Exploring myth

He Shall Save His People From Their Sins: An “Evidentiary Analysis” of Osirian Soteriology

cuore nella pietra

In my wanderings through the internet, be it for research or recreation, I come across many a misinformed article, blog post, social media comment, etc. regarding comparative mythology, especially that concerning the Egyptian god Osiris, whom I take a special interest in. Most are not worth responding to as they are clearly just cut-and-paste responses used in childish “flame wars” by people who are entirely unfamiliar with the subject matter they are commenting on (on both sides) as they recycle material that has been debunked for years now, all in a competition to see who can get the last word in for the “pwnage.” However, I do occasionally come across material that is just as misinformed, but comes from sources (usually religious apologists) that actually have academic credentials (or at least the appearance of valid credentials), even though they are never credentials in fields specializing in the funerary religion of Osiris. And that’s fine, I lack such credentials myself, but my point here is that I never see anyone who does have such credentials, i.e. actual bona fide Egyptologists specializing in the Osiris cult, make the same dubious claims these misinformed commentators make. In fact, as you may have noticed here at Mythicism, whenever I comment on Osirian religion, I make sure to heavily cite & directly quote from several of these bona fide Egyptologists for each point I comment on. And this article here will be no exception.

Anyway- so why am I writing this article? Because I recently came across one such misinformed apologist making such dubious claims about Osirian religion (and in the very dissertation for which he received his academic credentials, no less) which touches upon an aspect of Osirian religion which I have rarely seen touched upon in discussions regarding comparative mythology, although I did touch upon it years ago in The Perennial Gospel. That aspect being its soteriology. Our Tactical Apologetic Inspector™ has this to say about it:

Demonstrably Wrong

Wow. Demonstrably wrong on almost every point there. And demonstrate we shall, with a thorough “evidentiary analysis,” much of which will come directly from the Egyptologist invoked there, Dr. Mark J. Smith, whose material on Osirian soteriology concludes the exact opposite of many of the claims made above.

But before I get into the heart of the matter, I would like to touch upon what jumped out to me as the first major red-flag about the quality of scholarship in that dissertation. I have been reading and citing Dr. Smith in my own writings around the web for a decade now, including previous articles here at Mythicism, and so I like to think of myself as somewhat familiar with his work. This of course left me to wonder how anyone who has read his work and claims to know his “viewpoint” could make the dubious assertions made in the paragraph above. Sure enough, as I read further in that same work, I found my answer as to how one could be so mistaken about Dr. Smith.

Smith 1998

1998? That’s a date I hadn’t recalled seeing in any citation of Dr. Smith so far. Was there an older work of his I hadn’t come across yet? As a fan of his work, I was excited to potentially see something new for me. I thus scrolled to the bibliography to find:

Wrong Smith

Oh my. Ohhh my, my my. I have seen that 1998 article about the Baal Cycle before, several times, usually invoked by religious apologists of the Good Shepherd, and that is because that article is authored by a religious apologist of the Good Shepherd, and that is this guy:


That is Dr. Mark S. Smith, not to be confused with Egyptologist Mark J. Smith, this guy:


Yet confused they most certainly have been here. Our Tactical Apologetic Inspector™ has conflated two entirely different Mark Smiths! I find this quite amusing given that this apologist’s religion has a long standing history of conflating two different characters with each other based on their parallels, as I’ve also covered in a previous Mythicism article here. And as you can see in the screenshot below, the author undeniably has indeed treated these two different people as though they were one and the same Mark Smith:

Tactical blunder

It’s one thing for such mistakes to happen on Twitter or WordPress blogs and the like, but I must say that it is very troubling to realize that this blunder made it through proof reading and revisions, then also made it through the scrutiny of a doctoral committee, and then even made it through the editing process for publication in print as well. This really brings into question the current reliability of the academic process, and the fine people at “North—West University” of South Africa (not to be confused with the religious institution of Northwest University of Kirkland, WA, which in turn is not to be confused with the prestigious Northwestern University of Evanston, IL) would no doubt be unamused to see what they’ve let slip through the cracks of what is no doubt their very rigorous review process. And this is a growing concern for academia in general, as even here in my local area the fine and ever prestigious institutions of higher learning known as ASU and PVCC have for years hired fundamentalist cult members onto their staff and have allowed them to use their classrooms to pass off their religious cult propaganda to students as school curriculum. No wonder these institutions have become a punchline in the mainstream. And the professional researchers at Skeptic have come up with similar results regarding the lack of scrutiny in the current community of academic publishers, which in turn has facilitated fraudulence- The Fabulist and the Publisher: A Journalistic and Academic Fraud Exposed.

Anyway, needless to say, my expectations are not high for the contents of the rest of that book. But I shall leave that to persons more educated on those matters, such as Dr. Richard Carrier himself, to address in due time, as I have little doubt he too shall uncover similar blunders as I have discovered here. For now, I’d like to focus on what I do take a special interest in- the religion of Osiris, and in particular here and now I’d like to focus on the aspect of salvation through Osiris.

To start off, I feel some preliminary concepts need to be cleared up briefly before continuing in order to establish proper context, as I have seen elsewhere in this author’s work that he approaches Osirian soteriology with a framework that operates from some common and very outdated misconceptions about ancient Egyptian religion, which many readers here I am sure do and will continue to fall victim to. It would be beneficial to clear these misconceptions up before hand as they will no doubt function as a well-poisoning filter through which relevant information to follow will be overlooked or outright dismissed. Luckily I have already thoroughly debunked many of these misconceptions with scores of quotations from modern scholars and more importantly, countless unambiguous primary sources.

To begin, regarding the nature of Egyptian resurrection:

We also glean important knowledge about the metaphysical aspects of the departed dead as spirits and not as bodies. Rather, the mummified body is a place the disembodied spirit of the dead can return to in order to be reinvigorated. This also informs us as to the metaphysical composition of the King of the Realm of the Dead, Osiris after his resurrection. Moreover, it is observed that Osiris arose not to life in the land of the living. Rather, he arose to life in the realm of the dead. 

One of these contrasts is that [Good Shepherd] died and then was raised in an
actual body that could actually be seen by other humans, could be touched by other humans, and who spoke in a manner where he could be heard by the human ear. Additionally, the resurrected [Good Shepherd] could not only prepare meals, but also consume them as well. In contrast to this, Osiris was raised from physical death to the netherworld, the realm of the dead. He no longer walked upon the earth as a normal person but after his “translation” he never assumed his body again in the land of the living. Moreover, his body had been mummified before he was raised from the dead (3.3.1). So, there is a profound difference between Osiris and [Good Shepherd] in the metaphysical aspect of their “translations.” [Good Shepherd] arose to immortal life in a restored body whereas Osiris was translated from a mummified body to a non-corporeal existence in the netherworld. …

Another contrast observed between [Good Shepherd] and Osiris is that [Good Shepherd] was resurrected in an actual body that walked the earth again whereas the body of Osiris was turned into a mummy and Osiris was only allowed to reside in the netherworld. Moreover, [Good Shepherd] was resurrected to immortal life in an actual body whereas Osiris was transferred from a mummified body to a non-corporeal existence in the netherworld. 

Osiris does not rise bodily from the dead. Rather, his spirit issues from his mummified corpse and goes to the Netherworld…

So, his mummified body stays in the tomb but his spirit goes to the Netherworld. So, yes, the spirit of Osiris ascends out of his tomb going to the Netherworld but his mummified body remains behind in the pyramid.

What a mess. In a long-winded article I wrote years back on The BODILY resurrection of Osiris HERE on earth, using direct quotations from dozens of modern scholars and primary sources, I proved beyond all possibility of rebuttal that actually:

  • Yes, Osiris himself and the deceased who emulated him in their funerary rites were all believed to have had corporeal bodily resurrections from the dead while in their tombs here on earth
  • Yes, Osiris and those deceased humans were all believed to have resurrected in the same bodies which they inhabited before death
  • Yes, those same bodies in which they lived on earth and which died and were resurrected were subsequently transfigured into a glorified immortal state for a continued corporeal, physical, bodily existence thereafter, and only then do they ascend in those physical bodies into heaven on a cloud and from there journey over to the Netherworld
  • And thus yes, Osiris was believed to have left behind an empty tomb, so no, he did not leave an inert mummy behind in the tomb.


Osiris was only allowed to reside in the netherworld. …

It was noted that Osiris did not really arise from the dead in a human body. Rather, he was reanimated and installed as King of the netherworld after a council of gods voted on the matter. Thus, he was not resurrected to new life on the earth, but consigned to the realm of the dead. …

Also, Osiris never walks bodily on the earth again after his death. …

The life force awaits the dead person who is traveling around in spirit form in the Netherworld.

