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The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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Author Topic: The Egyptian Book of the Dead  (Read 6876 times)
Josie Linde
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« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2008, 11:09:23 pm »

only man liveth. He giveth life to man, He breatheth the breath of life into his nostrils--God is father and mother, the father of fathers, and the mother of mothers. He begetteth, but was never begotten; He produceth, but was never produced; He begat himself and produced himself. He createth, but was never created; He is the maker of his own form, and the fashioner of His own body--God Himself is existence, He endureth without increase or diminution, He multiplieth Himself millions of times, and He is manifold in forms and in members--God hath made the universe, and He hath created all that therein is; He is the Creator of what is in this world, and of what was, of what is, and of what shall be. He is the Creator of the heavens, and of the earth, and of the deep, and of the water, and of the mountains. God hath stretched out the heavens and founded the earth-What His heart conceived straightway came to pass, and when He hath spoken, it cometh to pass and endureth for ever--God is the father of the gods; He fashioned men and formed the gods--God is merciful unto those who reverence Him, and He heareth him that calleth upon Him. God knoweth him that acknowledgeth Him, He rewardeth him that serveth Him, and He protecteth him that followeth Him.[1]

Monotheism and polytheism coexistent.

Because, however, polytheism existed side by side with monotheism in Egypt, M. Maspero believes that the words "God One" do not mean "One God" in our sense of the words; and Mr. Renouf thinks that the "Egyptian nutar never became a proper name."[2] Whether polytheism grew from monotheism in Egypt, or monotheism from polytheism we will not venture to say, for the evidence of the pyramid texts shows that already in the Vth dynasty monotheism and polytheism were flourishing side by side. The opinion of Tiele is that the religion of Egypt was from the beginning polytheistic, but that it developed in two opposite directions: in the one direction gods were multiplied by the addition of local gods, and in the other the Egyptians drew nearer and nearer to monotheism.[3]

The sun the emblem of God.

From a number of passages drawn from texts of all periods it is clear that the form in which God made himself manifest to man upon earth was the sun, which the Egyptians called Ra and that all other gods and goddesses were forms of him. The principal authorities for epithets applied to God and to His visible emblem the sun are the hymns and litanies which are found inscribed upon

[1. Brugsch, Religion und Mythologie, pp. 96-99. The whole chapter on the ancient Egyptian conception of God should be read with M. Maspero's comments upon it in La Mythologie Égyptienne (Études de Mythologie, t. ii., p. 189 ff.).

2. Hibbert Lectures, p. 99.

3. Hypothezen omtrent de wording van den Egyptischen Godsdienst (in Geschiedenis van den Godsdienst in de Oudheid, Amsterdam, 1893, p. 25); and see Lieblein, Egyptian Religion, Leipzig, 1884, p. 10.

4 See the chapter "Dieu se manifestant par le soleil," in Pierret, Essai sur la Mythologie Égyptienne, pp. 18, 19.]

{p. xciv}

Confusion of gods.

the walls of tombs,[1] stelæ, and papyri[2] of the XVIIIth dynasty; and these prove that the Egyptians ascribed the attributes of the Creator to the creature. The religious ideas which we find in these writings in the XVIIIth dynasty are, no doubt, the outcome of the religion of earlier times, for all the evidence now available shows that the Egyptians of the later periods invented comparatively little in the way of religious literature. Where, how, and in what way they succeeded in preserving their most ancient texts, are matters about which little, unfortunately, is known. In course of time we find that the attributes of a certain god in one period are applied to other gods in another; a new god is formed by the fusion of two or more gods; local gods, through the favourable help of political circumstances, or the fortune of war, become almost national gods; and the gods who are the companions of Osiris are endowed by the pious with all the attributes of the great cosmic gods--Ra, Ptah, Khnemu, Khepera, and the like. Thus the attributes of Ra are bestowed upon Khnemu and Khepera; the god Horus exists in the aspects of Heru-maati, Heru-khent-an-maa, Heru-Khuti, Heru-nub, Heru-behutet, etc., and the attributes of each are confounded either in periods or localities: Tmu-Ra, and Menthu-Ra, and Amen-Ra are composed of Tmu and Ra, and Menthu and Ra, and Amen and Ra respectively, and we have seen from the hymn quoted above (p. lii.) that already in the XVIIIth dynasty the god Osiris had absorbed the attributes which belonged in the earlier dynasties to Ra alone.

