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The Ultimate Christmas present. A priceless work of art.
on 27 November 2010
In life it is good to have read widely to help you avoid being conned. This book will give you a more balanced outlook on life. If you know what the early religious writings record then you will get a good comparison with the Old Testament (written 700+ish years later) and N.T. 1500ish years later & current beliefs. It is very interesting to compare the Book of the Dead with the Bible. There are many similarities, it almost looks like a proto type of the Bible. Has God worked to evolve religions or do the changes just reflect peoples growing intellect due to their knowledge of the world and themself?
A surprisingly big box arrived at my door. When I opened it and lifted out this weighty book I imagined, momentarily, that I was opening a wooden crate ,direct from Egypt, filled with wood shreddings and lifted out these long lost treasures. There are superb photos of the various papyri through out this book. The next best thing to owning the originals at a bargain price. Good clear commentary too.
The highlights for me:
Ch4 'The day of burial' p35 sacrifice of the calf, attendants carry calfs heart and leg still pulsating with life to sacrifice offerin table.
Ch 8 'Avoiding Disaster', p188 The Duat was the place where the unrighteous were punished at the command of Osiris"
Ch9 'Judgement' p 204 "In the hall of judgement the gods considered a man's past conduct as well as his present state of readiness. Here for the first time in Egyptian records the idea is clearly developed that obtaining the benefits of eternal life depended on correct behaviour on earth"....The Egyptians idea of good and bad behaviour are known from many texts...correct behaviour meant maintaining the balance of society and showing reverence to the gods; it was expressed mainly by paying respect to senior figures, supporting the less fortunate (clothing the naked or feeding the hungry)....These precepts were simply based on human experience...correct behaviour was equated with Maat...the moral system prevalent in a given society is transposed into the realm of the gods and related beings so that they too become its practioners and ipso facto, its guarantors and validation.
p208 "The protestation of innocence"; spell 125 "I have done no falsehood, I have not robbed, I have not stolen, I have not killed men, I have not stolen god's offerings, I have not told lies, I have not committed perjury, I have not been hot-tempered" etc = modern day alpha idea "justasifi'd never sinned"
p217 'Judgement in the Lake of Fire'. This lake located in the Duat executed a kind of judgement on those who approached it, the evil were burned in its flames, but the blessed received nourishment from it. It reflected the idea that salvation could be gained by being purged of one's evil deeds.
p235 Arms upstretched praising the Aten
Ch 10 'The perfect Afterlife', p239 "Hail to you King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Ruler of Rulers...", p242 The idea of an eternal paradise can be traced back long before the Book of the Dead. It's location and role changed over time. Originally, as described in the Pyramid Texts, it was part of the watery expanse of the night sky... p247 plate "giving praise to Ra when he rises on the horizon"
p248 pl126 The sun god Ra was the guarantor of eternal life and to travel in his boat across the sky enabled a dead person to experience endless rejuvenation. The deceased kneels adoring the sun god in a boat, The god appears in three forms- as falcon headed Ra-Horakhty (the daytime sun), as Atum with a double crown(the evening sun) as Khepri with a scareb on his head (the morning sun), horus mans the steering oar and Harpocrates sits at the prow.
p250 Osiris accompanied by Maat, the personification of order and truth
p252 Tomb chapel topped with small pyramid [looking remarkably like a modern church)
p275 Thoth, 'Lord of the Gods words',deity of Scribes
p303 Two lions sitting back to back represent Yesterday and Tomorrow.
P 305 picture of Osiris sitting in judgement at the weighing of the heart
Are these works inspired by real gods? This was a society which also (though perhaps at an earlier stage) had the practice of proclaiming a man king for 30 years at the end of which he was cannabalised so his spirit could pass to the next king.
This book is one of the best heirlooms to hand on to future generations. Important to preserve the pictures & texts in books before they disintegrate in museums. A good companion book and study guide to the Bible. Once you read it you will find the Bible much funnier and more entertaining.