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The Egyptian Conception of Immortality   By: (1867-1942)

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First Page:

IMMORTALITY

E text prepared by Aaron G. Wells

Formatting notes: Footnotes are in [square brackets] and embedded in the e text at the location of the superscript number in the original text. Words and phrases in italics are surrounded with underlines . Everything that appears in all caps in this e text was in all caps in the original text.

THE EGYPTIAN CONCEPTION OF IMMORTALITY

The Ingersoll Lecture, 1911

by

GEORGE ANDREW REISNER

THE INGERSOLL LECTURESHIP

Extract from the will of Miss Caroline Haskell Ingersoll, who died in Keene, County of Cheshire, New Hampshire, Jan. 26, 1893.

First. In carrying out the wishes of my late beloved father, George Goldthwait Ingersoll, as declared by him in his last will and testament, I give and bequeath to Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where my late father was graduated, and which he always held in love and honor, the sum of Five thousand dollars ($5,000) as a fund for the establishment of a Lectureship on a plan somewhat similar to that of the Dudleian lecture, that is one lecture to be delivered each year, on any convenient day between the last of May and the first day of December, on this subject, "the Immortality of Man," said lecture not to form a part of the usual college course, nor to be delivered by any Professor or Tutor as part of his usual routine of instruction, though any such Professor or Tutor may be appointed to such service. The choice of said lecturer is not to be limited to any one religious denomination, nor to any one profession, but may be that of either clergyman or layman, the appointment to take place at least six months before the delivery of said lecture. The above sum to be safely invested and three fourths of the annual interest thereof to be paid to the lecturer for his services and the remaining fourth to be expended in the publishment and gratuitous distribution of the lecture, a copy of which is always to be furnished by the lecturer for such purpose. The same lecture to be named and known as the "the Ingersoll lecture on the Immortality of Man."

CONTENTS

I. Introduction II. Sources of the Material III. The Ideas of the Primitive Race IV. The Early Dynastic Period V. The Old Empire VI. The Middle Empire VII. The New Empire VIII. The Ptolemaic Roman Period IX. Summary

I. INTRODUCTION

Of the nations which have contributed to the direct stream of civilization, Egypt and Mesopotamia are at present believed to be the oldest. The chronological dispute as to the relative antiquity of the two countries is of minor importance; for while in Babylonia the historical material is almost entirely inscriptional, in Egypt we know the handicrafts, the weapons, the arts, and, to a certain extent, the religious beliefs of the race up to a period when it was just emerging from the Stone Age. In a word, Egypt presents the most ancient race whose manner of life is known to man. From the beginning of its history that is, from about 4500 B.C. we can trace the development of a religion one of whose most prominent elements was a promise of a life after death. It was still a great religion when the Christian doctrine of immortality was enunciated. In the early centuries of the Christian era, it seemed almost possible that the worship of Osiris and Isis might become the religion of the classical world; and the last stand made by civilized paganism against Christianity was in the temple of Isis at Philae in the sixth century after Christ.

It is clear that a religion of such duration must have offered some of those consolations to man that have marked all great religions, chief of which is the faith in a spirit, in something that preserves the personality of the man and does not perish with the body. This faith was, in fact, one of the chief elements in the Egyptian religion the element best known to us through the endless cemeteries which fill the desert from one end of Egypt to the other, and through the funerary inscriptions... Continue reading book >>




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