left biblioblography: MOSES AND ANKHENATON - A BOOK REVIEW

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


It's been a while. Sorry.

I've been trying to re-read the book, Moses and Akhenaten: The Secret History of Egypt at the Time of the Exodus, by Ahmed Osman. For those of you unfamiliar with this gentleman, the answers.com entry says this:

"He has identified the Semitic-born Egyptian official Joseph with the Egyptian official Yuya, and asserted the identification of Hebrew liberator Moses with the Egyptian monotheist pharaoh Akhenaten. Ahmed Osman has even claimed that Moses and Akhenaten were the same person, supporting his belief by interpreting aspects of biblical and Egyptian history. Apart from the most obvious alleged correlation that Atenism can be considered monotheistic and related to Judaism, there are alleged to be others, including a ban on idol worship and the similarity of the name Aten to the Hebrew Adon, or "Lord". This would mesh with Osman's other claim that Akhenaten's maternal grandfather Yuya was the same person as the Biblical Joseph."

I've been slogging through this book, and I find loads of problems with it. For one thing, it's pretty much a fact that the Exodus didn't occur at all (the old 'absence of evidence doesn't mean that the evidence is absent' headache: it just ain't there). Not to mention that Josephus Flauvius tells an account of the Hyksos (Osman mentions this, and claims it incorrect in his book, Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt), who by all accounts, were anything but slaves - rather, they ran the joint for approximately a century, and got their asses kicked out. Osman also tends to cite the Koran as an historical source (that it might be - but only in concurrent times, certainly not a valid source for something centuries earlier. The Koran cribbed off of the Tanakh and Christian writings in this regard: that's common knowledge). So his book(s) reflect an enormous religious bias.

Another perspective, is that he considers the writings of Moses to actually be authored by the personage, when in fact a huge portion of these are by all means pseudepigrapha.

This is an extension on Freud's Moses and Monotheism, in which Sigmund stipulated that Moses and Akhenaten were connected (related or perhaps the latter had an influence upon the former).

For those of you unfamiliar with the Akhenaten backstory, Ankhenaton (alternately known as Ikhnaton, or Amenhotep IV) was an 18th Dynasty Pharaoh, who began the first monotheistic religion the world had ever seen, and became somewhat...fanatical about instituting it (what is it with these guys? Why are the polytheists more easy-going?) to the point where he began defacing temples and idols. This was dimly viewed by the populace and priesthood. After his...de-Pharoahment, efforts were made to wipe his name and his reign from the history records.

Turbulent times make for difficult re-construction of records (especially in lieu of the expunging of Ikhnaton's existence). It is especially difficult for most Egyptologists in regards to this time period. So (as I understand it) there's more room for guesswork. In pops Osman.

Is it possible that Moses was influenced by Akhenaten? Certainly. Did Moses even exist? Quite uncertain. Could there have been a specific Egyptian influence on the Israelites? Of course there was. How much, is hard to tell. Could Yuya be the biblical Joseph? That one is not so preposterous.

From here:

"More recently, Ahmed Osman has claimed that that Moses and Akhenaten were the same individual. While these speculative views have gained acceptance in some quarters (e.g. Laurence Gardner, Bloodline of the Holy Grail, Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark; Gary Greenberg, The Moses Mystery: The African Origins of the Jewish People), most mainstream Egyptologists do not take them seriously, pointing out that there are direct connections between early Judaism and other Semitic religious traditions, and that two of the three principal Judaic terms for God, Yahweh and Elohim, have no connection to Aten . Additionally, Akhenaten appears in history almost two-centuries before the first archaeological and written evidence for Judaism and Israelite culture is found in the Levant. Furthermore abundant visual imagery was central to Atenism, which celebrated the natural world, while such imagery is not a feature of Israelite culture. [portion truncated] Some Egyptologists, however, give him a Mitannian origin. It is widely accepted that there are strong similarities between Akhenaten's Great Hymn to the Aten and the Biblical Psalm 104, though whether this implies a direct influence or a common literary convention remains in dispute."

Mr. Osman's site can be found here, for the interested reader.

Oh, and did I mention that there's a movie in the making?

Nutshelling: it's an interesting read, no doubt. Osman takes after Hemingway in one respect: he lists his evidence in short, declarative sentences. But it's a book for historians. I can only read so much about shards of pottery and different mummification techniques (and my grasp of ancient Egyptian politics is minimal at best) before I start nodding off. If you're a big fan of Egyptology (I like it, but it's not a huge hobby of mine), then this is an interesting book to have on your bookshelf. But by no means would I swear by it. More than a few grains of salt, I might add.

Or, you could just wait for the movie. But I'm willing to bet that it won't resemble the book outside of a few characters mentioned in it. Probably Akhenaten will be a James Bond type, and Nefertiti will be played (one can only hope!) by Halle Berry.

Till the next post, then.

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Krystalline Apostate said...

C'mon people, don't speak up all at once. ;)

beepbeepitsme said...

I left a reply to this yesterday. Quite a long one too. It must have been chewed by blogger.

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM - ummm, no, you put it on the Protagoras thread.

beepbeepitsme said...

Oooops... I am the dilly one. "Oldtimers" must be setting in.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Don't feel bad, BBIM: I answered it, & realized that AFTERWARDS. D'oh!

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

I left a reply too. Where is it?
I think I remember.

Did this Egyptian dude believe in an invisible God, or were Jews the first ones to believe in an invisible God and have nothing to do with worshipping idols?

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey BEAJ. I usually respond to most posters, I don't think you put it on the wrong thread (like a certain someone I won't mention, hehehehe). Maybe blogger munched it? It's happened on BBIM's site before.

some student said...

I'm studying Akhenaten for ancient history at school. Anyway, just posting to let you know I printed out ur post, since my teacher mentioned this text/book in class.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Well, that's flattering (as well as appreciated, thanks), but it's hardly an in depth analysis.
You may be better off printing up the answers.com defs, instead.