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From Akhenaten to MosesAncient Egypt and Religious Change$
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Jan Assmann

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9789774166310

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774166310.001.0001

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From Polytheism to Monotheism:

From Polytheism to Monotheism:

Evolution or Revolution?

(p.43) 3 From Polytheism to Monotheism
From Akhenaten to Moses

Jan Assmann

American University in Cairo Press

Is the turn from polytheism to monotheism to be analyzed as an evolutionary or a revolutionary process? The answer is: both. The Bible represents the turn as a violent revolution, but shows within biblical monotheism an evolution from monolatry or monotheism of loyalty (“there are many gods but we stay true to JHWH, the liberator from Egyptian serfdom”) to monotheism of truth (“there is but one God, the creator of heaven and earth”). Egyptian religion confronts us with a revolutionary overturn of traditional religion (Akhenaten) and an evolutionary process towards inclusive monotheism (‘All gods are One’).

Keywords:   inclusive monotheism, exclusive monotheism, cosmogonic monotheism, monolatry, evolution, revolution

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