Great Hymn to the Aten

Hymn to Aton, even Big Canticle or Hymn of the Big Sun Akhenaten is the name of a ancient Egyptian hymn of the 18th dynasty from the time of the King ( Pharaoh) Akhenaten ( 1351-1334 to BC, New Kingdom ).

Origin and source

The text was written during the reign of Akhenaten around 1345 BC in Egypt. As its author applies himself Akhenaten The value written in hieroglyphic text is only once in the grave of the Eje ( grave No. 25, Southern Group ) is in Tell el -Amarna, where he met with 13 vertical rows of almost the entire surface of the right wall of the short entrance corridor to the grave occupies the interior.

The inscription was in 1890 partially destroyed, but as a complete copy of Urbain Bouriant from the years 1883/1884, so that the whole hymn was translated.

In addition to the Great Sun hymn is from a further five tombs at Tell el- Amarna, the so-called Little sun hymn known. This text is considerably shorter than that of the Great Sun singing. With three instruments the words of Akhenaten are even spoken, the dignitaries speak for the other two in his name.


In the first line of the Canticle the two names of the god Aton, of King Akhenaten and his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti are called. This worship followed by the words he says ( referring to Akhenaten ) and initiate the hymn.

The central theme is the uniqueness and singularity of the Sun God as creator and sustainer of the world and all life in all its diversity. Aton is the Lord of all the earth, who comes up to them and even all foreign countries alive by setting a Nile in the sky and this can come down to the people. It is thus not only God over the land of Egypt, but becomes the God of all people. Moreover, its cosmic qualities are especially praised as celestial bodies and his King qualities.


Hornung interprets the text as being free of mythical ideas: "By its light he creates the world again and again he is pure present and requires no more mythical past. . " In the center of the hymn is the creative power of the Aten; He creates not only the whole world, he is also a God who created himself: he built himself with his own hands. All animals, plants, humans, all life is created by Aton and renewed every day. The night is hidden in the Aton is circumscribed with a gloomy symbolism: Do you go with the western light land, the earth is in darkness, in the Constitution of death. The images of other gods are replaced by images from the real nature and press, as well as the art of the Amarna period, a strong love of nature from:

All cattle satisfied with its green herbs, trees and herbs. The birds are blown out of their nests, their wings praise thy Ka Everything Wild hops on his feet, all that fly and flutter, live when you have risen for them.

In the Amarna theology sun god and king are directly related to each other, wherein the unique position of the sun god in the sky is mirrored in the exclusive position of the king on earth. King Akhenaten is the sole mediator between God and man, and the only God had revealed to him at:

[ because ] there is no other who knows you except your son Nefercheperure ( Akhenaten ); you let him see your intentions and your power.

Donald Redford does not understand this concept close to nature as positive. " He [ Aton ] seems to have no compassion for his creatures. He gives them life and provides for their maintenance, but in a rather mechanical, disinterested manner. In no text is to be read, that He hears the cry of the poor, the helps sick or forgives the sinners. "

The majority of researchers, even if they are different feel and interpret, see the Aton hymn so as a living element history that a direct insight into the new theology taught. In contrast, Reeves and Allen contact who deny the Aton religion the content and see them as only an insufficient molded instrument with which Akhenaten himself from the firmly established role and could redefine the kingdom: " The thematic content of the hymn is too meager on which to build the concept of a new religion. " Allen comes to the conclusion - which Reeves consents to it: " The god of Akhenaten's 'Religion' Akhenaten is itself " Reeves points out that some motives " written in a virtually identical way hymn to the god Amun ( Bulak papyrus 17) from the pre- Amarna period occur [ ... ] How are we to interpret these bonds? " He answered this question as follows: " But we can also an instinctive feeling well calculated planning not help that combines familiar elements in a cynical manner with each other and with a specific goal in mind repackaged [ ... ] the Aton religion was in truth nothing else. as a pragmatic element of political control. "

Reception of the Bible

Soon after its first publication in 1884 a large content close to the Aten Hymn was found to Ps 104.27-28 EU of the Bible, as did Ps 145.15-16 EU. This is probably due to the general presence of this text in the Middle East. Some theologians derive an influence of Amarna theology to the theology of Moses Exodus in the Bible and keep the Psalm 104 for a direct translation of the Egyptian text. The Canticle of Francis of Assisi, the hymn has the broadest sense the worship of a single God the Creator in common.