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Manichaeism (11px /ˈmænɨkɪzəm/;[1] in Modern Persian آیین مانی Āyin e Māni; Chinese: ; pinyin: Jiào) was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.

Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani (in Persian: مانی, Syriac: ܡܐܢܝ, Latin: Manichaeus or Manes) (c. 216–276 AD) have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived. Manichaeism taught an elaborate cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. The 4th Century Acta Archelai of Christian writer Hegemonius depicts a strong anti-semitism in Mani's teaching.

Through an ongoing process which takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light from which it came. Its beliefs can be seen as a synthesis of Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism.

Manichaeism thrived between the third and seventh centuries, and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east as China and as far west as the Roman Empire.[2] Manichaeism survived longer in the east, and appears to have finally faded away after the 14th century in southern China,[3] contemporary to the decline in China of the Church of the East – see Ming Dynasty.

The original, but now lost, six sacred books of Manichaeism were composed in Syriac Aramaic, and translated into other languages to help spread the religion. As they spread to the east, the Manichaean writings passed through Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian, Tocharian and ultimately Uyghur and Chinese translations. As they spread to the west, they were translated into Greek, Coptic, and Latin. The spread and success of Manichaeism were seen as a threat to other religions, and it was widely persecuted in Christian, Zoroastrian, Islamic,[4] and Buddhist cultures.

HistoryEdit

Life of ManiEdit

File:Manicheans.jpg
Main article: Manichaeus

Mani, an Arsacid Iranian by birth[5], lived approximately AD 216–276 and was born in Babylonia, which was then within the Sassanid Empire province of Asuristan. According to the Cologne Mani-Codex,[6] Mani's parents were members of the religious sect of Elcesaites. The primary language of Babylon at that time was Eastern Middle Aramaic, which included three main dialects: Judeo-Aramaic (the language of the Talmud), Mandaean Aramaic (the language of the Mandaean religion), and Syriac Aramaic, which was the language of Mani, as well as of the Syriac Christians. "Mani" is a Persian name used in all three Aramaic dialects and therefore common among their speakers. Mani composed seven writings, six of which were written in Syriac Aramaic. The seventh, the Shabuhragan,[7] was written by Mani in Middle Persian and presented by him to the contemporary King of Sassanid Persia, Shapur I in the Persian capital of Ctesiphon.

Although there is no proof Shapur I was a Manichaean, he tolerated the spread of Manicheanism and refrained from persecuting it in his empire's boundaries.[8] According to one tradition it was Mani himself who invented the unique version of the Syriac script called Manichaean script, which was used in all of the Manichaean works written within the Persian Empire, whether they were in Syriac or Middle Persian, and also for most of the works written within the Uyghur Empire.

Manichaeism claimed to present the complete version of teachings that were corrupted and misinterpreted by the followers of its predecessors Adam, Zoroaster, Buddha and Jesus. Accordingly, as it spread, it adapted new deities from other religions into forms it could use for its scriptures. Its original Aramaic texts already contained stories of Jesus. When they moved eastward and were translated into Iranian languages, the names of the Manichaean deities (or angels) were often transformed into the names of Zoroastrian yazatas. Thus Abbā dəRabbūṯā ("The Father of Greatness", the highest Manichaean deity of Light), in Middle Persian texts might either be translated literally as pīd ī wuzurgīh, or substituted with the name of the deity Zurwān. Similarly, the Manichaean primal figure Nāšā Qaḏmāyā "The Original Man" was rendered "Ohrmazd Bay", after the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda. This process continued in Manichaeism's meeting with Chinese Buddhism, where, for example, the original Aramaic karia (the "call" from the world of Light to those seeking rescue from the world of Darkness), becomes identified in the Chinese scriptures with Guan Yin (觀音 or Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit, literally, "watching/perceiving sounds [of the world]", the Chinese Bodhisattva of Compassion).

Mani began preaching at an early age and was possibly influenced by contemporary Babylonian-Aramaic movements such as Mandaeanism, and Aramaic translations of Jewish apocalyptic writings similar to those found at Qumran (such as the book of Enoch literature). With the discovery of the Mani-Codex, it also became clear that he was raised in a Jewish-Christian baptism sect, the Elcesaites, and was influenced by their writings as well. According to biographies preserved by Ibn al-Nadim and the Persian polymath al-Biruni, he allegedly received a revelation as a youth from a spirit, whom he would later call his Twin (Aramaic Tauma (תאומא), from which is also derived the name of the apostle Thomas, the "twin"), his Syzygos (Greek for "partner", in the Cologne Mani-Codex), his Double, his Protective Angel or 'Divine Self'. It taught him truths which he developed into a religion. His 'divine' Twin or true Self brought Mani to Self-realization and thus he became a 'gnosticus', someone with divine knowledge and liberating insight. He claimed to be the 'Paraclete of the Truth', as promised in the New Testament: the Last Prophet and Seal of the Prophets finalizing a succession of figures including Zoroaster, Buddha, and Jesus.[9]

File:ManichaeanElectaeKocho10thCentury.jpg

Another source of Mani's scriptures was original Aramaic writings relating to the book of Enoch literature (see the Book of Enoch and the Second Book of Enoch), as well as an otherwise unknown section of the book of Enoch called the "Book of Giants". This book was quoted directly, and expanded on by Mani, becoming one of the original six Syriac writings of the Manichaean Church. Besides brief references by non-Manichaean authors through the centuries, no original sources of "The Book of Giants" (which is actually part six of the "Book of Enoch") were available until the 20th century.

