In the paper “Atenism as Related to Henotheism, Monotheism, and Polytheism” the author analyzes Atenism as one of the many religions that came out of ancient Egypt. Pharaoh Amenhotep IV instituted a regime that eventually put a stop to the polytheism of the day…
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It was a peaceful religion with brotherhood and kindness, taking precedence over the activities of daily living. Although many have considered it a type of pre-cursor to monotheism; there is no proof that it was; neither was it polytheism. It was actually a quasi-blend of the two more associated with the New Age religions, also known as henotheism. Atenism as Related to Henotheism, Monotheism, and Polytheism Initially one can say there are elements of monotheism, polytheism, and henotheism intrinsic to the ancient Egyptian religion of Atenism. In taking a closer look, Atenism is not polytheism, the worship of many gods and goddesses, or monotheism, the worship of one close and personal god, exclusive of all others, but more closely related to henotheism, a blend of the two where there is one main deity, either with multiple manifestations and names, or one main deity with many associates. While early Egyptologists felt that Atenism was a predecessor of monotheism, there has been no proof linking that cult with today’s traditional monotheistic beliefs. (Lawlor, 2007) Atenism is the religion associated with the worship of Aten, the sun disk, who until about the 12th century B.C., was just one of the many gods and goddesses associated with ancient Egyptian religion. ...
worship of other gods was permitted; however within five years of its introduction; Atenism had become the supreme religion with only one Supreme Being worshipped. During this time, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaton, Glorious Spirit of the Aten, beneficial to Aten. He then proceeded to build a new city in honor of Aten, Akhenaten, the horizon of the sun disc; it is near what is known today as Amarna, between Thebes and Memphis in the Valley of the Kings. There is some speculation that since pharaohs were thought to be deity personified that perhaps Akhenaton was, as well, the messenger person for Aten. (Geller,2002) With the installation of Aten, nine years from the beginning of Akhenaton’s reign, all traces of Amun, the previous supreme deity, were erased even to the point of chiseling the inscription off of temples, statues and entering tombs to remove all traces of the former deity. This was a common practice aimed at removing the old and instituting the new as though the old never existed; it continues with Egyptian history today, as the national history books are re-edited with the installation of new leaders, showing the previous leaders as ineffective and requiring replacement. (Geller, 2002) In Atenism, God is seen as loving and beneficent, protecting and supporting his people through his very presence, which is real enough, though not personally involved. He is not seen as authoritarian, judgmental, and justice-oriented. The worship of idols was banned, and all references to Aten in written form were shown using a sun disk whose rays culminated in upraised hands. Later, Akhenaton permitted it to be written phonetically; a symbol of his radicalism in the new religion.
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