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Questions about Ancient Egyptian Monotheism

 
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Were there Prehistoric Egyptians who believed in Monotheism?
Yes
40%
 40%  [ 2 ]
No
40%
 40%  [ 2 ]
Other
20%
 20%  [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 5

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rakovsky
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:42 am    Post subject: Questions about Ancient Egyptian Monotheism Reply with quote

1. What does the Egyptian Term NTR (god) mean etymologically and symbolically?

In hieroglyphics its phonetic letters are only its three consonants NTR. Polat Kaya, a Turkish writer, quotes the 20th century Egyptologist Budge as saying:
Quote:
"The common word given by the Egyptians to God, and god, and spirits of every kind, and beings of all sorts, and kinds, and forms, which were supposed to possess any superhuman or supernatural power, was NETER, and the hieroglyph which is used both as the determinative of this word and also as the ideograph is Thus we have or , 'god'...
We have now to consider what object is supposed to be represented by R8 , and what the word NETER means. In Bunsen's Egypt's Place (i., Nos. 556, 557, 623) the late Dr. Birch described as a hatchet; in 1872 Dr. Brugsch placed among "objects tranchants, armes," ... it is almost impossible not to think that the word has a meaning which is closely allied to the ideas of "self existence," and the power to "renew life indefinitely," and "self production".
SOURCE: POLATKAYA . NET l
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:55 am    Post subject: Re: Questions about Ancient Egyptian Monotheism Reply with quote

1. (Continued)

Kaya then notes the similarity to the Turkish word "Tenri" for God. One could add in the Sumerian word "Dingri" and the old Turkic "Tengri" for the same. They appear as loose cognates.

Kaya adds:
Quote:
Interestingly,... NETER is very much like the... "Indo-European" word "NATURE" meaning "character, universe, environment and physics". ...The character, universe, natural environment and physics of things are unquestionably the representation of the "GOD" concept and God's doings. The "Latin" word NATURA means "birth; nature; character; laws of nature; the world; the creation; an element; essence".
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kaya notes:
Quote:
At this point, we must also remember that the word AN also meant "sky" in Sumerian, and similarly the Egyptologists have transliterated the hieroglyphic sign, , as "NU" meaning "sky-god",. This term, in the form of "aNU" or "AN-U", is also the Sumerian word ANU meaning the"Sky-god" and the Turkish word "AN O" meaning "it is the Sky"


NTR's symbol is a flag, and flags were put around Egyptian Temples. But the NTR symbol has also been described by Budge as an axe. And Kaya proposed that it was like a sceptre or a number 1, which hieroglyphics denotes with a single stroke: l

[quote=Wikipedia]
[img]https://en.wikipedia.org/w/extensions/wikihiero/img/hiero_A40.png?3f15b[/img]
OR
[img]https://en.wikipedia.org/w/extensions/wikihiero/img/hiero_G7.png?aff71[/img]
OR
[img]https://en.wikipedia.org/w/extensions/wikihiero/img/hiero_R8.png?c3d74[/img]
"NTR"
"god"

The hieroglyphs that were used as ideograms and determinatives in writing these words show some of the traits that the Egyptians connected with divinity. The most common of these signs is a flag flying from a pole. Similar objects were placed at the entrances of temples, representing the presence of a deity, throughout ancient Egyptian history. Other such hieroglyphs include a falcon, reminiscent of several early gods who were depicted as falcons, and a seated male or female deity.
WIKIPEDIA: Ancient Egyptian Deities
[/quote]
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2. When used alone in ancient literature, does it ever point to the one true God in the monotheistic sense?

