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Author Topic: THE GREAT ATEN  (Read 11130 times)
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« Reply #60 on: March 08, 2008, 03:18:23 pm »

However in Year 9 of his reign Akhenaten declared a more radical version of his new religion
by declaring Aten not merely the supreme god, but the only god, and that he, Akhenaten,
was the only intermediary between the Aten and his people.

He even staged the ritual regicide of Amun, and ordered the defacing of Amun's temples
throughout Egypt.

In contrast to the old gods, Aten appears primarily to have been seen as a loving and pro-
tective god, whose primary goal was not to punish and demand allegiance and sacrifice
but to support his people through his presence.

Key features of Atenism included a ban on idols and other images of the Aten, with the
exception of a rayed solar disc, in which the rays (commonly depicted ending in hands)
appear to represent the unseen spirit of Aten.

New temples were constructed, in which the Aten was worshipped in the open sunlight,
rather than in dark temple enclosures, as the old gods had been.

Although idols were banned - even in people's homes - these were typically replaced by
functionally equivalent representations of Akhenaten and his family venerating the Aten,
and receiving the ankh (breath of life) from him.

The radicalisation of Year 9 (including spelling Aten phonetically instead of using the
rayed solar disc) may be due to a determination on the part of Akhenaten to enforce
a probable misconception among the common people that Aten was really a type of sun-
god like Ra.

Instead, the idea was reinforced that such representations were representations above
all of concepts - of Aten's universal presence - not of physical beings or things.

The early stage of Atenism appears a kind of henotheism familiar in Egyptian religion, but
the later form suggests a proto-monotheism.

(For the issue of a link to Jewish monotheism see below.)
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