As I also proved in my previous writing, actually yes- per Egyptian belief those physically resurrected deceased including Osiris himself could physically leave the Netherworld in their risen bodies to traverse wherever they pleased and even return to the world of the living here on earth. It was believed that they could be seen by the living here on earth publicly and even physically interact with them and were not confined to the Netherworld permanently, as stated explicitly by the primary sources and actual Egyptologists like Dr. Herman Te Velde, Dr. Kyriakos Savvopoulos, Dr. Colleen Manassa, and even the aforementioned Dr. Mark J. Smith, who state the very opposite of ol’ TAI™ on this matter.

This apologist clearly is continuing in the most common outdated misconception regarding indigenous ancient Egyptian thought, and that is the mistaken belief that they even had a concept of a soul or spirit. They did not. Their view of human existence was monistic and purely physical and corporeal, they could conceive of no other means of existence, and thus any resurrection and afterlife in their indigenous culture was by default physical, bodily resurrection and life. This too is demonstrated by scores of modern scholars and primary texts. Which leads right into the next misconception to be cleared:

Osiris and Re teamed up to reinvigorate the akh (eternally existing spirit) of a person…

In addition to the ka, the ba can be compared to the Western idea of the
soul. …

The body is composed of essentially three parts, the ka, the ba, and the akh upon death.

No, as Dr. Mark J. Smith, Dr. Louis V. Zabkar, and others have thoroughly explained, the body is not composed of three parts in Egyptian thought. Ka, ba, and akh are not three different parts of you, and they most certainly are not souls or spirits. That is an outdated perspective from the 18th & 19th century and research since those times has proven that those concepts do not correlate, and they never did. Ka, ba, akh are each you, the complete you in the most literal sense, and as Smith explains, each one of those terms is simply you under different identifications when you participate in different settings, akin to how a man can be a doctor at work, a father at home with his family, and a deacon at church, etc., those are just different titles for the same physical man as he operates in different contexts. Ba is your alter ego, not some incorporeal soul, e.g. Superman is the ba of Clark Kent, but Superman is not some disembodied spirit, he is literally, physically one and the same as Clark Kent.  Akh is your physical body after undergoing transfiguration into a glorified immortal state, e.g. Shazam is the akh of Billy Batson. And a ka is simply one’s image, best expressed by the Egyptians as one’s reflection, such as that seen in a mirror, or how your arms are reflections of each other, hence the hieroglyph for ka was a pair of arms. We do not regard our reflections in our bathroom mirrors to be incorporeal souls or spirits, we treat them as though they are us, because that’s literally what they are- our physical selves, simply viewed from a different perspective. All those who continue to translate these uniquely Egyptian terms as “spirit” and “soul” are only doing so because of inertia left over from a bygone era and not because the current research justifies such misnomers.

But you have to have a mummy or Osiris cannot revivify you.

Well, actually as renowned Egyptologist Dr. Erik Hornung and others explain here below- according to the Book of Amduat, even if your corpse is lost or destroyed so that it can’t be mummified, you most certainly can still be bodily resurrected by Horus through identification with Osiris. And incidentally this occurs via baptism in emulation of Osiris. This is because the most important component of Egyptian resurrection was not mummification or the elaborate funerary rituals, but rather the role & power of Osiris. Mummification was only effective to the extent that it emulated & identified you with Osiris, just as your corpse being drowned or dismembered emulated Osiris as well. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” This is quite comparable to how resurrection in the Good Shepherd’s religion is understood to occur not because of the religion’s rituals in and of themselves (recall “sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law”), though still obligatory, but rather resurrection is understood to come by the role & power of what those rituals represent- that being the Good Shepherd himself and one’s identification with him, and thus even if one never partakes of the Eucharist or never partook of the paschal seder, etc., they may still obtain resurrection through Good Shepherd. Same goes for Osiris.

The Rescue of the Drowned Ones

In the water rectangle, bodies in various positions are floating in the water, until Horus helps them to come ashore, and prevents them from decomposing and decaying, although they have not been given a regular burial. They share the fate of Osiris, who was dismembered and thrown into the water by his murderer Seth, before being rescued by Isis. Here we have the consoling part of the Amduat, that even those who—by a natural accident—do not have the benefit of ritual preparation for the afterlife are preserved by the divine intervention of Horus.

Dr. Erik Hornung & Dr. Theodor Abt, Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality [1]

Here drift the naked, helpless bodies of individuals who have been deprived of a proper burial; they are neither mummified nor accompanied by burial objects. And yet by passing through the Nile, and with it the water of Nun, they gain direct access to the underworld and thereby escape final destruction and decay. In the Late Period the Egyptians formally recognized the process of “divinization by drowning”; monuments were even erected for people who had drowned in the Nile. The Egyptians could thus rest assured that an elaborate, official burial was not the crucial prerequisite for a blessed afterlife. …
A special problem was posed by people who drowned in the Nile and were devoured by crocodiles. In such cases, probably not very rare, the body was lost and could not be mummified; the deceased was deprived of the protective mummy form. Several passages in the Books of the Netherworld show that the drowned reached the shores of the Beyond directly from the Nile, arriving from the primeval waters and thus into the depths of the world. In Roman Egypt the drowned were revered and considered especially blessed, and here the analogy to Osiris, who was thrown into the water, played an important role. Parts of the tenth hour of the Amduat and the ninth hour of the Book of Gates resemble one another in their detailed treatment of this theme. In a large rectangular pool—representing the primeval water, Nun—swim several groups of naked drowned, in quite different positions: some on their backs, others on their bellies, still other on their sides. In the Amduat, Horus calls to them from the riverbank, while in the Book of Gates it is the passing sun god himself who promises that they will be able to breathe in the water and that their bodies will not decompose: “Your members are not putrefied, your flesh is not decomposed!” Their souls are also provided for, and their bodies can land uninjured on the shores of the Netherworld, where they may benefit from all the Beyond has to offer, even without the ritual burial ceremonies. … The tomb of Ramesses VI contains a scene of the deification of the drowned that is similar to that in the Amduat.

Dr. Erik Hornung, Valley of the Kings: Horizon of Eternity [2]

It is legitimate to associate with this tradition the belief of a later period that death by drowning was blessed because it was like the death of Osiris. In the Pyramid Texts the rite of carrying Osiris in the water is sometimes mentioned, and as Seth is made to do this, it is reasonable to infer that he is regarded as the enemy who not only smote Osiris on the bank of Nedyet but also drowned him in the same place. … The death by drowning, which is stressed in the Memphite Theology, seems to be connected with the funerary rite of carrying the corpse on the Nile, a task which is assigned to Seth as a punishment, Seth being viewed as embodied in the barque which bears the shrine and sarcophagus.

Dr. John G. Griffiths, The Origins of Osiris and His Cult [3]

The most significant testament to the journey was the founding of the Greek city of Antinoopolis, memorializing the drowning of Hadrian’s youthful lover, Antinous. According to Egyptian theology, such a death entailed a special identification with the drowned Osiris, god of the underworld. Under Augustus, “deification by drowning” had provided the rationale for the native hero cults at the remote temple of Dendur, but Hadrian’s Egyptianizing cult of Antinous was extended throughout the empire.

Dr. Robert K. Ritner, in The Cambridge History of Egypt: Volume One [4]

Did this life-giving power of the Nile extend to the gift of eternal life? For dynastic Egypt the answer must be yes. … A second set of data requiring attention in this connection are those texts which speak of “apotheosis by drowning in the Nile.” According to a variety of Pharonic and even late Egyptian sources, anyone who drowned in the Nile was divinized in a very special way. Such a person became a Hsy, a “Blessed Drowned Osiris.”

Dr. Robert A. Wild, Water in the Cultic Worship of Isis and Sarapis [5]

In Egyptian culture, death by drowning had long been associated with the mythology of Osiris, and conferred special status on the deceased as a “praised one” (Egyptian hesy). Herodotus reports that those who drowned in the Nile were treated as a special category of dead, as though “something more than human.”

Dr. Ian Moyer, in Initiation in Ancient Greek Rituals and Narratives: New Critical Perspectives [6]

Osirian baptism

Fig. 1: The water burial of Osiris in the Nile, the foundation for Egyptian baptism or “divination by drowning;” from the Temple of Isis in Pompeii, 1st cen. CE.

12 Horus baptism 10th hour amduat

Fig. 2: Horus baptizing 12 followers of Osiris who drowned, that they may partake in his physical resurrection & eternal life; from the 10th Hour of the Book of Amduat as seen in the tomb of Thutmose III, KV34, 15th century BCE. “Your body has not decayed, your flesh has not decomposed, you dispose of your water, and you breathe what I have commanded for you. You are those who are in the (waters of) Nun, floating in the following of (my) father.”[7]

12 Horus baptized

Fig. 3: From the Papyrus of Amenophis, priest of Amun, 11th century BCE.

12 baptized by Horus

Fig. 4: From the Papyrus of Henettawy, 10th century BCE.

