The Book of the Dead is not a book per se, but rather, a corpus of ancient Egyptian funerary texts from the New Kingdom. Each ‘book’ is unique, as it contains its own combination of spells. In total, about 200 spells are known, and these may be divided into several themes.
In general, the spells are meant to aid the recently deceased in their journey through the underworld, which is perilous, and full of obstacles. Many of the spells have their origin in the earlier Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts, which shows the continuity, as well as changes in the beliefs held by the ancient Egyptians regarding the afterlife. Although it is commonly called the Book of the Dead, its original name in ancient Egyptian is transliterated as rw nw prt m hrw, which may be translated as Book of Coming Forth by Day or Book of Emerging Forth into the Light.