Scattered fragments of both the original Aramaic "Book of Giants" (which were analysed and published by Józef Milik in 1976[10]), and of the Manichaean version of the same name (analyzed and published by W.B. Henning in 1943[11]) were found with the discovery in the twentieth century of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judaean Desert and the Manichaean writings of the Uyghur Manichaean kingdom in Turpan. Henning wrote in his analysis of them:

It is noteworthy that Mani, who was brought up and spent most of his life in a province of the Persian empire, and whose mother belonged to a famous Parthian family, did not make any use of the Iranian mythological tradition. There can no longer be any doubt that the Iranian names of Sām, Narīmān, etc., that appear in the Persian and Sogdian versions of the Book of the Giants, did not figure in the original edition, written by Mani in the Syriac language.[11]

From a careful reading of the Enoch literature and the Book of Giants, alongside the description of the Manichaean myth, it becomes clear that the "Great King of Glory" of this myth (a being that sits as a guard to the world of light at the seventh of ten heavens in the Manichaean myth[12]), is identical with the King of Glory sitting on the heavenly throne in the Enoch literature. In the Aramaic book of Enoch, in the Qumran writings in general, and in the original Syriac section of Manichaean scriptures quoted by Theodor bar-Konai,[13] he is called "malka raba de-ikara" (the great king of glory).

Noting Mani's travels to the Kushan Empire (several religious paintings in Bamiyan are attributed to him) at the beginning of his proselytizing career, Richard Foltz postulates Buddhist influences in Manichaeism:

Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Mani's religious thought. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean belief, and the quadripartite structure of the Manichaean community, divided between male and female monks (the "elect") and lay followers (the "hearers") who supported them, appears to be based on that of the Buddhist sangha.[14]

While Manichaeism was spreading, existing religions such as Christianity and Zoroastrianism were gaining social and political influence. Although having fewer adherents, Manichaeism won the support of many high-ranking political figures. With the assistance of the Persian Empire, Mani began missionary expeditions. After failing to win the favour of the next generation of Persian royalty, and incurring the disapproval of the Zoroastrian clergy, Mani is reported to have died in prison awaiting execution by the Persian Emperor Bahram I. The date of his death is estimated at AD 276–277.

Later historyEdit

File:ManichaeismSpread.jpg

Manichaeism continued to spread with extraordinary speed through both the east and west. It reached Rome through the apostle Psattiq by AD 280, who was also in Egypt in 244 and 251. It was flourishing in the Fayum area of Egypt in AD 290. Manichaean monasteries existed in Rome in 312 A.D. during the time of the Christian Pope Miltiades.

In 291, persecution arose in the Persian empire with the murder of the apostle Sisin by Bahram II, and the slaughter of many Manichaeans. In AD 296, Diocletian decreed against the Manichaeans: "We order that their organizers and leaders be subject to the final penalties and condemned to the fire with their abominable scriptures", resulting in many martyrdoms in Egypt and North Africa (see Diocletian Persecution). By AD 354, Hilary of Poitiers wrote that the Manichaean faith was a significant force in southern France. In AD 381 Christians requested Theodosius I to strip Manichaeans of their civil rights. He issued a decree of death for Manichaean monks in AD 382.

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Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) converted to Christianity from Manichaeism, in the year 387. This was shortly after the Roman Emperor Theodosius I had issued a decree of death for Manichaeans in AD 382 and shortly before he declared Christianity to be the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire in 391. According to his Confessions, after nine or ten years of adhering to the Manichaean faith as a member of the group of "hearers", Augustine became a Christian and a potent adversary of Manichaeism (which he expressed in writing against his Manichaean opponent Faustus of Mileve), seeing their beliefs that knowledge was the key to salvation as too passive and not able to effect any change in one's life.[15]

I still thought that it is not we who sin but some other nature that sins within us. It flattered my pride to think that I incurred no guilt and, when I did wrong, not to confess it... I preferred to excuse myself and blame this unknown thing which was in me but was not part of me. The truth, of course, was that it was all my own self, and my own impiety had divided me against myself. My sin was all the more incurable because I did not think myself a sinner. (Confessions, Book V, Section 10)

Some modern scholars have suggested that Manichaean ways of thinking influenced the development of some of Augustine's ideas, such as the nature of good and evil, the idea of hell, the separation of groups into elect, hearers, and sinners, and the hostility to the flesh and sexual activity.[16]

File:Augustine Confessiones.jpg

How Manichaeism may have influenced Christianity continues to be debated. Manichaeism may have influenced the Bogomils, Paulicians, and Cathars. However, these groups left few records, and the link between them and Manichaeans is tenuous. Regardless of its accuracy the charge of Manichaeism was levelled at them by contemporary orthodox opponents, who often tried to make contemporary heresies conform to those combatted by the church fathers. Whether the dualism of the Paulicians, Bogomils, and Cathars and their belief that the world was created by a Satanic demiurge were due to influence from Manichaeism is impossible to determine. The Cathars apparently adopted the Manichaean principles of church organization. Priscillian and his followers may also have been influenced by Manichaeism. The Manichaeans preserved many apocryphal Christian works, such as the Acts of Thomas, that would otherwise have been lost.[17]

Manichaeism maintained a sporadic and intermittent existence in the west (Mesopotamia, Africa, Spain, France, North Italy, the Balkans) for a thousand years, and flourished for a time in the land of its birth (Persia) and even further east in Northern India, Western China, and Tibet. While it had long been thought that Manichaeism arrived in China only at the end of the seventh century, a recent archaeological discovery demonstrated that it was already known there in the second half of the sixth century.[18]

It was adopted by the Uyghur ruler Khagan Boku Tekin (AD 759–780) in 763, and remained the state religion for about a century before the collapse of the Uyghur empire in 840. In the east it spread along trade routes as far as Chang'an, the capital of the Tang Dynasty in China. In the ninth century, it is reported that the Muslim Caliph Al-Ma'mun tolerated a community of Manichaeans.[19] However, al-Mahdi persecuted the Manichaeans, establishing an inquisition to root out their "heresy", even resorting to outright massacre against them.[20] In the Song and Yuan dynasties of China remnants of Manichaeanism continued to leave a legacy contributing to sects such as the Red Turbans.