This posthumous baptism, or “divinization by drowning” into resurrection & eternal life, is not unlike- “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” and “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” This renders the following yet another amusing read:

Is there a historical source that can demonstrate that a pagan god and its adherents utilized water baptism? …

The scholarly review of the literature on pagan cults revealed that there were actually no baptisms akin to what Carrier had described.

This apologist also fell into using the old debunked ‘but the differences outweigh the similarities!1!!’ type of argument.

However, what is observed after the cross-examination of Carrier’s claims and the exposition of the Osirian myth is a list of contrasts, not correlations as Carrier alleges. …

Additionally, several contrasts are observed between the resurrection of [Good Shepherd] and the translation of Osiris. …

To Carrier’s alleged correlations, this claim does not appear to be well supported by
the evidence as evinced by the numerous contrasts listed above.

I have already thoroughly addressed this failed approach as well in Kettle Logic and the ol’ “Differences vs. Similarities” Argument. The existence of differences or “contrasts” serve in no way whatsoever to diminish the significance and potential causal relationship of any similarities that exist, just as the differences I have with my biological father in no way diminish from the significance of the traits I have in common with him. Another aspect of this fallacy is the attempt to dismiss parallels which are admitted to have similarity in form just because there are differences in function, such as this apologist’s hair-splitting over baptismal rites, all the while failing to acknowledge that the rites in the Old Covenant scriptures, which his religion universally proclaims are prophetic parallels for New Covenant rites and fulfillments, were likewise functionally different from the New Covenant scriptures which they allegedly parallel. E.g. the function of the crossing of the Red Sea to which New Covenant baptism is explicitly paralleled in scripture is every bit as different from the function of New Covenant baptism as are any pagan baptismal rites- some of which actually have much greater resemblance in form and function than does the Red Sea crossing, as just covered previously. Likewise, the Old Covenant sacrifice rituals of the paschal lamb are different in form and function from the soteriology of the Good Shepherd’s death & resurrection, which in turn bears a greater resemblance in form and function to the death & resurrection of Osiris, yet no one (including the apostles) has a problem likening the Good Shepherd to the paschal lamb in spite of the many differences or “contrasts.”

This apologist comments upon “no evidence of a linkage between” the Good Shepherd’s religion and that of Osiris or other “mystery religions.” While I do not think this is of particular relevance for this current article, I have also commented upon this topic at length in YHW=Horus?!? Syncretism with Gentile Gods for those who might be interested.

So with those things out of the way (for now at least), we can finally move on to the heart of the matter for this article- Osirian salvation.

I’d like to address this point by point, starting with:

…gaining leverage to enter the netherworld because of identifying with Osiris in his sufferings. Nor did the adherent hope for resurrection from the dead based on joining with Osiris in death and then joining him in his resurrection.

Actually, that is exactly how resurrection, eternal life, and entry into heaven was achieved in ancient Egypt, and is so widely attested in academic scholarship and primary sources that it amazes me how anyone could miss it and state the direct opposite of what is the case.

First, the scholarship-

We shall begin our enquiry by investigating the Egyptian evidence, which incidentally comprises some of the earliest religious texts that have been preserved to our time. These are the Pyramid Texts, which were inscribed on the interior walls of the pyramid-tombs of certain pharaohs of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties (c. 2425-2300 B.C.), for the purpose of facilitating the passage of the dead kings to the next world. In these texts Osiris appears as the focal figure in a complex mortuary ritual designed to save the deceased from the physical disintegration of death and to raise them to a new life. This salvation was achieved by a technique of ritual assimilation whereby the dead kings were identified with Osiris in terms of a mythos which told of the death and resurrection of Osiris at some undefined time in the past. The origin of this mythos has been the subject of much scholarly discussion, which is likely to remain inconclusive in view of the nature of the extant evidence. But what is certain is that Osiris was believed to provide, by virtue of his own resurrection, the means or opportunity for others to obtain immunity from the dread consequences of death and enjoy immortal life. In this ritual process of vicarious salvation Osiris appears to play a passive role. …
This ritual technique of salvation was an amalgam of two processes: a process of chemical embalmment designed to prevent or arrest the physical decomposition of the corpse; and a ritual process based on the principle of sympathetic magic, reinforced by invocations for divine assistance. The rationale of this complex of practical and ritual action was the mythos of Osiris, which both authorized and explained the faith and practice involved. …
Further on in the liturgy, although he remains a passive agent in the achievement of the pharaoh’s resurrection, Osiris is requested to direct his attention to Unas—the request appears as a kind of afterthought, suddenly felt to be necessary since Osiris, though passive, is the pivotal agent of the transaction. Then, as if to leave nothing uncertain, Osiris is reminded of the implication of the assimilation of the dead Unas to himself: …
In the royal mortuary ritual, preserved on the Pyramid Texts, Osiris thus appears as the focal figure in a soteriological scheme calculated to save the dead king from the consequences of death, and to endow him with immortality. Osiris may, accordingly, be described as a passive Saviour. His death and resurrection invested him, as it were, with the power to communicate a like resurrection to one ritually assimilated to him. …
Osiris gradually became the savior of all who could afford to be buried with at least the minimum requirements of the Osirian obsequies. The original pattern of ritual assimilation of the deceased to Osiris continued, becoming so fundamental a concept that in the funerary literature the dead person was automatically designated ‘Osiris so-and-so’. …
In the extant literature Osiris appears suddenly to acquire the role of the awful post-mortem judge, and he exercises it while still remaining the savior he had originally been, through assimilation with whom the dead are resurrected to a new eternal life. …
There are no references to Osiris as the post-mortem judge; but in the Pyramid Texts he does appear to play the passive role of the prototype of the innocent one, unjustly accused, who is vindicated after death by a divine tribunal, after the manner of his passive role of prototype of the resurrected dead. Once more the rationale is provided by the Osirian mythos.

Dr. Samuel G.F. Brandon, in Liber Amicorum: Studies in Honour of Professor Dr. C.J. Bleeker [8]

As we have already noted, the salvation which Osiris afforded to his devotees was salvation from death and its consequences, and this situation has to be taken quite literally. As the mythos of Osiris told how the physical decomposition of his corpse had been reversed and he had been revivified physically, so was a like restoration looked for by his devotees. This restoration, in a practical manner, was achieved by the Egyptian ritual of embalmment. The ritual was patterned upon what was believed to have been done originally by Isis and Nephthys and other deities such as Anubis and Horus, for Osiris, in order to preserve his body and raise him from the dead. In fact, the whole mortuary ritual was presented as a re-enactment of the transactions that secured the resurrection of Osiris, and in this re-enactment the deceased was ritually identified with, or assimilated to, Osiris. In other words, the principle of the Osirian ritual technique of salvation was that of sympathetic magic. … We may safely conclude that the Egyptians believed that the saving efficacy of this Osirian mortuary ritual ultimately stemmed from the divine savior himself, whose primordial experience made such salvation possible.

Dr. Samuel G.F. Brandon, in Types of Redemption: Contributions to the Theme of the Study-Conference [9]

So this resurrection is a vicarious salvation through identifying with Osiris.

Bringing to life the mythical revival of the lord of the Beyond, and vicariously that of the deceased himself.

Dr. Erik Hornung, The Valley of the Kings: Horizon of Eternity [10]

It was by becoming Osiris, and through the salvific intercession of and reflexive identification with Osiris, that Egyptians of all status would experience a ‘going out into the day’, something which made their funerals an experience of hope and rebirth.

Dr. Jon Davies, Death, Burial, and Rebirth in the Religions of Antiquity [11]

And while there are clearly three outstanding elements in them, namely, solar theology, religion and myths of Osiris, and the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, yet the following seven points may be taken to represent the whole collection with fair general accuracy: 1) A funerary ritual of mortuary offerings, connected with the corporeal reconstitution and resurrection of the deceased king, 2) Magical formulae to ward against harm and evil, 3) A ritual of worship, 4) religious hymns, 5) Mythical formulae, identifying the deceased king with certain deities, 6) Prayers and petitions on behalf of the deceased king, and 7) The greatness and power of the deceased king in heaven. … The purpose of these royal texts then was to guarantee the deceased king’s resurrection and new birth, his transfiguration and divinity, his successful journey to heaven, and his immortality there with other gods.

Dr. Samuel A.B. Mercer, The Pyramid Texts in Translation and CommentaryVol. 1 [12]

The first, the Pyramid Texts, are texts found inscribed on the walls of pyramids from the Old Kingdom (2686-2125 BCE). The inscriptions include instructions to guide the dead king to the afterlife, and magic spells to assist and protect him. In the afterlife the king will share the role of Osiris, who ruled over the kingdom of the dead.

Dr. Glenn S. Holland, Gods in the Desert: Religions of the Ancient Near East [13]

First, since the deceased had become one with Osiris, he or she would have some of the power of the gods.

Patricia Remler, Egyptian Mythology: A to Z [14]

In the Pyramid Texts, the dead king is frequently identified with Osiris or his stellar counterpart, Sah (Orion).

