Perspectives From the Past
Chapter I – Review Questions p.57
(The Book of the Dead)
What does this text reveal about the Egyptians’ concept of the next life and in particular, about the individual’s eligibility for it? Can you detect any parallels in the beliefs of later religious systems? The fact that this text is so lengthy, precise, and detailed reveals that they took the “next life” extremely seriously. A person must be pure and free of sin in order to be eligible. In reading the text, it also became clear to me that only men were eligible, for some of the text seems to pertain specifically to men, i.e. “Tep-het-djat, I have not been perverted, I have not had sexual relations with a boy.” (p. 56) There are definitely parallels between the ideals in the Book of the Dead and later religious systems. Parallel to Judaism: Behavior and conduct were important factors. You must be honest, clean, you must never do harm to anyone. You should be a contributing member of the community, etc. Parallels to Christianity: You must be free from sin in order to go on to the “next life” (heaven for the Christians.) 2.
How, ideally, was one to conduct oneself in order to appear blameless before the gods? A person needed to have led an honest and pure life. He must never have intentionally harmed or cheated another person, he must never have offended the gods, and he must have always made the proper offerings to the gods. He must never have killed or ordered the killing of another man. He must never have committed crimes against man, beast, or nature. One interesting factor is that an Egyptian needed to be clean. In the Book of the Dead there was mention of the importance of keeping one’s rear clean. It was refreshing to learn that that was an important issue to them! 3.
What does this text have to say about Egyptian social values? It was interesting to learn that they considered homosexual sex “perverted.” I had always been under the impression that it...
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