Later movements accused of "Neo-Manichaeism"Edit

During the Middle Ages, several movements emerged which were collectively described as "Manichaean" by the Catholic Church, and persecuted as Christian heresies through the establishment, in 1184, of the Inquisition. They included the Cathar and Albigensian churches of Western Europe. Other groups sometimes referred to as "neo-Manichaean" were the Paulician movement, which arose in Armenia,[21] and the Bogomils in Bulgaria.[17] An example of this usage can be found in the published edition of the Latin Cathar text, the Liber de duobus principiis, (Book of the Two Principles), which was described as "Neo-Manichaean" by its publishers.[22] As there is no presence of Manichaean mythology or church terminology in the writings of these groups, there has been some dispute among historians as to whether these groups were descendants of Manichaeism.[23] In Hungarian Christianity, traces of Manichaeism can be found both in Catholicism and in Protestant Christianity, Manichaeian symbols are present in folk art, in Protestant churches and even on the Holy Crown[citation needed].

Manichean teaching and beliefEdit

CosmogonyEdit

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Manichaeism presented an elaborate description of the conflict between the spiritual world of light and the material world of darkness. The beings of both the world of darkness and the world of light have names. There are numerous sources for the details of the Manichaean belief. There are two portions of Manichaean scriptures that are probably the closest thing to the original Manichaean writings in their original languages that will ever be available. These are the Syriac-Aramaic quotation by the Nestorian Christian Theodore bar-Konai, in his Syriac "Book of Sects" (eighth century),[13] and the Middle Persian sections of Mani's Shabuhragan discovered at Turpan (a summary of Mani's teachings prepared for Shapur I[7]). These two sections are probably the original Syriac and Middle Persian written by Mani.

From these and other sources, it is possible to derive an almost complete description of the detailed Manichaean vision[24] (a complete list of Manichaean deities is outlined below). According to Mani, the unfolding of the universe takes place with three "creations":

The First Creation: Originally, good and evil existed in two completely separate realms, one the World of Light, ruled by the Father of Greatness together with his five Shekhinas (divine attributes of light), and the other the World of Darkness, ruled by the King of Darkness. At a certain point, the Kingdom of Darkness notices the World of Light, becomes greedy for it and attacks it. The Father of Greatness, in the first of three "creations" (or "calls"), calls to the Mother of Life, who sends her son Original Man (Nāšā Qaḏmāyā in Aramaic), to battle with the attacking powers of Darkness, which include the Demon of Greed. The Original Man is armed with five different shields of light (reflections of the five Shekhinas), which he loses to the forces of darkness in the ensuing battle, described as a kind of "bait" to trick the forces of darkness, as the forces of darkness greedily consume as much light as they can. When the Original Man comes to, he is trapped among the forces of darkness.

The Second Creation: Then the Father of Greatness begins the Second Creation, calling to the Living Spirit, who calls to his five sons, and sends a call to the Original Man (Call then becomes a Manichaean deity). An answer (Answer becomes another Manichaean deity) then returns from the Original Man to the World of Light. The Mother of Life, the Living Spirit, and his five sons begin to create the universe from the bodies of the evil beings of the World of Darkness, together with the light that they have swallowed. Ten heavens and eight earths are created, all consisting of various mixtures of the evil material beings from the World of Darkness and the swallowed light. The sun, moon, and stars are all created from light recovered from the World of Darkness. The waxing and waning of the moon is described as the moon filling with light, which passes to the sun, then through the Milky Way, and eventually back to the World of Light.

The Third Creation: Great demons (called archons in bar-Khonai's account) are hung out over the heavens, and then the Father of Greatness begins the Third Creation. Light is recovered from out of the material bodies of the male and female evil beings and demons, by causing them to become sexually aroused in greed, towards beautiful images of the beings of light, such as the Third Messenger and the Virgins of Light. However, as soon as the light is expelled from their bodies and falls to the earth (some in the form of abortions - the source of fallen angels in the Manichaean myth), the evil beings continue to swallow up as much of it as they can to keep the light inside of them. This results eventually in the evil beings swallowing huge quantities of light, copulating, and producing Adam and Eve. The Father of Greatness then sends the Radiant Jesus to awaken Adam, and to enlighten him to the true source of the light that is trapped in his material body. Adam and Eve, however, eventually copulate, and produce more human beings, trapping the light in bodies of mankind throughout human history. The appearance of the Prophet Mani was another attempt by the World of Light to reveal to mankind the true source of the spiritual light imprisoned within their material bodies.

Outline of the Beings and Events in the Manichaean MythosEdit

Beginning with the time of its creation by Mani, the Manichaean religion had a detailed description of deities and events that took place within the Manichaean scheme of the universe. In every language and region that Manichaeism spread to, these same deities reappear, whether it is in the original Syriac quoted by Theodor bar-Konai,[13] or the Latin terminology given by Saint Augustine from Mani's Epistola Fundamenti, or the Persian and Chinese translations found as Manichaeism spread eastward. While the original Syriac retained the original description which Mani created, the transformation of the deities through other languages and cultures produced incarnations of the deities not implied in the original Syriac writings. This process began in Mani's lifetime, with "The Father of Greatness", for example, being translated into Middle Persian as Zurvan, a Zoroastrian supreme being.

