THE EGYPTIAN BOOK OF LIFE
In preceding discussions I attempted to show that our planet, in the
distant past, had a high spiritual influence. That influence was lifting
this world from primitive existence to more exalted life. Contact and intercourse
with divine beings brought more devout social practices and attitudes.
Names and language habits showed great respect for God, for the gods, for
social relationships, and for conduct toward more noble lives.
Then a great fault occurred. Something went wrong. The planetary regime
was disrupted. As a consequence a gradual decline ensued. Men forgot, although
many groups here and there attempted to cling to the old respect and old
devotion. But the heart was out of it. Where men once felt a deep desire,
they now turned to rote religious and social practices. The reasons became
debased. Knowledge of the past deteriorated. Heavenly contact was gone;
the spiritual influence was gone.
Wherever we look across this world we find evidence for this sad failure.
Hope springs eternal within man, but he was left on his own. He has no
divine counselors, or means for reclaiming the spiritual richness of those
old planetary eras. While the work of Melchizedek at the time of Abraham
helped to crystallize a closer relationship with God, it was done without
the benefit of certain knowledge of the heavenly realms, and was directed
toward a specific program of planetary uplift, but without the benefit
of open explanation. The work with Moses, the use of the Hebrew prophets,
the life of Jesus, and the work of Paul left a tremendous impact upon the
world, but did not return to the devout social practices of ancient yesteryear.
Jesus began a new planetary regime but it was not designed to immediately
reclaim the world. Rather, the result was even greater divorce from the
planetary past. While he gave hope to individual man, the planetary isolation,
and new attitudes based on purely mechanistic understanding, led to the
godless attitudes of modern times.
As further example of ancient knowledge of God I shall now consider
evidence from Egypt. Those people preserved much of the old knowledge,
but modern scholarship, caught in their godless attitudes, were unable
to discern the value of their discoveries.
We may have been fortunate because of the meteorological climate of
that land. Extremely dry conditions over millennia helped preserve many
texts. From them we gain better insight into the attitudes of people from
days of old.
Inscribed on walls of the tombs of kings and on papyri in numerous burials
were a group of religious writings which the ancient Egypt called The
Coming Forth Into Light. The texts were compilations of religious themes
concerning the life of the individual who had died, praises to the gods,
his aspirations for a life after death, his preparation for travel among
the houses of heaven, and supplication that he be guided safely in his
journeys above. His appeals were intended to assure him of a new life in
a glorified body in heavenEBD.
The modern scholarly designation for this writing is most unfortunate.
While these texts were found with burial remains and thus acquired the
title The Egyptian Book of the Dead the texts were an appeal for
eternal life. They should properly be called The Egyptian Book of Eternal
The origin is unknown. The texts may have been composed by prehistoric inhabitants of the Nile valley or they may have been brought into Egypt by early immigrants from the Asiatic continent. The texts offer no evidence of authorship; certain
chapters of later versions are stated to be the work of the god Thoth, the Egyptian equivalent of the Greek Hermes, herald
and messenger of the gods. In the Egyptian texts Thoth was "Lord of the
divine books," "scribe of the company of the gods," and "Lord of divine
speech." Clement of Alexandria, circa 200 AD, wrote that the texts were
part of a group of works which constituted the sacred books of the Egyptians.
Records from the XIth dynasty around 2,000 BC show that portions of the book were buried beneath building foundation stones as early as the First dynasty. The writings were being used in a symbolic manner at that early date. Other texts dating from the First dynasty show that they are older than the first historic Egyptian king Menes. The texts bear evidence that they were revised and edited long before his reign, circa 3,000 BC.
Texts on the walls of the pyramids of Unas of the Vth dynasty, and other
kings of the VIth dynasty, show that the work was originally a collection
of individual religious compositions. At that early date, approximately
2,500 BC, the writings were already extensive. The kings selected only
portions as part of their burial compositions. The textual evidence from
those dynasties indicates that the scribes were perplexed concerning the
significance of the writings and did not fully understand the passages
they used. They served merely as copyists at the king's request.
In texts of later dynasties, from around 1,200 BC down to the Christian
era, the writings became ever more corrupt. Vignettes at the beginning
of each chapter, which do not appear in early dynasties, were emphasized
at the expense of actual text. Considerable artistic skill was employed
in the preparation of the vignettes but the texts were left to ignorant
and careless scribes. Neither the artists nor the scribes understood the
material upon which they were engaged; they composed the texts in a highly
rigid and mechanical mannerEBD.
Devolution of the sacred texts shows that earlier Nile dwellers were
more devout, their faith was more genuine, than that of later generations.
Later people maintained the texts mostly out of habit and not out of belief.
This decline is an example of religious decline witnessed all over the
In spite of their corrupt condition the Egyptian religious writings
are highly informative about the beliefs of those ancient people. The long
history of Egypt, with its conservative cultural climate, provides opportunity
for tracing pagan beliefs back to more original forms.