E.A.W. Budge writes in TUTANKHAMEN: AMENISM, ATENISM AND EGYPTIAN MONOTHEISM:

Quote:

But in the Collections of Moral Aphorisms, or "Teachings," composed by ancient sages, we find several allusions to a divine power to which no personal name is given. The word used to indicate this power is NETER or NETHER. Many have tried to assign a meaning to this word and to find its etymology, but the original meaning of it is at present unknown. The contexts of the passages in which it occurs suggest that it means something like "eternal God." The same word is often used to describe an object, animate or inanimate, which possesses some unusually remarkable power or quality, and in the plural neteru, it represents the beings and things to which adoration in one form or another is paid. The great God referred to in the Moral Aphorisms is also spoken of as pa neter, "the God,"


He then cites the Precepts of Kagemna (IVth dynasty) and the Precepts of Ptah-hetep (Vth dynasty):

1. The things which God, (neter), doeth cannot be known.
2. Terrify not men. God, (neter), is opposed thereto.
3. The daily bread is under the dispensation of God, (neter).
4. When thou ploughest, labour (?) in the field God, (neter), hath given thee.
5. If thou wouldst be a perfect man make thy son pleasing to God, (neter).
6. God, I 1, loveth obedience; disobedience I is hateful to God, (neter).
7. Verily a good (or, beautiful) son is the gift of God, (neter).


You can read Budge's chapter here:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/tut/tut12.htm
He cites hymns and poems to God. For example, he cites the Teaching of Amenemapt, the son of Kanekht, c. XVIIIth dynasty:

1. Leave the angry man in the hands of God . . . God knows how to requite him (Col. V).
2. Carry not away the servant of the God for the benefit of another (Col. VI).
3. Take good heed to Nebertcher, (Lord of the Universe) (Col. VIII).
4. Though a man's tongue steers the boat, it is Nebertcher who is the pilot (Col. XIX).
5. Truth is the great porter (or bearer) of God (Col. XXI).
6. Seat thyself in the hands of God (Col. XXII).
7. A man prepares the straw for his building, but God is his architect.
It is he who throws down, it is he who builds up daily.
It is he who makes a man to arrive in Amentt (the Other World) [where] he is safe in the hand of God (Col. XXIV).
8. The love of God, praised and adored be he is more than the respect of the Chief (Col. XXVI).
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

4. Who was the first parental or creating deity among ancient Egyptians, resembling Zeus, An, or a cosmic mother goddess? Would such a deity be found in prehistoric times?

Quote:


OR

OR

"NTR"
"god"

The first written evidence of deities in Egypt comes from the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3100–2686 BC).[13] Deities must have emerged sometime in the preceding Predynastic Period (before 3100 BC) and grown out of prehistoric religious beliefs. Predynastic artwork depicts a variety of animal and human figures. Some of these images, such as stars and cattle, are reminiscent of important features of Egyptian religion in later times, but in most cases there is not enough evidence to say whether the images are connected with deities. As Egyptian society grew more sophisticated, clearer signs of religious activity appeared.[14] The earliest known temples appeared in the last centuries of the predynastic era,[15] along with images that resemble the iconographies of known deities: the falcon that represents Horus and several other gods, the crossed arrows that stand for Neith,[16] and the enigmatic "Set animal" that represents Set.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_deities


Quote:

Neith (also spelled Nit, Net, or Neit) was an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon. She was the patron deity of Sais, where her cult was centered in the Western Nile Delta of Egypt and attested as early as the First Dynasty.
...
Neith was a goddess of war and of hunting and had as her symbol, two arrows crossed over a shield. However, she is a far more complex goddess than is generally known, and of whom ancient texts only hint of her true nature...

As a deity, Neith is normally shown carrying the was scepter (symbol of rule and power) and the ankh (symbol of life). She is also called such cosmic epithets as the "Cow of Heaven," a sky-goddess similar to Nut, and as the Great Flood, Mehet-Weret (MHt wr.t), as a cow who gives birth to the sun daily. In these forms, she is associated with creation of both the primeval time and daily "re-creation." As protectress of the Royal House, she is represented as a uraeus, and functions with the fiery fury of the sun, In time, this led to her being considered as the personification of the primordial waters of creation. She is identified as a great mother goddess in this role as a creator. As a female deity and personification of the primeval waters, Neith encompasses masculine elements, making her able to give birth (create) without the opposite sex. She is a feminine version of Ptah-Nun, with her feminine nature complemented with masculine attributes symbolized with her association with the bow and arrow. In the same manner, her personification as the primeval waters is Mehetweret (MHt wr.t), the Great Flood, conceptualized as streaming water, related to another use of the verb sti, meaning ‘to pour’."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neith