The World of LightEdit

  • The Father of Greatness (Syriac: ܐܒܐ ܕܪܒܘܬܐ Abbā dəRabbūṯā; Middle Persian: pīd ī wuzurgīh, or the Zoroastrian deity Zurwān; Parthian: Pidar wuzurgift, Pidar roshn)
  • His Five Shekhinas (Syriac: ܚܡܫ ܫܟܝܢܬܗ khamesh shkhinatei; Chinese: wǔ zhǒng dà, "five great ones")
    • Reason (Syriac: ܗܘܢܐ haunâ; Parthian: bâm; Greek: νοῦς Nous; Chinese: xiāng, "phase")
    • Mind (Syriac: ܡܕܥܐ madde´â; Parthian: manohmêd; Chinese: xīn, "heart")
    • Intelligence (Syriac: ܪܥܝܢܐ reyana; Parthian: ; Chinese: niàn, "idea")
    • Thought (Syriac: ܡܚܫܒܬܐ mahšabtâ; Parthian: andêšišn; Chinese: sī, "thought")
    • Understanding (Syriac: ܬܪܥܝܬܐ tar´îtâ; Parthian: parmânag; Chinese: yì, "meaning")
  • The Great Spirit (Middle Persian: Waxsh zindag, Waxsh yozdahr; Latin: Spiritus Potens)

The First CreationEdit

  • The Mother of Life (Syriac: ܐܡܐ ܕܚܝܐ ima de-khaye)
  • The First Man (Syriac: ܐܢܫܐ ܩܕܡܝܐ Nāšā Qaḏmāyā; Middle Persian: Ohrmazd Bay, the Zoroastrian god of light and goodness; Latin: Primus Homo)
  • His five Sons (the Five Light Elements; Middle Persian: Amahrāspandan; Parthian: panj rošn)
    • Ether (Middle Persian: frâwahr, Parthian: ardâw)
    • Wind (Middle Persian and Parthian: wâd)
    • Light (Middle Persian and Parthian: rôšn)
    • Water (Middle Persian and Parthian: âb)
    • Fire (Middle Persian and Parthian: âdur)
    • His sixth Son, the Answer-God (Syriac: ܥܢܝܐ ania; Middle Persian: khroshtag; Chinese: 勢至 Shì Zhì "The Power of Wisdom", a Chinese Bodhisattva). The answer sent by the First Man to the Call from the World of Light.
  • The Living Self (made up of the five Elements; Middle Persian: Griw zindag, Griw roshn)

The Second CreationEdit

  • The Friend of the Lights (Syriac: ܚܒܝܒ ܢܗܝܖܐ khaviv nehirei). Calls to:
  • The Great Builder (Syriac: ܒܢ ܖܒܐ ban raba). In charge of creating the new world which will separate the darkness from the light. He calls to:
  • The Living Spirit (Syriac: ܪܘܚܐ ܚܝܐ rūḥā ḥayyā; Middle Persian: Mihryazd; Chinese: 净活风 jing huo feng; Latin: Spiritus Vivens)
  • His five Sons (Syriac: ܚܡܫܐ ܒܢܘܗܝ khamsha benauhi)
    • The Keeper of the Splendour (Syriac: ܨܦܬ ܙܝܘܐ tzefat ziwa; Latin: Splenditenens). Holds up the ten heavens from above.
    • The King of Honour (Syriac: ܡܠܟ ܫܘܒܚܐ melekh shubkha; Latin: Rex Honoris)
    • The Adamas of Light (Syriac: ܐܕܡܘܣ ܢܘܗܪܐ adamus nuhra; Latin: Adamas). Fights with and overcomes an evil being in the image of the King of Darkness.
    • The Great King of Glory (Syriac: ܡܠܟܐ ܪܒܐ ܕܐܝܩܪܐ malka raba de-ikara; Dead Sea Scrolls Aramaic: מלכא רבא דאיקרא malka raba de-ikara; Latin: Rex Gloriosus). A being which plays a central role in the Book of Enoch (originally written in Aramaic), as well as Mani's Syriac version of it, the Book of Giants. Sits in the seventh heaven of the ten heavens and guards the entrance to the world of light.
    • Atlas (Syriac: ܣܒܠܐ sabala; Latin: Atlas). Supports the eight worlds from below.
    • His sixth Son, the Call-God (Syriac: ܩܪܝܐ karia; Middle Persian: padvakhtag; Chinese: 觀音 Guan Yin "watching/perceiving sounds [of the world]", the Chinese Bodhisattva of Compassion). Sent from the Living Spirit to awaken the First Man from his battle with the forces of darkness.

The Third CreationEdit

  • The Third Messenger (Syriac: ܐܝܙܓܕܐ īzgaddā)
  • Jesus the Splendour (Syriac: ܝܫܘܥ ܙܝܘܐ Yisho Ziwa). Sent to awaken Adam and Eve to the source of the spiritual light trapped within their physical bodies.
  • The Maiden of Light
  • The Twelve Virgins of Light. Correspond to the twelve constellations of the Zodiac.
  • The Column of Glory
  • The Great Nous
  • His five Limbs
    • Reason
    • Mind
    • Intelligence
    • Thought
    • Understanding
  • The Just Justice
  • The Last God

The World of DarknessEdit

  • The King of Darkness (Syriac: ܡܠܟ ܚܫܘܟܐ melech kheshokha; Middle Persian: Ahriman, the Zoroastrian supreme evil being)
  • His five evil kingdoms Evil counterparts of the five elements of light, the lowest being the kingdom of Darkness.
  • His son (Syriac: ܐܫܩܠܘܢ Ashaklun; Middle Persian: Az, from the Zoroastrian demon, Azi Dahaka)
  • His son's mate (Syriac: ܢܒܪܘܐܠ Nebroel)
    • Their offspring - Adam and Eve (Middle Persian: Gehmurd and Murdiyanag)
  • Giants (Fallen Angels, also Abortions): (Syriac: ܝܚܛܐ yakhte, "abortions" or "those that fell"; also: ܐܪܟܘܢܬܐ arkhonata, the Gnostic archons; Greek, Coptic: ’Εγρήγοροι Egrēgoroi, "Giants"). Related to the story of the fallen angels in the Book of Enoch (which Mani used extensively in his Book of Giants), and the נפילים nephilim described in Genesis (6:1-4), on which the story is based.

