A BRIEF HISTORICAL SURVEY OF THE MONOTHEISTIC CONCEPT IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF AND PRACTICE: DEFINITION OF MONOTHEISM(3)

2. Monotheistic view of ancient Greek Religions:

Among Greek scholars, ideas of a unitary divine reality were expressed as a means of showing the order and reasonableness of the world. In pre-Socratic times, it definitely seems, philosophers like Xenophanes depicted the spiritual unity of the entire world in the notion of the All-One, uncreated, unchangeable, and immanent in all things. Plato stressed the unity of God who must be perfectly God, changeless, and the maker of the best possible world. Aristotle categorically identified the concept of God with the idea of goodness and the causal principle of all. He held that the unicity of the supreme First Mover follows from the unity of the physical world. He was of his opinion that God is one eternal and immutable. Later in the Hellenistic religions, the sense of God’s unicity was expressed by raising one god or goddess to supremacy encompassing all others. For instance, Apuleis regarded Isis as the one Great Mother of all, who was worshipped in several names in different areas.

3. Monotheistic Approach in Egyptian Religions:

In ancient Egyptian religions, historians found one of the earliest forms of exclusive monotheism. Within the elaborate and complicated polytheism of Egyptian religion there had long been rationalistic tendencies toward seeing various gods as different forms of one particular God, with an emphasis on the supremacy of the sun God, who tended to absorb other gods. Around 1375 BCE, Pharaoh Amunhetep IV repudiated the authority of the old gods and their priests and devoted himself exclusively to Aton, the god appearing as the sun disk. He proclaimed himself the son of Aton, taking the name Akhenaton (‘devoted Aton’) and he imposed this worship on others. He declared Aton the creator and ruler of the world. He spoke of God as pure and gracious.

By royal decree Atone became the only God who exists, king not only of Egypt but of the entire world, embodying in his character and essence all the attributes of the other gods. Akhenaton’s monotheism was related to protest against abuses in the cults of the gods as well as the then polytheistic practices; but it does not appear to have led to new ethical standards. Within twenty five years, Akhenaton was gone and his successors restored the old cults. Just after the ascedency of Akhenton’s son to the throne, the priests who resented to Akhenton for his turn toward monotheism, restored polytheism as it was before. Thus Akhenation’s initiative toward monotheism ended with his death, after lasting for twenty years. In this context, J.E. Swain mentioned that monotheism in a pure form never was attained in ancient Egypt.

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