Ancient Gods of Light

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Light is an important concept in many religions, including Judaism and a sect of ancient Egyptian religion. While many people are familiar with the God of the Bible, most people have probably never heard of the Egyptian sun-god Aten. The sun god of Egypt and the God of Israel bear striking similarities, though the worship practices of these deities were markedly different. For centuries the Egyptians worshipped a pantheon of deities who supposedly controlled all natural phenomena and the underworld. The mysterious deities of the Egyptians were immortalized in hieroglyphic drawings, and the Egyptian’s belief in an afterlife produced some of the most recognizable monuments in the world. However, for a brief instant in ancient Egyptian history, tradition was cast aside in favor of monotheism (Damen, sec 1). This change was brought about by Akhenaten, a Pharoah who reigned during a time that is known as the “Amarna Period” (Damen, sec. 2). Originally named Amunhotep, a name which pays homage to the god Amun, the king started his widespread religious reforms by changing his own name to Akhenaten, which means “he is agreeable to the sun-disk” (Damen, sec. 2:B-C). Although no definitive answer has been discovered for Akhenaten’s drastic religious reforms, some experts have suggested that Akhenaten wanted to exchange the priest-only worship of the god Amun for worship that his subjects could also participate in (Damen, sec. 2c). The god that Akhenaten worshipped was called Aten, or the “sun disk.” Aten was often represented in hieroglyphics as a simple disk with rays of light, though occasionally Aten was depicted with hands at the ends of the light beams (Damen, sec. 2D too close to original). In his poem of praise “Great Hymn to the... ... middle of paper ... ...n Ten: Akhenaten and Monotheism.” Utah State University. Damen, 2013. Part 4, Section 10. Web. 28 Jan. 14 http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320Hist&Civ/chapters/10AKHEN.htm ASK THE LIBRARIAN HOW TO CITE HIS NAME Edgar, Robert R., et al. “Chapter One.” Civilizations Past and Present. 12th ed. Ed. Janet Lanphier, et al. Vol. 1. New York: Pearson, 2008. Print. Stevens, Anna. "The Amarna Royal Women As Images Of Fertility: Perspectives On A Royal Cult." Journal Of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 4.1 (2004): 107-127. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Feb. 2014. (check citation format) “The Great Hymn to Aten.” University of Texas. University of Texas, n.d. Web. 31 January 2013. http://www.utexas.edu/courses/classicalarch/readings/hymn_to_aten.html Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Fully rev. ed. Ed. Kenneth L. Barker, et al. 1985. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002. Print.
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