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Author Topic: Amun?  (Read 1237 times)

Offline Thoth_dev

  • Country: us
« on: June 24, 2018, 06:30:04 pm »
Of the many Gods I've studied theologicaly, Amun has always intrigued me the most. I want to understand him better. Do you view him as a transcendental, self-created creator deity and king of the Gods. What is his relationship to Ra? Is he an form of Ra or two separate deities who merge to handle certian functions.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2018, 07:01:51 pm by Thoth_dev »

Offline Sedjfaiemitui

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Amun?
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2018, 11:20:59 pm »
Of the many Gods I've studied theologicaly, Amun has always intrigued me the most. I want to understand him better. Do you view him as a transcendental, self-created creator deity and king of the Gods. What is his relationship to Ra? Is he an form of Ra or two separate deities who merge to handle certian functions.

Em hotep nefer, Thoth_Dev!

Is He a self-created, Creator-deity?

Yes, but this is by no means exclusive. Many Netjeru are also this, and in the instances when Amun-Re is "the," Nit (Neith) is often cast as His "Mother," since the act of creation requires male and female parts and players on an essential level. She is typically the one putting the "Mother" in "Bull-of-His-Mother" (kA-mwt=f, Kamutef). This is also the case for Re, for different Sobek-Gods, etc. In the case of Min-Heru as self-created Divinity, Aset (Isis) is the Mother and Consort rather than Nit. You get the idea. :P

Is He transcendental?

Yes. Amun-Re is not identical with His creation. Any deity not identical with His creation is on a basic level "transcendent." Moreover, He is not of matter, nor directly subject to matter, whereas creation (namely, our end of it) is primarily of matter. He is not subject to the Laws of Physics. While He is transcendent, He is also immanent. Amun-Re is present within His creation, manifesting His Ba in various ways and forms, including but not limited to influencing our world through the sun disc. He influences what happens within His creation, deliberately and directly. He receives personal worship, and He both hears and responds to prayers. A God may possess qualities that are immanent and transcendent. It is not a matter of "either/or" for Amun-Re, nor for any other Netjer(et) in the capacity of "Creator."

Is He "King of the Gods?"

Yes, but again, this title is by no means exclusive to Him. Many Netjeru are also this, in each Their moments of worship.

While we're here, I ought to dissect that tricky "King of the Gods" trope.

The "King of the Gods" trope, at least in Modern understanding, is directly tied to the idea of "National Gods." This idea of "National Gods" was a phenomenon of the mid-to-late 1st millennium BCE, primarily born from Judahite polemics in their (impotent and failed) "rebellion" against Neo-Assyrian imperial dominion. Certain deities in this manner of highly politicized, adversarial narrative represented certain nations with an air of exclusivity: Aššur, of course, represented the Neo-Assyrian Empire; Chemosh, the kingdom of Moab; Milqom, the kingdom of Ammon; Amun-Re, the (then-diminished) Egyptian Empire; and then-recently-singularized Yahweh, the Kingdom of Judah; etc. This notion was not one native to Egyptian thought, which was and by that time still remained thoroughly polytheistic. Indeed, in (also thoroughly polytheistic) Levantine and Mesopotamian religious cultures, the matter was also not so simple as to have one God reigning over all others in a rigidly hierarchical fashion that rendered all these "others" so insignificant as to be virtually non-existent. Judah, meanwhile, was experiencing a religious identity crisis and all manner of upheaval, wherein one God was being increasingly promoted as Sole Supreme Ruler, and the "others" endemic to the polytheistic religion He came from were being steadily written-out of the picture in an act of great intellectual violence. "King of the Gods" in conventional Modern usage reflects the spirits of the Judahite kings Hezekiah and Josiah more than any other, and in my experience (both academic and personal-religious), "King of the Gods" isn't an ideal lens through which to view Amun-Re, especially not in a highly-focused character of approach. It has a lot of confused, monotheized baggage attached to it.

TL;DR -- It's not that the epithet HqA n nTrw (Heka en Netjeru, "Ruler of the Gods") doesn't apply to Amun-Re, because it does. It is a title absolutely historically attested for Amun-Re. It is part of His identity and His set of roles/functions. Operative word being part. The issue with the "King of the Gods" trope is that it causes people to think that "oh, only HE'S truly important, and the others are beneath Him." It rudely oversimplifies the religion, mutes it, and disrespects the hundreds of other deities within our religion Who also occupy the space of "Ruler." That's why it shouldn't be anyone's primary focus for ANY Divinity, and why it should be considered only as a part of an Infinite Being.