The religious writings also offer unique insight into knowledge of a
divine Son who would visit this world. His experience on this earth, and
his position in the heavenly realms, was known before historic times, and
long before the existence of a Hebrew people. Ancient people knew of the
advent of Jesus but the corrupt nature of the surviving records led to
speculative theories by modern scholarship, effective burial of this knowledge,
and rejection by both Jews and Christians.
For convenience I shall use the texts compiled and published by E. A. Wallis BudgeEBD,EHD. He provided transliteration and translation of a papyrus written by a scribe named Ani, with additional material from other versions of the religious work. Most of these date from 1,800 BC. I show an example copy of the Ani manuscript from around 1200 BC. The photo image on the left is of the original manuscript. That one to the right is Budge's transliteration.
Together the various writings cast light on four important aspects of our
current religious belief:
a) the Father,
These aspects of historical religion are reflected in the Jewish and
Christian theological issues of monotheism, salvation history, polytheism,
and life after death.
In the Egyptian religious writings a monotheistic theme is interwoven
with a polytheistic family of gods. This caused considerable confusion
and controversy among modern students, some claiming the Egyptians believed
in one God, while others denied such belief because of the numerous deities
found in the texts. The monotheistic phraseology and tone is strikingly
similar to the Bible and raised much adverse reaction. Even a brief review
shows that monotheistic concepts and ideas were not original with the Hebrew
people. Such beliefs came long before public proclamation of monotheism
by Aknaton about 1,400 BC. Aknaton's efforts show as attempts to retrieve
the ancient faith from control by a degenerate priesthood. Aknaton tried,
but the social forces were too great for him.
Furthermore, the effective burial of knowledge of the gods of the heavenly
realms by both Judaism and Christianity prevented modern people from recognizing
the value of the Egyptian texts. Refer to Psalm 82 and Paul's remarks in
I Cor 8:5 and II Cor 4;4.
Here I list phrases and statements from the ancient text.
The Egyptian writing shows that God is "one"
and "alone" and that "none other exists with him;" he existed "when nothing
else had being." Yet "he is hidden from both gods and men." He is "father
of the gods and men."
This passage has many phrases parallel to those
in the Bible; Old Testament and New, the words occur again and again:
This passage has many phrases parallel to those
in the Bible; Old Testament and New, the words occur again and again:
Another important religious teaching of the
ancient Egyptians was that of eternal life, and the advent of a god who
came down to earth to offer eternal life to all earth people.
As Budge wrote:
The parallels with the life, death and resurrection
of Jesus are obvious. Set (Nak) plotted the death of Osiris; the devil
worked with Judas and the Sanhedrin to condemn Jesus to death. Osiris was
killed in his 28th year; Jesus in his 33rd year. The body of Osiris was
mutilated and the pieces scattered; Jesus was hung on a cross and his body
pierced. Osiris rose from the dead; Jesus rose from the dead. Osiris became
King of heaven; Jesus become King of heaven. The Egyptians appealed to
Osiris for eternal life; Christians appeal to Jesus for eternal life. Resurrected
Egyptians travelled among the mansions of heaven; Jesus went to prepare
a place among the many mansions of heaven.
The Egyptian beliefs not only were corrupted
with the passage of time; they also were corrupted by influence from outside
people. Through conquests the Egyptian gods multiplied. Khephera was the
King and Creator of the gods; he was also Lord of day and night. As god
of the day he was Ra; as god of the night he was Tmu. He came forth from
Nu, the primeval water of creation. He was the son of Ptah. In his heart
was Thoth (Truth) and Maat (Righteousness). He had a son named Horus, who
then became confused with his father. The high power of Ra is shown by
a long proclamation of praise to the sun god who rises in the eastern part
Again we find many parallels with Jesus and
with Judeo-Christian beliefs. In the dawn of creation the Morning Stars
sang together and all the Sons of God shouted for joy, Job 38:7. Jesus
is the Lord of heaven and the Lord of the earth. He is the Mighty One,
the Lord of lords, and the God of gods. He passes through eternity; his
being is everlasting. He is the king of right and truth. He is the beloved
child who grew to become a man. When he rose from the dead he gave assurance
of eternal life to all those who call on his name. He conquered death and
he condemned the devil to fire.
The sun became symbolic of the power of Osiris.
The sun rises every morning and lights up the world. Osiris rose from the
dead and lights the world. Jesus rose from the dead and lights the world.
It was natural for old people to seek a symbol of their beloved god who
promised them eternal life. "The earth is glad when it beholds your
As Peter phrased it many years ago:
It is important to note that the resurrection of Osiris, the Creator, is confused with that of Dumuzi/Adonis/Attis. Osiris/Jesus conquered death but Dumuzi/Adonis/Attis was forever doomed to death and resurrection in the annual cycles of time. Adam brought regeneration of the earth each spring but Jesus brought eternal life. Scholars do not distinguish among these two aspects of the resurrection myths, mostly because of confusion in the folk sources, and their godless attitudes.