Why do Christians say “Amen” at the end of a prayer, what does this word mean, and how is it related to the Armenian word that sounds the same?
In our era, when the remnants of once great empires try to “portray themselves” anew and remind everyone of their past glory, and “scholars” from states that didn’t even exist a century ago invent pseudohistories beyond absurdity in order to keep up with them and, wanting to convince others that everything around originated from them, speculations on such topics have long exceeded the bounds of reason and become ridiculous.
In such an environment, serious science strives to be as skeptical as possible about all analogies in different languages, so identical sound is considered merely a coincidence, and even with the same meaning, it is necessary to demonstrate possible contacts between ancient peoples and paths of borrowing, otherwise, it will be regarded as a simple chance.
What does the word “Amen” mean, which both Armenians and Catholic Christians say at the end of a prayer? Obviously, the word “Amin” in Orthodox Christianity is just a slightly modified form of the same thing. It is translated as supposedly meaning: “So be it!” But this turns out to be three words instead of one, and it is unknown in which language. It is clear that such an explanation is based only on guesses and is not substantiated in any way. In other words, it’s like pointing a finger at the sky. How can we find out the true meaning of this short word that we managed to forget with its constant use? Let’s try to understand how this word was understood in ancient times.
Learned Greeks from Solon to Pythagoras and Plato acquired their knowledge in Egypt. Among the ancient Egyptians, Amen or Amun (Egyptian Jmn – “invisible,” “hidden”) was the name of the supreme god, that is, the highest of the gods. All enthusiasts of ancient history remember the double name of the ancient Egyptian Sun god – Amun-Ra. There was also a third one – Aten, but it only meant the solar disk.
And here, the similarity and interchangeability of “Amen” and “Amun” in terms of meaning can be clearly seen from the names of some pharaohs and priests. For example, Amenmeses (Egyptian Jmn msj) means “created by Amun,” and Amenhotep literally means “Amun is pleased.” As we can see, it is Amenhotep, not Amunhotep. In other words, Amen and Amun are the same thing. But why are there two names for the Sun god, Ra, and why is there also Amun? And there is also a third name, the name of the solar disk – Aten.
This is an important aspect in religion and philosophy. The concept of three levels in everything – spirit, soul, and body. The complete meaning, as expressed in hieroglyphs, is “God hidden in everything.” In other words, God exists everywhere, and therefore, He exists in the heart of every being, especially in the Sun. Here, it is easy to notice that this fully coincides with the New Testament in the sense that the Kingdom of God should be sought within.
Furthermore, based on these premises, Egyptologists in the 21st century seriously argue that the religion of Ancient Egypt was not a pagan polytheism, as it was previously believed, but rather monotheism, where there is only one supreme God-Creator. All other gods are mere helpers, just like angels and saints in Abrahamic religions. And this was the case long before the so-called reformer Akhenaten with his inflated pseudo-reforms. But that, as they say, is a completely different story, and in this case, it is important not to compare religions but to understand the meaning of words and names.
Armenian word “Amen”
So, in the Armenian language, as everyone knows, the word “Amen” still means “every,” “each,” and “Ameninch” means “all.” “Amena” signifies the highest, the best, the greatest, implying the supreme God manifested in everything, the Most High. It is actually one of the oldest names of God, and perhaps the oldest. And by uttering it, people are essentially invoking God.
Even in Muslim music, the “mugham,” there are often similar words at the beginning – “Aman, Aman.” Take, for example, the famous song “Desert Rose” from Sting’s 1999 album “Brand New Day,” where the renowned Algerian singer Cheb Mami enters and sings these very words in Arabic.
It becomes an interesting observation. So, Christians at the end of their prayers invoke God in Ancient Egyptian or Ancient Armenian. And they themselves are unaware of this, considering the faith of the Egyptians with their gods as ancient magic and paganism. Although in terms of meaning, it was the same ancient and all-encompassing pantheism, the main ideas of which are clearly visible in later religions. Well, let it be with the Christians. Armenians themselves usually do not understand it either, uttering this word out of habit without contemplating its meaning.
But what kind of contacts existed between these ancient peoples, and how could such borrowings occur? In Armenian tradition, the ancient connections between Armenia and Egypt are reflected in the epic “Sasna Tsrer” (“David of Sasun”). Moreover, many researchers believe that the epic itself is much older than the era of the Arab invasion attributed to it.
But that is literature. What about science? In the early 21st century, geomagnetic research at Göbekli Tepe (Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey) and numerous new findings in archaeology, paleogenetics, and other sciences led to a global conclusion that became dominant. It is now widely recognized that the earliest center of the Neolithic Revolution, the emergence of civilization, is considered to be the Near East, where the Neolithic period began 11,500 years ago, around 9500 BCE.
And 10,000 years ago, the advancements, along with agriculture, knowledge, and crafts, were brought to the Nile Valley. The region of origin is called the Fertile Crescent, with the southwestern part of the Armenian Highlands located at its center. Of course, back then, there were not only the nations and countries we have today, but even the most ancient and long-lost ones did not exist yet.
Linguists have determined that the age of the Proto-Indo-European language is estimated to be between 8,000 and 10,000 years old (more precisely, between 7,800 and 9,800 years). It was during this time that the ancestors of the Hittites, a people who later established a powerful state in Anatolia around the 2nd millennium BCE, branched off from the common stem. (This was discussed in the article “When did the Armenian language appear?”)
The Hittites have long disappeared, along with their language. However, Armenians, being descendants of the same Proto-Indo-Europeans, managed to preserve a significant layer of ancient words and concepts.
When the Indo-European-speaking people, who were fair-skinned, arrived in Egypt, they became the ruling class of the country, similar to the situation in India today. In modern Armenia, “Ararat” is not only the name of a sacred mountain but also a male name that is still given to boys. However, without written sources, it is impossible to ascertain accurate details.
In general, it is believed that writing systems emerged much later, around 5,000 years ago. But what is even more remarkable is that all the written sources of Ancient Egypt containing accounts of prehistoric times, which were collected and translated into Greek during the Hellenistic period, have, as if by fate, been preserved in Armenian translations and are now kept in the Matenadaran. This was discussed in the article “Treasures of the World: How Armenia Preserved the Entire Written History of Ancient Egypt and Babylon.”
Several years ago, work began on a new translation of these sources into modern languages, but it was halted due to another financial crisis. Nevertheless, sooner or later, this task will be accomplished. Regardless of whether names like “Ararat” are found in those sources or not, it is evident that the Armenian language has preserved a significant body of ancient words. Therefore, if others say “Amen” at the end of a prayer out of habit without understanding its meaning, Armenians can do so consciously.
by Armen Petrosyan
Translated by Vigen Avetisyan