Theological Implications of Manichaean CosmogonyEdit

Manichaean theology taught a dualistic view of good and evil. A key belief in Manichaeism is that the powerful, though not omnipotent good power (God) was opposed by the semi-eternal evil power (Satan). This addresses a theoretical part of the problem of evil by denying the omnipotence of God and postulating two opposite powers. Humanity, the world and the soul are seen as the byproduct of the battle between God's proxy, Primal Man, and Satan. The human person is seen as a battleground for these powers: the soul defines the person, but it is under the influence of both light and dark. This contention plays out over the world as well as the human body—neither the Earth nor the flesh were seen as intrinsically evil, but rather possessed portions of both light and dark. Natural phenomena (such as rain) were seen as the physical manifestation of this spiritual contention. Therefore, the Manichaean worldview explained the existence of evil with a flawed creation God took no role in forming and was the result of Satan striking out against God.[9]

Organization and Religious PracticesEdit

Organization of the Manichaean ChurchEdit

The Manichaean Church was divided into "Elect" - those who had taken upon themselves the vows of Manicheaism, and "Hearers" - those who had not, but still participated in the Church. The terms for these divisions were already common since the days of early Christianity. In the Chinese writings, the Middle Persian and Parthian terms are transcribed phonetically (instead of being translated into Chinese).[25]

  • The Leader, (Parthian: yamag; Chinese: 閻默) Mani's designated successor, seated at the head of the Church in Ctesiphon (Babylonia).
  • 12 Apostles (Latin: magistri; Middle Persian: možag; Chinese: 慕闍)
  • 72 Bishops (Latin: episcopi; Middle Persian: aspasag, aftadan; Chinese: 拂多誕; see also: Seventy Disciples)
  • 360 Presbyters (Latin: presbyteri; Middle Persian: mahistan)
  • The general body of the Elect (Latin: electi; Middle Persian: ardawan)
  • The Hearers (Latin: auditores; Middle Persian: niyoshagan)

The Bema FestEdit

The most important religious observance of the Manichaeans was the Bema Fest, observed annually:

The Bema was originally, in the Syriac Christian churches a seat placed in the middle of the nave on which the bishop would preside and from which the Gospel would be read. In the Manichean places of worship, the throne was a five-stepped altar, covered by precious cloths, symbolizing the five classes of the hierarchy. The top of the Bema was always empty, as it was the seat of Mani. The Bema was celebrated at the vernal equinox, was preceded by fasts, and symbolized the passion of Mani, thus it was strictly parallel to the Christian Easter.[26]
While it is often presumed that the Bema seat was empty, there is some evidence from the Coptic Manichaean Bema Psalms, that the Bema seat may have actually contained a copy of Mani's picture book, the Arzhang.[27]

Primary sourcesEdit

Mani wrote either seven or eight books, which contained the teachings of the religion. Only scattered fragments and translations of the originals remain.

The original six Syriac writings are not preserved, although their Syriac names have been. There are also fragments and quotations from them. A long quotation, preserved by the eighth-century Nestorian Christian author Theodore Bar Konai,[13] shows that in the original Syriac Aramaic writings of Mani there was no influence of Iranian or Zoroastrian terms. The terms for the Manichaean deities in the original Syriac writings are in Aramaic. The adaptation of Manichaeism to the Zoroastrian religion appears to have begun in Mani's lifetime however, with his writing of the Middle Persian Shabuhragan, his book dedicated to the King Shapuhr.[7] In it, there are mentions of Zoroastrian deities such as Ohrmazd, Ahriman, and Az. Manichaeism is often presented as a Persian religion, mostly due to the vast number of Middle Persian, Parthian, and Soghdian (as well as Turkish) texts discovered by German researchers near Turpan, in the Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan) province of China, during the early 1900s. However, from the vantage point of its original Syriac descriptions (as quoted by Theodore bar Khonai and outlined below), Manichaeism may be better described as a unique phenomenon of Aramaic Babylonia, occurring in proximity to two other new Aramaic religious phenomena, Talmudic Judaism and Babylonian Mandaeism, which were also appearing in Babylonia in roughly the third century AD.

Originally written in SyriacEdit

  • The Evangelion (Syriac: ܐܘܢܓܠܝܘܢ; Greek, Coptic: Ευαγγελιον, meaning roughly "good news"). Also known as the Gospel of Mani. Quotations from the first chapter were brought in Arabic by Ibn al-Nadim, who lived in Baghdad at a time when there were still Manichaeans living there, in his book the "Fihrist" (written in 938), a catalog of all written books known to him.
  • The Treasure of Life
  • The Treatise (Coptic: πραγματεία)
  • Secrets
  • The Book of Giants: Original fragments were discovered at Qumran (pre-Manichaean) and Turpan.
  • Epistles: Augustine brings quotations, in Latin, from Mani's Fundamental Epistle in some of his anti-Manichaean works.
  • Psalms and Prayers. A Coptic Manichaean Psalter, discovered in Egypt in the early 1900s, was edited and published by Charles Allberry from Manichaean manuscripts in the Chester Beatty collection and in the Berlin Academy, 1938-9.

Originally written in Middle PersianEdit

Other booksEdit

  • The Ardahang, the "Picture Book". In Iranian tradition, this was one of Mani's holy books which became remembered in later Persian history, and was also called Aržang, a Parthian word meaning "Worthy", and was beautified with paintings. Therefore Iranians gave him the title of "The Painter".
  • The Kephalaia (Κεφαλαια), "Discourses", found in Coptic translation.
  • On the Origin of His Body, the title of the Cologne Mani-Codex, a Greek translation of an Aramaic book which describes the early life of Mani.[6]

Non-Manichaean works preserved by the Manichaean ChurchEdit

Later worksEdit

In later centuries, as Manichaeism passed through eastern Persian speaking lands and arrived at the Uyghur Empire, and eventually the Uyghur kingdom of Turpan (destroyed around 1335), long hymn cycles and prayers were composed in Middle Persian and Parthian.[29] A translation of one of these produced the Manichaean Chinese Hymnscroll (the 摩尼教下部贊, which Lieu translates as "Hymns for the Lower Section [i.e. the Hearers] of the Manichaean Religion"[30]), now available in its entirety (see the external links section).

