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Author Topic: The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife - opinions?  (Read 3820 times)
treekisser
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« Topic Start: July 26, 2009, 10:39:38 am »

Has anyone got any opinions on Erik Hornung's 'The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife'? I have his other book, the conceptions one, on order and am wondering whether to get this as well.

I'm particularly interested in three areas (ma'at/isfet, heka, and Djehuty), which don't sound particularly funerary, but then again funerary texts are sources for a lot of things so I don't want to be too hasty.
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« Reply #1: July 26, 2009, 01:39:13 pm »

Has anyone got any opinions on Erik Hornung's 'The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife'? I have his other book, the conceptions one, on order and am wondering whether to get this as well.

I'm particularly interested in three areas (ma'at/isfet, heka, and Djehuty), which don't sound particularly funerary, but then again funerary texts are sources for a lot of things so I don't want to be too hasty.

This is a very different sort of book than Conceptions.  It's basically an overview of research and knowledge about all the major books dealing with the afterlife in Egyptian thought, noting threads of research, summarizing the contents, and so on.
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« Reply #2: July 27, 2009, 03:29:06 am »

This is a very different sort of book than Conceptions.  It's basically an overview of research and knowledge about all the major books dealing with the afterlife in Egyptian thought, noting threads of research, summarizing the contents, and so on.

Thanks, I think I'll put it off for now. I have enough trouble in this life...
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« Reply #3: July 30, 2009, 05:51:30 am »

Has anyone got any opinions on Erik Hornung's 'The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife'? I have his other book, the conceptions one, on order and am wondering whether to get this as well.

I'm particularly interested in three areas (ma'at/isfet, heka, and Djehuty), which don't sound particularly funerary, but then again funerary texts are sources for a lot of things so I don't want to be too hasty.

It's a very accessible summary of a lot of the texts, even some of the more "obscure" ones (which makes it rare amongst affordable, mass market books), and one interesting thing is that Hornung is also interested in the history of Egyptology itself, so he gives a brief introduction to  the modern histories of each text, it's re-discovery, recording and translation.

What this book isn't is a translation, or an investigation of their theology. It is a commentary and summary of the texts themselves, but it's a good way to get an overview, and I've found it useful.


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« Reply #4: July 30, 2009, 01:16:36 pm »


What this book isn't is a translation, or an investigation of their theology.


Good to know, thank you. I just finished his Idea into Image: Essays on Ancient Egyptian Thought and found it really lucid. If his other books are as well-written/translated I'm definitely a fan.

If I were to get this book though, would you recommend me reading it before or after I tackle some of the primary source translations?
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« Reply #5: July 30, 2009, 02:50:43 pm »

Has anyone got any opinions on Erik Hornung's 'The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife'? I have his other book, the conceptions one, on order and am wondering whether to get this as well.

I'm particularly interested in three areas (ma'at/isfet, heka, and Djehuty), which don't sound particularly funerary, but then again funerary texts are sources for a lot of things so I don't want to be too hasty.

I haven't read that one, but I have his book on monotheism.  It was a good read, IIRC, though it's buried in the inaccessible Room of Advancing Entropy right now, and it's been a while.  Make sure you get a good translation; I seem to recall that Mr Hornung is not a native English speaker.

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« Reply #6: July 30, 2009, 03:29:37 pm »

If I were to get this book though, would you recommend me reading it before or after I tackle some of the primary source translations?

I would say get AE Books of the Afterlife first, and the summaries should give you an idea of which texts will interest you, and give you some outline to work with, as the texts themselves can be hard to follow at first. Then, when you do get the full translation, have Hornung there to read along side, as a narrative guide to help clarify key points.

Also, just to give you a heads up, with the exception of the Book of the Dead and the Pyramid Texts, some of the other texts are hard to find and/or seriously expensive. I'd recommend trying to get them on an interlibrary loan if you can, rather than buying. If you are really stuck, drop me an Email and I can probably fix you up with some page scans of any sections you are really interested in, but please don't ask for an entire book!
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« Reply #7: July 30, 2009, 03:50:42 pm »



Thanks for the advice, and the offer! Luckily my uni has a really good classics library. I like going there sometimes and fantasising that I'm a classicist.  Grin Actually, it's a bit too good...if I fail my degree, you'll know why.
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