chapter  5
23 Pages

Ba: Hiddenness and Oneness. Theban Amun-Re Theology in the Ramesside Period I

The theology to be discussed in this chapter represents a religious model which, for novelty and self-containedness, rivals Amarna religion. Compared with Amarna religion, however, only individual aspects of this theology have been identified by scholars, and the most striking of these is the phenomenon usually summarised under the heading "personal piety"'! The reason for this is that the new theology, unlike Amarna religion, was not introduced by force, in the form of "revolution from above", or by actively excluding other religious forms, so that the new could be sharply distinguished from the old and as such made easily recognisable. This theology, rather, presents a new context, which was able to accommodate the old; it took many decades to develop, but did so with increasing clarity. We are thus dealing with a structural change of the old religion, which was achieved not only gradually, but also with the traditional forms of expression intact, so that the new often cannot be recognised by the individual new expression, but only by the novel configuration of traditional motifs. Anyone looking at individual aspects will find the following interpretation somewhat arbitrary. The nature of the changes postulated here was significant and fundamental, but the superficial differences between the old and new appear relatively hard to detect. It therefore seems to me indispensable to make a preliminary summary of the motifs and characteristics by which, in my opinion, the new theology can be recognised most clearly:

1. the emphasis on the oneness and hiddenness of the god; 2. the predication of the god as .i."ba" in connection with the concept of

hiddenness; 3. the formula of the "one who makes himself into millions", with all its variants; 4. the concept of the god dwelling in the world as "ba", image and body, who has

created the world as earth, heaven and underworld for these three constituent elements of his self;

5. the theory of the "life-giving elements", i.e. the concept that god sustains and gives life to the world not only by, but also as light,.i. air, and water;

6. the idea of all-pervasiveness in the form of air, as is expressed in the formula (lmn) mnw m jat nbt;

7. the role of this god as god of time and fate in connection with 8. his personal aspect as "ethical authority".