Critical and Polemic SourcesEdit

Until discoveries in the 1900s of original sources, the only sources for Manichaeism were descriptions and quotations from non-Manichaean authors, either Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Zoroastrian. While often criticizing Manichaeism, they also quoted directly from Manichaean scriptures. This enabled Isaac de Beausobre, writing in the 18th century, to create a comprehensive work on Manichaeism, relying solely on anti-Manichaean sources.[31] Thus quotations and descriptions in Greek and Arabic have long been known to scholars, as have the long quotations in Latin by Saint Augustine, and the extremely important quotation in Syriac by Theodor bar-Khonai.

Patristic depictions of Mani and ManchæeismEdit

Eusebius commented as follows:

The error of the Manichees, which commenced at this time.

In the mean time, also, that madman Manes, (Mani is of Persian or semetic origin) as he was called, well agreeing with his name, for his demoniacal heresy, armed himself by the perversion of his reason, and at the instruction of Satan, to the destruction of many. He was a barbarian in his life, both in speech and conduct, but in his nature as one possessed and insane. Accordingly, he attempted to form himself into a Christ, and then also proclaimed himself to be the very paraclete and the Holy Spirit, and with all this was greatly puffed up with his madness. Then, as if he were Christ, he selected twelve disciples, the partners of his new religion, and after patching together false and ungodly doctrines, collected from a thousand heresies long since extinct, he swept them off like a deadly poison, from Persia, upon this part of the world. Hence the impious name of the Manicheans spreading among many, even to the present day. Such then was the occasion of this knowledge, as it was falsely called, that sprouted up in these times. [32]


Acta ArchelaiEdit

An example of how inaccurate some of these accounts could be is seen in the account of the origins of Manichaeism contained in the Acta Archelai. This was a Greek anti-manichaean work written before 348, most well-known in its Latin version, which was regarded as an accurate account of Manichaeism until the end of the 19th century:

In the time of the Apostles there lived a man named Scythianus, who is described as coming 'from Scythia,' and also as being 'a Saracen by race' ('ex genere Saracenorum'). He settled in Egypt, where he became acquainted with 'the wisdom of the Egyptians,' and invented the religious system which was afterwards known as Manichaeism. Finally he emigrated to Palestine, and, when he died, his writings passed into the hands of his sole disciple, a certain Terebinthus. The latter betook himself to Babylonia, assumed the name of Budda, and endeavoured to propagate his master's teaching. But he, like Scythianus, gained only one disciple, who was an old woman. After a while he died, in consequence of a fall from the roof of a house, and the books which he had inherited from Scythianus became the property of the old woman, who, on her death, bequeathed them to a young man named Corbicius, who had been her slave. Corbicius thereupon changed his name to Manes, studied the writings of Scythianus, and began to teach the doctrines which they contained, with many additions of his own. He gained three disciples, named Thomas, Addas, and Hermas. About this time the son of the Persian king fell ill, and Manes undertook to cure him; the prince, however, died, whereupon Manes was thrown into prison. He succeeded in escaping, but eventually fell into the hands of the king, by whose order he was flayed, and his corpse was hung up at the city gate.
A. A. Bevan, who quoted this story, commented that it 'has no claim to be considered historical.'[33]

View of Judaism in the Acta ArchelaiEdit

According to Hegemonius' portrayal of Mani, the devil god which created the world was the Jewish Jehovah. Hegemonius reports that Mani said, "It is the Prince of Darkness who spoke with Moses, the Jews and their priests. Thus the Christians, the Jews, and the Pagans are involved in the same error when they worship this God. For he leads them astray in the lusts he taught them." He goes on to state: "Now, he who spoke with Moses, the Jews, and the priests he says is the archont of Darkness, and the Christians, Jews, and pagans (ethnic) are one and the same, as they revere the same god. For in his aspirations he seduces them, as he is not the god of truth. And so therefore all those who put their hope in the god who spoke with Moses and the prophets have (this in store for themselves, namely) to be bound with him, because they did not put their hope in the god of truth. For that one spoke with them (only) according to their own aspirations."[34]

Central Asian and Iranian primary sourcesEdit

In the early 1900s, original Manichaean writings started to come to light when German scholars began excavating at the ancient site of the Manichaean Uyghur Kingdom near Turpan, in Chinese Turkestan (destroyed around AD 1300). While most of the writings they uncovered were in very poor condition, there were still hundreds of pages of Manichaean scriptures, written in three Persian languages (Middle Persian, Parthian, and Sogdian) and old Turkish. These writings were taken back to Germany, and were analyzed and published at the Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin. While the vast majority of these writings were written in a version of the Syriac script known as Manichaean script, the German researchers, perhaps for lack of suitable fonts, published most of them using Hebrew letters (which could easily be substituted for the 22 Syriac letters).

Perhaps the most comprehensive of these publications was Manichaeische Dogmatik aus chinesischen und iranischen Texten (Manichaean Dogma from Chinese and Iranian texts), by Waldschmidt and Lentz, published in Berlin in 1933.[35] More than any other research work published before or since, this work printed, and then discussed, the original key Manichaean texts in the original scripts, and consists chiefly of sections from Chinese texts, and Middle Persian and Parthian texts transcribed with Hebrew letters. (After the Nazi party gained power in Germany, the Manichaean writings continued to be published during the 1930s, but the publishers no longer used Hebrew letters, instead transliterating the texts into Latin letters.)

Coptic primary sourcesEdit

Additionally, in the early 1900s, German researchers in Egypt found a large body of Manichaean works in Coptic. Though these were also damaged, many complete pages survived and were published in Berlin before World War II. Some of these Coptic Manichaean writings were destroyed during the war.

