D.Phil. 1998 University of Oxford (St. John’s College)
M.A. 1992 Hamburg University, FRG
- History of Egyptian religion in the context of the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean world
- Religion and cognition
- Egyptian kingship and its iconography
- Relationship between text and image
- Egyptian and comparative mythology
2005 – present: Associate Professor – Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto
2003 – 2005: Lecturer and Research Fellow in Egyptology – Department of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies, Trinity College, Dublin
1998 – 2003: Research Fellow (Post-doc) and Lecturer – Merton College/Oriental Institute, University of Oxford
Current Research Projects:
Divine Light: Luminous Aspects of Divinity in Egypt and Mesopotamia
Luminosity is one of the primary associations of the divine in ancient Egyptian religion. The light-qualities of gods set them apart from normal mortals and are expressed in iconographic details, such as certain bright colours, dress, and cosmic symbols, but also in epithets and descriptions of gods as found, for example, in hymnic and funerary texts. In Egyptology’s cognate disciplines, Assyriology, Biblical Studies, and related fields, the significance of cosmic or astral aspects and attributes of deities is fully recognized. Also other cultures, some of them much further afield, conceptualize gods as luminous (e.g. the Inca of Mesoamerica), and divine epiphanies are to this day often perceived as luminous, even in modern western culture. This suggests that the conception is central to the understanding of the divine in many or most cultures and that a comparative perspective may help to evaluate the Egyptian and Mesopotamian evidence. Yet, this situation has not, to date, been given in-depth consideration. Professor Goebs’ project aims to fill this gap by collecting, cataloguing, and analyzing linguistic, semantic, and iconographical data from multiple cultural sites across the Near East. This will facilitate a reappraisal of some foundational aspects of Near Eastern religions, elucidating their interconnections, and providing important tools for scholars who wish to pursue this issue further. Read more
Icon and Metaphor: Egyptian Iconography and Its Textual Renditions
Starting with evidence collected for the above project, this research examines questions such as how the terminology and iconography in particular of light relate to one another. Can direct derivations be traced, and if so, of what kind? In other words: Do the two domains inspire and influence each other (in a hermeneutic sense), and can a complex of light-metaphors, which is specifically based on the iconography of divine images, be postulated? In some cases, surprising developments can be traced, as where a particular semantic complex (such as “sprouting” or “growing out of something”) leads to the use of certain un-luminous seeming icons (such as horns, mountains, or plants), as light symbols, which in turn influence the metaphorical language. The project aims to elucidate, among other things, the cognitive processes leading to metaphor formation.
NMC 101H – Land of the Pharaohs
NMC 251H – Egyptian Literary Texts in Translation
NML 440H / NMC 1210H – Egyptian Historical Text
NMC 1416H – Egyptian Iconography
- Crowns in early Egyptian Funerary Literature: Royalty, Rebirth, Destruction. (Griffith Institute Monographs) Oxford: Griffith Institute, 2008 (ISBN 0 900416 87 4).
- Mythos und götterweltliches Handeln (with John Baines) in: J. Assmann, H. Roeder (eds), Handbuch Altägyptische Religion. Leiden: Brill (in press).
- Crowns (Egyptian), in: C. Uehlinger, et al. (eds), Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Biblical World. Leiden: Brill (in press).
- “‘Receive the Henu-Crown – that you may shine forth in it like Akhty’. Feathers, horns, and the cosmic symbolism of Egyptian composite crowns”, in: J. Janak, Ph. Coppens (eds), Proceedings of the 7th Symposium on Egyptian Royal Ideology: Royal versus divine authority. Acquisition, legitimization, and renewal of power. Charles University, Prague, 26-28 June 2013. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz (in press).
- Egyptian mythos as logos: Attempt at a redefinition of ‘mythical thinking’ in: E. Frood, A. McDonald (eds.), Decorum and Experience: Essays in Ancient Culture for John Baines. Oxford: Griffith Institute. (2013), 127-34.