Is He a form of Re?

Not exactly, but in any case, certainly not in any exclusivity. Amun-Re is a syncretism, meaning that two or more individual deities "combine" to form yet another articulate, agent, individual deity. The existence of Amun-Re as an agent and individual Being does not negate the existences of Amun and Re as agent and individual Beings in any way, shape, or form. They all exist coevally. None of Them are subordinate "extensions" or "masks" of any others. They are all real, all at the same time.

To contextualize:

It is a fundamental element of Egyptian religion(s) to relate the local to the State, and the State to the local. An obvious way of doing that (but not the only way of doing that) is to relate certain deities to certain Heru-Gods, Who are readily identified with the King, and to "the Sun-God," Re, Who is an essential "Father" of the King.

During the First Intermediate and Middle Kingdom periods, the "chief deities" of each cult center gradually came to be "solarized." It came earlier for some. To give one example, from a comparatively early date Herishef and Re were very closely associated in the areas in and around Henen-nesu and Naref. To give another, the Banebdjedet of Djedet / Mendes was associated with Re from an early date, most typically in the context of funerary religion, though of course this association was by no means restricted to that area of religious expression.

The intelligible "solarization" and above all the "nationalization" (read: achievement of the popular and royal status of the Heru-Gods and Re throughout Egypt and its diverse regional religions, not the kind of "nationalization" I spoke of earlier) of Amun, however, didn't come about in force until after the dust settled between the confederacy of Asyut + Henen-nesu and their rivals in Waset in the civil war that concluded the First Intermediate Period. The victory of Sehertway Intef, the leader of Waset, was also the victory of Amun of Waset -- which was visibly realized by the reign of his successor, Wahankh Intef II (noteworthy aside: there is an arguable degree of difference in "original identity" between the "Ogdoad Amun" of Khmun / Hermopolis and the Amun of Waset / Thebes. Though we don't quite know whether They were "originally" considered the self-same Being, The identity of "Ogdoad Amun" came to be regarded as an extension of the Amun of Waset and His later localized forms, which is very evident at the Persian Period temple at Hebet / Hibis, among other temples in other locales dating to different periods). Montu, a very ancient deity lording over Waset, continued to be a religious fixture within the region, and a number of successors to the Intefs were still named for Him, but Amun(-Re) would quickly surpass Montu in notoriety and importance both locally and throughout the country.

The power of the cult of Amun in Waset began to grow in earnest during the reigns of the Intefs, Montuhoteps, and Amunemhats (Dynasties 11 and 12). It continued to expand fairly steadily with only a few "minor hiccups" (e.g., the Amarna Heresy) over the ensuing centuries, with periodic explosions in piety and temple-building and accompanying resource allocation to the cult of Amun-Re during the reigns of Horemheb and Seti I and Ramessu II, to name but a few. Perhaps ironic to some, the solar qualities of Amun-Re were further enlarged in the wake of the Amarna Heresy, incorporating a number of liturgical and theological elements introduced by said heresy, though definitely not in a fashion consistent with the limited henotheism imposed by Akhenaten. David Klotz goes into some detail about this in his text Adoration of the Ram: Five Hymns to Amun-Re from Hibis Temple.

All this (and much more, up to and including high officials of the cult sometimes surpassing/challenging the power of the King) was enjoyed until the time of the Neo-Assyrian conquest under Emperor Aššur-Bāni-Apli, after which time the wealth and political influence of the cult did not meaningfully, much less anywhere near fully, recover. Amun-Re's popularity was cemented in the Egyptian mind, and His all-important solar qualities did not magically dissipate at any point, but the cult centered in Waset no longer possessed the clout it once had.

This is a very short and oversimplified history, of course, but hopefully it fills in some blanks for anyone reading who isn't familiar. :)

Apologies for the hellacious length, but I hope it helped!

Senebty! ;D
« Last Edit: June 25, 2018, 04:46:22 am by Sedjfaiemitui »
"Endowed by Two Fathers"
𓁣 𓁠
Sat Set her Amun-Re-Banebdjedet
Meryt Herishef, Wesir-Narefy, Heru-Wer, her Yinepu


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