Chinese primary sourcesEdit

After the success of the German researchers, French scholars visited China and discovered what is perhaps the most complete set of Manichaean writings, written in Chinese. These three Chinese writings are today kept in London, Paris, and Beijing. The original studies and analyses of these writings, along with their translations, first appeared in French, English, and German, before and after World War II. The complete Chinese texts themselves were first published in Tokyo, Japan in 1927, in the Taisho Tripitaka, volume 54. While in the last thirty years or so they have been republished in both Germany (with a complete translation into German, alongside the 1927 Japanese edition),[36] and China, the Japanese publication remains the standard reference for the Chinese texts.

Greek life of Mani, Cologne codexEdit

In Egypt a small codex was found and became known through antique dealers in Cairo. It was purchased by the University of Cologne in 1969. Two of its scientists, Henrichs and Koenen, produced the first edition known since as the Cologne Mani-Codex, which was published in four articles in the Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. The ancient papyrus manuscript contained a Greek text describing the life of Mani. Thanks to this discovery, much more is known about the man who founded one of the most influential world religions of the past.

Figurative useEdit

The terms "Manichaean" and "Manichaeism" are sometimes used figuratively as a synonym of the more general term "dualist" with respect to a philosophy or outlook.[37] They are often used to suggest with a somewhat disparaging undertone that the world view in question simplistically reduces the world to a struggle between Good and Evil. For example, Jean-Paul Sartre in the essay Anti-Semite and Jew referred to the Anti-Semititic world view as "a form of Manichaeism", since "it explains the course of the world by the struggle of the principle of Good with the principle of Evil" (the "principle of Evil" being equated, by an Anti-Semitic person, with the Jews). Similarly, Zbigniew Brzezinski used the phrase "Manichaean paranoia" in reference to U.S. President George W. Bush's world view (in the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, March 14, 2007); Brzesinski elaborated that he meant "the notion that he (Bush) is leading the forces of good against the empire of evil".

See alsoEdit

Manichaean figures

Gnostic and early Christian

Persian Religions

Other

ReferencesEdit

  1. "manichaeism". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.
  2. Andrew Welburn, Mani, the Angel and the Column of Glory: An Anthology of Manichaean Texts (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1998), p. 68
  3. Jason David BeDuhn The Manichaean Body: In Discipline and Ritual Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 2000 republished 2002 p.IX
  4. Manichaeans were the original Zindīqs. See: Mahmood Ibrahim, Religious Inquisition as Social Policy: The Persecution of the 'Zanadiqa' in the Early Abbasid Caliphate, in Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), Vol. 16, 1994.
  5. 1) Mary Boyce, "Zoroastrians: their religious beliefs and practices", Routledge, 2001. pg 111: "He was Iranian, of noble Parthian blood..." 2) Warwick Ball, "Rome in the East: the transformation of an empire ", Routledge, 2001. pg 437: "Manichaeism was a syncretic religion, proclaimed by the Iranian Prophet Mani.. 3) Sundermann, Werner, "Mani, the founder of the religion of Manicheism in the 3rd century CE", Encyclopaeia Iranica, 2009. Sundermann summarizes the available sources thus: "According to the Fehrest, Mani was of Arsacid stock on both his father’s and his mother’s sides, at least if the readings al-ḥaskāniya (Mani’s father) and al-asʿāniya (Mani’s mother) are corrected to al-aškāniya and al-ašḡāniya (ed. Flügel, 1862, p. 49, ll. 2 and 3) respectively. The forefathers of Mani’s father are said to have been from Hamadan and so perhaps of Iranian origin (ed. Flügel, 1862, p. 49, 5-6). The Chinese Compendium, which makes the father a local king, maintains that his mother was from the house Jinsajian, explained by Henning as the Armenian Arsacid family of Kamsarakan (Henning, 1943, p. 52, n. 4 = 1977, II, p. 115). Is that fact, or fiction, or both? The historicity of this tradition is assumed by most, but the possibility that Mani’s noble Arsacid background is legendary cannot be ruled out (cf. Scheftelowitz, 1933, pp. 403-4). In any case, it is characteristic that Mani took pride in his origin from time-honored Babel, but never claimed affiliation to the Iranian upper class."
  6. 6.0 6.1 L. Koenen and C. Römer, eds., Der Kölner Mani-Kodex. Über das Werden seines Leibes. Kritische Edition, (Abhandlung der Reinisch-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: Papyrologica Coloniensia 14) (Opladen, Germany) 1988.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Middle Persian Sources: D. N. MacKenzie, Mani’s Šābuhragān, pt. 1 (text and translation), BSOAS 42/3, 1979, pp. 500-34, pt. 2 (glossary and plates), BSOAS 43/2, 1980, pp. 288-310.
  8. Welburn (1998), p. 67-68
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bevan, A. A. (1930). "Manichaeism". Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Volume VIII Ed. James Hastings. London
  10. J. T. Milik, ed. and trans., The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976.
  11. 11.0 11.1 In: Henning, W.B., The Book of Giants", BSOAS,Vol. XI, Part 1, 1943, pp. 52-74.
  12. See Henning, A Sogdian Fragment of the Manichaean Cosmogony, BSOAS, 1948
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Original Syriac in: Theodorus bar Konai, Liber Scholiorum, II, ed. A. Scher, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium scrip. syri, 1912, pp. 311-18, ISBN 978-90-429-0104-9; English translation in: A.V.W. Jackson, Researches in Manichaeism, New York, 1932, pp. 222-54.
  14. Richard Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road, Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2010, p. 71 ISBN 978-0-230-62125-1
  15. Catholic Online
  16. A. Adam, Das Fortwirken des Manichäismus bei Augustin. In: ZKG (69) 1958, S. 1–25.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Runciman, Steven, The Medieval Manichee: a study of the Christian dualist heresy. Cambridge University Press, 1947.
  18. La Vaissière, Etienne de, "Mani en Chine au VIe siècle." Journal Asiatique, 293-1, 2005, p. 357-378.
  19. Ibrahim, Mahmood (1994). "Religious inquisition as social policy: the persecution of the 'Zanadiqa' in the early Abbasid Caliphate". Arab Studies Quarterly. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2501/is_n2_v16/ai_16502939/pg_5/. 
  20. Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the fourth century, 1984, p. 425.
  21. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11583b.htm
  22. Dondaine, Antoine. O.P. Un traite neo-manicheen du XIIIe siecle: Le Liber de duobus principiis, suivi d'un fragment de rituel Cathare (Rome: Institutum Historicum Fratrum Praedicatorum, 1939)
  23. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01267e.htm
  24. A completely sourced description (built around bar-Khoni's account, with additional sources), is found in: Jonas, Hans The Gnostic Religion, 1958, Ch. 9: Creation, World History, Salvation According to Mani.
  25. G. Haloun and W. B. Henning, “The Compendium of the Doctrines and Styles of the Teaching of Mani, the Buddha of Light,” Asia Major, 1952, p. 184-212, p. 195.
  26. Skjærvø, Prods Oktor, An Introduction to Manicheism, 2006.
  27. Ort, L. J. R., Mani: a religio-historical description of his personality, 1967, p. 254.
  28. "Let none read the gospel according to Thomas, for it is the work, not of one of the twelve apostles, but of one of Mani's three wicked disciples."Cyril of Jerusalem, Cathechesis V (4th century)
  29. See, for example, Boyce, Mary The Manichaean hymn-cycles in Parthian (London Oriental Series, Vol. 3). London: Oxford University Press, 1954.
  30. Lieu, Samuel N. C., Manichaeism in Central Asia and China, 1998, p. 50.
  31. de Beausobre, Isaac, Histoire critique de Manichée et du Manichéisme, 1734–1739, Amsterdam.
  32. Eusebius. The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop of Caesarea, Translated from the originals by Christian Frederick Cruse.1939. Ch. XXXI.
  33. Bevan, A. A. (1930). "Manichaeism". Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Volume VIII Ed. James Hastings. London
  34. Classical Texts:Acta Archelai of Mani [1] Page 76
  35. Waldschmidt, E., and Lentz, W., Manichäische Dogmatik aus chinesischen und iranischen Texten (SPAW 1933, No. 13)
  36. Schmidt-Glintzer, Helwig, Chinesische Manichaeica, Wiesbaden, 1987
  37. Oxford Dictionaries: Manichaean, Manichaeism

