Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt [NOOK Book]


"Human beings," the acclaimed Egyptologist Jan Assmann writes, "are the animals that have to live with the knowledge of their death, and culture is the world they create so they can live with that knowledge." In his new book, Assmann explores images of death and of death rites in ancient Egypt to provide startling new insights into the particular character of the civilization as a whole. Drawing on the unfamiliar genre of the death liturgy, he arrives at a remarkably comprehensive view of the religion of death in...

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Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt

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"Human beings," the acclaimed Egyptologist Jan Assmann writes, "are the animals that have to live with the knowledge of their death, and culture is the world they create so they can live with that knowledge." In his new book, Assmann explores images of death and of death rites in ancient Egypt to provide startling new insights into the particular character of the civilization as a whole. Drawing on the unfamiliar genre of the death liturgy, he arrives at a remarkably comprehensive view of the religion of death in ancient Egypt.

Assmann describes in detail nine different images of death: death as the body being torn apart, as social isolation, the notion of the court of the dead, the dead body, the mummy, the soul and ancestral spirit of the dead, death as separation and transition, as homecoming, and as secret. Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt also includes a fascinating discussion of rites that reflect beliefs about death through language and ritual.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt serves as a compendious introduction to how ancient Egyptians approached their mortality as well as their impending immortality. Throughout, Assmann continues to build upon his vast store of important publications, yet again bringing to his work a deep background in theoretical literature, especially anthropology and philosophy. This gives his work a decidedly comparative flair, citing parallels or contrasts with cultures ancient or modern, Near Eastern or otherwise. Much of Assmann's Egyptological work has become required reading, and Death and Salvation will be no exception. Controversial, insightful, incredibly informed, and in constant contact with the primary textual material, this volume will continue to inspire discussion for years to come."—Journal of Near Eastern Studies

"Assmann astounds the reader with his deep knowledge of religious texts from all periods of Egyptian civilization and from the Greeks and Romans too. He is equally familiar with evidence from art and architecture. . . . He leads the reader through the maddeningly opaque pronouncements of Egyptian intellectuals about the nature of death, its origin, its meaning, its importance. Every page shines a fresh light on a topic that fascinates us all, but leaves us puzzled. Assmann's book will take its place as classic study and shows again why he is justly regarded as one of the great Egyptologists writing today."—Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"This very important book represents the fruit of many years of reading, thinking, and writing about the Egyptian conceptions of death and the afterlife, and constitutes a comprehensive analysis of the subject. It is a complex, multilayered interpretation that reveals the great depth and breadth of Jan Assmann's knowledge. He systematically investigates the processes of and reactions to the experience of death, the reconstitution of the body/person of the deceased, and rites and texts that relate to the afterlife."—Gerald Kadish, Binghamton University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801464867
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/2005
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 504
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Jan Assmann is Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at Heidelberg University. His books include The Search for God in Ancient Egypt and Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, both from Cornell.

