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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, 11:10:37 pm »

according to the divine intelligence Maa. Under the influence of Thoth, or that form of the divine intelligence which created the world by a word, eight elements, four male and four female, arose out of the primeval Nu, which possessed the properties of the male and female. These eight elements were called Nu and Nut,[1] Heh and Hehet,[2] Kek and Keket,[3] and Enen and Enenet,[4] or Khemennu, the "Eight," and they were considered as primeval fathers and mothers.[5] They are often represented in the forms of four male and four female apes who stand in adoration and greet the rising sun with songs and hymns of praise,[6] but they also appear as male and female human forms with the heads of frogs or serpents.[7] The birth of light from the waters, and of fire from the moist mass of primeval matter, and of Ra from Nu, formed the starting point of all mythological speculations, conjectures, and theories of the Egyptian priests.[8] The light of the sun gave birth to itself out of chaos, and the conception of the future world was depicted in Thoth the divine intelligence; when Thoth gave the word, what he commanded at once took place by means of Ptah and Khnemu, the visible representatives of the power which turned Thoth's command into deed. Khnemu made the egg of the sun,[9] and Ptah gave to the god of light a finished body.[10] The first paut of the gods consisted of Shu, Tefnut, Seb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Set, Nephthys and Horus, and their governor Tmu or Atmu.[11]

Egyptian account of the Creation.

In a late copy of a work entitled the "Book of knowing the evolutions of Ra, the god Neb-er-tcher, the "lord of the company of the gods," records the story of the creation and of the birth of the gods:--"I am he who evolved himself under the form of the god Khepera, I, the evolver of the evolutions evolved myself, the evolver of all evolutions, after many evolutions and developments which came forth from my mouth.[12] No heaven existed, and no earth, and no terrestrial animals or reptiles had come into being. I formed them out of the inert mass of watery matter, I found no place whereon to stand . . . . . I was alone, and the gods Shu and Tefnut had not gone forth from me; there existed

[1. Brugsch, Religion, pp. 128, 129.

2. Ibid., p. 132.

3. Ibid., p. 140.

4. Ibid., p. 142.

5. Ibid., p. 148.

6. Ibid., pp. 149, 152.

7. Ibid., p. 158.

8. Ibid., p. 160.

9. Ibid., p. 161.

10. Ibid., p. 163.

11. Ibid., p. 187.

12 The variant version says, "I developed myself from the primeval matter which I had made." and adds, "My name is Osiris, ###, the substance of primeval matter."]

{p. c}

"none other who worked with me. I laid the foundations of all things by my will, and all things evolved themselves therefrom.[1] I united myself to my shadow, and I sent forth Shu and Tefnut out from myself; thus from being one god I became three, and Shu and Tefnut gave birth to Nut and Seb, and Nut gave birth to Osiris, Horus-Khent-an-maa, Sut, Isis, and Nephthys, at one birth, one after the other, and their children multiply upon this earth."[2]

Summary of theories.

The reader has now before him the main points of the evidence concerning the Egyptians' notions about God, and the cosmic powers and their phases, and the anthropomorphic creations with which they peopled the other world, all of which have been derived from the native literature of ancient Egypt. The different interpretations which different Egyptologists have placed upon the facts demonstrate the difficulty of the subject. Speaking generally, the interpreters may be divided into two classes: those who credit the Egyptians with a number of abstract ideas about God and the creation of the world and the future life, which are held to be essentially the product of modern Christian nations; and those who consider the mind of the Egyptian as that of a half-savage being to whom occasional glimmerings of spiritual light were vouchsafed from time to time. All eastern nations have experienced difficulty in separating spiritual from corporeal conceptions, and the Egyptian is no exception to the rule; but if he preserved the gross idea of a primeval existence with the sublime idea of God which he manifests in writings of a later date, it seems that this is due more to his reverence for hereditary tradition than to ignorance. Without attempting to decide questions which have presented difficulties to the greatest thinkers among Egyptologists, it may safely be said that the Egyptian whose mind conceived the existence of an unknown, inscrutable, eternal and infinite God, who was One-whatever the word One may mean here and who himself believed in a future life to be spent in a glorified body in heaven, was not a being whose spiritual needs would be satisfied by a belief in gods who could eat, and drink, love and hate, and fight and grow old and die. He was unable to describe the infinite God, himself being finite, and it is not surprising that he should, in some respects, have made Him in his own image.

[1. The variant version has, "I brought into my own mouth my name as a word of power, and I straightway came into being."

2 The papyrus from which these extracts are taken is in the British Museum, No. 10188. A hieroglyphic transcript and translation will be found in Archæologia, vol. lii., pp. 440-443. For the passages quoted see Col. 26, l. 22; Col. 27, l. 5; and Col. 28, l. 20; Col. 29, l. 6.]

{p. ci}


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