M. Smith, The Liturgy of Opening of the Mouth for Breathing.
176 pp. 31 x 25 cm; 12 photos; cloth 0 900416 62 9; 1994. £80.00

This is an ancient Egyptian mortuary text preserved in four manuscripts, one in Berlin, one in Strasbourg, one in Paris and one divided between Paris and Oxford. All are written in Demotic script (the simplified, popular form of ancient Egyptian writing) and datable to the early part of the 1st century AD. The purpose of the liturgy was threefold; to revivify the deceased person for whom it was recited, to provide them with offerings in the form of clothing and sustenance, to reintegrate them within the cosmos, ensuring their freedom of movement and acceptance among the company of gods. The work has affinities with the earlier Rite of the opening of the Mouth, and may have served as a substitute for that ritual, to be read out at the entrance to the tomb on the day of burial. Thereafter, it may have been interred along with the deceased, to serve as a passport to the afterlife. The liturgy is edited with an introduction, transliteration and translation, commentary, bibliography, glossary and photographs of all four versions. The Strasbourg MS contains additional textual material, of uncertain relation to the liturgy proper, which is treated as an appendix.

Sample page 126.

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