Books and articles Edit

  • Allberry Charles R. C., ed (1938). Manichaean Manuscripts in the Chester Beatty Collection: Vol II, part II: A Manichaean Psalm Book. Stuttgart: W. Kohlammer. 
  • Beatty, Alfred Chester (1938). Charles Allberry. ed. A Manichean Psalm-Book, Part II. Stuttgart. 
  • Beausobre, de, Isaac (1734–1739). Histoire critique de Manichée et du Manichéisme. Amsterdam: Garland Pub.. ISBN 0824035526. 
  • BeDuhn, Jason David (2002). The Manichaean Body: In Discipline and Ritual. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-7107-7. 
  • Cross, F. L.; E. A. Livingstone (1974). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. London: Oxford UP: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192115456. 
  • Favre, Francois (2005-05-05). "Mani, the Gift of Light". Renova symposium. Bilthoven, The Netherlands. 
  • Foltz, Richard (2010). Religions of the Silk Road. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9-780230-621251. 
  • Foltz, Richard (2004). Spirituality in the Land of the Noble: How Iran Shaped the World's Religions. Oxford: Oneworld publications. ISBN 1-85168-336-4. 
  • Gardner, Iain; Samuel N. C. Lieu (2004). Manichaean Texts from the Roman Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN 0-521-56822-6. 
  • Giversen, Soren (1988). The Manichaean Coptic Papyri in The Chester Beatty Library Vol. III: Psalm Book part I. (Facsimile ed.). Geneva: Patrick Crammer.  (Cahiers D'Orientalism XVI) 1988a
  • Giversen, Soren (1988). The Manichaean Coptic Papyri in The Chester Beatty Library Vol. IV: Psalm Book part II. (Facsimile ed.). Geneva: Patrick Crammer.  (Cahiers D'Orientalism XVI) 1988b
  • Gulácsi, Zsuszanna (2001). Manichaean art in Berlin Collections. Turnhout.  (Original Manichaean manuscripts found since 1902 in China, Egypt, Turkestan to be seen in the Museum of Indian Art in Berlin.)
  • Heinrichs, Albert; Ludwig Koenen, Ein griechischer Mani-Kodex, 1970 (ed.) Der Kölner Mani-Codex ( P. Colon. Inv. nr. 4780), 1975–1982.
  • La Vaissière, Etienne de, "Mani en Chine au VIe siècle", Journal Asiatique, 293-1, 2005, p. 357-378.
  • Legge, Francis (1964) [1914] (reprinted in two volumes bound as one). Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity, From 330 B.C. to 330 A.D.. New York: University Books. LC Catalog 64-24125. 
  • Lieu, Samuel (1992). Manichaeism in the later Roman Empire and medieval China. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr. ISBN 0719010888. 
  • Mani (216–276/7) and his 'biography': the Codex Manichaicus Coloniensis (CMC):
  • Melchert, Norman (2002). The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-19-517510-7. 
  • Runciman, Steven (1982) [1947]. The Medieval Manichee: a study of the Christian dualist heresy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28926-2. 
  • Welburn, Andrew (1998). Mani, the Angel and the Column of Glory. Edinburgh: Floris. ISBN 0-86315-274-0. 
  • Widengren, Geo (1965). Mani and Manichaeism. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. 
  • Wurst, Gregor (July 2001). "Die Bema-Psalmen". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 60 (3): 203–204. doi:10.1086/468925. 
  • Welburn, Andrew (1998). Mani the Angel and the Column of Glory. Floris Books. ISBN 0863152740. 

External linksEdit

Outside articlesEdit

Manichaean sources in English translationEdit

Secondary Manichaean sources in English translationEdit

Manichaean sources in their original languagesEdit

Secondary Manichaean sources in their original languagesEdit


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ar:مانوية

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