Neith is interesting because her name reminds me of NTR a bit, and she is a cosmic-creating goddess. But her primary role is archery, warfare, and hunting, and her cosmic creating role might have developed later. So I am not sure whether she quite matches a cosmic mother goddess.

Another option is Horus, because he is associated with the sun and began a central figure in Egyptian mythology.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

5. When Egyptians worshiped the Aten or sun disk under Akhenaten, did they think that the actual solar disk itself in the sky was a god, or did they see it as a metaphor for or an emanation of the one true supreme God?

This Utah State University outline by Mark Damen gives basics on Akhenaten's rule:
Quote:

Born Amunhotep (IV), Akhenaten ruled Egypt for a mere fourteen years (ca. 1352-1338 BCE), a relatively short reign by the standards of the day... The unique and peculiar phase of Egyptian history he represents is known today as the Amarna Period—the modern Egyptian village of El-Amarna lies near the site that was once Akhenaten's capital city—although the Amarna Period extends beyond his reign, including not only Akhenaten's regency but several of his successors':

• Smenkhare (1338-1336 BCE)
• Tutankhuaten (later, Tutankhamun ["King Tut"], 1336-1327 BCE),
• and finally the very elderly Ay (1327-1323 BCE).

By the time the next series of pharaohs held the throne—Horemheb (1323-1295 BCE) and the Ramessids, a dynasty that included the famous Ramses II... Akhetaten [was] the city [Akhenaten] built for himself and his religion... Later rulers antagonistic to Amarna culture.... intentionally destroyed Akhetaten... Akhetaten, means in Egyptian "the Horizon of the Sun-disk." ... Lodged in a recess in the highlands flanking the Nile, the site provides spectacular dawns, and indeed, at certain times of year the sun appears to rise from a yoke in the mountains which embodies beautifully the solar iconography seen in much of the artwork created during the Amarna period. ...[He] adopted a new title... Akhenaten which means in Egyptian "he is agreeable (Akhen-) to the sun-disk (-aten)."

http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320hist&civ/chapters/10AKHEN.htm

However, the information I read did not conclusively answer the question.

What do you think?
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rakovsky wrote:
5. When Egyptians worshiped the Aten or sun disk under Akhenaten, did they think that the actual solar disk itself in the sky was a god, or did they see it as a metaphor for or an emanation of the one true supreme God?

This Utah State University outline by Mark Damen gives basics on Akhenaten's rule:
Quote:

Born Amunhotep (IV), Akhenaten ruled Egypt for a mere fourteen years (ca. 1352-1338 BCE), a relatively short reign by the standards of the day... The unique and peculiar phase of Egyptian history he represents is known today as the Amarna Period—the modern Egyptian village of El-Amarna lies near the site that was once Akhenaten's capital city—although the Amarna Period extends beyond his reign, including not only Akhenaten's regency but several of his successors':

• Smenkhare (1338-1336 BCE)
• Tutankhuaten (later, Tutankhamun ["King Tut"], 1336-1327 BCE),
• and finally the very elderly Ay (1327-1323 BCE).

By the time the next series of pharaohs held the throne—Horemheb (1323-1295 BCE) and the Ramessids, a dynasty that included the famous Ramses II... Akhetaten [was] the city [Akhenaten] built for himself and his religion... Later rulers antagonistic to Amarna culture.... intentionally destroyed Akhetaten... Akhetaten, means in Egyptian "the Horizon of the Sun-disk." ... Lodged in a recess in the highlands flanking the Nile, the site provides spectacular dawns, and indeed, at certain times of year the sun appears to rise from a yoke in the mountains which embodies beautifully the solar iconography seen in much of the artwork created during the Amarna period. ...[He] adopted a new title... Akhenaten which means in Egyptian "he is agreeable (Akhen-) to the sun-disk (-aten)."

http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320hist&civ/chapters/10AKHEN.htm

However, the information I read did not conclusively answer the question.

