A Poem “The Great Hymn to Aten”
People can trace the development of world religions through various written sources, historical changes, and mentions in literature. The latter source most accurately reflects not only developmental processes or religious rules but their influence and perception in society. For example, the emergence of monotheistic religions is considered the birth of Judaism and later Christianity and Islam, which is reflected both in historical sources and in the sacred books of each religion. However, such a literary source as The Great Hymn To Aten demonstrates that the first monotheistic religion appeared in ancient Egypt, as evidenced by the themes and images presented in the poem.
The paper will examine such an example of ancient literature like The Great Hymn To Aten to find features of monotheism in the images and themes of the poem. The Great Hymn To Aten was supposedly written by Pharaoh Akhenaten and was dedicated to the sun god Aten. The history and elements of the verse have been studied in sufficient detail by scientists, but they have not come to a consensus about the significance of this hymn and Akhenaten’s revolutionary vision in the history of monotheism (Shechter 26). These ideas will be explored by looking at literature, such as Shechter’s The Idea of Monotheism. Simultaneously, reviewing scientists’ findings of symbols and images in verse and analyzing the hymn itself will help distinguish the main elements determining the monotheism of Akhenaten’s ideas. For example, Hoffmeier finds new monotheistic nuances in the text along with traditional language and notes similarities with biblical themes (211). Another example is that the hymn does not mention any other gods besides Aten (Simpson 289-295). Thus, the analysis of images and themes will help to confirm that The Great Hymn To Aten relates to the beginning of monotheism, while the study of ideas and counter-arguments of scientists assists in assessing its place in the history of religion and literature.
Hoffmeier, James Karl. Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism. Oxford University Press, 2015.
Shechter, Jack. The Idea of Monotheism: The Evolution of a Foundational Concept. Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.
Simpson, William Kelly, editor. Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, Stelae, Autobiographies, and Poetry. 3rd ed., Yell University Press, 2003.