What Is “The Book of Breathings”?



Upon their publication in 1967, the Joseph Smith Papyri Nos. X and XI were quickly and easily identified as pages from the Egyptian “Book of Breathings.” The frequent occurrence of the word snsn provided a conspicuous clue, and, though the last page of the book (the one that usually contains the title) was missing, its contents closely matched that of other Egyptian writings bearing the title sh’ (sh’i, sh’.t) n snsn, commonly translated “Book of Breathing(s).” A most welcome guide to the student was ready at hand in J. de Horrack’s text, translation, and commentary on a longer and fuller version of the same work (Pap. Louvre 3284) which he published in 1878 along with another version of the text (Louvre No. 3291) and variant readings from a half dozen other Paris manuscripts. Thanks to de Horrack, the experts found their work already done for them, and they showed their gratitude by consistently following the readings of the de Horrack’s text and translation instead of the Joseph Smith text whenever the latter proved recalcitrant.


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Print ISSN: 2837-0031
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