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  Life of Akhenaten

Scholarship Posted by <Xnoubis> on Tuesday March 27, @11:06PM
from the sun-block dept.

Akhenaten is popularly considered to be the father of monotheism, for which he is revered by AMORC and often reviled by pagans. The London Times reviews a recent biography of the iconoclastic Pharoah.

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**Moses the Egyptian**
by Metu Tchetta on Thursday March 29, @11:41AM


W.r.t. Akhenaten, I cannot give a high enough recommendation of Jan Assman's Moses the Egyptian, which addresses the changing perspective of the West on the role of Egypt in the genesis of monotheism. In the process, the book generates an intellectual narrative linking classical history, Hermetics, Egyptology, occult revival, and Freud.

Assman is an Egyptologist by trade, and he devotes the sixth chapter “Concerning the One in Ancient Egyptian Traditions” to some of his own conclusions regarding Amarna religion. Some provocative excerpts:

The text is tantalizingly mutilated, but one thing is clear: we are dealing here with the same idea of god being hidden to mortal understanding, but accessible to the king, even at night. This dissociation of seeing and knowing makes it perfectly clear that there is no meaning to visible realty. God is revealed to the eye, but concealed to the heart, except to the heart of the king.

This is the exact inversion of traditional convictions. The religion of the New Kingdom develops the notion of “taking God into one's heart” as a central idea. This means knowledge of God, which is required of everybody. But seeing God is the priviledge only of the dead, who are believed to meet the gods face to face in the hereafter. In Amarna, knowledge of God becomes the monopoly of the king, whereas ability to see God is extended to everybody. Only the understanding of the king is also able to see, in the emission of light and time, an emission of meaning. […]

Yet meaning is a social phenomenon; so is religion, and so is God. Saying that meaning is only accessible to the understanding heart of the king amounts to saying that there is no meaning at all. Explanation replaces interpretation. The more there is that can be explained, the less there is to interpret. Thus we may perhaps say that, instead of founding a new religion, Akhenaten was the first to find a way out of religion. His negative revelation went far beyond the disillusionment which Warburton, Reinhold, and Schiller attributed to the last stage of initiation. He rejected not only the polytheistic pantheon but even the theistic idea of a personal god. There is nothing but nature.

The recurrent figure of the heart of the king is more than a little suggestive in the Thelemic context.

Love is the law, love under will.

Re: Moses the Egyptian\\
by <Xnoubis> on Thursday March 29, @07:38PM
Does Assman subscribe to Freud's thesis in Moses and Monotheism that Jewish monotheism has its roots in Akhenaten's monotheistic Aten cult? Although the idea is very popular amongst occultists (Ebony Anpu looked like he was going to throw me out of a window once, when I disputed it), it's pretty discredited in the academic world, or at least it was a few years ago when I was looking into it.\\
The leading argument against it was that Judaism in the time of Moses was in no way monotheistic. (Yahweh wasn't the only god, he was the god of the Isrealites.) It only became so later, around the time of the writing of deutero-Isaiah, and the scriptures were re-edited to look as if they'd been monotheistic the whole time.\\
It does appear that one of the Psalms is derived from an Egyptian sun hymn. I don't remember for certain, but I think it might have been Psalm 104.\\

Re: Moses the Egyptian\\
by Metu Tchetta on Thursday March 29, @09:06PM
No, Assman doesn't buy into Freud's narrative as a piece of objective history. But he examines it in its own right as one of the most recent and fascinating turns in the continuing mythic saga of what he calls “the Mosaic distinction,” a polar opposition between the symbols of Egypt and Israel as bondage and freedom, idolatry and piety, falsehood and truth, &c.\\
Several of the Psalms appear to have antecedents in Egyptian liturgies. Assman does cite Psalm 104:20-23.
> Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep [forth].\\
The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.\\
The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.\\
Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

I've read that Budge's From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt has some other studies of Egyptian hymns that may have served as antecedents to Hebrew scripture, but I haven't come across a copy since that was brought to my attention.\\
There was no “Judaism in the time of Moses” per se, since the priestly ascendency of the tribe of Judah which produced “Judaism” took place after the Babylonian captivity. Only then were the scriptures engineered to subsume the royal and sacerdotal priviledges of Israel (which persisted independently as the Samaritans) and the sacerdotal ones of the Levites into a Judaic narrative.\\
As far as the Hebrew religion of Moses being polythesitic with special reverence for Yhwh, Exodus can still be read that way, and I, for one, do read it that way. Still, I think there is a reasonable case that the Aten cult may have persisted in a suppressed form after Akhenaten, and that its residuum may have formed one element in an Egyptian counter-religion adopted by the proto-Hebrews. Thus a seed crystal would have remained in Hebrew literature and ritual around which an eventual monotheism would form.\\
And that, actually, is closer to the case made by Freud, who actually claims that Yhwh was a polytheistic volcano god accreted to Aten/Adonai during the Exodus. Freud was not so stupid as to not read the Hebrew scriptures himself, and notice the wild pendulum swings of the Hebrews between fidelity to Yhwh, or (more usually) promiscuous worship of the various Canaanite deities. And, in line with his psychological theories, he argued for the emergence of Hebrew monotheism as a “return of the repressed.”\\
93 93/93\\

  • |Re: Moses the Egyptian\\
    by Martin Hettland on Tuesday April 10, @08:40AM

    The later YHWH can also have been derived from the more traditional Egyptian Amen cult.\\
    Amen means the “invisible one”, and as YHWH he was carried around in an arch on special ocations.\\

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