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By James P. Allen / Society of Biblical Literature / 2005
The Pyramid Texts are the oldest body of extant literature from ancient Egypt. First carved on the walls of the burial chambers in the pyramids of kings and queens of the Old Kingdom, they provide the earliest comprehensive view of the way in which the ancient Egyptians understood the structure of the universe, the role of the gods, and the fate of human beings after death. Their importance lies in their antiquity and in their endurance throughout the entire intellectual history of ancient Egypt. This volume contains the complete translation of the Pyramid Texts, including new texts recently discovered and published. It incorporates full restorations and readings indicated by post-Old Kingdom copies of the texts and are the first translation that presents the texts in the order in which they were meant to be read in each of the original sources.
In this book Allen offers not only an excellent new translation of the Pyramid Texts, but a wholly fresh presentation of this third millennium corpus of funerary rituals and ‘spells’. … Much in these texts is very archaic, redolent of recondite mythologies; but they are a formidable mental product in both extent and complexity, given their early date. The extensive and complex offering-ritual elements in particular stand in dramatic contrast with the tiny, brief, primitive rites (of Leviticus, for example) in the biblical corpus of over a millennium later. Allen’s work will be an invaluable reference-resource for its subject.
—Kenneth A. Kitchen, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
James Allen is an Egyptologist, specializing in language and religion. In 2007, he became the Wilbour Professor of Egyptology at Brown University, where he teaches Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Before joining Brown, he worked as the curator of Egyptian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is the author of The Art of Medicine in Ancient Egypt.