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View Full Version : Second Historical Footnote in Egyptain History


SilentScope001
03-30-2008, 09:25 PM
http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnL30293606.html

I'll need Darth Insidious to evaluate this news article, but appearntly, the historians are taking pro-Akhenaten rhetoric, so you might want to be careful. For those who know zip about Akhenaten, he tried to change the offical religion of Egypt from worship of many gods to the worship of only one god, the Sun God. Akhenaten styled himself as a messenger of the Sun God, and went against a lot of resistance. After his death, King Tut ascended, and Egypt reverted back to polytheism. Eventually, Akhenaten was declared 'unhistory' by the Egyptain government, meaning the Egyptain government denied he even existed.

Basically, Akhenaten tried to bring monotheism to Egypt, or, more likely, the worship of just one God while acknowledging that other Gods exist. That's why many people are interested in him.

The article itself talked about preliminary evidence that suggested that the life conditions in Egypt were not good due to studying the causes of deaths. The Historians wondered if Akhenaten tried to use that to claim life in Egypt was not good, and that it was time to worship the Sun.

Ravnas
03-30-2008, 09:44 PM
Hmm. Living proof that scapegoating isn't a new concept I would think. Nothing like taking the cheap route out by worshiping one God but acknowledging others.

JCarter426
03-31-2008, 12:06 AM
Just figured I should mention this...

Nowhere in the Torah/Old Testemant does it say that there are no other gods; the first commandment simply reads "You shall have no other gods before me".

Also, under the Roman Empire, most Christians acknowledged the existence of the Roman gods.

Take from it what you will. :)

Darth InSidious
03-31-2008, 12:28 PM
Well, now, those are wonderful theories! But Akhnaten was not a monotheist. If anything, the Aten was a kind of pantheistic, primal vivifying force, of which the other gods were aspects, or representations. It is interesting that the king is still represented in some texts as Geb, for example, among other deities.

What this new evidence does do is lend weight to the argument that the closing of the old temples, the establishment of Amarna and the abandonment of the empire were politically motivated rather than the works of a religious fanatic, as some have been quick to label Akhnaten in the past. Barry's an excellent Egyptologist, and amongst the best archaeologists in our specialism - if and when I get a hold of his findings, I'll be interested to see exactly what he concludes.


Also, under the Roman Empire, most Christians acknowledged the existence of the Roman gods.
How do you reason that?

Living proof that scapegoating isn't a new concept

I hope you're aware of the irony of calling it 'living' proof. :xp:

Rev7
03-31-2008, 03:48 PM
Just figured I should mention this...

Nowhere in the Torah/Old Testemant does it say that there are no other gods; the first commandment simply reads "You shall have no other gods before me".
I think that it implying not to have false idols. Such as a gold statue of a pig or something. That is false idolatry. False idolatry could also be the love of money, or technology, ect. Putting something in your life above God.
Also, under the Roman Empire, most Christians acknowledged the existence of the Roman gods.
The first thing that came to my mind when you said that was, "Perhaps they did that because they wanted to live". From what I know, the Romans killed and persecuted Christians. The Colosseum....?

JCarter426
03-31-2008, 04:00 PM
The first thing that came to my mind when you said that was, "Perhaps they did that because they wanted to live". From what I know, the Romans killed and persecuted Christians. The Colosseum....?

Well, sort of, yes. :p

However, they acknowledged the Roman gods even under more lax emperors, such as Trajan.

Rev7
03-31-2008, 04:15 PM
^
Hey, he was still the emperor. He could have done anything. Anyways, I looked this article up.

Read under, "Reasons for persecution" & The part on Trajan (Second Link)

Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_early_Christians_in_the_Roman_Empir e)
Link #2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_early_Christians_in_the_Roman_Empir e#Persecution_under_Trajan)

JCarter426
03-31-2008, 05:24 PM
Like I said, it was "sort of" because they were under penalty of death. ;)

jonathan7
03-31-2008, 06:54 PM
Also, under the Roman Empire, most Christians acknowledged the existence of the Roman gods.

Indeed, I would reiterate what DI said...

How do you reason that?

I must confess I tend to be a little amused when I hear what large populace, and groups believed, given if I know anything about humanity we all think very different things, and even within 'in groups' you will have a wide variety of thinking styles and thoughts on what the group believes.

