, Old Testament, New Testament", ed. by Hubertus Tellenbach , Kohlhammer Verlag , Mainz 1976, pp. 12-49, ISBN 3-17-002645-3
  • Egyptian hymns and prayers . Artemis & Winkler, Zurich and Munich 1975, ISBN 3-7608-3501-5 ; (= Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis. Vol. 4), second improved and expanded edition, Friborg / Göttingen 1999
  • Re and Amun. The crisis of the polytheistic worldview in Egypt of the 18th-20th centuries Dynasty (= Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis. Vol. 51). Friborg / Göttingen 1983
  • Egypt. Theology and Piety of an Early High Culture. (= Urban pocket books. Vol. 366). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1984
  • Scripture and memory. ed. v. Jan Assmann, Aleida Assmann and Christof Hardmeier; Fink, Munich 1984, ISBN 978-3-7705-2132-6
  • Canon and censorship. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Aleida Assmann; Fink, Munich 1987, ISBN 978-3-7705-2379-5
  • The cultural memory. Writing, memory and political identity in early high cultures Beck, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-406-36088-2 , 7th edition 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-56844-2 .
  • Ma'at. Justice and Immortality in Ancient Egypt. Beck, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-406-39039-0
  • Stone and time. Man and Society in Ancient Egypt. Fink, Munich 1991; 3rd edition 2003, ISBN 3-7705-2681-3
  • Text and comment. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Burkhard Gladigow; Fink, Munich 1995, ISBN 978-3-7705-2969-8
  • Egypt. A story of meaning. Hanser, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-446-18522-4
  • Veil and threshold. Vol. 1: Secret and Public. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Aleida Assmann; Fink, Munich 1997, ISBN 978-3-7705-3096-0
  • Moses the Egyptian. Deciphering a memory trace. Hanser, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-446-19302-2
  • Veil and threshold. Volume 2: Mystery and Revelation. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Aleida Assmann; Fink, Munich 1998, ISBN 978-3-7705-3171-4
  • Justice. ed. v. Jan Assmann, Bernd Janowski and Michael Welker; Fink, Munich 1998, ISBN 978-3-7705-3227-8
  • The veil of the iris . In: Lettre International. LI 43, Winter 1998 pp. 50-53
  • Veil and threshold. Volume 3: Mystery and Curiosity. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Aleida Assmann; Fink, Munich 1999, ISBN 978-3-7705-3355-8
  • Lonliness. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Aleida Assmann; Fink, Munich 1999, ISBN 978-3-7705-3401-2
  • Religion and cultural memory. Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-45915-3
  • Rule and salvation. Political theology in Egypt, Israel and Europe. Hanser, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-446-19866-0
  • Wisdom and mystery. The image of the Greeks of Egypt. Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-45899-8
  • Death as a subject of cultural theory. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 2001, ISBN 3-518-12157-X
  • Attentions. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Aleida Assmann; Fink, Munich 2001, ISBN 978-3-7705-3551-4
  • Egyptian mysteries? ed. v. Jan Assmann and Martin Bommas; Fink, Munich 2002, ISBN 978-3-7705-3650-4
  • The Mosaic Discrimination or The Price of Monotheism. Hanser, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-446-20367-2
  • Hieroglyphics. Stations of another occidental grammatology. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Aleida Assmann; Fink, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3-7705-3752-5
  • Death and the afterlife in ancient Egypt. Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-46570-6 ; Special edition, 2nd edition, Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-49707-0 .
  • Religious-philosophical writings by Plutarch. ed. with Herwig Görgemanns and Reinhard Feldmeier ; Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf / Zurich 2003, ISBN 3-7608-1728-9
  • The Magic Flute. Opera and Mystery. Hanser, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-446-20673-6
  • Egyptian secrets. Fink, Munich 2004, ISBN 978-3-7705-3687-0
  • The origin of the story. Archaic Cultures, Ancient Egypt, and Early Greece. (with Klaus E. Müller [Hrsg.]), Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-608-94128-2
  • Theology and Wisdom in Ancient Egypt. Fink, Munich 2005, ISBN 978-3-7705-4069-3
  • Remembered Egypt. Kulturverlag Kadmos, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-931659-90-9
  • Thomas Mann and Egypt. Myth and monotheism in the Joseph novels. Wolf-Daniel Hartwich (1968–2006) in memoriam. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54977-2
  • Monotheism and the language of violence. Picus, Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-85452-516-8
  • Saeculum. Universal History Yearbook. (founded by Georg Stadtmüller ), appears in two half-volumes 2006 in the 57th year, Böhlau, Cologne, ISSN  0080-5319 (co-editor 2006)
  • Transformations. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Aleida Assmann; Fink, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-7705-4195-9
  • Flood and memory. Remembering and forgetting the origin. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Martin Mulsow; Fink, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-7705-4128-7
  • Egyptian religion. Literature of the dead. From the Egyptian transl. u. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Andrea Kucharek; Insel, Frankfurt a. M. 2008, ISBN 3-458-70011-0
  • Perfection. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Aleida Assmann; Fink, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-7705-4813-2
  • Magic and religion. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Harald Strohm; Fink, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-7705-4877-4
  • Ruler cult and expectation of salvation. ed. v. Jan Assmann and Harald Strohm; Fink, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-7705-5054-8
  • Religio Duplex. Egyptian Mysteries and European Enlightenment. Verlag der Weltreligionen, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-458-71032-5
  • Stone Age and Stardate: Ancient Egyptian Time Concepts. Fink, Paderborn 2011, ISBN 978-3-7705-5028-9 .
  • Exodus. The Old World Revolution . Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-67430-3 .
  • The oratorio ' Israel in Egypt ' by Georg Friedrich Handel . Catholic Biblical Works, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-460-08604-3 .
  • The Magic Flute. An opera with two faces (= Viennese lectures ), Picus, Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-85452-579-0 .
  • Total religion. Origins and forms of puritanical tightening , Picus, Vienna 2016, ISBN 978-3-7117-2045-0 .
  • Thomas Mann: Josef and his brothers Volume I: The stories of Jacob. The young Joseph. Volume II: Text and commentary by Jan Assmann, Dieter Borchmeyer and Stefan Stachorski with the assistance of Peter Huber. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 2018, ISBN 978-3-10-048328-7 and ISBN 978-3-10-048333-1 .
  • Axial time. An archeology of modernity . CH Beck, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-406-72988-1 .
  • Exodus. The Old World Revolution . CH Beck, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3-406-73025-2 .
  • Moses Tragicus. Freud, Schönberg and the failing Moses. Sigmund Freud Lecture 2019. Turia + Kant, Vienna / Berlin 2020, ISBN 978-3-85132-975-9 .