- Crowns, Egyptian, in: R. Bagnall, et al. (eds), The Encyclopedia of Ancient History. Oxford, New York: Wiley-Blackwell (2012).
- King as god and god as king, in: R. Gundlach (ed)., Palace and Temple. Proceedings of the fifth symposium on Egyptian royal ideology, McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge, 16-17 July 2007, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz (2011), 57-101.
- An elusive passage of the earlier funerary literature in its iconographic and ritual context, Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde (ZÄS) 136 (2009), 126-30.
- Kingship, In: T. Wilkinson (ed.), The Egyptian World. London, New York: Routledge (2007), 275-95.
- The Cannibal Spell: Continuity and change in the Pyramid Text and Coffin Text versions. In: S. Bickel and B. Mathieu (eds), D’un monde à l’autre: Textes des Pyramides & Textes des Sarcophages. (Actes de la table ronde internationale «Textes des Pyramides versus Textes des Sarcophages» IFAO – 24-26 septembre 2001). BdE 139 (2004), 143-73.
- hfti ntr as euphemism. The case of the ‘Antef Decree’. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology (JEA) 89 (2003), 27-37.
- Niswt neheh – Kingship, cosmos, and time. In: Z. Hawass, L. Pinch Brook (eds), Egyptology at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists, Cairo, 2000, vol. 2, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press; Chichester: Wiley (2003), 238-53.
- A functional approach to Egyptian myth and mythemes. Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions (JANER) 2 (2002), 28-59.
- ‘Horus der Kaufmann’ als Name des Planeten Jupiter, Enchoria 22 (1995), 219-22.
- Untersuchungen zu Funktion und Symbolgehalt des nms, Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 122 (1995), 154-81.
Selected Conferences and Invited Talks:
- The history and impact of German archaeology in the Near and Middle East, International conference, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, 7-8 November 2014 – Conference Organizer and Opening Address.
- Egyptian mythos as logos, or: Is it possible to “think mythically”?, 64th meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt, Portland, OR, 8 April 2014.
- Icons, metaphors, or both? Some considerations on the meaning and usage of Egyptian Crowns, Swiss Egyptological Doctoral Course, University of Basel, 15 November 2013.
- ‘Receive the Henu-Crown – that you may shine forth in it like Akhty!’ Treatise on the cosmic symbolism of Egyptian composite crowns, 7th Symposium on Egyptian Royal Ideology, Charles University, Prague, 26-28 June 2013.
- ‘Deine Farbe ist strahlender als das Kolorit des Himmels’ Überlegungen zur Terminologie des Lichts in der religiösen Literatur Ägyptens und zu ihren ikonographischen Entsprechungen, Forum Ägyptologie an der Universität Hamburg, 28. Juni 2012
- Überlegungen zur Terminologie des Lichts in der religiösen Literatur Ägyptens und ihren ikonographischen Entsprechungen, Lecture, Freie Universität Berlin, 16 June 2012
- ‘Fließen, Sprießen, Leuchten’ – Die Bedeutung von Licht und Lichtmetaphorik in der ägyptischen Kosmologie und Anthropologie, Universität Münster, 24 May 2012
- Ägyptischer Mythos als Logos – Überlegungen zu einigen kognitiven Funktionen der Mythen- schöpfung und -überlieferung, Lecture and plenary discussion, Collegium Mythologicum, Georg- August-Universität Göttingen (invited speaker (by Prof. Annette Zgoll), 27 April 2012.
- Multivalency in Ancient Egyptian Representations of Old Age, Interdisciplinary Conference on Aging, Old Age, Memory, and Aesthetics, Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto, 25-27 March 2011.
- The golden king. Kingship and its paraphernalia in the time of Tutankhamun, public lecture at the Art Gallery of Ontario (in conjunction with the “King Tut” exhibition), 10 February 2010.
- “Light and colour in Egyptian Ritual” Uppsala University/Sweden, 29 October 2008.
- The goddess Hathor in the Near Eastern context, Tenth International Congress of Egyptologists, 22-29 May 2008, University of the Aegean, Rhodes (Greece).