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The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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Author Topic: The Egyptian Book of the Dead  (Read 7992 times)
Josie Linde
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« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2008, 11:07:21 pm »

THE EGYPTIANS' IDEAS OF GOD.

The word neter and its meaning.

To the great and supreme power which made the earth, the heavens, the sea, the sky, men and women, animals, birds, and creeping things, all that is and all that shall be, the Egyptians gave the name neter. This word survives in the Coptic ###, but both in the ancient language and in its younger relative the exact meaning of the word is lost. M. Pierret,[2] following de Rougé, connects it with the word ### and says that it means "renovation" (renouvellement), but Brugsch[3] renders it by "göttlich," "heilig," "divin," "sacré," and by three Arabic words which mean "divine," "sacred or set apart," and "holy" respectively. By a quotation from the stele of Canopus he shows that in Ptolemaic times it meant "holy" or "sacred" when applied to the animals of the gods. Mr. Renouf[4] says that "the notion expressed by nutar as a noun, and nutra as an adjective or verb, must be sought in the Coptic ###, which in the translation of the Bible corresponds to the Greek words {Greek du'namis, i?sxu's, i?sxuro's, i?sxupo'w} 'power,' 'force,' 'strong,' 'fortify,' 'protect,'"[5] and he goes on to show that the word neter means "strong" or "mighty." M. Maspero, however, thinks that the Coptic nomti has nothing in common with meter, the Egyptian word for God, and that the passages quoted by Mr. Renouf in support of his theory can be otherwise explained.[6] His own opinion is that the signification "strong," if it ever existed, is a derived and not an original meaning, and he believes that the word is

[1. Several examples of the different ways in which the word is spelt are given by Maspero, Notes sur différent point de Grammaire (in Mélanges d'Archéologie, t. ii., Paris, 1873, p. 140).

2. Pierret, Essai sur la Mythologie Égyptienne, Paris, 1879, p. 8.

3. Wörterbuch, p. 825.

4. Hibbert Lectures, p. 95.

5. A number of examples are given in Tatham, Lexicon, Oxford, 1835, pp. 310 806.

6 La Mythologie Égyptienne, t. ii., p. 215.]

{p. lxxxiii}

so old that its first sense is unknown to us. The fact that the Coptic translators of the Bible used the word nouti to express the name of the Supreme Being shows that no other word conveyed to their minds their conception of Him, and supports M. Maspero's views on this point. Another definition of the word given by Brugsch makes it to mean "the active power which produces and creates things in regular recurrence; which bestows new life upon them, and gives back to them their youthful vigour,"[1] and he adds that the innate conception of the word completely covers the original meaning of the Greek {Greek fu'sis} and the Latin natura.

Neteru, the gods.

But side by side with neter, whatever it may mean, we have mentioned in texts of all ages a number of beings called neteru which Egyptologists universally translate by the word "gods." Among these must be included the great cosmic powers and the beings who, although held to be supernatural, were yet finite and mortal, and were endowed by the Egyptians with love, hatred, and passions of every sort and kind. The difference between the conceptions of neter the one supreme God and the neteru is best shown by an appeal to Egyptian texts.

In the pyramid of Unas it is said to the deceased,

un-k ar kes neter

Thou existest at the side of God.[3]

In the pyramid of Teta it is said of the deceased,

ut'a-f met neter as set'em-nef metu

He weigheth words, and, behold, God hearkeneth unto the words.[3]

nas en Teta neter

God hath called Teta[4] (in his name, etc.).

[1. Die thätige Kraft, welche in periodischer Wiederkehr die Dinge erzeugt und erschafft, ihnen neues Leben verleiht und die Jugendfrische zurückgiebt." Religion und Mythologie, p. 93.

2. Maspero, Recueil de Travaux, t. iii., p. 202 (l. 209).

3. Ibid., t. v., 27 (ll. 231, 232).

4. Ibid., p. 26 (l. 223).]

{p. lxxxiv}

Views held in the first six dynasties.

In the pyramid of Pepi I. an address to the deceased king says,

sesep-nek aru neter aaa-k am xer neteru

Thou hast received the form of God, thou hast become great therewith before the gods.[1]

ta en mut-k Nut un-nek em neter en xeft-k em ren-k en nefer

Hath placed thy mother Nut thee to be as God to thine enemy in thy name of God.[2]

tua Pepi pen neter

Adoreth this Pepi God.[3]

Pepi pu ar neter sa neter

Pepi this is then God, the son of God.[4]

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