Dr. Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt [15]

In the latter part of the Old Kingdom the deceased king became identified with Osiris.

Dr. Barry J. Kemp, in Ancient Egypt: A Social History [16]

The king identified himself at death with Osiris, and his heir became Horus, the son and avenger of Osiris.

Dr. Ann Rosalie David, The Ancient Egyptians: Beliefs and Practices [17]

Each successive pharaoh was Horus in life and became one with Osiris in death.

Dr. Walter M. Ellis, Ptolemy of Egypt [18]

The ideology of kingship not only encompasses the world of the living but also gives the king a critical function beyond the grave: the living king is the embodiment of Horus and rules the living; the deceased king is Osiris, king of the dead.

Dr. Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt [19]

His renewed life is indeed the theme of numerous allusions, and they are often related to the dead King who assumes the blessings experienced by Osiris through direct identification with the god. … Osiris was certainly identified with the dead Pharaoh … That idea is most effectively explained by seeing him as a king of the dead with whom the dead Pharaoh was equated.

Dr. John G. Griffiths, The Origins of Osiris and His Cult [20]

An interchange of purely Osirian and general funerary usage is, at the same time, natural, since the deceased was identified with Osiris.

Dr. John G. Griffiths, Apuleius of Madauron: The Isis-Book (Metamorphosis, Book XI) [21]

The identification of the dead with Osiris even goes so far that finally the name of the God becomes a common indication, a title of each person deceased. ‘Osiris N.N.’ is the deceased who possesses the power of resurrection which Osiris has. The mystery of eternal life is identical for men and gods in every respect.

Dr. Jan Zandee, Death as an Enemy: According to Ancient Egyptian Conceptions [22]

But above all the text owner is identified as the god Osiris. It is important to consider their relationship because, as has been indicated, some sacerdotal texts in their prior forms were personal services to a deity, composed so as to be performed by the text owner. Thus in some texts the text owner is found as Osiris, and in others one may expect him to interact with Osiris as an entity separate from him, as was also seen in the Book of the Dead. … There is no doubt but that, in the Old and Middle Kingdoms, the dead expected to assume the role of Osiris. This is clear from sacerdotal and personal texts alike, in both Pyramid and Coffin Texts, where the text owner is several times identified as this god by statements of a predicative kind. The predicative statements are not susceptible to reinterpretation of ambiguous grammatical syntax. … Alongside the statements of identity and the appositival formula Osiris NN, in the Pyramid Texts the name wsir “Osiris” often stands as an entity separate from the text owner. The tension between identity and distinction created a fluid situation, contributing to the role transplantation of PT 477 discussed above. It was mentioned that there are other texts exhibiting this kind of transformation, where the text owner as officiant is moved into the role of Osiris as beneficiary.

Dr. Harold M. Hays, The Organization of the Pyramid Texts: Typology and Disposition, Vol. 1 [23]

To insure application to the person for whom it was intended, each spell had to contain the beneficiary’s name. This was usually preceded by “Osiris,” the name of the god of the dead with whom the deceased person had already tended to become identified in the Coffin Texts. The beneficiary was usually further defined by parentage, titles, or both.

Dr. Thomas G. Allen, The Book of the Dead or Going Forth by Day [24]

Three elements are essential to the magical act: the spell, the ritual, and the magician. The spell is what must be said for the act to have its desired effect. It may be crucial that the words be uttered properly, with a certain intonation. To the ancient Egyptian, words were extremely powerful: The word was the deed; saying something was so made it so. … This was sympathetic magic in which the deceased was associated with Osiris. … By sympathetic magic, the figure took the place of the person it represented. 

Dr. Bob Brier, Ancient Egyptian Magic [25] 

Our earliest known writings about resurrection were found on the walls of the royal pyramid of Unas, the last king of the Fifth Dynasty, and include hundreds of magical inscriptions in vertical lines running from ceiling to floor. These hieroglyphic “utterances,” referred to as the Pyramid Texts, detail the three stages of a pharaoh’s transition to the next world: … The principle behind all the spells is the same: the word is deed. Saying something, or having it inscribed on a pyramid wall, made it so.

Dr. Bob Brier and Dr. A. Hoyt Hobbs, Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians [26]

This ancient Egyptian principle of saying something is so makes it so is very reminiscent of the scripture “God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Or as much older Egyptian sources put it : “A god says what he desires, and coming into being is brought about by it.”- Coffin Text Spell 298 IV, 51[27]. Hence the declarations repeated throughout the funerary texts such as “Rise up, O King, for you have not died.”[28] Verbally denying death rebuked death and thus made the king alive again, just like Osiris. Verbally identifying the deceased as Osiris made him one with Osiris. Etc., hence the Egyptian aversion to verbally acknowledging death, which some apologists try to harness as a point of contention against Osiris’ physical, bodily resurrection in an attempt to paint it as merely some spiritual “transition” from corporeal life to incorporeal “life” where death does not exist since it was never mentioned, and you can’t have a resurrection if there’s no death in the fist place, etc., etc. But alas, there is no such contradiction between the Egyptian belief that Osiris literally, physically died and resurrected in the same body that died yet abstaining (well, most of the time[29]) from acknowledging death verbally, for in both Good Shepherd’s religion and in Osirian religion the power of the divine Word resolves it all. 😉 Others affirm this principle as well:

In the Metternich Stela, Isis conjoins the terms in what may allude to the best explanation of their ultimate relationship:

ink As.t ntr.t nb(.t) HkAir HkA Ax Dd mnx mdw

I am Isis the goddess, the possessor of magic, who performs magic, effective of speech, excellent of words.

Expressing the notion of “effectiveness,” Ax serves as an attribute of magical speech; as the noun Axw, it embodies that attribute in a literary synonym for the basic term HkA. The quality of “effectiveness” is thus seen as fundamental to magic, and the equation is often emphasized by textual statements that spells, amulets, and rites are “Ax-effective for the one who does them.”


The preceding statement of Isis is also of value for its clear declaration of the tripartite nature of magic, being viewed as an inherent quality or property to be “possessed,” an activity or rite to be “performed,” and as words or spells to be “spoken.” Interestingly, to each of these aspects corresponds an element in the Egyptian creation myths: the spoken evocation of the cosmos, the physical separation of heaven and earth, and the origin of man as the tears of the sun god. The intrinsic association of magic and word is noted above, and lies at the heart of modern Egyptology’s obsession with the spell as the sine qua non of magic. This almost exclusive interest in the spoken and written spell is quite understandable in view of the many Egyptian statements which also stress this aspect of HkA.

Dr. Robert. K. Ritner, Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice [30]

Hence the ancient primary sources declare:

May you arise, O King, protected and provided as a god, equipped with the form of Osiris upon the throne of the Foremost of the Westerners.

Pyramid Texts, Utterance 421 § 759 [31]

BECOMING THE COUNTERPART OF OSIRIS. I indeed am Osiris, I indeed am the Lord of All, I am the Radiant One, the brother of the Radiant Lady; I am Osiris, the brother of Isis. My son Horus and his mother Isis have protected me from that foe who would harm me; they have put cords on his arms and fetters on his thighs because of what he has done to me. I indeed am Osiris.

Coffin Text Spell 227 [32]

The King is Osiris in a dust-devil.

Pyramid Texts, Utt. 258 § 308, Utt. 259 § 312

The King is my eldest son who split open my womb … This King is Osiris, whom Nut bore.

Utt. 1 § 1, Utt. 650 § 1833

Behold, the King is at the head of the gods and is provided as a god, his bones are knit together as Osiris.

Utt. 687 § 2076-77

The king as Osiris is adjured to join his son and protector Horus.

Utt. 214, n.3

The king takes over the role of Osiris as king of the dead.

Utt. 218, n.5

The king is identified with Osiris.

Utt. 219, title

Osiris and the king are associated.

Utt. 577, title

Osiris=the King .. Osiris=the dead king.

Utt. 670, n.13, n.21

O King, I have given to you your sister Isis.

Utt. 4

O King, I have given to you your sister Nephthys.

Utt. 5

O King, I am your son, I am Horus.

Utt. 106 § 69

O King, … Isis has reassembled you, … it is Horus who will make good what Seth has done to you.

Utt. 357 § 590, 592 [33]

And hence it is this identification with Osiris that facilitates the salvific bodily resurrection of the deceased:

Horus comes to you, O King, that he may do for you what he did for his father Osiris so that you may live as those who are in the sky live, that you may be more extant than those who exist on earth. Raise yourself because of your strength, may you ascend to the sky, may the sky give birth to you like Orion, may you have power in your body.

Utterance 690 § 2115 [34]

This one here is your son Osiris whom you have caused to be restored that he may live. If he lives, this King will live; if he does not die, this King will not die; if he is not destroyed, this King will not be destroyed.

Utt. 219 § 167 [35]

As one might say- “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but [Osiris] liveth in me.”

