Stages in the Development of the Osirian Ideas: An Up-to-date View
The book Following Osiris by Prof. Mark Smith (2017) should be called a compendious and a rather bold conceptualization of the evidence and the research experience relevant of the major epochs in the evolution of the Osirian concepts of the afterlife in Ancient Egypt, from the Predynastic Period to Late Antiquity. The author’s approach is based on a number of postulates: the development of the Ancient Egyptian religion was a continuous process; it was not affected radically by the needs of royal ideology; royal and non-royal concepts of the afterlife must have been basically similar; any reconstruction of religious phenomena, including the 'projection' of later concepts on earlier evidence, should be solidly substantiated. In a way, the author tends to avoid as much as possible speculation in interpreting the relevant evidence. It seems, however, that some of these postulates (especially the equivalence of royal and non-royal afterlife in all epochs) became for the author sacred cows in their own right leading him to unlikely conclusions: there is in fact no good argument for the existence of 'a common stock of spells for the afterlife from which both kings and their subjects could draw' in the Old Kingdom. It seems that major Egyptological theories of the past, of which the present-day scholarship is somewhat allergic, nevertheless will still define problems to be considered in the forthcoming research.