No, not Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Fred Flinstones Order of the Buffalo or the Karnak Temple whirling dervish go-cart 500. Akhenaten and another sort of religious revolution based on monotheism and worship of the sun god Aten. Idealist, reformer, visionary or megalomaniac? Or all of the above?
The young prince, Amenhotep IV, to give him his “baptismal” name as it were, at first kept any iconoclastic ideas he may have had well in hand: His early portraits show a figure in the typical heroic Egyptian mold. In the course of time he married Nefertiti, a sister or cousin, or neither, who must have been a beauty if she looked like the well-known portrait head, and she promptly bore him the first of six daughters.
Early in his reign, however, he began to evince a marked disinterest in the dynasty’s favorite, Amon, and marked interest in the sun god Re, particularly in the deity’s visible manifestation, the radiant disk, or Aten, to give it its Egyptian name. In doing so, he was on well-trodden ground, venturing into nothing unorthodox: the cult of Re had started a thousand years before the young king was born, and his father and grandfather had even transformed the Aten itself into a divinity and offered worship to it.
But Akhenaten’s attachment obviously went a good deal further. After some six years on the throne, he took the dramatic step of changing his name from Amenhotep, “Amon is Satisfied,” to Akhetaten, “The Effective Spirit of Aten,” and took an even more dramatic step by moving away from Thebes and out of the shadow of the awesome temples of Amon. About 250 miles farther down the Nile, at a place called Tell el Amarna, he built a whole new city for this particular divine favorite, dubbing it Akhetaten, “The Horizon of Aten.”
The temple of Aten, in dramatic contrast to Amon’s, was open, bathed in the sun’s light. Temple, palace, mansions, and tombs were decorated with the art that is the hallmark of the iconoclastic movement: portrayals of the pharaoh in all his grotesqueness and in scenes of startling intimacy. The pharaoh’s taste inevitably set a style: painters and sculptors dutifully gave eggheads and potbellies to the queen and princesses, and courtiers deferentially instructed their own portraitists to follow suit.
(see link at end)…Still, both cultures share the central notion, if not the details, of monotheism. Could the Hebrews have picked that up from the Egyptians somehow? Such a notion presumes, of course, that Hebrews existed in some form during Akhenaten’s reign—the eradication by later pharaohs of all records of Akhenaten’s religion and regime makes later cultural borrowing highly unlikely—and besides, many scholars would flatly say there weren’t any Hebrews at all during that time, at least not Hebrews as such. Israel was definitely not an organized nation in the fourteenth century BCE, but then theological notions do not require a political state for their existence. Wandering patriarchs, as attested in the Bible during this age, could easily have borrowed the concept of monotheism from Egypt. But there’s no evidence Egyptian monotheism spread beyond the borders of its native land, so if Hebrews borrowed the notion, they would have to have been living in Egypt around the time of Akhenaten’s reign. That seems unlikely, except that biblical sources say they were….
In the so-called Egyptian Captivity which the Bible claims lasted several centuries, Hebrews did, in fact, live in Egypt, enslaved by powerful New Kingdom pharaohs until the Exodus in which Moses led them to freedom in the Holy Lands. If that really happened, they must have been in Egypt when Akhenaten had his brief day in the blazing sun. But because a majority of scholars downplay the historicity of the Exodus—there is certainly no corroborating evidence massive numbers of Hebrews fled Egypt at any point in ancient history—again this seems unlikely. Still, it doesn’t take huge crowds of Hebrews in Egypt to introduce the idea of monotheism into Israelite thinking. One “Joseph” is certainly enough.
So, it’s possible to weave together from the historical data a scenario in which the idea of monotheism threaded its way somehow out of Egyptian theology and into Israelite culture. But when one looks closely, it’s not a very tightly woven tapestry, especially in light of where biblical scripture says the Hebrews were in Egypt. Read More:http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320Hist&Civ/chapters/10AKHEN.htm