The Book of the Dead
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Pages (PDF): 298
Publication Date: 1895
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This is E. A. Wallis Budge's translation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Jam packed with footnotes, this book has an extensive introductory section by Budge which covers such things as the Gods of the Book of The Dead, the Egyptians ideas of God, the legends of Ra, Osiris, Isis and funeral ceremonies. Apart from the introduction, there is of course, the actual Book of the Dead. This edition was formatted using the Sacred Texts online book. In regards to the omittance of hieroglyphs: "Because of the substantial amount of hieroglyphics interspersed in the original text, I have omitted the ### 'glyph' placeholder where context permits, for readability" (Sacred Texts)
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The four great Versions of the Book of the Dead.
THE history of the great body of religious compositions which form the Book of Dead of the ancient Egyptians may conveniently be divided into four of the periods, which are represented by four versions:--
1. The version which was edited by the priests of the college of Annu (the On of the Bible, and the Heliopolis of the Greeks), and which was based upon a series of texts now lost, but which there is evidence to prove had passed through a series of revisions or editions as early as the period of the Vth dynasty. This version was, so far as we know, always written in hieroglyphics, and may be called the Heliopolitan version. It is known from five copies which are inscribed upon the walls of the chambers and passages in the pyramids of kings of the Vth and VIth dynasties at Sakkâra; and sections of it are found inscribed upon tombs, sarcophagi, coffins, stelæ and papyri from the XIth dynasty to about A.D. 200. II. The Theban version, which was commonly written on papyri in hieroglyphics and was divided into sections or chapters, each of which had its distinct title but no definite place in the series. The version was much used from the XVIIIth to the XXth dynasty.
III. A version closely allied to the preceding version, which is found written on papyri in the hieratic character and also in hieroglyphics. In this version, which came into use about the XXth dynasty, the chapters have no fixed order.
IV. The so-called Saïte version, in which, at some period anterior probably to the XXVIth dynasty, the chapters were arranged in a definite order. It is commonly written in hieroglyphics and in hieratic, and it was much used from the XXVIth dynasty to the end of the Ptolemaic period.
Early forms of the Book of the Dead.
The Book of the Dead.
The earliest inscribed monuments and human remains found in Egypt prove that the ancient Egyptians took the utmost care to preserve the bodies of their dead by various processes of embalming. The deposit of the body in the tomb was accompanied by ceremonies of a symbolic nature, in the course of which certain compositions comprising prayers, short litanies, etc., having reference to the future life, were recited or chanted by priests and relatives on behalf of the dead. The greatest importance was attached to such compositions, in the belief that their recital would secure for the dead an unhindered passage to God in the next world, would enable him to overcome the opposition of all ghostly foes, would endow his body in the tomb with power to resist corruption, and would ensure him a new life in a glorified body in heaven. At a very remote period certain groups of sections or chapters had already become associated with some of the ceremonies which preceded actual burial, and these eventually became a distinct ritual with clearly defined limits. Side by side, however, with this ritual there seems to have existed another and larger work, which was divided into an indefinite number of sections or chapters comprising chiefly prayers, and which dealt on a larger scale with the welfare of the departed in the next world, and described the state of existence therein and the dangers which must be passed successfully before it could be reached, and was founded generally on the religious dogmas and mythology of the Egyptians. The title of "Book of the Dead" is usually given by Egyptologists to the editions of the larger work which were made in the XVIIIth and following dynasties, but in this Introduction the term is intended to include the general body of texts which have reference to the burial of the dead and to the new life in the world beyond the grave, and which are known to have existed in revised editions and to have been in use among the Egyptians from about B.C. 4500, to the early centuries of the Christian era.
Uncertainty of the history of its source
The home, origin, and early history of the collection of ancient religious texts which have descended to us are, at present, unknown, and all working theories regarding them, however strongly supported by apparently well-ascertained facts, must be carefully distinguished as theories only, so long as a single ancient necropolis in Egypt remains unexplored and its inscriptions are untranslated. Whether they were composed by the inhabitants of Egypt, who recorded them in hieroglyphic characters, and who have left the monuments which are the only trustworthy sources of information on the subject, or whether they were brought into Egypt by the early immigrants from the Asiatic continent whence they came, or whether they represent the religious books of the Egyptians incorporated with the funeral texts of some prehistoric dwellers on the banks of the Nile, are all questions which the possible discovery of inscriptions belonging to the first dynasties of the Early Empire can alone decide.
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