Religion:Books of Breathing

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Short description: Ancient Egyptian funerary text
Part of the Book of Breathing, hieratic papyrus. From Egypt, probably from Thebes. Ptolemaic period, 323–30 BCE. Neues Museum, Berlin

The Books of Breathing (Arabic: كتاب التنفس) are several late ancient Egyptian funerary texts, intended to enable deceased people to continue to exist in the afterlife. The earliest known copy dates to about 350 BC.[1] Other copies come from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Egyptian history, as late as the second century AD.[2] It is a simplified form of the Book of the Dead.

The books were originally named The Letter for Breathing Which Isis Made for Her Brother Osiris, The First Letter for Breathing, and The Second Letter for Breathing. They appear in many varying copies, and scholars have often confused them with each other.[3] Their titles use the word "breathing" as a metaphorical term for all the aspects of life that the deceased hoped to experience again in the afterlife. The texts exhort various Egyptian gods to accept the deceased into their company.[4]

Some of the papyri that Joseph Smith said to use to translate the Book of Abraham are parts of the Books of Breathing.[5]

See also


  1. Hornung 1999, pp. 23–25
  2. Smith 2009, pp. 462, 500, 521
  3. Smith 2009, pp. 462, 499, 514
  4. Smith 2009, pp. 466, 503, 517–518
  5. Ritner, R. K. (2013). The Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri: A complete edition ; P. JS 1-4 and the hypocephalus of Sheshonq. Salt Lake City: The Smith Pettit Foundation. Page74
  • Hornung, Erik (1999) (in German). The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife. David Lorton (translator). Cornell University Press. 
  • Smith, Mark (2009). Traversing Eternity: Texts for the Afterlife from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-815464-8.