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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Ritual of the Dead

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is the name given by Egyptologists to the oldest sacred book of the Egyptian theology. Portions of this book data from the time of king Gagamakhem, a monarch of the third dynasty, the text itself being in many places accompanied by a gloss, which was added at a later period, to render it intelligible. The deities principally mentioned in it are Osiris, Anubis, Horus, and Tum; Amen Ra, as a distinct divinity, being only indirectly referred to. Although the mystical work is now treated as one book, it' is really made up of a collection of not less than eighteen separate treatises, including three supplemental chapters and two litanies, which seem to have been added at the time of the new empire. Selections from chapters and illustrations from the ritual abound on the walls of many of the tombs of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties, and notably on that of Seti-Menepthah I, in the Biban el-Moluk. Other chapters were used as mystical formulae to avert diseases, otlers as a part of the religious worship of the Egyptians, and a few obscure passages as secret mysteries, the meaning of which is now lost. Many hundred of papyri have been found in the mummy-cases, which contain different portions of the ritual, with their accompanying vignette and rubric, but a complete recension and comparison of all the existing texts have not yet been effected. The text of the ritual underwent no less than three different revisions, viz., in the ancient empire, in the period of the nineteenth dynasty, and in the reign of the Saitic kings. This last was the edition which is most commonly met with, but there appears to have been an attempt at a partial re-edition in the Ptolemaic period. The chief divisions or books of which the Ritual of the Dead is composed are as follows: CHAPTERS

1. The Manifestation of Light (first book) 1-16.

2. The Egyptian Faith 17-20.

3. The Resurrection of the Deceased 21-26.

4. The Preservation of the Body in Hades 27-42.

5. The Protection in Hades 43-51.

6. The Celestial Diet 52-53.

7. The Manifestation of Light (second book) 51-75.

8. The Metamorphoses 76-90.

9. The Protection of the Soul; or, Forms for Various Occasions - 91-116.

10. The Going into and out of Hades 117-124.

11. The Hall of the Two Truths 125.

12. The Gods, of the Orbit 126-129.

13. The Passage of the Sun, or Adorations of the Sun 130-140.

14. The Festival (Litany) of the Names of the Gods 141-143.

15. The House of Osiris; or, The Chapter of Making the Amulets - 144- 161.

16. The Orientation 162, 163.

17. The Three Supplemental Chapters .164-166.

18. The Assistances of Horus 1, 2.

From these it will be seen that the arrangement of the chapters is inconsecutive so far as their subjects are concerned, and there is every reason to believe that the order in which they now occur, especially in the English translation, is somewhat arbitrary. The ritual is rarely found written in Hieratic, and still more rarely in Demotic. The finest examples are those in the museums of the Louvre and Turin.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ritual of the Dead'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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