How to Read the Egyptian Book of the Dead
Barry Kemp, Simon Critchley (New School for Social Research)
The ancient Egyptians created a world of supernatural forces so vivid, powerful, and inescapable that controlling their destiny within it was their constant preoccupation. In life, supernatural forces manifested themselves through misfortune and illness, and after death were faced for eternity in the Otherworld, along with the divine gods that controlled the universe. The Book of the Dead, the modern name given to a popular compilation of ancient Egyptian spells, empowered the reader to overcome the dangers lurking in the Otherworld and to become one with the gods that governed. Barry Kemp selects a number of spells to explore who and what the Egyptians feared and the kind of assistance that the book offered them, revealing a relationship between the human individual and the divine quite unlike that found in the major faiths of the modern world.