Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Does the Bible Speak of the Brain? - Heart vs. Mind in Bible

Weighing of the Heart, Ancient Egypt

Weighing Of The Heart Scene

This scene comes from a copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead which was made for Ani, c.1250 B.C.(19th Dynasty). Ani was the Royal Scribe, Accounting Scribe for Divine Offerings of all the gods, Overseer of the Granaries of the Lords of Tawer. The original papyrus is now in the British Museum (BM 10470).

Weighing Heart with Scales, Ancient Egypt

The judgment scene from the Book of the Dead of the royal scribe Hunefer (ca 1285 BCE). From left: Anubis brings Hunefer into the judgment hall; his heart is weighed and Thoth makes note of the favorable verdict; Horus conducts Hunefer into the presence of Osiris. (Source: National Geographic, Ancient Egypt)

Here you can see Ani on the far left watching while his heart is weighed against an ostrich feather representing Maʼat. Anubis is checking the scales while Thoth writes down the result. Ammit who is part lion, part hippopotamus and part crocodile waits in to see if a meal will be on offer (the heart would be eaten if the dead person was found wanting). At the top are gods and goddesses witnessing the judgment.

In the actual Book of the Dead text there is no mention of the weighing of the heart as such. Instead there is a long list of ‘negative confessions’ Extracts are given here.

Hail to you, great Lord of Justice!…I know the names of the forty-two gods of those who are with you in the Hall of Justice, who live on those who cherish evil and who gulp down their blood on that day of reckoning of characters in the presence of Wennefer. Behold the double son of the Songstress; Lord of Truth is your name. Behold I have come to you, I have brought you truth, I have repelled falsehood for you. I have not done falsehood against men, I have not impoverished my associates, I have done no wrong in the Place of Truth, I have not learnt that which is not, I have done no evil, I have not daily made labor in excess of what was due to be done for me, my name has not reached the offices of those who control slaves, I have not deprived the orphan of his property, I have not done what the gods detest….

Egypt Centre has a version of the weighing of the heart scene on a 21st Dynasty Coffin.

Weighing Of The Heart Scene from the 21st Dynasty coffin

Weighing Heart Coffin

This is a scene from the 21st Dynasty coffin of the lady musician which is on display in the downstairs gallery of the Egypt Centre. The representation is usually used to illustrate Spell 125 of the Book of the Dead which appears on coffins, papyri and tomb walls. In this the deceased is judged and their heart weighed against the ‘Maʼat’ feather, the Feather of Truth. If their heart was heavy and they were not judged ‘True of Voice’ the heart would be eaten by the Devourer. The theme of the weighing of the heart occurs as early as the 11th Dynasty (Seeber 1976: 67) but scenes are more common in the New Kingdom in tombs and on coffins. The actual spell does not mention the weighing of the heart as such.
Source: Weighing Of The Heart Scene

Does the Bible or the witless Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz mention the brain more frequently? If your answer was the scarecrow, you are right. The Bible mentions a number of key human organs, such as the heart, blood, bowels, liver, and kidneys, but never mentions the most important organ of all, the brain. This is not unusual, of course, unless you happen to view the Bible as an inspired scientific textbook, in which case it would appear to be missing a bit of vital information.

The Weighing of the Heart

The most important of the “core” spells that recur consistently in various versions of the Book of the Dead is found in Chapter 125, detailing the “weighing of the heart” of the deceased against the feather of Maʼat, the Egyptian goddess of truth. Before Osiris and a panel of judges, each of which represents an Egyptian nome (province), the deceased denies a series of offences which is called “the Negative Confession”. Followed by the heart, believed to be the center of thought, memory and personality, weighed in a balance by Anubis while Thoth (divine scribe) records the verdict. If the heart and feather measure equal weight, the deceased is thereby declared “true” or “justified of voice”, and accorded a portion in the domain of Osiris. He or she might also join the realm of the sun god or might dwell among the circumpolar stars. Miscreants faced annihilation by the “Swallowing Monster,” a hybrid of crocodile, lion and hippopotamus, that crouches at the base of the scales.

Ancient Egypt
- Paraphrased from National Geographic, Ancient Egypt, pg. 137

Does the Bible Speak of the Brain? - Heart vs. Mind in Bible

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