What do you think?


My comments refer to this entire thread, not just to this last posting...

I think you should read more about ancient Egyptian religion from the works of recent Egyptologists rather than cherry pick from outdated works like Budge, or quoting authors who, in turn, quote Budge (remember than Budge died in 1934 and there has been a slew of more recent studies on ancient Egyptian religion, as I noted in your other thread).

FWIW, your Wikipedia article on Neith is a partial copy of my article on Neith, which was written over 15 years ago. There is NO relation with Neith's name /Nt/ or /Nit/, which has any relation to the Egyptian term for gods, netjeru (in Egyptian, /nTr.w/).

Reference:

Griffis-Greenberg, K. 1999. The Guiding Feminine III: Neith: Ancient Goddess of the Beginning, the Beyond, and the End. InScription: Journal of Ancient Egypt 6: 25-8.

HTH.
_________________
Katherine Griffis-Greenberg

Doctoral Candidate
Oriental Institute
Oriental Studies
Doctoral Programme [Egyptology]
Oxford University
Oxford, United Kingdom

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I voted no. To make a very long and intricate story short, with all the dangers inherent in over simplification, I would say that the idea of monotheism as a sole creator god with no other gods was an anathema to the Ancient Egyptians. Look at the epithets given to Akhenaten after his death, heretic, crimminal, rebel. His religion was cut short and satisfactory documentary evidence is lacking so we cannot really say we know everything about it or were it may have led, but the Egyptians of the time would most certainly have known exactly what Akhenaten was about with his new religion, and did not like it. That "Atenism" did not survive him, strongly indicates that nobody except his most inner circle gave it any credence, with all others simply being perhaps unwilling sycophants bending to the will of the king. It could be argued that perhaps the only other person with the same fervour for this new religion was Nefertiti, as otherwise it may have lingered longer into the reign of Tutankhaten/amun than it did. I would posit that if Aye did not keep "Atenism" going, and he would have been very close to the center, then he himself was not exactly a strong believer, if a believer in this heresy at all, but we cannot know this of course.

I would think that if Ancient Egyptians had any concept of monotheism, without regard to "Atenism" and what it may or may not have been, then I would have thought that at some point there would have been a syncretism of Ptah and Ra to unify the creator of the physical universe with the creator of life, and I would tentatively suggest a syncretism with Osiris to include the afterlife, which to them was another form of existance. I think the only really significant syncretisms are Amun-Ra and Ra-Horakhty, but neither produces a single "God of gods and creator of all". However, I suspect that how the Ancient Egptians thought about the world and their gods has led others to the idea of monotheism, but not themselves.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

neseret wrote:


My comments refer to this entire thread, not just to this last posting...

I think you should read more about ancient Egyptian religion from the works of recent Egyptologists rather than cherry pick from outdated works like Budge, or quoting authors who, in turn, quote Budge (remember than Budge died in 1934 and there has been a slew of more recent studies on ancient Egyptian religion, as I noted in your other thread).

FWIW, your Wikipedia article on Neith is a partial copy of my article on Neith, which was written over 15 years ago. There is NO relation with Neith's name /Nt/ or /Nit/, which has any relation to the Egyptian term for gods, netjeru (in Egyptian, /nTr.w/).

Reference:

Griffis-Greenberg, K. 1999. The Guiding Feminine III: Neith: Ancient Goddess of the Beginning, the Beyond, and the End. InScription: Journal of Ancient Egypt 6: 25-8.

HTH.

Hello, Neseret!
Congratulations on your excellent research on Neith!