History, tends to be written by those who are literate (people who write can be censored), given that it would seem to me, that usually the further back we go the less literal people were (though I admit the medieval period spoils that) and given that often many sources can be lost, destroyed and tampered with; how accurate is the assumption 'most' people believed anything in particular?

JCarter426
03-31-2008, 07:27 PM
Emperor Trajan's response to Pliny's question regarding the Christians:

You observed proper procedure, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians. For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard. They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it--that is, by worshiping our gods--even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance. But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age.

(from http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/pliny.html)

As I mentioned earlier, Trajan was more lax (as in, he didn't aggressively hunt down and execute anyone who was suspected of being a Christian), and the Christians, for the most part, had no problem with his resolution--that any suspected Christian who acknowledged the Roman gods would be set free. Because, at least at that time, there was nothing in the religion that denied the existance of other gods.

Anyway, back on topic...the only reason I mentioned this is because Akhenaten's system was pretty much the same thing--belief in one all-powerful god, with the acknowledgement of other, minor gods. This is also similar to the Deist belief that there is no less than one god.

Darth InSidious
03-31-2008, 07:44 PM
So, by acknowledged, you mean "paid lip-service to"?

And I will repeat - Akhnaten was not a monotheist. Nor did he "believe in one all-powerful god and acknowledge other, minor gods". Neither comment is correct.

jonathan7
03-31-2008, 07:51 PM
Emperor Trajan's response to Pliny's question regarding the Christians:

(from http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/pliny.html)

As I mentioned earlier, Trajan was more lax (as in, he didn't aggressively hunt down and execute anyone who was suspected of being a Christian), and the Christians, for the most part, had no problem with his resolution--that any suspected Christian who acknowledged the Roman gods would be set free. Because, at least at that time, there was nothing in the religion that denied the existance of other gods.

Anyway, back on topic...the only reason I mentioned this is because Akhenaten's system was pretty much the same thing--belief in one all-powerful god, with the acknowledgement of other, minor gods. This is also similar to the Deist belief that there is no less than one god.

Firstly, I tend not to care less what any particular websites say; I myself remain staunchly a book man, given that any Tom, Dick or Harry can create a webpage and claim whatever he wants.

Secondly, and forgive me if I missed your answer; but you dont seem to have addressed or considered either my question or point.

JCarter426
03-31-2008, 08:04 PM
Firstly, I tend not to care less what any particular websites say; I myself remain staunchly a book man, given that any Tom, Dick or Harry can create a webpage and claim whatever he wants.

It wasn't from a website.

So, by acknowledged, you mean "paid lip-service to"?

Exactly. :p

Let me put it another way...Christians of that time were given a choice: either they acknowledge the existence of the Roman gods, or they die. Now, regarding the Christians that did accept the Roman pantheon...either they violated their beliefs in order to escape death, or acknowledging the Roman gods wasn't in violation of their beliefs. Now, I'm usually the first to point out the hypocrisy of a religion, but in this case I suspect it was the latter.

And I will repeat - Akhnaten was not a monotheist.

No, no he was not.

Nor did he "believe in one all-powerful god and acknowledge other, minor gods".

He did acknowledge the existance of the other Egyptian gods.

Rev7
03-31-2008, 08:05 PM
^
Perhaps JCarter426 was explaining more to me on what he meant. Either that or I misinterpreted you and you were talking about DI...

As I mentioned earlier, Trajan was more lax (as in, he didn't aggressively hunt down and execute anyone who was suspected of being a Christian)
Well, I know that you said "agressively", but Trajan did execute some Christians. To me, that is still persecution. To me, I repeat, to me he wasn't a "lax" emperor.
...and given that often many sources can be lost, destroyed and tampered with; how accurate is the assumption 'most' people believed anything in particular?
Not very accurate...
And I will repeat - Akhnaten was not a monotheist. Nor did he "believe in one all-powerful god and acknowledge other, minor gods". Neither comment is correct.
Do you mind elaborating on that? I don't know muchy about this person. This is actually the very first time that I have heard his name. I am asking this because the information that SilentScope001 basically told me that Akhnaten was monotheistic. So do you mind elaborating? :)

jonathan7
03-31-2008, 08:14 PM
It wasn't from a website.

