According to John L. Foster who wrote the famous : Ancient Egyptian Literature: An Anthology. (1)

"the two great hindrances to any proper appreciation of the literature and civilization of ancient Egypt are the Bible and the glory that was Greece. These two sources—and the civilizations that produced them—are the twin bastions of  Western culture; and since they have so undeniably formed  the Western World and the very ways it thinks, it is no wonder the West approaches other cultures in terms of what they have taught it.

The West views of ancient history are conditioned by what it understands as true from ancient Greece and, particularly, Israel. Indeed, Its very idea of what constitutes ancient history is filtered through the accounts of Genesis and Exodus

What has happened to Egyptology in the century and a half since Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphs, back at a time when one studied ancient Egypt only for confirmation of biblical attitudes? 

The difference has been the partial recovery, during the past 150 years, of the languages, histories, and cultures of the high civilizations of the ancient Near East; and these enable  the reader to study and understand a country like Egypt from its own documents and monuments and from its own point of view. 

This increased knowledge has demonstrated that the version of ancient history that West has been brought to know and cherish has been a very much oversimplified and parochial one, projecting the viewpoint, at the earliest, of an ancient Israelite author during the united monarchy, some time later than 1000 B.C.

Egyptian writing, on the other hand, began some two millennia earlier, around 3000 B.C.; and civilization had been proceeding in high gear over the entire Fertile Crescent for at least that same two-thousand-year period before King David. We need to realize that some forty percent—almost half— of recorded human history occurred before King David.

Because of the classical and western religious value system Westerners have traditionally accepted the biblical account of ancient history as true and tried to fit evidence from extra-biblical sources into that system. This no longer works." (John  L. Foster) 

The literary selections of Ancient Egypt in the coming essays are all from that earlier time, some of them from the earliest time, composed toward the dawn of writing, of literature, and of history itself. 

In this first essay deals with "The Other World" theme in ancient Egyptian literature. A fascinating subject which is guaranteed to intrigue many Modern Egyptians as they delve into "The nature of the beyond " this time, strictly viewed expressed by their ancestors. 

Moreover, the subject matter is riveting for any Arab speaking audience when it finds how intimate its rich native tongue is, with that of Ancient Egypt. A linguistic fact that has been given a lip service so far, and never fully explored.

Here is a  literary sample that all Arab speaking Egyptians will easily recognize and appreciate:

Prayer of Rahery for Life in the Afterworld

May you come and go, while living, 
with joyful heart by favor of the Lord of gods,

With a fine burial in old age, 
after your length of years has come.

May you take your place in your sarcophagus, 
unite with earth in the Western Land,

Become transformed to a living Spirit
powerful over bread, and water, and air

Which may take shape as phoenix or as swallow,
as falcon or as heron, just as you wish.

May you ferry across without hindrance 
and sail upon the waters of the flood.

May your life return once more
your spirit never deserting your body again!

May your spirit be holy among the transfigured,
and may the blessed hold converse with you;

 (In the prayers of Ancient Egyptian Priest of Rahery

The Ancient Egyptian term for the Afterlife, or the Afterworld, is Aqr-t


 

Linguistically, the equivalent of the Ancient Egyptian term  Aqr-t in Arabic is the cognate term: Akhr-t  (see definition in the attached JPEG below).
 
 


 In addition, both terms describe the Afterworld in equal terms: The Other World; the Ultimate World of enjoyments and blessings! 
 

Ishinan 
 
 

FOOTNOTE:

(1) John L. Foster is a Research Associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, where he has studied , translated and written about Ancient Egyptian literature since 1966

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose:  The more that changes, the more it's the same thing.

 


 
 
 
 

 

The Egyptian Chronicles is a cooperative effort by a group of Egyptian authors pooling together their talents for the sake of Egypt's Future.  Articles contained in these pages are the personal views and/or work of the authors, who bear the sole responsibility of the content of their work. This Monthly Electronic Magazine is a non-profit, commercial free zone and is answerable to no one.

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