• Thomas M. Ward

Religious Experience in Ancient Egypt

This week I'm reading a book about the development of monotheism in Ancient Egypt, James K. Hoffmeier's Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism. It makes a strong case that Akhenaten's "heresy" of solar monotheism wasn't so radical or even heterodox as the traditional religious history of Egypt makes out. In particular, the identification of the sun god Re with the creator god Amun in the 12th dynasty gives a pretty clear theological foundation for Akhenaten's own religion.

One detail in the book which was moving for me was the following description of a religious experience of Amun:

It reminds me of one of my favorite sentimental hymns, "My Father's World" by Maltbie D. Babcock:

This is my Father's world, And to my listening ears All nature sings, and round me rings The music of the spheres. This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas-- His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world: The birds their carols raise, The morning light, the lily white, Declare their Maker's praise. This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair; In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father's world: O let me ne'er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet. This is my Father's world: Why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King: let the heavens ring! God reigns; let earth be glad!

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