Sennefer South WallSennefer North Wall

Sennefer West Wall

Fig. 5: Sennefer undergoes the funerary rituals and becomes one with Osiris thus facilitating his resurrection, his baptism, and his entry into the afterlife, 15th century BCE.

And all of this “evidentiary analysis” makes the next point in our tactical apologist’s aforementioned summary seem that much more ridiculous:

Nor was justice hoped for because of the relationship of the adherent with Osiris

This is echoed by the author elsewhere.

Osiris had nothing to do with one’s entry into the netherworld that was actually insured by having the right incantations, a mummy, and by a record of doing more good deed than bad deeds. In contradistinction to Osirianism, a relationship with [Good Shepherd] is personal and it is through a relationship with him that one is granted entry into heaven. …

There was no relationship with Osiris that assured entry into the netherworld. Rather, upon the entry of a person (with their mummy remaining in the physical world) into the netherworld, Osiris, would ensure that the akh of those residing in the netherworld would remain invigorated. …

An obvious contrast is that for the Osirian devotee there is no personal relationship with Osiris that transforms the believer. …

Moreover, devotees of Osiris had no relationship with him. Osiris was merely a god who presided over the inundation process of the Nile.

Yet Dr. Mark J. Smith states exactly the opposite.

The deceased underwent a twofold resurrection as well. Not only were their limbs reconstituted, and mental and physical faculties restored, but they entered into a personal relationship with Osiris … With corporeal and social “connectivity” thus restored, he acquired a new Osirian form. In this form the deceased enjoyed not only the benefits of bodily rejuvenation, but also the fruits of a relationship with a specific deity that simultaneously situated him within a group.

Dr. Mark J. Smith, in UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology  [36]

But above all the text owner is identified as the god Osiris. It is important to consider their relationship because, as has been indicated, some sacerdotal texts in their prior forms were personal services to a deity, composed so as to be performed by the text owner.

Dr. Harold M. Hays, The Organization of the Pyramid Texts: Typology and Disposition, Vol. 1 [37]

In the latter part of the Old Kingdom the deceased king became identified with Osiris, a god of the dead standing in a special relationship to the kingship.

Dr. Barry J. Kemp, in Ancient Egypt: A Social History [38]

Fig. 6: Tutankhamun embraces the living body of his savior Osiris, for Tut himself has also been bodily resurrected through this personal relationship. “Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” 

Now as for the next point in TAI™’s summary:

Rather, the reception of eternal life by a follower of Osiris was based upon the fact that Osiris received justice from the tribunal of gods after he had been put to death. Therefore, the follower of Osiris could be confident that the tribunal of gods would deal with him favorably when he died.

Uh, yeah, that TOO. This justice is not antithetical with the resurrection aspect of this vicarious salvation, this is not an “either/or” dichotomy here. Instead of “Rather, the reception of…”, it should be stated “In addition to bodily resurrection, the reception of…”. 

The ritual identification of the deceased with Osiris is now extended to include his identification with Osiris in terms of his vindication by the divine tribunal of Heliopolis. And so, as Osiris had there been judged and proclaimed maa kheru (justified), the dead devotee of Osiris vicariously assumed this title, doubtless in the hope that as he participated in the resurrection of Osiris, so would he also share in his post-mortem justification.

Dr. Samuel G.F. Brandon, in Types of Redemption [39]

This idea is no different than how followers of the Good Shepherd are confident that the tribunal of God the Father will deal with them favorably after they die, in addition to their expectation of bodily resurrection, etc.- and they expect both of these things to happen because of their identification with & personal relationship with the Good Shepherd.

This flows seamlessly into the next aspect of Osirian soteriology to be given “evidentiary analysis,” that being judgement and the remission of sins.

Osiris had nothing to do with one’s entry into the netherworld that was actually insured by having the right incantations, a mummy, and by a record of doing more good deed than bad deeds. …

Does the Osirian literature from ancient Egypt as well as from Plutarch demonstrate that Osirian soteriology consisted of the forgiveness of sins…

There is no real concept of sin that needs atonement in the Osirian myth. Osiris does not atone for anyone’s sins.

Unsurprisingly, these statements too are challenged by other sources. I also find these statements bewildering given that the remission of sins through Osiris is intimately connected to the motif which TAI™ emphasized earlier, that being Osiris’ justification to the divine tribunal.

Egyptian religion also knows a Saviour. His name is Osiris, and identification with him empowers every believer to achieve triumph in the judgement and renewed life thereafter. While he has cosmic attributes, particularly his power over fertility, it is the bestowal of personal victory over sin and death that gives him his special appeal.

Dr. John G. Griffiths, The Divine Verdict: A Study of the Divine Judgement in the Ancient Religions [40]

Innocentia was certainly demanded of the Isiac initiate; and personal guilt was believed to be deleted only through identification with Osiris.

Dr. John G. Griffiths, Apuleius of Madauron: The Isis-Book [41]

By his justification, he gained total mastery over death. In the same way that Osiris was restored to life and declared free of wrongdoing, so all who died hoped to be revived and justified, as a result of the mummification process and its attendant rituals. These actually incorporated an assessment of the deceased’s character, which prefigured the one conducted in the underworld. A favourable assessment helped to ensure their integration into the society of gods and blessed dead in the afterlife, just as the embalming itself restored their corporeal integrity. … At the conclusion of the embalming rites, having been returned to life and freed from imputation of wrongdoing like the god Osiris, the deceased could be said to possess an Osiris-aspect.

Dr. Mark J. Smith, in The Human Body in Death and Resurrection [42]

The second and third ritual “strategies” for dealing with guilt at the time of death are directly related to the concept of the judgment. One of these involves “vicarious justification” through identification with Osiris.

Dr. Merold Westphal, God, Guilt, and Death: An Existential Phenomenology of Religion [43]

The average individual elected to cast in his lot with Osiris, the “good being”, to become an Osiris.’ This choice was made in spite of the fact that he was aware of the seriousness of the ordeal of judgment which he would have to face—a judgment before forty-two judges, with his heart in the balance over against the feather of truth, with Thot, the scribe of the gods there, and the terrible monster ready to devour him if condemned. But there is Horus also, the faithful and valiant son ; and there is Osiris, who died and rose again, the assurance of his own resurrection to eternal life. He elects the Osirian judgment and the Osirian future, for Osiris is the people’s god, and he can trust Osiris. It was perhaps more than a mere coincidence that it was during the Middle Kingdom, the period of the great awakening of moral consciousness, and of the rights of the individual, in ancient Egypt, that the masses came out so solidly for Osiris, who was not only a god of truth, but also a god of truth as applied to the individual whether noble or peasant. Re was a great “god of truth” but it was more as a god of royal truth that the ordinary man thought of him. So the righteousness of Osiris became a great power of righteousness among the people; the death of Osiris was a kind of justification for all, who were thereby “justified;” and the judgment of Osiris was an assurance of the eternal reign of justice and righteousness in the world to come.

Dr. Samuel A.B. Mercer, The Religion of Ancient Egypt [44]

As Osiris was found to be just, so the deceased desired to be found pure and sinless in the abodes of the dead.

Dr. Adolf Erman, A Handbook of Egyptian Religion [45]

“He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.”

Hence performance of the funerary rituals recites the words of Osiris:

Behold, I am come unto you, I being pure, Divine, powerful, Blessed, possessed of a Ba, and Mighty. I have brought to you natron, incense, and your hzmn-natron, that I may do away with (…) for you, that your hearts may be refreshed thereby. I have come to do away with all the evil that is in your hearts, to overthrow the sins that adhere to you. I have brought to you truth; I have caused truth to ascend to you.

Book of the Dead, Spell 181 e S 1 [46]

Judgement of Ani

Fig. 7: Having been cleansed of all sin by Osiris and his tribunal of twelve, the deceased is now granted entry into Osiris’ everlasting kingdom by Horus; from the Papyrus of Ani, 13th century BCE. “Not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

May your complaint be removed, may your sin be erased by those who weigh in the balance on the day of reckoning characters, may it be granted that you join those who are in the Bark by those who are in the Suite … You have appeared as Lord of the West, having ruled the Egyptians who are on earth. Rise up to life, for you have not died. Raise yourself upon your left side, put yourself upon your right side, receive these dignities of yours which your father Geb has given you.

Coffin Texts, Spell 44, I 181, 190 [47] 

So again, it is by identifying with the sinless Osiris himself that one’s sins are removed at judgement. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you.”  It may also be said that “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in” Osiris.  Ergo:

Awe of him in the Ennead of Osiris … These Gods surround it and recognize it. Then it exists like one of them. It goes in and out through the secret portals; it goes in mighty through the gates of the judgment hall. It knows what befalls it in the light; it exists as a blameless soul. No distinction shall be made between his soul and the God. 

Book of the Dead, Spell 15B3 a P 1-2 [48]

“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord.”