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
Introduction: Death and Culture
1. Death as Culture Generator
2. Principal Distinctions in the Relationship Between Death and Culture
a) This Life and the Next Life as Lifetime-encompassing Horizons of
b) Death Pieced-on to Life and Life Permeated by Death
c) World of the Living, World of the Dead: Border Traffic and Exclusion
d) Images and Counterimages, Death and Counterworld
Part One. Images of Death
Chapter 1. Death as Dismemberment
1. The Opening Scene of the Osiris Myth
2. The Egyptian Image of the Body
3. Salvation from Death by Piecing Together
Chapter 2. Death as Social Isolation
1. The Physical and Social Sphere of Man
2. "One Lives, if His Name is Mentioned
3. "One Lives, if Another Guides Him"
4. Subjection to Death through Social Isolation
5. "I Am One of You": Salvation from Death through Inclusion
Chapter 3. Death as Enemy
1. The Lawsuit in Heliopolis
2. The Moralizing of Death: The Idea of the Judgment of the Dead
3. Death as Enemy and the Life-giving Significance of the Judgment of the Dead
Chapter 4. Death as Dissociation: The Person of the De ceased and Its Constituent Elements
1. The Ba
a) The Ba in the Sky, the Corpse in the Netherworld
b) The Uniting of Ba and Corpse
2. The Deceased and His Ka
3. The Heart
4. Image and Body
a) Image and Death, Statue and Mummy
b) Reserve Head and Mummy Mask
c) Shabty and Golem
Chapter 5. Death as Separation and Reversal
1. Separation from Life: Death as Parting and Inversion
a) The Widow's Lament
b) Death-"Come!" is Its Name
2. Out of the Realm of Death and into the Place of Eternal Nourishment
a) The Food of Life
b) The Dialogue Between Atum and Osiris
3. Inversion as a State of Death
Chapter 6. Death as Transition
1. Transition as Ascent to the Sky
2. Transition as Journey to Osiris
3. Assistance from Beyond: The Image of Death as Transition and the Realm of the
Chapter 7. Death as Return
1. Nut Texts: Laying to Rest in the Coffin as Return to the Womb
a) The Inscription on the Coffin of King Merneptah
b) Goddess of the Coffin, Goddess of the West, Goddess of the Tree: Figurations
of the Great Mother
c) Renewal and Vindication: Re and Osiris
2. "The Place Where My Heart Returns": The Tomb in the Homeland
a) Return to the Tomb
b) Death as Return and the Mystery of Regeneration
Chapter 8. Death as Mystery
1. The Mystery of the Sun: Renewal and Rebirth
2. The Mystery of Osiris
3. The Tomb as Sacred Place
4. Initiation and Death
9. Chapter 9. Coming Out by Day
1. This Life as the Afterlife: The "Reversed Polarity" of Mortuary Belief in the New
2. Festival and Garden as Elysian Aspects of the Realm of the Living
a) Visits Home
b) Visiting the Garden
c) Participation in Major Divine Festivals
Part Two. Rituals and Recitations
Chapter 10. Mortuary Liturgies and Mortuary Literature
1. Provisioning and Transfiguration: The Recording of Recitation Texts in Old
Kingdom Pyramids
2. Writing as Voice and Recollection: The Recording of Mortuary Texts in Middle
Kingdom Coffins and in the Book of the Dead
3. Greetings, Requests, and Wishes
Chapter 11. In the Sign of the Enemy: The Protective Wake in the Place of Embalming
1. The Night Before the Funeral
2. Coffin Texts Spell 62
3. Wakes and Coffin Decoration
Chapter 12. The Night of Vindication
1. Liturgy A, Part 1: The Judgment Scene
2. Liturgy A, Part 2: The Transfiguration of the Vindicated One
3. Liturgy A, Part 3: The Vindicated One as Companion of the Gods
4. Liturgy B: Embalming and Provisioning
Chapter 13. Rituals of Transition from Home to Tomb
1. Artistic and Textual Depictions of the Funeral
2. From Home to Tomb
a) Crossing Over to the West
b) Embalming, Cult Drama in the Sacred Temenos, and Rituals in the Garden
c) The Procession to the Tomb
3. The Rites of Opening the Mouth at the Entrance of the Tomb
a) The Opening of the Mouth Ritual
b) Setting up the Mummy "before Re"
c) Offering of the Heart and Leg
Chapter 14. Provisioning the Dead
1. Pyramid Texts Spell 373
2. Summoning the Dead
3. Presentation of Offerings
Chapter 15. Sacramental Explanation
1. On the Semantics of Transfigurative Speech
2. The Discharge of the Corpse of Osiris: On the Sacramental Explanation of Water
3. Mortuary Rituals for Egypt
Chapter 16. Freedom from the Yoke of Transitoriness: Resultativity and Continuance
1. Resultativity
2. "Trust Not in the Length of Years": Salvation through Righteousness
3. "Make Holiday! Forget Care!"
Chapter 17.
1. Realm of Death and Elysium: The Oirignally Royal Sense of This Distinction
2. Redemption through Unio Liturgica
3. Salvation through Divine Grace
Afterword: Egypt and the History of Death
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