Barnaby Thieme's Reviews > The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day

The Egyptian Book of the Dead by E.A. Wallis Budge
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Aug 30, 09

bookshelves: egypt, religion-mythology
Read in August, 2009

This is a beautiful book - a large-format facsimile reproduction of the Papyrus of Ani in large color images with translation of the hieroglyphs beneath. The pictures comprising the bulk of the book are not of the Papyrus itself, held in the British National Museum; rather it is a reproduction of a carefully-made imitation of the original.

The translation is quite readable and there are several useful essays and commentaries written by competent egyptologists.

Because of the compositional unity of hieroglyphic writing and accompanying illustrations, it is highly desirable to read a translation like this which lavishes attention on the presentation of the images.

The text itself is a well-preserved specimen of a genre of funerary texts referred to in aggregate as "The Book of Going Forth by Day". It is a collection of spells and instructions buried with wealthy Egyptians to assist them in penetrating to the Hall of Two Truths where they could submit themselves to be judged for a proper dispensation in the afterlife. Most of the text is an assortment of miscellaneous incantations and lists of formulae to be recited at the appropriate time to the various guardians.

There is a great deal of material here of considerable interest to the student of mythology. Because the Egyptians provided very little in the way of religious narrative, most of what we know about their beliefs is extrapolated from texts like this work, and similar collections of funerary writings such as the Pyramid Texts an Coffin Texts.

This particular scroll was prepared for a wealthy scribe named Ani. It is a good specimen but does not contain every chapter found in the genre. A very useful supplement is included in this volume which presents the chapters not contained herein which are found in the Theban recension of this work.

This is a superb volume by every metric and it is an absolute cornerstone of the study of Egyptian religion.
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