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The Book of the dead; the papyrus of Ani in…
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The Book of the dead; the papyrus of Ani in the British Museum. The… (udgave 1967)

af E. A. Wallis Budge, Sir (Oversætter)

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1,908116,402 (3.66)28
The Book of the Deadis a unique collection of funerary texts from a wide variety of sources, dating from the fifteenth to the fourth century BC. Consisting of spells, prayers and incantations, each section contains the words of power to overcome obstacles in the afterlife. The papyruses were often left in sarcophagi for the dead to use as passports on their journey from burial, and were full of advice about the ferrymen, gods and kings they would meet on the way. Offering valuable insights into ancient Egypt, TheBook of the Deadhas also inspired fascination with the occult and the afterlife in recent years.… (mere)
Medlem:therienne
Titel:The Book of the dead; the papyrus of Ani in the British Museum. The Egyptian text with interlinear transliteration and t
Forfattere:E. A. Wallis Budge, Sir
Info:New York, Dover Publications [1967]
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:egypt, history

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Book of the Dead af E.A. Wallis Budge (Translator)

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Prefacing disclaimer – I am not an Egyptologist. I’ve never been particularly interested in King Tut. I’ve studied a bit of ancient history, and probably know marginally more than the average person about some of the Big Picture elements of Egyptian civilization, but when it comes to dates and dynasties I’m sure that a particularly enthusiastic twelve-year old could leave me in the dust. Now then—

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a seminal text of Egyptian civilization, a funerary text that for hundreds of years encapsulated the religion of the Nile. It’s also one of those books that I’ve never heard of anybody actually reading, so I figured I’d try something different and find a copy. What I ended up with is a 1967 Dover Press reprint of an 1895 book by E. A. Wallis Budge, published by (who else?) the Trustees of the British Museum. I was unfamiliar with Budge before reading this, but if his Wikipedia page is anything to go by, he was one of the foremost Egyptologists of the Victorian Era. Working my way through this book, there is no doubting his erudition.

The book itself begins with about 150 pages of prefacing information. This is not your typical Eyewitness Books introduction. Budge assumes the reader will have a moderate degree of knowledge of Ancient Egyptian mythology, is comfortable wading through issues of metaphysics, and can read footnotes in German, French, Italian, and Greek. I assume its intended audience was the gentleman-scholar of Victorian England, the kind of man of leisure who could hop on a carriage and see the fine collection of Egyptian tets exhibited in the Fourth Egyptian Room, Table-Case K and Wall-Case No. 114. It does not hold your hand. I found it for the most part a little too dry and dense, particularly in the era of Google and Wikipe-tan, but it does give Sir Budge the opportunity to flex his considerable scholastic chops. It’s amusing to read about the very mundane reality of the production of the text, which was never a standardized process with a definitive canon. Scribes made transposition errors, copied the wrong sequences, forgot to fill in the blanks where their clients’ names were inserted. The painters sometimes didn’t leave enough room on the papyrus for the scribes, leading to the hieroglyphs being noticeably cramped. Over time, understanding of the Book of the Dead seems to have faded, for Budge notes that later generations of scribes seemed to be rote copying the text without understanding its meaning, leading to all sorts of errors.

Budge’s translation of the Book is, from a scholastic perspective, and invaluable reference work. He translates the entirety of the Book of the Dead, as well as the accompanying vignettes, doing a word-for-word (or rather, hieroglyph-for-word) interlinear translation, showing the hieroglyph, then the phonetic pronunciation, and then the English translation. His footnotes contain extensive annotations about alternate translations, variations between different texts, and debates over interpretation (though I would’ve liked a little more explanation for how he came to translate certain words such as “sin” or “sainted dead”, for example). I found myself coming to recognize a few hieroglyphics just by their sheer repetition, and as a scholar (particularly in a pre-Web era) I can only imagine how helpful this must have been.

As a reader, though…

Budge’s hieroglyph-for-word translation does leave something to be desired. Ancient Egyptian grammar was, unsurprisingly, considerably different than our own, and trying to match each word in its exact arrangement produces some really unwieldly sentence structuring. I could sort of excuse that. More annoying was Budge’s decision to render the Book of the Dead into English in an approximation of the “majesty of style” of the King James Bible. No doubt he was trying to give the work the same gravitas as the Christian Bible, but it just amplifies on the work’s awkwardness. Saturating the translation with words like “saith”, “advanceth”, “slaughterth”, “telleth” just make it read like someone doing a mockery of Medieval English. I might be being a little unfair, but at times I couldn’t help but wish for something like Professor David Ferry’s rendition of The Epic of Gilgamesh, taking a few artistic liberties to produce something that could actually be easily read by a modern reader.

As for the book itself…

Ancient Egyptian metaphysics are really like no system I’ve ever encountered before. It’s different. In contrast to the relatively straightforward death-and-judgement process I remember from elementary school, the Book of the Dead envisions something a lot more… transcendent. As best as I could understand it, the dead (in the example text, the scribe Ani, Overseer of the Granaries of the Lords of Abydos) sort of… fuses… with Osiris. As he proceeds through the underworld, he becomes increasingly divine, assuming physical aspects of all the Egyptian deities and ultimately taking his place with (or as?) God. Egyptian religion might have had more in common with Vedic Brahmanism than I initially thought, but that’s about it. It is considerably more trans-corporeal than any other religious system I can think of.