My wrongdoing has been removed, my evil has been done away with. The evil that adhered to me has been cast away. I have cleansed myself in the two great, stately ponds that are in Heracleopolis on the day when the common folk make offerings to the great God who is therein. … Hail to you, lords of truth, Council around Osiris, who inspire terror in sinners, Attendants of Hip.s-hw.s. Behold, I am come unto you that ye may do away with all the evil that adheres to me.

Book of the Dead, Spell 17 S 8, 13 [49]

And we see here that baptism is indeed one of the rites used in this Osirian remission of sin. Sounds familiar, akin to “be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins.” This is echoed in the Coffin Texts:

I am that great Phoenix which is in On. Who is he? He is Osiris. The supervisor of what exists. Who is he? He is Osiris. … I have got rid of my wrongdoing, I have dispelled my evil, I have removed the falseness which was on me, I have bathed in those two very great lagoons which are in Ninsu, … Hail to you, I Lords of Truth, the tribunal which is behind Osiris, which puts terror into those who are false when those whom it protects are at rest. See, I have come to you so that you may get rid of the evil which is on me.

Coffin Texts, Spell 335 B 200, 210, 254 [50]

Yet again, it’s vicarious. “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified.”

There is no testimony against me, there is no complaint against me, I have no falsehood, I have no crookedness, I have no wrongdoing, I have no enemy, I have no accuser, I have sent nothing against him, I have not implanted an obstacle against him with evil intent, that he should speak evilly against me in the Tribunal.

Coffin Texts, Spell 40 I 173 [51]

Presumably, the power of the written and spoken word will make it so and any sins will be washed away by the convincing show of denial.

Dr. Steven Snape, Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death [52]

There is it again, the power of the Word, calling those things which are not as though they were, making them so. This identification with Osiris and subsequent salvation from sin and judgement by proclaiming it to be so through faith is very reminiscent of a certain scripture that reads- “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.” 

I am one who goes in counted and comes out numbered (through) the gate of the Lord of the Universe.  (I) have purified myself in this great district; I (have) done away with my uncleanness. I have blotted out (my) sins. I have cast aside the uncleanness that adhered to my flesh.

Book of the Dead, Spell 86 b 2 [53]

“And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”

I am an initiate, void of sins. There is nothing (I) do not know about truth.

Book of the Dead, Spell 100 T 5 var. [54]

This “boldness in the day of judgement” through the power of the Word is epitomized in Spell 125:

In Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead, the first of the two Declarations of Innocence is addressed to Osiris – in it the deceased asserts his or her innocence from certain specified sins. … The Egyptians do not appear to have been concerned about the obvious discrepancy it involved between regarding the same deity as both saviour and judge. As the vignettes of the Book of the Dead graphically show, the deceased, endowed with the title of Osiris as indicative of his ritual assimilation with the god Osiris, stands before Osiris the judge, protesting his innocence.

Dr. Samuel G.F. Brandon, in Types of Redemption [55]

What to say on arriving at this broad hall of the Two Truths, cutting N. off from all the forbidden things he has done

To be said by N.:

Hail to you, ye gods. I know you, I know your names. I shall not fall ‹to› your swords. Ye shall not report my wickedness to this god in whose train ye are. No affair of mine shall come before you. (Ye) shall not tell lies against me in the presence of the Lord of the Universe, because I have done what was right in Egypt. (I) have not reviled the God. No affair of mine has come before the King who was in his day. …

Behold, ‹I am› come unto you. I am without sin, I am without guilt, I am without ‹evil›, I am without a witness. There is none against whom I have done anything. I live on truth, (I) sip of the truth of my heart. I have done what men request and what the gods are pleased with. I have gladdened the God with what he desires. I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, (a ferryboat to the boatless). I have made offerings to the gods and mortuary offerings to the Blessed. Rescue me indeed, protect me indeed. (Ye) shall not complain (against) me before ‹the great god›, (for) I am one clean of mouth and clean of hands to whom is said “Welcome in peace” by them that see him.

Book of the Dead, Spell 125 a P, c P-S 4 [56]

Kindle this flame for the blessed one in the god’s domain in the presence of Osiris the great God. The gods and the blessed see him in the retinue of the Presider over the Westerners. Nothing (adverse) happens on his account on the day of judgment. His justification shall continue forever.

Book of the Dead, Spell 137A T var. 6-9  [57]

As per ancient Egyptian belief, Osirian soteriology indubitably facilitated the remission of sins via identification with Osiris and thus vicariously making one sinless just as he is, which in turn allows one to pass judgement and enter heaven.

One final minor point to touch upon is where TAI™ wrote:

The reception of justice from a devotee was not … because of the blood or sacrifice of Osiris itself.

Well, that depends on how many hairs you want to split and how many ways you want to split them, because the blood of Osiris absolutely plays a role in the process of his soteriology. Much like how the Good Shepherd instructed his followers to drink his blood if they want eternal life via the consumption of symbolic wine, so too was the blood of Osiris consumed symbolically in the form of wine (or sometimes red beer) as part of the procedure of identifying one with Osiris and thus vicariously inheriting all that comes with being Osiris, including his physical resurrection, his eternal life, and his sinlessness. I have already written about this at length in Drinking the Blood of Osiris as Wine: The Lunar Osiris Easter Special, Part 3. Likewise, Spell 226 of the Coffin Texts, which is a resurrection spell, invokes the blood of Osiris in his ovine form (the ram Banebdjedet[58]), in which the deceased is instructed to drink the ovine blood of Osiris as part of this procedure for rising from the dead:

Ho N! Sky and Earth are opened for you, the great gates are opened for you, the gates of the plebs are thrown open for you, Geb [the earth god] has opened his jaws on your account, even he the chiefest of the gods. Ho N! The Ram conducts you to his altars, Sopd being at his … Ho N! They remove the dimness of your sight and the wrinkles which are on your limbs; they open your blind eyes, they extend your contracted fingers. Ho N! Lift yourself up upon your left side, place yourself upon your right side. Ho N! Eat your portion, consisting of this pure bread which is issued, namely the collected loaves of this great god whose name is unknown. Ho N! Drink your portion, consisting of this pure water which is issued upon this plateau of the citizens, for that Ram who is in his blood has given to you what is in his redness. Ho N! Ptah South-of-his-Wall and Sokar have granted to you an appearing in the Hnw-bark of Geb, chiefest of the gods. Ho N! May you go out by day and by night; may you eat bread and drink beer; may you receive the invocation-offerings which are yours. Come, O invocation-offerings!—four times.

Coffin Texts, Spell 226 III 252-259 [59]


Fig. 8

The risen dead “overcame by the blood of the Lamb,” one might say. In addition to this, the Book of the Dead would appear to bring the blood of Osiris directly into the context of final judgement and the end of the world.  

“O Thoth, what is to be done with the Children of Nut? They have made war, they have stirred up turmoil, they have committed wrongs, they have started rebellions, they have made carnage, they have put under guard. Moreover, they have made large into small in all that I have done. Give thou effective help, O Thoth,” says Atum.
“Thou shalt not experience further wrongs; thou shalt not suffer them. Their years have been shortened, their last months have been brought near, since they have made a mockery in secrecy all that thou hast done.”

I am thy palette, O Thoth; I have brought thee thy water-bowl. I am not among these who betray their secrets. No betrayal shall come about through me. …

“What is a lifetime of life?” says Osiris. “Thou art destined for millions of millions of years, a lifetime of millions of years. I have caused that he (i.e. thy successor) send out the Elders. And I will destroy all that I have made. This land shall return into the Deep, into the flood, as it was aforetime. Only I shall survive together with Osiris, after I have assumed my forms of other snakes which men know not and gods see not. How good is what I have done for Osiris, more than for all the other gods; for I have given him the desert, the silent land, and his son Horus as heir upon his throne that is in the Isle of Flame. I have made his throne in the bark of millions of years, while Horus abides on his facade (i.e. his earthly palace) in order to establish his monuments.” …

O my Father Osiris, mayest thou do for me what thy Father Re did for thee. May I endure on earth; may I establish my throne. May my heir keep healthy and my tomb stand firm, for they are my subjects on earth. …

“O my Lord Atum,” says Osiris, “may Seth become afraid of me when he sees my forms. There come to me all men, all patricians, all common folk, all sun-folk bowing down when they see me, for thou hast caused fear of me and created awe of me.” Then Seth came, his head bowed, forehead touching the earth, for he saw what […] had done against him, the blood that dripped from his nose. Then Osiris fertilized the earth with the blood that came forth in Heracleopolis. […] to see Osiris, he found him seated in his house, his head swollen, because of the burning of […] Then said Osiris: “Put pressure on these swellings, forcing blood and putrid pus out of them in the marshland. […] my face, that I may lift my countenance.” “The chief craftsman commands concerning thee, since thy body […] said Re to Osiris, “Thy face is affixed; lift thou thy countenance. How great is the fear of thee, how vast the awe of thee that came forth for thee from my mouth. Behold, thy name abides for millions of millions of years.” …

“Osiris N. shall exist as thou existest, he shall endure as thou endurest, for his years are like thy years and vice versa on earth for a million million million years.”

