Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism

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Oxford University Press, 2015 - History - 293 pages
Pharaoh Akhenaten, who reigned for seventeen years in the fourteenth century B.C.E, is one of the most intriguing rulers of ancient Egypt. His odd appearance and his preoccupation with worshiping the sun disc Aten have stimulated academic discussion and controversy for more than a century.
Despite the numerous books and articles about this enigmatic figure, many questions about Akhenaten and the Atenism religion remain unanswered.

In Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism, James K. Hoffmeier argues that Akhenaten was not, as is often said, a radical advocating a new religion, but rather a primitivist: that is, one who reaches back to a golden age and emulates it. Akhenaten's inspiration was the Old Kingdom (2650-2400
B.C.E.), when the sun-god Re/Atum ruled as the unrivaled head of the Egyptian pantheon. Hoffmeier finds that Akhenaten was a genuine convert to the worship of Aten, the sole creator God, based on the Pharoah's own testimony of a theophany, a divine encounter that launched his monotheistic religious
odyssey. The book also explores the Atenist religion's possible relationship to Israel's religion, offering a close comparison of the hymn to the Aten to Psalm 104, which has been identified by scholars as influenced by the Egyptian hymn.

Through a careful reading of key texts, artworks, and archaeological studies, Hoffmeier provides compelling new insights into a religion that predated Moses and Hebrew monotheism, the impact of Atenism on Egyptian religion and politics, and the aftermath of Akhenaten's reign.


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1 When the Sun Ruled Egypt
Sky and Sun Together
3 The Dawn of the Amarna Period
The Temples of Aten at Karnak
5 Finding Aten and Founding AkhetAten
6 Aten Alone
7 Is Atenism Monotheism?
A Monotheistic Manifesto
9 The Influence of Atenism in Egypt and the Bible?
Name Index
General Index

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About the author (2015)

James K. Hoffmeier was born and raised in Egypt where his passion for the archaeology of Egypt began. During graduate school, he worked with the Akhenaten Temple Project and participated in excavations (1975-1978). From 1999-2008 he directed excavations in North Sinai and in 2005 he discovered
unexpected evidence of Akhenaten's religious revolution. Since 1976, Hoffmeier has taught courses on Egyptian history, archaeology, and religion, as well as in the field of Old Testament, and has engaged in research and writing on areas where Egyptology and the Hebrew Bible intersect.

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