The Egyptian
Book of the Dead
The so-called Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts provided nothing less
than a road-map to the afterlife for the souls of the departed.   At
first only royalty or other important personages had the benefit of
these visionary texts, which were inscribed on the inner walls of
certain pyramids.   But in time, there use spread to a broader
segment of Egyptian society.  

The most famous version of the Egyptian Book of the Dead comes to
us from the Papyrus of Ani, a seventy-eight foot long document
purchased in 1888 by E. A. Wallis Budge for the British Museum.   In
various editions, the arcane images and symbolism of the Book of the
Dead have both puzzled and inspired modern readers.  Much like the
Book of Revelation, this work operates on multiple levels, and can be
read for its surface narrative, its theological significance, or even as a
New Age guide to near death experiences.  In our attempts to grasp
the world-view of the ancient civilization of Egypt, no document
provides us with richer grounds for speculation.

Over a century
out-of-date, the E.A.
Wallis Budge
translation remains
the most widely
known and easily
available.  But you
are advised to stay
away from it.   The
Raymond Faulkner
version is much
more reliable, and
available in a
beautifully illustrated