History of the god Amen.

Still more remarkable, however, is the progress of the god Amen in Egyptian theology. In the early empire, i.e., during the first eleven dynasties, this god ranked only as a local god, although his name is as old as the time of Unas;[3] and

[1. E.g., the litany from the tomb of Seti I., published by Naville, La Litanie du Soleil, Leipzig, 1875, p. 13 ff.

2. E.g., Hymn to Amen-Ra, translated by Goodwin from papyrus No. 17, now preserved in the Gizeh Museum (see Les Papyrus Égyptiens du Musée de Boulaq, ed. Mariette, Paris, 1872, pll. 1-13; Records of the Past, vol. i., p. 127 f., and Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch., vol. ii., p. 250), and by Grébaut, Hymne à Ammon-Ra, Paris, 1874); Hymns to Amen, translated by Goodwin (see Records of the Past, vol. vi., p. 97 f.; Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch., vol. ii., p. 353), and Chabas (Mélanges Égyptologiques, 1870, p. 117); Hymn to Osiris, translated by Chabas (Revue Archéologique, t. xiv., Paris, 1857, p. 65 ff.), and Goodwin (Records of the Past, vol. iv., p. 97 ff.). The various versions of the XVth Chapter of the Book of the Dead, which consists of a series of hymns, are given in the Theban edition by Naville (Todtenbuch, Bd. I., Bll. 14-23), and the text of the later Saïte version is discussed and translated by Lefébure, Traduction comparée des hymnes au Soleil, Paris, 1868, 4to.

3. "Amen and Ament," are mentioned in 1. 558 of the inscription of this king; see Maspero, Recueil, t. iv., p. 66.]

{p. xcv}

it is not until the so-called Hyksos have been expelled from Egypt by the Theban kings of the XVIIth dynasty that Amen, whom the latter had chosen as their great god, and whose worship they had declined to renounce at the bidding of the Hyksos king Apepi,[l] was acknowledged as the national god of southern Egypt at least. Having by virtue of being the god of the conquerors obtained the position of head of the company of Egyptian gods, he received the attributes of the most ancient gods, and little by little he absorbed the epithets of them all. Thus Amen became Amen-Ra, and the glory of the old gods of Annu, or Heliopolis, was centred in him who was originally an obscure local god. The worship of Amen in Egypt was furthered by the priests of the great college of Amen, which seems to have been established early in the XVIIIth dynasty by the kings who were his devout worshippers. The extract from a papyrus written for the princess Nesi-Khonsu,[2] a member of the priesthood of Amen, is an example of the exalted language in which his votaries addressed him.

"This is the sacred god, the lord of all the gods, Amen-Ra, the lord of the throne of the world, the prince of Apt,[3] the sacred soul who came into being in the beginning, the great god who liveth by right and truth, the first ennead which gave birth unto the other two enneads,[4] the being in whom every god existeth, the One of One,[5] the creator of the things which came into being when the earth took form in the beginning, whose births are hidden, whose forms are manifold, and whose growth cannot be known. The sacred Form, beloved, terrible and mighty in his two risings (?), the lord of space, the mighty one of the form of Khepera, who came into existence through Khepera, the lord of the form of Khepera; when he came into being nothing existed except himself. He shone upon the earth from primeval time [in the form of] the Disk, the prince of light and radiance. He giveth light and radiance. He giveth light unto all peoples. He saileth over heaven and never resteth, and on the morrow his vigour is stablished as before; having become old [to-day], he becometh young again to-morrow. He mastereth the bounds of eternity, he goeth roundabout heaven, and entereth into the Tuat to illumine the two lands which he hath created. When the divine (or mighty) God,[6] moulded himself, the heavens and the earth were made by his

[1. The literature relating to the fragment of the Sallier papyrus recording this fact is given by Wiedemann, Aegyptische Geschichte, p. 299.

2 The hieratic text is published, with a hieroglyphic transcript, by Maspero, Mémoires publiés par les Membres de la Mission Archéologique Française au Caire, t. i., p. 594 ff., and pll. 25-27.

3 A district of Thebes on the east bank of the Nile, the modern Karnak.

4 See within, p: xcvii.

5. ###.

6. ### neter netra. M. Maspero translates "dieu exerçant sa fonction de dieu, dieu en activité de service," or "dieu déisant."]

{p. cvi}

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