As editor

See also


  • Giulio Angioni : La memoria . In: Fare, dire, sentire: l'identico e il diverso nelle culture . Il Maestrale, Nuoro 2011, pp. 226-245.
  • Assmann, Jan. In: Walter Habel (Ed.): Who is who? The German Who's Who. XXIV edition of Degener's “Who is it”? Schmidt-Römhild, Lübeck 1985, p. 30.
  • Mirjam-Kerstin Holl: Semantics and social memory. The systems theory of Niklas Luhmann and the memory theory of Aleida and Jan Assmann . Königshausen and Neumann, Würzburg 2003, ISBN 3-8260-2447-8 (plus dissertation, University of Stuttgart 2002).
  • Gerhard Kaiser : Was the Exodus the Fall? Questions to Jan Assmann on the occasion of his monograph “Moses the Egyptian” . In: Journal for Theology and Church. (ZThK) No. 98, 2001, pp. 1-24 ( full text ).
  • Jürgen Schraten: On the topicality of Jan Assmann. Introduction to his work. VS, Wiesbaden 2011, ISBN 978-3-531-16505-9 .
  • Johannes Thonhauser: The discomfort with monotheism. Belief in the one God as the origin of religious violence? A current debate about Jan Assmann's theses on the mosaic distinction . Tectum-Verlag, Marburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8288-9692-5 .

Interviews and discussions

  • The voices of the hieroglyph . Jan Assmann in conversation with Adelbert Reif. In: Lettre International, LI 43, Winter 1998, pp. 54-57
  • Prize of the Historical College. Sixth award November 20, 1998 . [with laudation from Johannes Fried to Jan Assmann and the lecture by Jan Assmann "Egyptians in the memory of the West"]. [Munich 1998] ( digitized version )
  • Rituals of the dead . Jan Assmann in conversation with Jochen Rack. In: Lettre International, LI 72, Spring 2006, pp. 95-99
  • Dawn of the Pharaohs . Jan Assmann in conversation with Frank M. Raddatz. In: Lettre International, LI 92, Spring 2011, 104–114
  • Anne-Catherine Simon: Faith must always fight unbelief . The Egyptologist Jan Assmann sees monotheism as the root of religious violence. A conversation about his new book “Exodus”, the cosmotheism of the Egyptians and the mysteries in Mozart's “Magic Flute”. The press , February 10, 2015

Web links

Commons : Jan Assmann  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/people/jan-assmann
  2. ^ Giulio Angioni : Fare, dire, sentire: l'identico e il diverso nelle culture. Nuoro, Il Maestrale, 2011, pp. 226-245.
  3. ^ A b Jan Assmann: Death and Beyond in Ancient Egypt. Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-49707-1 , p. 526.
  4. Welt-Online: Is a "Spiegel" cover story massively anti-Semitic? Interview by Hannes Stein with Jan Assmann. January 13, 2007.
  5. Jan Assmann: The Mosaic distinction or the price of monotheism . Hanser, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-446-20367-2 .
  6. Balzan Prize 2017: Exchange on historical realities , Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung , November 7, 2017
  7. a b c d e f g h Dagmar Drüll: Heidelberger Gelehrtenlexikon 1933-1986, Springer-Verlag, 2009, p. 86 [1]
  8. Professor Dr. Farewell to Jan Assmann , Archäologie Online, August 29, 2003
  9. a b New aspects C1. Textbook: Mittelstufe Deutsch, p. 164 [2]
  10. a b Balzan Prize for Aleida and Jan Assmann: High distinction for researcher couple , Südkurier, September 12, 2017
  11. Distinguished scientist honored: Prof. Dr. Dr. hc Jan Assmann received the Federal Cross of Merit, First Class , March 1st, 2006
  12. Le monothéisme, une révolution nécessaire: L'égyptologue Jan Assmann reçoit le Prix européen de l'Essai Charles Veillon à l'Université de Lausanne. , Le Temps , February 14, 2008
  13. ^ Thomas Mann Prize for Jan Assmann. In: Saarbrücker Zeitung. dated July 14, 2011.
  14. “Theological Prize” to Jan and Aleida Assmann , orf.at, April 18, 2016
  15. Jan Assmann receives the Sigmund Freund Prize. In: Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung of July 2, 2016, p. 6.
  16. ^ Karl Jaspers Prize for the Assmann researcher couple , Deutschlandfunk Kultur, February 10, 2018
  17. 2017 Balzan Prize
  18. ^ Award from the German book trade: Aleida and Jan Assmann receive peace prize . In: Spiegel Online . June 12, 2018 ( spiegel.de [accessed June 12, 2018]).