Original Research

Resurrection imageries: A study of the motives for extravagant burial rituals in ancient Egypt

Jock M. Agai
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 36, No 1 | a1457 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v36i1.1457 | © 2015 Jock M. Agai | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 April 2015 | Published: 30 November 2015

About the author(s)

Jock M. Agai, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa


Unlike in the New Testament whereby faith in Christ can resurrect the dead, the ancient Egyptians believed that the bereaved created the resurrection of their deceased through burial rituals and by encouraging the living to serve their kings. They thought that faith alone in god or the gods was not enough to resurrect the dead, thus they seemingly superimposed resurrection alongside burials. Using the various forms of Egyptian burial rituals and evaluated from the perspective of the Christian concept of resurrection, this researcher attempts to search for the motives behind specific Egyptian burial rituals. The researcher proposes that the activities of the bereaved or of the living over the dead were paramount in resurrecting the dead in ancient Egypt. The purpose of this research is, firstly, to explain how the Egyptian burial rituals influenced their thoughts on resurrection and, secondly, to show that the Egyptian god(s) might have depended on the living to raise the dead.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The ancient Egyptians lived their lives mainly to satisfy the interests of the dead, hence their extensive burial rituals. Whilst they believed in the power of the gods to raise the dead, there seemed to be another motive behind their burial practices which suggested that the living may have had more power to raise the dead. The power was realised in the activities of the living in the form of burials, tomb designs, mummification, food offering, and in remembering the dead. This research explains that these burial activities were relevant in resurrecting the dead without which the gods alone were not able to do that.


Burial Procession, Mummification, Pharaohs, Pyramids, Re, Resurrection, Otherworld


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