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Topics: Topics: Religious Texts
Religion and Spirituality > Religious Texts

A great number of religious texts and illustrations were inscribed in tombs and on coffins in ancient Egypt. These texts were considered magical; they provided spells and a detailed roadmap for navigating the hereafter. The oldest known collection of spells is called the Pyramid Text, found in the pyramid of Wenis in Saqqara. Considered to be the foundation of the theology and literature of Ancient Egypt, the Pyramid Text was later categorized and illustrated, evolving into the Book of the Dead. The Book of What is in the Underworld, called "The Amduat," was an important text from the New Kingdom. It describes the journey of the sun god through the twelve hours of the night with instructions for the deceased. After the death of Akhenaten, a new set of books appeared, centered around Nut, who swallows the sun god in the evening and gives birth to him in the morning.

After Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, the Greeks integrated their culture with the existing Egyptian society, combining Egyptian beliefs with their own. Mortuary texts continued to be included in tombs and many Egyptian religious texts were translated into Greek during the Ptolemaic era.

Translations of the Holy Bible were the most important religious texts for Coptics, but they also enjoyed texts about the lives of the saints, and other religious stories. The lives and struggles of martyrs, monks, ascetics, and church patriarchs were described in a vivid and moving way. They were known to influence their readers to join the monastic orders and follow the path of virtue. The Coptics also wrote poetry and songs of praise called psalms. The Church Fathers wrote on many theological topics and influential biographies were written about the more prominent patriarchs.

The most important religious text for the Muslims is the Qur'an, the Divine Book in Arabic, revealed to the Prophet Mohammad through the Archangel Gabriel over a period of twenty-three years. It is a guide for the followers of the Islamic faith, describing man's relationship to Allah and with other fellow humans. The Qur'an contains 114 Surahs, or Chapters. The Muslims highly prized copies of the Qur'an, which were written with beautiful decorative calligraphy. Religious texts and quotes from the Qur'an were often used to adorn architecture and various common objects, such as mosque lamps and candlesticks.

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Book of Four Gospels
Book of Four Gospels

Manuscript

Book of Psalms of the Old Testament
Book of Psalms of the Old Testament

Manuscript

Book of the Holy Pascha
Book of the Holy Pascha

Manuscript

Manuscript of the Four Gospels in Arabic
Manuscript of the Four Gospels in Arabic

Manuscript

Gospel Cover with Glass Jewelry Cross
Gospel Cover with Glass Jewelry Cross

Manuscript

Manuscript of a Psalm in the Coptic Sahidic Dialect
Manuscript of a Psalm in the Coptic Sahidic Dialect

Flax

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