Really? Well, let me say this, it is not something I'd use as a referance for any essay I would ever write (if its from a book, I woul read and quote from the book); its entirely your decision to ignore, but I have never scored less than 70% for any university essay; though there are far more greater minds and academics in this forum than me, so they are in a better position to comment than myself.

With reguards dating (especially of religious texts) you may want to consider somethign Jae says in the citations sticky;


Some sources have a bias, e.g. liberal or conservative, and that can radically affect how they approach a topic. Don't be surprised if the bias is evaluated and pointed out in the course of a discussion.

It is often apparent to me, that there are many vested intrests from many sides as to the particular date of a religious text. So for example I have heard the Gospel of John dated from 60AD - 300 AD. Just my 2 cents.


You also failed to answer my question/point again.

Not very accurate...

Hehe, indeed :)

No, no he was not.

He did acknowledge the existance of the other Egyptian gods.

Source?

SilentScope001
03-31-2008, 08:27 PM
And I will repeat - Akhnaten was not a monotheist.

Well, I said he was far more likely not a monotheist, and, in the end, I'll defer to you, but if all the other gods are just represenations of Aten, the Sun God, then isn't there just one real God, that of the Sun God, hence it would be monotheism (belief in one God), at least in Western eyes? Still, it makes far more sense how you stated it, so I'm going to trust your judgement, pending more evidence concering the affair.

We know very, very little about Akhnaten (other than, say, his religion), thanks to him being unhistory and all, however, so, any conclusion about who he is....is rather likely to be totally off-the-mark.

What this new evidence does do is lend weight to the argument that the closing of the old temples, the establishment of Amarna and the abandonment of the empire were politically motivated rather than the works of a religious fanatic, as some have been quick to label Akhnaten in the past.

Quick to disagree. You can claim that society is not doing well, and then at the same time preach your religious fanaticism as the ultimate solution to the problem. Many religions have done the same, making a social argument in addition to the 'appeal to God' one.

JCarter426
03-31-2008, 08:34 PM
Really?

What I posted was a link to a website with a translation of one of Pliny's letters to Trajan, along with the Emperor's response. Please don't make me whip out the old Latin dictionary and translate myself (it was bad enough in High School :p).

Source?

This one is from a website. :p

From http://www.egyptologyonline.com/akhenaten1.htm

The major religious innovation of this reign was the worship of the sun disc Aten to the exclusion of the rest of the Egyptian gods, even Amun. Art took on a new distinctive style - the reliefs and stelae in the tombs and temples of Akenaten's reign show Akhenaten, his wife Nefertiti and the royal princesses worshipping and making offerings to the Aten, which was displayed as a sun-disc with radiating arms and hands stretched downwards (see pictures above). The names of other deities were removed from temple walls in an attempt to reinforce the idea of the Aten as a single supreme deity.

Akhenaten worshiped Aten above the other gods, but did acknowledge their existence.

Darth InSidious
03-31-2008, 08:46 PM
Let me put it another way...Christians of that time were given a choice: either they acknowledge the existence of the Roman gods, or they die. Now, regarding the Christians that did accept the Roman pantheon...either they violated their beliefs in order to escape death, or acknowledging the Roman gods wasn't in violation of their beliefs. Now, I'm usually the first to point out the hypocrisy of a religion, but in this case I suspect it was the latter.
Yet your assumption is that the majority of Christians deliberately chose to worship the Roman pantheon, in turn relying on the idea that paying lip service = worship...?

It's fairly well-documented occurrence that the Early Church was unsure of what to do with those who recanted their beliefs and professed paganism under threat of legal sanctions (crucifixion, etc.), and it is thought that from this the practice of (public) confession/reconciliation came (the concept of private confession is, IIRC, a post-Tridentine development).


He did acknowledge the existance of the other Egyptian gods.
Uh, no. He claimed the other gods were aspects of the Aten - for example, Akhnaten's "father" in the boundary stela, which I would interpret in fact as being the Aten (since the names do not correspond with the king we know as Amenhotep III), is Re-Harakhti-who-rejoices-in-lightland, in-his-name-Shu-who-is-Aten.

SilentScope001
04-01-2008, 04:40 PM
Uh, no. He claimed the other gods were aspects of the Aten

But then how is Akhenaten not a monotheist then? If there was only one god, Aten, and all the other gods are just aspects of Aten, then wouldn't worship of the one god Aten just be termed 'monotheist'?

