Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Book of the "Living"?

     I am reading a rather large and very scholarly, two volume set called The Organization of the Pyramid Texts, by Harold M. Hays. Dr. Hays spends a fair number of pages early in volume one of this work talking about a copy of the Book of the Dead written in the New Kingdom for a man named Nu.

     One point the author makes is that a number of the spells in this copy of the Book of the Dead have rubrics attached to them indicating that they are to be performed by the owner of the scroll while he is still alive. For instance, in Utterance 18 is written, "Should a man recite this utterance while pure, it means going out into the day after he dies and making the metamorphosis which his heart [gives]. And as for anyone who recites it [for himself] every day, (it means) he is prosperous on earth, he goes forth from every fire , and no evil comes near him". Another example is Utterance 17 where it is said, "It is beneficial for the one who does it upon earth".

     The major conclusion to be drawn from this is that many spells in the Book of the Dead were meant to be used during life. Perhaps we should refer to this text as the "Book of the Living"?

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