The Copts derived much of their language from Egyptian, and they transformed NTR into NT. Wiktionary says:
Quote:
Descendants
Coptic: ‎(nutə) (Sahidic), (nuti) (Bohairic), (nuntə) (Akhmimic)
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%F0%93%8A%B9%F0%93%8F%A4

Considering the development of this morphology since the phonetic spelling would be the same between them


it makes me consider that they could all be related terms. I understand of course that "Neith" is not the same as "NTR", I just see a resemblance in the way that the morphology developed with NTR, as if there is a commonality.

Would you know if it is true that N is related to "sky" in hieroglyphics, and that T is related to "father"?

Peace.[/img]
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="rakovsky"]
neseret wrote:

Considering the development of this morphology since the phonetic spelling would be the same between them
Letter 1.


Letter 2
(Half circle)


Fixed it.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rakovsky wrote:

Considering the development of this morphology since the phonetic spelling would be the same between them
Letter 1.


Letter 2
(Half circle)


Fixed it again.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rakovsky wrote:
rakovsky wrote:

Considering the development of this morphology since the phonetic spelling would be the same between them
Letter 1.


Letter 2
(Half circle)


I am talking about the common phonetic spelling between Neith and the descendants of NTR.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The meaning of NTR
The word NTR, pronounced Netjer, means deity or god.

It can also refer to a pharaoh because he was divinised in the eyes of the Egyptians and could be considered by them as a "son of God". Some of the pharaohs fed the idol of Amon, their supreme god, at Luxor themselves.

NTR can also refer to a deceased person, because Egyptians thought that the deceased could become gods.

Etymology of NTR

My best guess is that it is related to the heavens or brightness, as the word for god was in some other ancient cultures. The word for god for Sumerians was Dingir, for ancient Turkic peoples it was Tengri, and for the ancient Chinese it was Di or Tien. Dingir had a meaning not just of "god", but of brightness and the heavens and was written as a star symbol. Tengri and Tien were also associated with the heavens. Tien could mean either God or the heavens for the Chinese.

If we look at the word NTR itself, we see that it resembles the letters in the Turkic Tengri (minus a g). There is also a resemblance to Dingir, in that in linguistics D has a strong relationship to T: D is a voiced T.

Further, we can note that the name of the goddess of the heavens for Egyptians is Nut, spelled NT. And here is another phonetic resemblance. In later Egyptian language (Coptic), the R was dropped from NTR and the name for God simply became Noute. Thus, there is a resemblance between god (NTR) and the heavens goddess (NT).

In fact, when deceased people divinised, their souls were thought to go to the heavens. So one idea is that the connotations or etymology of NTR for Egyptians was "a heavenly being".

Another proposition is that the word NTR is related to the Latin word for nature, "Natura".

I wrote about this on another thread:

Is the Egyptian word NTR, "god", related to nature

http://forum.egyptiandreams.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=7292

One of the theories is that the gods were natures, elements, or principles for the Egyptians. There was an element of the sun, and so they associated the sun with a certain god, Aten or Ra. There was a principle of the primordial mass, which they associated with the primordial god Nun. There was a principle of warfare and so they had a goddess of warriors, Neith. etc.

A counterargument is that the Latin word Natura is not a "stand alone" word etymologically. Rather, it comes from another Latin word nātālis, meaning birth, as Neseret pointed out. Interestingly, in Hinduism, the word for the ultimate reality, closely associated with god and creation, is "Brahman", a word that etymologically also means "growth".

Symbolism of the word NTR


One symbol for the word "god" is a sitting man, meant to be a sitting god.



Another symbol is a flag or axe. It is not really clearly whether the depiction is a flag or axe. If it is an axe, this could be because it refers to a war chief, who carries an axe. If on the other hand it is a flag, this brings to mind how the Hindus use a flag at their temples and holy sites as a sign that a god is present.

I note in passing that the picture for the Chinese word "Shang" in the name Shang di (Supreme God) looks a bit like a flag:
"Shang" means supreme, highest, first.
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