Ancient Mysteries Egypt Funereal Ritual or Book of the Dead

Funereal Ritual or Book of the Dead

Funereal Ritual or Book of the Dead
Catalog # SKU3848
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Samuel Birch
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


Funereal Ritual
Book of the Dead

Translator: Samuel Birch

THE work consists of a group of Hermetic books, which have been called the Funereal Ritual, or Book of the Dead. It is not, indeed, strictly a Ritual in the more extended sense of that term, but consists of several Hermetic works divided into separate chapters, each preceded by a title indicating its purport, and each principal section followed by directions explaining its use.

Print size, 12 point font



These, like our rubrics, are traced in red ink, in order to attract attention, and distinguish them from the general body of the text. The whole, in its complete form, is accompanied by illustrations or vignettes. The titles of the sections are either books or chapters; and, although it appears reasonable to conclude that the term Book had a more extended signification, even when the length of text was not so great as that of the chapters, the terms are often found interchangeable, and the text, called in the title Chapter, is often in the contents styled a Book, as if it were entire.

Nor was there any certain order of the chapters. It may be stated as a general rule that, previously to the age of the Turin Ritual, no two papyri have their chapters in the same relative order. After the 26th Dynasty, the canon of the order was comparatively fixed, and the Rituals of that age exhibit greater uniformity of arrangement than before. This order, which was fixed under the Saite dynasty, must have been adopted upon some such principle as the logical sequence of the various portions, or the antiquity of the different compositions, of the work.

The former hypothesis was advanced by Champollion, who considered the Ritual as a mythical description of the progress of the soul in the future state. It receives, indeed, some support from the fact that it commences with the hymns recited on the descent of the mummy into the sepulchres; that it may be considered to continue to give the prayers and invocations addressed to the deceased for the last time; that it recites over the various portions of the mummy, bandages, and coffin, the formulae necessary to protect the deceased from the material or spiritual enemies whom he was supposed to encounter, ending with the consecration of the various amulets placed on the body for its protection; and, last of all, that it gives the formula, on the final placing or deposit of the coffin in the sepulchre. But, on the other hand, the fact that some later chapters of the Ritual, and especially the chapters appended to the general body of it (cc. 162-165) filled with foreign barbaric names and of mystical import, are evidently of a later age, would lead to the presumption that these apocryphal sections are placed at the end of the canon on account of their later composition, and that the books may have been arranged as much with regard to the antiquity of their composition as to their logical sequence.

Besides these Rituals there were one or two other works of a religious nature found at a later period, either separate or complete in themselves, or else in connexion with Rituals. The first of these, not earlier than the 26th Dynasty, is the Sai-an-Sinsin, or Book of the Lamentations of Isis; another work of the same nature occurs in a papyrus of the British Museum, recording the metamorphoses of the Gods. In the tombs of the Priestesses of Amen-Ra papyri are often found dissimilar to the Ritual, filled with representations and short texts like those which occur on the walls of the tombs, or on the sides of the coffins, of the 19th Dynasty. These papyri, called by Egyptologists Solar Litanies, are sometimes styled "The Book of the Commencement of the Tip of the West, and of the Treading the Paths of Darkness;" and they refer to the 11th and other hours of the night, not entering into the scope of the great Funereal Ritual.

The earliest appearance of Rituals is in the 11th Dynasty. It is then that extracts of these sacred books are found covering the inner sides of the rectangular chests which held the mummies of the dead. Some of the sarcophagi of this age contain portions of the 17th and other chapters of the Ritual, besides others with texts not preserved in that of Turin, and which had probably become obsolete at that late period. What is more remarkable, at least two different versions of the same theological doctrines are introduced, showing that the strict letter of their creed varied even at this epoch. At a later period, on the coffin of the Queen Mentuhetp, of the 11th Dynasty, the 17th, 18th, 64th, and other chapters occur. The most important fact, however, in connexion with this coffin is, that the 64th chapter is as usual attributed to the age of Menkheres, who is in the Ritual of Parma the same Menkheres as the builder of the 3rd Pyramid. The history of the development of each chapter is a point which requires further researches; but, from the inscriptions scattered on coffins of various ages, we shall probably be able to discover the approximate dates of the different parts.

At the age of the 18th Dynasty, the 54th is a favourite one; at the time of the 26th, the 72nd had come into vogue; at a still later period many other chapters appear. Rituals dated in kings' reigns are unfortunately too rare to cite; but many papyri, evidently, from the names and titles of the deceased and character of the writing, of the period of the 18th Dynasty, contain the greater portions of the Ritual, but not the last mystical chapters of the Turin Papyrus, one of which is so recent, that an eminent hierologist thinks he can recognise in it the Gnostic name of Christ.

Softcover, 7 x 8½ , 248 pages
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