Rev7
04-02-2008, 01:09 AM
It is often apparent to me, that there are many vested intrests from many sides as to the particular date of a religious text. So for example I have heard the Gospel of John dated from 60AD - 300 AD. Just my 2 cents.
Hmm, that sounds to really be off. REALLY OFF.

~snipped baiting comment~

Well, I said he was far more likely not a monotheist, and, in the end, I'll defer to you, but if all the other gods are just represenations of Aten, the Sun God, then isn't there just one real God, that of the Sun God, hence it would be monotheism (belief in one God), at least in Western eyes? Still, it makes far more sense than the alternative of only praying to one God and claiming that the others exist, so I'm going to trust your judgement, pending more evidence concering the affair.
Well, I actually had to look the word, "monotheism" up. I only confirmed what I thought that it meant. "the doctrine or belief that there is only one God." That is what the word technically means. I myself am monotheistic. I believe in one God. I believe, in what I think/know for myself, is the only real God. But I am nearly sure that most people know that about me...
Basically, Akhenaten tried to bring monotheism to Egypt, or, more likely, the worship of just one God while acknowledging that other Gods exist. That's why many people are interested in him.
But then how is Akhenaten not a monotheist then? If there was only one god, Aten, and all the other gods are just aspects of Aten, then wouldn't worship of the one god Aten just be termed 'monotheist'?
Well, given the definition that I just read (actually typed!), I would personally say that Akhenaten, technically, was not a monotheist. I guess that that could be where Darth InSidious was coming from...but on the other hand--perhaps not.
________________
The source of my definition-- Monotheism -- dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/monotheism)

SilentScope001
04-02-2008, 11:15 AM
Well, given the definition that I just read (actually typed!), I would personally say that Akhenaten, technically, was not a monotheist.

You don't understand. Your definition claims that Akhenaten was a monotheist. If all the other gods are just mere 'represenations' of Aten, then the other gods don't really 'exist', per se, as they are just reflections of the only god, Aten. Hence, Aten is the only god that exist, therefore, Akhenaten would be a monotheist if DI is right.

Rev7
04-02-2008, 02:44 PM
And I will repeat - Akhnaten was not a monotheist. Nor did he "believe in one all-powerful god and acknowledge other, minor gods". Neither comment is correct.
You don't understand. Your definition claims that Akhenaten was a monotheist. If all the other gods are just mere 'represenations' of Aten, then the other gods don't really 'exist', per se, as they are just reflections of the only god, Aten. Hence, Aten is the only god that exist, therefore, Akhenaten would be a monotheist if DI is right.
Well, after looking over the definition several times, I don't think that the definition really says what we want to know. The definition only talks about the belief, and doesn't talk about "reflections". So, I guess that we just need Darth InSidious to explain his a little bit more. :)

jonathan7
04-02-2008, 05:17 PM
Hmm, that sounds to really be off. REALLY OFF.

~snipped baiting comment~

Whats off? I am for the record a Christian; the earliest ratified dates I have seen for the Gospel of John is 60 AD (i.e. around 30 years after Jesus death). When it was first written is a matter of conjecture in historical/scientific frame of referance. When it was written in terms of proof cannot be proven, straight after Jesus death; or it could have been first written 30 years afterwards. When exactly do you think the Gospel was written?

Rev7
04-03-2008, 02:42 AM
^
I am so sorry. After reading over what you originally said, I understand now. I guess that I misinterpreted your original statement. I don't know how this sounds to you, but I thought that you were talking about, well, when the events occured. Just a misinterpretation. Sorry!

Jvstice
04-06-2008, 05:47 AM
A while back I had to take an old testament class. They made a distinction I think that might help this debate between monotheism and practical monotheism.

In Moses' time, the ten commandments were given with the assumption that the Israelites believed that other gods existed. They were called upon to worship only one though. Believing that more than one exist, but only worshiping one is called practical monotheism.

By the time of the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah gives the following illustration to show how there is only one God. "A man goes into the forest to chop some wood. He cuts two logs and brings them back. One he throws on the fire. The other he carves into an idol worships it, and implores it to grant him a boon" Isaiah goes on to point out the irony of treating something you created in your spare time with bits of scrap as though it were greater than you. That is actual monotheism.

Anyway, it seemed that this debate was going nowhere because of a lot of switching back and forth between definitions because you didn't separate practical monotheism and monotheism. Hope it helps.