Question of the Week: When Jesus is referred to as “The Amen” is it referencing the pagan Egyptian deity Amun?
The word Amen is a word from the Hebrew language meaning “to agree” or affirm what you say as true. The name Amun in the Egyptian language is taken to mean many things, none of which have anything to do with the Hebrew term Jesus used to describe Himself in Revelation 3:14.
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
Revelation 3:14 (NKJV)
In order to properly understand what Jesus is referencing, we first need to understand the background to Jesus’ statement. Then once we can positively affirm what is being said, we can compare it to what we know about the pagan deity Amun in order to come to a proper conclusion about this accusation.
What does Jesus mean when He refers to Himself as “The Amen?” Alongside other references to the Old Testament that were associating Him with the God of the Old Testament, He is clarifying to a church who is speaking to them based on these particular traits. The author of Revelation, the Apostle John, frequently clarifies in His gospel and epistles that Jesus came to this world in order to show us what the Creator of the Universe is like. The beginning, or literally genesis, of the Creation of God is one example. Jesus is given credit for the sort of thing the God of Israel claimed to do in Genesis 1:1.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
John 1:3 (NKJV)
Now that we understand John’s use of language concerning Jesus, what would be accomplished by Jesus in referring to Himself as the Amen? It falls in line with the other title Jesus refers to Himself as being the Faithful and True Witness. A Witness is something or someone that has seen something. Being a witness is to be a living example of something in order to show or explain it to others. This is what John describes Jesus as when He adopted human nature in a moment of history.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14 (NKJV)
All of these terms Jesus refers to Himself as fall in line with one common feature. He is the living example of the God of the Jewish Old Testament. We need to understand that is the culture Jesus is speaking to and from in order to properly represent what the significance of “Amen” means. Because Jesus uses Hebrew terms, familiar to a Hebrew audience, having a Hebrew background, and always in association with the God of the Hebrews, we need to conclude that this is a statement alluding to Hebrew culture. Not Egyptian. Further confirmation of this exists in the fact that the church Jesus is speaking to would be located in modern day Turkey, which was populated by Greeks. No association with Egypt or paganism is suggested in any way whatsoever. Jesus, as a Jew, is using Jewish terms to associate Himself with traits of the Jewish God.
With all of that said, Jesus’ affirmation to be the living personification of the God of Israel leaves no room for any association with Egyptian culture with one exception. The word Amun sounds like the word Amen. Therefore, does that mean we should conclude that despite being different languages from different cultures with different meanings, we should associate them both in terms of their theology and rewrite the entire Bible in the image of Egyptian paganism? Obviously not. The phonetic fallacy is when you falsely assume similar words from two different languages should be understood to have the same meaning. This accusation actually takes it a step farther. If one word can be compared to a word from an entirely different language, culture, and theology in any way, we should assume they are referring to the same deity. This is not only false on logical grounds, but historic as well.
Our understanding of Egyptian paganism is limited to the hieroglyphs and writings we have available to us which are laughably small compared to our understanding of the Jewish God in the Old Testament. Amun’s story can be understood as a development of an older god by the name of Ra. They are often referred to in ancient Pyramid texts in Thebes as Amun-Ra with Ra being the more prominent name of the two. Being referred to as “The Hidden One” and associated with water in contradiction with Ra’s association with the sun, the religion of Egypt underwent many changes from the time of Moses all the way to the time of the Assyrian conquest of Egypt in the mid 600’s BC. We don’t actually know anything about him until after this time period, and it is then that parallels with the Jewish God of Israel begin to appear. An objective historian would conclude that since Egypt had many interactions with Israel and had a demonstrably flexible religion, they copied these aspects of Amun from the Jewish God YHVH, not vice versa. And even then, his common traits actually put further distance between himself and Jesus rather than bringing them closer together. They refer to Amun as the Creator, but leave out the detail that Amun created himself from Chaos. The God of Israel is eternal, and thus never had a moment of creation. They refer to Amun as one of a series of multiple members who acted in Creation, but fail to clarify that it was an Ogdoad of eight distinct and separate deities rather than a Trinity of the one and only God. Amun had a consort to produce offspring. Jesus doesn’t. Amun at the height of his popularity was considered the most prominent of many gods in Egypt. Jews and early Christians never considered Jesus a lesser or distinct deity from the Father until the time of Joseph Smith and Charles Taze Russell. Both of which are founders of heretical cults and treated as such by Orthodox Christians even to this day. The worship of Amun in Egpytian paganism ceased in the 5th century AD. The worship of Jesus as God in Christianity continues even to this day. These are merely a handful of examples with many more available. The point is simply this. Egyptian paganism and its portrayal of Amun is in no way reconcilable with Jesus as He’s portrayed in the Old and New Testament. Anyone who would claim otherwise is depending on the ignorance of their audience in order to take these kind of claims seriously.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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