Book Review: The Priests of Ancient Egypt: New Edition by Serge Sauneron, David Lorton, Jean-Pierre Corteggiani

This is one of the few books which emphasizes the duties of the priests and their functions in the sphere of ancient Egyptian religion. While most books on ancient Egyptian religion discuss the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses and their roles in the mythologies of the ancient culture, Sauneron (I keep thinking of Sauron the White from Lord of the Rings when I read his name), instead chooses to place his focus on the daily 2973214life of the actual priests.

The book is vast in its contents and touches on everything from the corruption in the priesthood and the bribery which inevitably happens in every vast religious organization, to the mundane in regards to dietary restrictions, cleanliness, fornication, and dress code. Some of the more elaborate chapters which I liked focused on the actual rituals of morning prayers, mid-afternoon prayers, and evening prayer rights.

Because I’ve had to read an enormous amount of books on ancient Egyptian religion for my series, Legends of Amun Ra, I was still amazed to find out how little I knew about the actual priests themselves and their daily rituals. Most of what I’ve written about the Amun Priests for my series has been extracted from my imagination of what ancient priests would have acted like. But now, by reading The Priests of Ancient Egypt, my series could be more realistic with how priests actually conducted themselves.

But, the best thing about this book is that it is not a dry or slow read like most non-fiction books. Sauneron makes the study of the priests and ancient Egyptian religion fun and exciting. His book was well balanced, neither praising the ancient priests nor lambasting them for odd practices and beliefs. My only complaint was that he used too many Greek translations instead of using the original Egyptian verbiage.

About Joshua G. Silverman