Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife / Edition 1

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Ancient Egyptians held a rich and complex vision of the afterlife and codified their beliefs in books that were to be discovered more than two millennia later in royal tombs. Erik Hornung, the world's leading authority on these religious texts, surveys what is known about them today.The contents of the texts range from the collection of spells in the Book of the Dead, which was intended to offer practical assistance on the journey to the afterlife, to the detailed accounts of the hereafter provided in the Books of the Netherworld. Hornung looks closely at these latter works, while summarizing the contents of the Book of the Dead and other widely studied examples of the genre. For each composition, he discusses the history of its ancient transmission and its decipherment in modern times, supplying bibliographic information for any text editions. He also seeks to determine whether this literature as a whole presents a monolithic conception of the afterlife. The volume features many drawings from the books themselves—drawings that illustrate the nocturnal course of the sun god through the realm of the dead.Originally published in German and now available in a fluid English translation, this volume offers an accessible and enlightening introduction to a central element of ancient Egyptian religion.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A concise and detailed summary. . . This is a recommended book for all searching for details on important Egyptian texts."—Francesca Jourdan,

"Erik Hornung's new book. . . goes a long way toward beginning to correct and to inform our understanding of religion in Ancient Egypt."—Tom Collins, Religious Studies in Secondary Schools, April, 2000.

"There has long been a need for a thorough English language survey of this material, a need that is well met by the present volume. . . . even specialists in Egyptian funerary literature will find much of interest . . . . The ancient Egyptian literature of the afterlife is a complex and involved subject and the volume under review provides a clear and concise overview of the individual texts. It will be useful for anyone interested in these ancient Egyptial books for the dead."—Terry G. Wilfong. University of Michigan, Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

"Hornung's book is a good general survey, with a voluminous bibliography that Egyptologists will find useful."—James Allan Evans, University of British Columbia. The Classical Outlook. Fall, 2000, Vol. 78, No. 1

"It is a fortunate circumstance that Eric Hornung. . . has rendered the invaluable service of producing a complete guide and manual to the texts. . . It now appears in an admirable English translation by David Lorton."—Leo Depuydt, Brown University. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, 2000

"Hornung's study of ancient Egyptian afterlife books, translated into English for the first time by D. Lorton, fills a major gap in the available literature in English and will prove indispensable to students of Egyptian funerary religion. . . His presentation is clear and thorough."—Denise M. Doxey, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Religious Studies Review, Vol. 25, No. 4, October 2000

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801485152
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

David Lorton, an Egyptologist, is the translator of many books, including Erik Hornung's books The Secret Lore of Egypt and Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, both from Cornell.

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Table of Contents

Translator's Note
English Translations
The Pyramid Texts 1
The Coffin Texts 7
The Book of the Dead 13
The Books of Breathing 23
The New Kingdom Books of the Netherworld 26
General 26
The Amduat 27
The Spell of the Twelve Caves 54
The Book of Gates 55
The Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld 77
The Book of Caverns 83
The Book of the Earth 95
Miscellaneous Scenes 107
The Books of the Sky 112
The Book of Nut 113
The Book of the Day 116
The Book of the Night 122
Special Compositions 136
The Litany of Re 136
The Book of the Heavenly Cow 148
The Book of Traversing Eternity 151
Glossary 153
Bibliography 157
Index 183
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