Egyptian Religion

Egyptian Religion

Egyptian Religion

Egyptian Religion


Sir E. A. Wallis Budge (1857-1934) was Keeper of the British Museum’s department of oriental antiquities from 1894 until his retirement in 1924. Carrying out many missions to Egypt in search of ancient objects, Budge was hugely successful in collecting papyri, statues and other artefacts for the trustees of the British Museum: numbering into the thousands and of great cultural and historical significance. Budge published well over 100 monographs, which shaped the development of future scholarship and are still of great academic value today, dealing with subjects such as Egyptian religion, history and literature.

First published in 1899 as part of the Egypt and Chaldaea series, Egyptian Religion explores the principal ideas and beliefs held by the ancient Egyptians with regard to the doctrine of the resurrection and the future life. Although no systematic account dealing solely with this doctrine has been discovered, the Book of the Dead and various other religious texts from which this work is derived reflect ancient Egyptian beliefs, ideals and superstitions. Wallis Budge explores the Gods of the Egyptians and the themes of resurrection and immorality in a classic work, of great significance to students and scholars with an interest in ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern history and religion.


‘Enter, also here are gods’ (after Heraclitus)

During the present century Egypt has become a centre of attraction for ever-growing numbers of people. The Nile valley and its monuments are visited by tens of thousands of tourists each year. The political and economic life of the Arab peoples evoke equal interest of a different kind. The country’s development is taking place in a rich historical context, which reaches back beyond classical antiquity and ancient Israel to the earliest advanced civilizations of the Orient. This growth of interest in Egypt has long since ceased to be the preserve of a few specialists, but finds expression in school curricula and influences the outlook of ordinary men and women. All this creates a need for books which can enable lovers of ancient Egypt to enter into the spirit of its great civilization.

It is only natural that in discussing this literature one should begin with those works that deal with the country’s artistic riches. The connoisseur of today has at his disposal numerous illustrated volumes, and also a superb analysis and interpretation by W. Wolf, entitled Die Kunst Ägyptens. Gestalt und Geschichte (1957). One is then led to the history of ancient Egypt. In this field some excellent monographs have been published in recent years. Among those in German we may mention A. Scharff’s contribution to Scharff and Moortgat, Ägypten und Vorderasien im Altertum (1950) and E. Otto, Ägypten, Der Weg des Pharaonenreiches (1953; 3rd ed., 1958). In regard to economic conditions, geography and settlement reference may be made to H. Kees, Das alte Ägypten. Eine kleine Landeskunde (1955; 2nd ed., 1958; translated by F. D. Morrow and edited by T. G. H. James as Ancient Egypt. A Cultural Topography, London, 1961). For cultural history the German reader must still consult earlier works such as A. Erman and H. Ranke, Ägypten und ägyptisches Leben im Altertum (1923) and H. Kees, ‘Ägypten’ (in Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, 111, 1, 3, 1933).

Yet behind all aspects of life of those who dwelt on the Nile in ancient times – behind their art, political structure and cultural . . .

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