Was Atenism really monotheistic? I think not….

In the 14th Century B.C. Pharaoh Akhenaten, (formerly Amenhotep iv) who is referred to as “The Heretic” ruled Egypt during the 18th Dynasty -the Armana Period.

He has been viewed as the first monotheist by many scholars and has been credited as the inspiration for the beliefs of Moses. He disbanded the priesthoods of Amun and the other major AE Gods, having their images removed from temples as much as possible and elevating the Aten, the sun disc to represent the his religion.

Images of the gods were replaced by images from nature, and the pharaoh was shown as serene, smiling with his family rather than depictions of great war scenes with the pharaoh smiting enemies and foes.

What we do know, is that Akhenaten’s Atenism did not necessarily revolve around “One god”. The Aten was the symbol, but so were the rays that emanated from the Sun disc, possibly equating the Shekinah as a feminine aspect: “The majestic presence or manifestation of God which has descended to “dwell” among men. Like Memra (= “word”; “logos”) and “Yeḳara” (i.e., “Kabod” = “glory”), Since the Shekinah is light, those passages of the Apocrypha and New Testament which mention radiance, and in which the Greek text reads δόξα, refer to the Shekinah, there being no other Greek equivalent for the word. Thus, according to Luke ii. 9, “the glory of the Lord [δόζα Ḳυρίου] shone round about them” (comp. II Peter i. 17; Eph. i. 6; II Cor. iv. 6); and it is supposed that in John i. 14 and Rev. xxi. 3 the words σκηνοῦν and σκηνή were expressly selected as implying the Shekinah. Similarly, we have the Gnostic Barbelo, the first emanation of the Monad, Mother of the Aeons, the Perfect Glory, the image of the invisible spirit.

Was the feminine aspect in Atenism important? I believe it was, and Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt has also introduced this theory into understanding the Atenist religion. It has also been suggested that the feminine attributes that Akhenaten was depicted with and which became increasingly prominent – the pendulous breasts, rounded belly, broad hips and heavy thighs – represented the feminine side of his Divinity and fertile side of his kingship.

Who were the main opponents to the religion of the Aten and why?

During the reign of the pacifist Akhenaten, Egypt’s power in the region was weakened; the priesthoods were no longer needed, no longer funded and became impotent.

I’m not making the usual Moses was Akhenaten claim, but I am suggesting that the followers of the religion of the Aten, with its male and female promincence (reflected in the reign of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, and subsequently arguably by Akhenaten and his male co-regent with the feminine epithet) was the same religion..that of Amenhotep’s mother…that of the Hebrews.
“Even Redford assumes the possibility that the (monotheism) of Israel derives its origin from Amarnian religion ”
I’m actually suggesting that neither were “monotheistic.”


2 thoughts on “Was Atenism really monotheistic? I think not….”

  1. I have the impression that the Egyptian religions had become corrupted by materialism by the time Pharaoh Akhenaten had swept them away for a period of time during his reign.


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