Thursday, April 10, 2014

Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life by Sir E.A. Wallis Budge

book cover Original Publication Date: 1908

Genre: Nonfiction

Topics: Egyptology, historical, religion, cultures

Review by : Becca Lostinbooks

Sir Budge was a noted Egyptologist and philologist who worked for the British Museum.  In this particular work, Budge offers a concise, scholarly exposition into the Ancient Egyptian belief system including the gods and goddesses and the judgement of the dead. He also covers the meaning of the afterlife for ancient Egyptians and its ramifications for Egyptian society.

Like many anthropologists, sociologists, and researchers throughout history, there is a comparison of the Ancient Egypt's belief system with Christianity.  I imagine this is to put the findings in a context that not only Budge could understand, but that the average historian at the time could understand.  Budge concludes that the gods and goddesses- that to the Western eye looks like polytheism- are actually manifestations of one God.  My brother-in-law, who grew up in India and learning Hinduism, explained Hinduism in this way, as well.   Whether these are accurate descriptions or merely a way for people of traditionally monotheistic religions to wrap their brains around the numerous deities, I am not 100 percent confident.  Budge gives several examples from Egyptian religious texts to back this up, but without having read the entirety of these texts it is uncertain to me if these are taken out of context or not.

Budge goes on to discuss the Egyptian belief in the god of resurrection, Osiris, as well as other gods, or manifestations, including Ra, Temu, Nu, Isis, Seb, and Horus.  In the fourth section, Budge gets to the Judgment of the Dead, the explanation of mummification, funerary rites, the treasure in the tombs, and the Book of the Dead, and how all of this was essential to an Egyptian's next life. This section was the most compelling to me, as I find the rituals and beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians completely fascinating.  

Though a more recent text would proof itself to be more thorough and accurate, as the more history is investigated the more there is uncovered, overall, Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life by Sir Wallis Budge was an interesting look into the Egyptians' beliefs and practices and I enjoyed reading it.

Download Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life by Sir E.A. Wallis Burdge at Project Gutenberg.