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Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead

An arbitrary title given to a funerary work from ancient Egypt called pert em hru, the translation of which is "coming forth by day," or "manifested in the light." Several versions or recensions of this work are known, namely those of Heliopolis, Thebes, and Sais, differing only inasmuch as they were edited by the colleges of priests founded at these centers. Many papyri of the work have been discovered, and passages from it have been inscribed upon the walls of tombs and pyramids and on sarcophagi and mummy-wrappings. One very complete copy is on display at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy.

It is undoubtedly of extremely early date; exactly how early it would be difficult to say, but in the course of centuries it was greatly added to and modified. It contains about 200 chapters, but no complete papyrus has been found. The chapters are quite independent of one another, and were probably all composed at different times. The main subject is the beatification of the dead, who were supposed to recite the chapters in order that they might gain power and enjoy the privileges of the new life.

The work abounds in magical references. The whole trend of the Book of the Dead is thaumaturgic, as its purpose is to guard the dead against the dangers they have to face in reaching the other world. As in most mythologies, the dead Egyptian had to encounter malignant spirits and was threatened by many dangers before reaching his haven of rest.

He also had to undergo judgment by Osiris, and to justify himself before being permitted to enter the realms of bliss. This he imagined he could in great part accomplish by the recitation of various magical formula and spells, which would ward off the evil influences opposed to him. To this end every important Egyptian of means had buried with him a papyrus of the Book of the Dead, containing at least all the chapters necessary for encountering the formidable adversaries at the gates of Amenti, the Egyptian Hades. These chapters would assist him in making replies during his ceremony of justification. First among these spells were the "words of power." The Egyptians believed that to discover the "secret" name of a god was to gain complete ascendancy over him.

Sympathetic magic was in vogue in Egyptian burial practice, which explains the presence, in tombs of people of means, of paintings of tables laden with food and drink, with inscriptions attached conveying the idea of boundless liberality. Inscriptions like the following are extremely common"To the ka [essential double or soul] of so-and-so, 5,000 loaves of bread, 500 geese, and 5,000 jugs of beer." Those dedications cost the generous donors little, as they merely had the objects named painted upon the wall of the tomb, imagining that their ka or astral counterpart would be eatable and drinkable by the deceased. This of course is merely an extension of the Neolithic conception that articles buried with a man had their astral counterparts and would be of use to him in another world.

Pictorial representation played a considerable part in the magical ritual of the Book of the Dead. One of the pleasures of the dead was to sail over Heaven in the boat of Ra, and to secure this for the deceased one must paint certain pictures and mutter over them words of power. Regarding this belief, E. A. Wallis Budge states in his book Egyptian Magic (1889): "On a piece of clean papyrus a boat is to be drawn with ink made of green abut mixed with anti water, and in it are to be figures of Isis, Thoth, Shu, and Khepera, and the deceased; when this had been done the papyrus must be fastened to the breast of the deceased, care being taken that it does not actually touch his body. Then shall his spirit enter into the boat of Ra each day, and the god Thoth shall take heed to him, and he shall sail about with him into any place that he wisheth. Elsewhere it is ordered that the boat of Ra be painted 'in a pure place,' and in the bows is to be painted a figure of the deceased; but Ra was supposed to travel in one boat (called Atet) until noon, and another (called Sektet) until sunset, and provision had to be made for the deceased in both boats. How was this to be done? On one side of the picture of the boat a figure of the morning boat of Ra was to be drawn, and on the other a figure of the afternoon boat; thus the one picture was capable of becoming two boats. And, provided the proper offerings were made for the deceased on the birthday of Osiris, his soul would live for ever, and he would not die a second time. According to the rubric to the chapter in which these directions are given, the text of it is as old, at least, as the time of Hesept, the fifth king of the 1st. dynasty, who reigned about 4350 B.C. , and the custom of painting the boat upon papyrus is probably contemporaneous."

The words of power were not to be spoken until after death. They were "a great mystery," but "the eye of no man whatsoever must see it, for it is a thing of abomination for every man to know it. Hide it, therefore, the Book of the Lady of the Hidden Temple is its name." This would seem to refer to some spell uttered by Isis-Hathor that delivered the god Ra or Horus from trouble, or was of benefit to him, thus was concluded to be equally efficacious in the case of the deceased.

Many spells were included in the Book of the Dead for the purpose of preserving the mummy against molding and for assisting the owner of the papyrus to become as a god and to be able to transform himself into any shape he desired. Painted offerings were also provided so the deceased would be able to give gifts to the gods. It is apparent that the Book of the Dead was undoubtedly magical in character, consisting as it did of a series of spells or words of power, which enabled the speaker to have perfect control over all the powers of Amenti.

The only moment in which the dead man is not master of his fate is when his heart is weighed by Thoth before Osiris. If it does not conform to the standard required for justification, he is cast out; except for this, an absolute knowledge of the Book of the Dead safeguarded the deceased in every way from the danger of damnation. A number of the chapters consist of prayers and hymns to the gods, but the directions as to the magical uses of the book are equally numerous; the concept of supplication is mingled with the idea of circumvention by sorcery in the most extraordinary manner.

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"Book of the Dead." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Book of the Dead." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/book-dead

"Book of the Dead." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/book-dead

Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead, term used to describe Egyptian funerary literature. The texts consist of charms, spells, and formulas for use by the deceased in the afterworld and contain many of the basic ideas of Egyptian religion. At first inscribed on the stone sarcophagi, the texts were later written on papyrus and placed inside the mummy case. The earliest collection, known as the Heliopolitan Recension, dates from the XVIII dynasty (1580–1350 BC). It also contains selections from the two previous collections of Egyptian religious literature—the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom (c.2000 BC) and the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom (c.2600–2300 BC). The Theban Recension, a text that may be contemporary or slightly later, has a distinctive format. There are several noteworthy papyruses, valuable for their art. Among them are the Papyrus of Ani and The Book of the Dead of Hunefer. The two most celebrated English translations were made by Sir Peter le Page Renouf (1892–97) and Sir E. Wallis Budge (1895, repr. 1967).

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"Book of the Dead." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Book of the Dead." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/book-dead

Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead Collection of Old Egyptian texts probably dating from the 16th century bc. The papyrus texts, which exist in many different versions and incorporate mortuary texts from as early as 2350 bc, were placed in the tombs of the dead in order to help them combat the dangers of the afterlife.

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"Book of the Dead." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead: see TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD.

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"Book of the Dead." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Book of the Dead." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/book-dead

Dead, Book of the

Book of the Dead: see Book of the Dead.

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"Dead, Book of the." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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