Professor Carpenter gave the seventh lecture in his course on the History of Ideas of a Future Life last evening in Divinity Chapel. The subject was "Egypt in the Fourteenth Century, B. C.
Professor Carpenter said that scholars have disputed as to whether Egyptian religion was polytheistic or monotheistic. The fact is that the subordinate deities were grouped around one central deity. The sun, wind, rain, as well as the great river Nile combined to produce the splendors of Egypt. Among these, the sun, or Ra, was worshipped as the central deity.
The life after death was conceived under two forms; life in the tomb, and life in another world. The body was supposed to live in the tomb. The body had its double, called the ka, which had the human form. Next came the ba, or soul; and lastly the ku, or "luminous." These really represent the amalgamation of different sets of ideas.
The body was provided for while in the tomb. Food was left for its subsistence. It was believed that the double would continue only while the body lived. For this reason great care was taken in embalming the body and in the construction of the tomb. It was thought possible to increase the chance of the continuance of the double by placing in the tomb statues of the dead. Then arose the practice of covering the walls with representations of offerings of food, with magic formulae for transforming these representations into food.
There were various localities for the life beyond the grave. One of these was the Isle of the Double, at the source of the Nile; again, the West, where the sun god disappeared at night, was a favorite locality. The place of the dead was also associated with the sky, and a ladder to mount by was often provided.
Osiris served as a centre for monotheistic speculation, but was assimilated with Ra. The final judgment of the soul was before Osiris. There was a complete organization of torture for punishment. The Egyptian hell did not last forever, but the soul was extinguished after sufficient punishment. There were various conceptions of the destiny of the righteous.
Professor Carpenter's next lecture is to be given this evening instead of Thursday.