The Living Image of The Lord
All the evidence points to the identification of Tutankhamun as the historical Jesus. This, I realize, is a challenging--and will, for many people, be a disturbing--statement. Yet it seems the only logical conclusion to draw from the evidence.
We have two names of successors to Moses, whom I have identified as the Pharaoh Akhenaten. One is the biblical Joshua, the prophet; the other is Tutankhamun, the anointed king who succeeded Akhenaten on the throne after his abdication. We have already identified Joshua as Jesus. Can the same be said of Tutankhamun?
Luke describes the forthcoming birth of Jesus in the following terms: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (1:32-3). There is nobody apart from Tutankhamun of whom it can be said that these conditions--Son of the Highest, seated upon the throne of his father (the sense here is ancestor) David--were fulfilled.
Tutankhamun was born in the city of Amarna. A linen shirt found in his tomb and dated to Year 7 of Akhenaten, indicates that this was the year of his birth. There cannot be any doubt that he belonged to the Tuthmosside royal family of which Tuthmosis III (King David) had been the head four generations earlier. A text on a lion of red granite in the British Museum states that “He restored the monuments of his father (again ancestor is meant) Amenhotep III.”
Professor R. G. Harrison, the late Professor of Anatomy at the University of Liverpool, who examined the king’s mummy in 1963, found a striking similarity with artistic impressions of Akhenaten, suggesting that they were close relations. Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, was equally, struck by the matching appearance of his mask and mummy both to Akhenaten and to his mother, Queen Tiye.
Some scholarly debate has been devoted to the question of whether Tutankhamun was the son or brother of Akhenaten, and the identity of his mother. These matters are not difficult to resolve. Akhenaten had a co-regency with his father, Amenhotep III, for twelve years, then ruled alone for five. The birth of Tutankhamun in--according to the shirt found in his tomb--his father’s Year 7 would make him ten years of age when he came to the throne and nineteen when he died. These dates are confirmed by anatomical examination of his body as well as by dated objects found in his tomb.
The only reasonable conclusion is that Akhenaten was the father of Tutankhamun. What of his mother? Without any evidence to support their argument, some scholars have suggested a different mother from Queen Nefertiti for the young king.
However, there is strong archaeological evidence confirming that, both before and after Tutankhamun came to the throne, he lived with Nefertiti at the northern palace of Amarna. This can only confirm the maternal relationship.
The young king-to-be was given the name Tut-ankh-aten when he was born. As I have shown elsewhere, Aten in Egyptian is the equivalent of Adonai--the Lord--in Hebrew. His birthname therefore means “the living image of the Lord.” Thus he was recognized from the time of his birth--or perhaps even before it, as it was the custom of Egyptian kings to choose names for their children before they were born--as the Son of God, the eldest Son of Aten (the Lord) in heaven as well as the successor to Akhenaten (Moses).
Messianic beliefs originated in Egypt. The English word “Christ” comes from the Greek “Kristos,” which is the equivalent of the Hebrew and Aramaic Mashih. This word is derived from the root MeSHeH, a verb meaning to anoint. Thus “the Christ” indicated originally “the anointed one,” who is “the king.”
The basis of Messianic beliefs was the divine nature that Egyptians attributed to their kings, whose authority came from God. From the start of their history, even earlier than thirty centuries B.C., they identified their king as being the same person as Horus, the falcon god. Then he developed into an incarnate version of the god, who appeared “on the throne of Horus.” This concept placed the king between god and man.
The final decisive event in the ruler’s life was his death and resurrection: “. . . just as coronation enabled a man to enter the world of the divine, so upon his death he ceased to belong to the human world.” From then onward the king was believed to have been united with the gods with whom he shared eternal spiritual existence: “Evidence of this belief is afforded by ‘becoming Osiris’ whereby the king entered the eternal nature of this god and, instead of just acting analogously as at first, acquired an identity of existence with him.”
Thus, when we read in the Old Testament about the Israelites waiting for their “anointed Messiah,” this could mean only that they were waiting for a king to rule them, unite them and defeat their enemies. The Messiah, like Osiris, had to die before he could be a Redeemer, and it is the hope that the king, Son of God, met his death but was resurrected that can give his followers the prospect of eternal life with him. This Egyptian idea, alien to the early Israelites, could not have been accepted by them before their kingly Messiah had lived and met his death. It was the prophet Isaiah who first introduced the idea of the Messiah as a Redeemer in the character of the Servant, who thus became a Savior of the world--the precise concept used in the Gospels for the role of Jesus. The very idea of Christ being the Redeemer confirms that he had already lived his historical life and died.