To be said over an image of Horus made of lapis lazuli, put at the throat of the mummy. It is a protection on earth which a man’s people give to men and Gods and the blessed and the dead; and it is their good deed that shall save him on the god’s domain. May it be done for thee also. A truly excellent spell proved millions of times for Osiris N.

Book of the Dead, Spell 175 [60]

We see here that the eldest god and creator of the cosmos, Atum (a form of Amen-Re[61]), saw that the wickedness was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of the heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord Atum that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord Atum said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. Thus he prophesied he would bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But through the intercession of Osiris and the shedding of his blood this judgement was postponed and Atum-Re spared the world for now as a favor to Osiris so that his bloodline may thrive on earth. This spell declares that those who use it and continue to invoke this intercession made by the blood of Osiris will continue to postpone this final judgement as well, both for those living here on earth and for those living in the domain of Osiris. It should also be noted that this blood of Osiris filled the marshlands of Heracleopolis, the very waters where the resurrected deceased who identified with Osiris were baptized for the remission of sins as stated in Book of the Dead Spell 17 and Coffin Text Spell 335 previously quoted above. Thus they were believed to be literally washed in his blood.

redwater marsh

Fig. 9

So not only does the blood of Osiris play a role in the process of personal justification as part of the rituals for becoming one with Osiris, but his blood also plays a crucial role in cosmic justification, as it makes perpetual intercession for the earth by abating the wrath of Lord Atum-Re and postponing the final judgement. A “propitiation through faith in his blood,” as it were, for “he hath purchased with his own blood.” “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

I think that just about wraps up our “evidentiary analysis” for now. Regardless of any variations that exist within the full scope of the Osirian mythos (which is to be expected for any longstanding mythos, and the Good Shepherd is no exception to this, for whom several variations exist as well), the fact remains that within that variety there was most certainly a belief that Osiris was responsible for salvation from sins, from judgement, and from physical mortality as per the ancient Egyptian sources.

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[1] Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung, Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality (Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications, 2003), 122. (Emph. added.)

[2] Erik Hornung, Valley of the Kings: Horizon of Eternity, trans. D. Warburton (New York: Timken Publishers, Inc., 1982-90), 105, 138, 145. (Emph. added.)

[3] John G. Griffiths, The Origins of Osiris and His Cult (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1980), 9, 22. (Emph. added.)

[4] Robert K. Ritner, “Egypt under Roman rule: the legacy of Ancient Egypt,” in The Cambridge History of Egypt: Volume One, ed. C.F. Petry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998-2008), 15. (Emph. added.)

[5] Robert A. Wild, Water in the Cultic Worship of Isis and Sarapis (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981), 97-98. (Emph. added.)

[6] Ian S. Moyer, “The Initiation of the Magician: Transition and Power in Graeco-Egyptian Ritual,” in Initiation in Ancient Greek Rituals and Narratives: New Critical Perspectives, eds. D.B. Dodd and C.A. Faraone (London: Routledge, 2003), 221. (Emph. added.)

[7] Andreas Schweizer, The Sungod’s Journey through the Netherworld: Reading the Ancient Egyptian Amduat (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994-2010),  168-69. (Emph. added.)

[8] Samuel G.F. Brandon, “Saviour and Judge: Two Examples of Divine Ambivalence,” Liber Amicorum: Studies in Honour of Professor Dr. C.J. Bleeker, ed. C.J. Bleeker (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1969), 44-45. (Emph. added.)

[9] Samuel G.F. Brandon, “Redemption in Ancient Egypt,” in Types of Redemption: Contributions to the Theme of the Study-Conference Held at Jerusalem 14th to 19th of July 1968, eds. R.J. Zwi Werblowsky, C.J. Bleeker (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1970), 39. (Emph. added.)

[10] Hornung (1982-90), 118. (Emph. added.)

[11] Jon Davies, Death, Burial, and Rebirth in the Religions of Antiquity (London: Routledge, 1999-2002), 30. (Emph. added.)

[12] Samuel A.B. Mercer, The Pyramid Texts in Translation and Commentary, Vol. 1 (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1952), 3. (Emph. added.)

[13] Glenn S. Holland, Gods in the Desert: Religions of the Ancient Near East (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2009), 66. (Emph. added.)

[14] Patricia Remler, Egyptian Mythology: A to Z (New York: Chelsea House, 2000-10), 109. (Emph. added.)

[15] Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002-04), 178. (Emph. added.)

[16] Barry J. Kemp, “Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period c. 2686-1552 BC,” in Ancient Egypt: A Social History, eds. B.G. Trigger et al., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983-2001), 72. (Emph. added.)

[17] A. Rosalie David, The Ancient Egyptians: Beliefs and Practices (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 1998), 76. (Emph. added.)

[18] Walter M. Ellis, Ptolemy of Egypt (London: Routledge, 1994-2005), 28. (Emph. added.)

[19] Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000-03), 371. (Emph. added.)

[20] Griffiths (1980), 2, 4. (Emph. added.)

[21] John G. Griffiths, Apuleius of Madauron: The Isis-Book (Metamorphosis, Book XI) (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1975), 316-17. (Emph. added.)

[22] Jan Zandee, Death as an Enemy: According to Ancient Egyptian Conceptions, trans. W.F. Klasens (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960), 7. (Emph. added.)

[23] Harold M. Hays, The Organization of the Pyramid Texts: Typology and Disposition, Vol. 1 (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2012), 167-168. (Emph. added.)

[24] Thomas G. Allen, The Book of the Dead or Going Forth by Day (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), 3.

[25] Bob Brier, Ancient Egyptian Magic (New York: Quill, 1980-2001),  11, 86, 169. (Emph. added.)

[26] Bob Brier and A. Hoyt Hobbs, Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2008), 42. (Emph. added.)

[27] Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts, Vol. I (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, Ltd, 1973), 221. (Emph. added.)

[28] Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), 124 (Utt. 373 §657).

[29] Nevertheless, on occasion the reality that Osiris did indeed die before being physically resurrected in that same body was acknowledged.
“Nut puts her hand on me just as she did for Osiris on the day when he died.” Pyramid Texts, Utterance 505 § 1090,
“An offering text in which the sacrificial ox represents Seth,
Address to the ox by the priest impersonating Horus:
O you who smote my father, who killed one greater than you, you have smitten my father, you have killed one greater than you.
Address to the dead king:
O my father Osiris this King, I have smitten for you him who smote you as an ox; I have killed for you him who killed you as a wild bull.” Pyramid Texts, Utterance 580 § 1543-44,
“O Osiris the King, you have gone, but you will return, you have slept, [but you will awake], you have died, but you will live. Stand up and see what your son has done for you, wake up and hear [what] Horus [has done for] you. He has smitten for you him who smote you as [an ox], he has slain for you him who slew you as a wild bull.”
Pyramid Texts, Utterance 670 § 1975-77- Faulkner (1969), 181, 234, 285. (Emph. added.)
“I live and I die, I am Osiris.” Coffin Texts, Spell 330 IV, 168,
“I died yesterday, I raised myself today, I returned today, and a path has been prepared for me.” Coffin Texts, Spell 513 VI, 100,
“I have died the death, (yet) I am more alive than the Ennead.” Coffin Texts, Spell 515 VI, 102- Faulkner (1973), 47, 49 n.29, 51 n.2, 254. Faulkner (1977), 156. (Emph. added.)
“Give your whole attention to the Mourned One, now that he is dead ‹for› lack (of breath after) his Brother slew (him). Geb made him (i.e., the brother, Seth) into a kT-crocodile with not one to lament him.” Book of the Dead, Spell Pleyte 166 S 1- Allen (1974), 190. (Emph. added.)

[30] Robert K. Ritner, Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993-2008), 34-35.

[31] Faulkner (1969), 139. (Emph. added.)

[32] Faulkner (1973), 179. (Emph. added.)

[33] Faulkner (1969), 1, 41, 46, 68, 232, 268, 296,  etc. (Emph. added.)

[34] Ibid. 299. (Emph. added.)

[35] Ibid. 46. (Emph. added.)

[36] Smith (2008), 1. (Emph. added.)

[37] Hays (2012), 167-68. (Emph. added.)

[38] Kemp, (1983-2001), 72. (Emph. added.)

[39] Brandon (1970), 42-43. (Emph. added.)

[40] John G. Griffiths, The Divine Verdict: A Study of the Divine Judgement in the Ancient Religions (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1991), 256. (Emph. added.)

[41] Griffiths (1975), 257. (Emph. added.)

[42] Smith (2009), 28, 30-31. (Emph. added.)

