monotheism can wait

There often seems to be a pendulum type rhythm to historical reconstruction. Our grandfathers’ heroes tend to become our villains or vice versa. Julius Caesar from cool, efficient savior of his country to ruthless dictator; Alexander the Great , from a visionary embued with thoughts of an international brotherhood to a bloody conqueror. So it has been with the mysterious pharaoh Akhenaten. In more recent reconstructions of his life and career, we find a figure that is a far cry from an inspired religious reformer or a standard bearer for the oppressed.

—Thus it seems that Akhenaten’s elevation of the Aten religion was only a culmination of the work of previous rulers. The reality of the situation is of course more complicated. It must be noted that although the pre-Amarna rulers gave increasing importance to the cult of the Aten, Amenhotep III was careful not to build a temple to the Aten within the boundaries of the religious capital of Thebes. Finally, he neither ever wished to suppress the old cults nor did he relocate to a new capital city. It is true then that Akhenaten’s ‘revolution’ was preceded by winds of change, but the gust that he actually delivered into the sails of Egyptian religion (and art and politics) was still revolutionary in scope.—Read More:

John A. Wilson gave a reconstruction of Akhenaten’s reign that emphasized its connections with the mainstream of Egyptian history. As he saw it, Akhenaten was independent minded and avant-garde, sensitively responsive to the new currents that had been generated by Egypt’s transformation to an international power. A freer, more naturalistic movement in art had already begun during the years of his grandfather and father, and he favored it. A movement was also underway to modernize the rigidly formal, traditional language, incorporating into it foreign and even colloquial phrases. He favored that too. But above all, he favored a new religion.

—President Mohamed Morsy is studying whether to amend the Camp David Accords to ensure Egypt’s full sovereignty and control over every inch of Sinai, said Mohamed Gadallah, legal adviser to the president.
Calls for amending the peace treaty with Israel, which also governs the security presence in the Sinai Peninsula, have been on the rise since last week’s attack on a military checkpoint at the border left 16 Egyptian security officers dead.
Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi called for the amendments Saturday. The Revolutionary Youth Union has filed a lawsuit before an administrative court demanding that the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel be amended.
Morsy has vowed several times since he took office to preserve international treaties that Egypt has signed.
Gadallah didn’t give more details on the issue while speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm Monday. He added that Morsy would soon order the release of another batch of military detainees.—Read More: image:

This religion was by no means novel; indeed many of its ideas and modes of expression had existed before his time and would live on for centuries after his death, ultimately affecting Hebrew literature. His particular version, however, definitely put him at odds with the powerful clerical establishment of the prevailing sect. His religious bent may well have been connected with his unusual physique; though by no means the result of any illness, it probably did close off certain areas to him and send him along intellectual paths.

Cyril Aldred, the English Egyptologist constructed a different picture; one based on the notion that Amenhotep III did not die in 1378 B.C., the year that Akhenaten’s reign began. Rather, he suggests, that was the year his father made his son co-regent, a step that certain pharaohs took to ensure a smooth succession. What is more, argued Alred, the old pharaoh did not die until practically a dozen years later, in about 1367. And, though he and his queen continued to worhip Amon, they were by no means opposed to their son’s new religion; they actually accompanied him to the new capital, living there the rest of their lives.

Nefertiti—the realization begins to dawn that answers to the great question about the origins of Hebrew monotheism are not going to come swiftly or easily. How did a Hebrew psalmist’s eyes—or ears?—ever pass near a banned Egyptian hymn? While the psalm is hardly a verbatim copy of its atenistic model, the likeness of these songs, especially in their imagery and the order in which the images come, argues forcefully for some sort of Egypt-to-Palestine contact, however indirect.
And if there is contact there, why not elsewhere? If that’s the case, there clearly was some channel of intercultural communication, some literary turnpike now invisible. But if we imagine a road of some sort running between Akhetaten and ancient Jerusalem, what are we really creating: a history or a novel? And by doing so, are we not at risk of saying more about ourselves than the odd, beguiling world Akhenaten built, whose slanted light still shines from beneath sand and walls and scripture? History, you’ll remember, means “question,” and that is exactly where the history of Akhenaten leaves us. —Read More:

It was, in other words, during the queen’s residence, and not on any short visit, that a local sculptor portrayed her. The bitterness between the priesthoods of Amon and Akhenaten lasted only until the former were won over; any great conflict is a fiction of historians whose thinking has been colored by the long chapters of conflict between Church and State in European history. In ancient Egypt, after all, the pharaoh was the church. Indeed, Akhenaten may very well have transferred the bulk of the priesthood of Amun ( Amon) to his new city and put them all to work in the service of Aten.

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