An alternate name for text is “The Book of the Great Awakening”, which I suspect better captures the purpose of the papyrus. At the very least, it is more a book for the Dead than of them. The Book of the Dead is really more of a ritualistic manual than a “book” in the conventional sense. Unlike the Bible or the Quran, it is near-completely devoid of narrative. Instead, it contains page after page of instructions and descriptions for what is going to happen in the Afterlife. The deceased must pass through a series of chambers, call out a truly mind-numbing number of invocations, hails, and declarations, and gradually achieve eternal (or at least, millions and millions of years of) life. If there was any poetry to the text it was lost in translation, and it instead reads as an endless slog of ritual invocations and proclamations of purity. (I’m not even sure if it was meant to be read, or simply used as wallpaper for a sarcophagus.)

The back cover describes the Book as “unquestionably one of the most influential books in all of history”, but Budge’s work itself does not necessarily support the claim. While the work was no doubt a pillar of Egyptian civilization, its influence post-Ptolemaic seems unclear. Budge makes few notes as to where the text may have had an influence on the Bible: “The young men of Heliopolis and Bubastis” (Ezekiel 30:17); “because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay” (Acts 2:27); “He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah” (2 Kings 23:7), but it’s honestly pretty marginal. Some of its ideas may have seeped into Hellenic beliefs, but for the most part, I think it has basically been forgotten for a millennium or two. The Egyptian conception of divinity is just so different from anything Abrahamic or Grecian, and the Book is so inaccessible on its own.

At the end of the day, it’s simply not enjoyable from a literary perspective, nor is it particularly enlightening. Modern textbooks contain much more information about Egyptian civilization, in a considerably cleaner format. The Book of the Dead simply is not designed to provide the reader with information about the gods or good living – it’s a user manual for the afterlife. I can only recommend it if you’re looking to, well, read this specific text. Apart from honest-to-God Egyptologists, it’ll be difficult for anyone to extract much utility from. The book itself does contain an extensive bibliography, which is always worthy of kudos, even though I doubt most of the early-19th century works cited are readily available, and even fewer of them are in English.

Somehow, I’m sure I’m going to remember that using fish as fish bait was apparently a big no-no, up there with fornication, murder, and purloining the cakes of the gods. ( )
  pvoberstein | Dec 14, 2020 |
The Papyrus of Ani in the British Museum. ( )
  Tutter | Feb 17, 2015 |
This book is excellently researched and fascinating. Well worth reading if you are interested in the Ancient Egyption Gods. ( )
  Heptonj | May 13, 2011 |
In the film, "Stargate," Daniel Jackson said, "Someone must have been using Budge. I don't know why they still print it." He was, of course, referring to Budge's Dictionaries of Ancient Egyptian, but the same might be said for his translation of Ani's "Book of the Dead."

In his time, Budge was an important Egyptologist, and no one can deny that he advanced the study of Ancient Egypt significantly. But his time was 100 years ago, and enormous strides have been made in the study of the Ancient Egyptian language. If you're interested in seeing the current state of the art, then I suggest that you get a copy of Gardiner's translation. It is based on the Budge's unsurpassed photographs of Papyrus Ani; however, today, Gardiner's grammar of Ancient Egyptian is what almost all modern, English-speaking Egyptologists use, together with Faulkner's Dictionary of Middle Egyptian.

Why do I have this book? Easy. Once upon a time, before I studied Ancient Egyptian (which happened before Stargate was released), I thought Budge was the only game in town. I keep it around to remind me that there was once a time when we didn't know what we do now, and in memory of the man who helped create and maintain the British Museum's splendid collection. ( )
2 stem bfgar | Nov 16, 2010 |
This was intended for Egyptologists. It is not for people who are simply interested in Egypt and Egyptian Myth and Religion. He has also fallen out of favor with modern Egyptologists because his translations are not sufficiently specific to the time period of these books. ( )
1 stem millsge | Apr 26, 2009 |
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Budge, E.A. WallisOversætterprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Baldock, JohnRedaktørmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Romer, JohnRedaktørmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Romer, JohnIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Introduction:
The history of the great body of religious compositions which form the Book of the Dead of the ancient Egyptians may conveniently be divided into four periods, which are represented by four versions:...
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There is no single ancient Egyptian work called The Book of the Dead. Instead, there were collections of "spells" (about 200 altogether) written on papyrus and buried with the deceased to help on the journey to the next life.
No single papyrus contains all the spells. Thanks to many reprints, the most common translation available is by E. A. Wallis Budge; published in 1898. Since then, many other funerary papyri have been translated (and it's also be noted that some of Budge's translation was just plain wrong). Subsequent translations by Thomas George Allen (1968) and Raymond Faulkner (1972, sometimes attributed to Carol Andrews or Eva von Dassow the editors) are much more up-to-date and contain better supplemental material. The different translations should not be combined.
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The Book of the Deadis a unique collection of funerary texts from a wide variety of sources, dating from the fifteenth to the fourth century BC. Consisting of spells, prayers and incantations, each section contains the words of power to overcome obstacles in the afterlife. The papyruses were often left in sarcophagi for the dead to use as passports on their journey from burial, and were full of advice about the ferrymen, gods and kings they would meet on the way. Offering valuable insights into ancient Egypt, TheBook of the Deadhas also inspired fascination with the occult and the afterlife in recent years.

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