[43] Merold Westphal, God, Guilt, and Death: An Existential Phenomenology of Religion (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 216. (Emph. added.)

[44] Samuel A.B. Mercer, The Religion of Ancient Egypt (London: Luzac & Co., 1949), 370-71. (Emph. added.)

[45] Adolf Erman, A Handbook of Egyptian Religion (London: Archibald Constable & Co., LTD., 1907), 101. (Emph. added.)

[46] Allen (1974), 195. (Emph. added.)

[47] Faulkner (1973), 35. (Emph. added.)

[48] Allen (1974), 22. (Emph. added.)

[49] Ibid. 28. (Emph. added.)

[50] Faulkner (1973), 260-61. (Emph. added.)

[51] Ibid. 32-33.

[52] Steven Snape, Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death (Chichester: Blackwell Publishing, 2011), 198.

[53] Allen (1974), 73. (Emph. added.)

[54] Ibid. 82. (Emph. added.)

[55] Brandon (1970), 43. (Emph. added.)

[56] Allen (1974), 97, 99. (Emph. added.)

[57] Ibid. 115. (Emph. added.)

[58] Banebdjedet, the solar form of Osiris, (usually due to his union with Re), whose mascot was kept in the city of Mendes, not unlike how the Good Shepherd had an ovine mascot in the city of Salem.  “There is little doubt today that the Mendesian animal was a sheep.”- Susan and Donald B. Redford, “The Cult and Necropolis of the Sacred Ram at Mendes,” Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt, ed. S. Ikram (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2005), 169. (Emph. added.)

“Osiris, foremost of the West, perfect of face, high of Atef-crown; lord of the two horns … mysterious ram-form.”- Tomb of Imiseba, TT65, pl. 38A (12th cen. BCE) trans. John C. Darnell, The Enigmatic Netherworld Books of the Solar-Osirian Unity: Cryptographic Compositions in the Tombs of Tutankhamun, Ramesses VI and Ramesses IX (Fribourg: Academic Press Fribourg, 2004) 398. (Emph. added.)

“The ram of Mendes is the ba of Osiris.”- Book of the Heavenly Cow, § 85-90 (14th cen. BCE), Edward F. Wente Jr., “The Book of the Heavenly Cow,” in The Literature of
Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, Stelae, Autobiographies,
and Poetry, ed. W.K. Simpson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 296.

Ba was also the term used for what might be described as the physical manifestations of certain gods.”- Ian Shaw, Exploring Ancient Egypt (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 21.

“The term bA often denotes the theriomorphic incarnation of a god.”- Alan B. Lloyd, “Strabo and the Memphite Tauromachy,” in Hommages a Maarten J. Vermaseren, Vol. II, eds. M.B. de Boer and T.A. Edridge (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1978), 618.

“Osiris was to remain “the Mendesian bai, the precious deity” “rejuvenated as the ram” (Dendera X, 288:12) and Banebdjed to become, through Osiris, “the living bai of the gods.” … In the beatification text on the only inscribed ram-sarcophagus lid yet to be found at Mendes, Banebdjed as Osiris is described in a distinctly solarized form.”- Redford (2005), 165.
See also Louis V. Žabkar, A Study of the Ba Concept in Ancient Egyptian Texts(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1968), 13.
Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Myth: A very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004),  114.
Abeer el-Shahawy, The Funerary Art of Ancient Egypt: A Bridge to the Realm of the Hereafter (Cairo: Farid Atiya Press, 2005), 70.
David Klotz, Adoration of the Ram: Five Hymns to Amun-Re from Hibis
Temple, Yale Egyptological Studies 6 (New Haven: Yale Egyptological Seminar,
2006), 33, e.g. the union of Re and Osiris into a single form; from the Litany of Re in the tomb of Nefertari, 13th century BCE, as seen here.

That Coffin Text Spell 226 is referring to this Ram specifically: “The emphasis on ram-gods here suggests that ‘the Great God whose name is unknown’ is none other than the Ram of Mendes which did not possess a name but was known only as ‘the Ram’.”- William Ward, The Four Egyptian Homographic Roots B-A: Etymological and Egypto-Semitic Studies (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1978), 159. (Emph. added.)

[59] Faulkner (1973), 179. (Emph. added.)

[60] Allen (1974), 183-85. (Emph. added.)

[61] “You are Amun, you are Atum, you are Khepri, you are Re. … You are the one who built his body with his own hands, in every form of his desire.”- Hymn to the Bas of Amen, trans. Klotz (2006), 191. (Emph. added.)
“I am Khepri in the morning, Re at noon, and Atum who is in the evening.”- “The Legend of Isis and the Name of Re {1.22} (P. Turin 1993),” trans. R.K. Ritner, in The Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World, Vol. 1, eds. W.W. Halo and K.L. Younger (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1997), 34.
“Amun, … He completed himself as Atum, being of one body with him.”- Papyrus Leiden I 350, ch. 200, trans. W.V. Dungen, Ancient Egyptian Wisdom Readings (Antwerp: 2011), 187.

5 comments on “He Shall Save His People From Their Sins: An “Evidentiary Analysis” of Osirian Soteriology

  1. jameshiscox
    September 19, 2019

    You never fail my friend to impress. Keep up the good work; peace.

  2. nightshade twine
    September 21, 2019

    There seems to be different views among Egyptologists on the ba, ka, etc.

    In “The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts” James P. Allen says:

    “The ancient Egyptians believed that each human being consists of three
    basic parts: the physical body and two nonmaterial elements known as the
    ka and the ba. The ka is an individual’s life force, the element that makes the
    difference between a living body and a dead one; each person’s ka ultimately
    came from the creator and returned to the gods at death. The ba is comparable to the Western notion of the soul or personality, the feature that
    makes each person a unique individual, apart from the physical element of
    the body.

    At death, the ka separated from the body. In order for an individual to
    survive as a spirit in the afterlife, the ba had to be reunited with its ka, its life
    force: in the Pyramid Texts and elsewhere, the deceased are called “those
    who have gone to their kas.” The resultant spiritual entity was known as an
    akh: literally, an “effective” being. No longer subject to the entropy of a
    physical body or the limitations of physical existence, the akh was capable of
    living eternally, not merely on earth but also in the larger cosmic plane inhabited by the gods. If the ba could not reunite with its ka, it continued to
    exist but was no longer “alive”: in contrast to the akhs, such beings were
    regarded as “the dead.”

    • dnboswell
      September 21, 2019

      Thanks for reading.
      I am aware of Allen’s work on the matter. As I said in the relevant paragraph in this article as well as in my article on the bodily resurrection of Osiris, in my readings this variance in views about these terms is based on the discrepancy between more current research on the topic and those who instead carry on in the outdated tradition of trying to equate these concepts to the Western idea of soul/spirit/ghost/lifeforce/etc. This does still exist in the field as one of the positions scholars take on the matter, that is true, but it is gradually dying off as newer research shows the concepts do not correlate. There are too many primary source texts that contradict using the terms under that old model.

  3. nightshade twine
    November 2, 2019

    I was looking for a way to contact you to ask you a question but I couldn’t find any contact information so I’ll ask here. I’m curious what your opinion is on the following quote from Jan Assmann. Based on everything I’ve read on resurrection in ancient Egypt, I think I disagree with him. In “The search for God in ancient Egypt”(Cornell University Press, 1984) he says:

    “Osiris rises in his son, but he himself abides in the netherworld as the deceased father whose royal rule has been passed on to his son. We shall return to this point below, in 5.5.5; what is important here is to be able to understand the meaning of the posthumous engendering of the son in the story as a whole. Osiris does not rise from death or return to this world. He is awakened from the sleep of death by the mourning, embalming, and transfiguration rituals only to the extent that Isis is able to conceive a son by him, one who will avenge his father’s death and thus in a certain way “save” him.”

    I haven’t come across a resurrection text that doesn’t describe the deceased as getting up and ascending to the sky. I’m curious where Assmann is getting this idea that Osiris doesn’t get up and ascend to the sky just like all the texts seem to say and just like everybody else who is resurrected does. How does he think Osiris got to the underworld? Does he think Osiris had his own secret route which went straight down into the underworld? Have you come across a text describes anything like this? Every text I’ve read describes the resurrected deceased, who are often referred to as “Osiris”, as getting there by ascending to the sky and then descending into the underworld from the sky like the sun. What are your thoughts on this?

    • dnboswell
      November 4, 2019

      I agree with your assessment as well. As for Dr. Assmann, without reading further into the matter, right now I can only conclude that given how this comment comes from a work in 1984 his views must have evolved from this overtime because his more recent works paint a picture of Osirian religion more in line with what you’ve expressed and what I’ve expressed here on my site. I’ve quoted those later works several times and I’m sure you’re familiar with them as well, Death and Salvation (2001) of course being the most obvious example, which per my recollection expresses a view of Osirian resurrection & afterlife that is more consistent with the primary sources and with other scholarship that you & I have quoted from.

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