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Selected Papers from the 2019 Pretoria Congress and Consultation
Volume Editor: Johannes van Oort
Manichaeism and Early Christianity comprises the selected papers from the 2019 Pretoria Congress and Consultation. The sixteen chapters focus on where and how Gnostic Manichaeism interfered not only with other forms of Gnosticism, but above all with the writings and representatives of mainstream Christianity during the early centuries of our era. Key texts dealt with are a number of Nag Hammadi writings (including the Gospel of Thomas) as well as figures such as Marcion, Tatian, Ephrem the Syrian, Chrysostom, Pelagius and—not least—Augustine and his pupil Evodius.
Author: Byard Bennett

Abstract

This chapter discusses a short work entitled The Proposition of a Manichaean (CPG 6998, 7011), which argues for the existence of two unoriginate first principles, one good and one evil. The Proposition has been transmitted in conjunction with three philosophical works written by Christian authors in the sixth to eleventh centuries (Zacharias of Mitylene’s Adversus Manichaeos, Paul the Persian’s Defensio, and John Italus’ Quaestiones quodlibetales). I provide a critical edition and English translation of the Proposition and show that the text was revised and adapted several times during the course of its transmission. Although a Manichaean origin cannot be securely established for the Proposition, the work was preserved and transmitted because it played a role in later Neoplatonic instruction in logic. The revisions made to the work arose from a need to simplify the text so that students could more easily follow the argument. The discussion and refutation of the Proposition by Christian authors can thus be seen as part of a broader trend toward expanding the study of paralogisms (fallacious arguments) in sixth-century teaching of logic.

In: Manichaeism and Early Christianity
Author: Michel Tardieu

Résumé

La règle de vie et la loi sont des opposés, passés des antithèses d’Ænésidème à celles de Marcion. Ils se redéploient chez Mani (Adda, CMC) en annexant d’ autres figures d’ argumentation, comme le montrent en rapport avec Adda l’ allégorie des deux cités (Traité chinois) et en rapport avec Marcion les stances d’ hymnes abécédaires sur la rétribution des hypocrites (M28I).

In: Manichaeism and Early Christianity

Abstract

Taking Paula Fredriksen’s Augustine and the Jews as representative of deeply entrenched assumptions regarding Manichaean hostile attitudes towards Judaism, the present study compares Augustine’s and Faustus’s treatment of the Jews within the Contra Faustum, and finds in Faustus a complex and nuanced set of attitudes towards Jews and Judaism which—contrary to Fredriksen—are more benign and favourable than Augustine’s. To the degree that Faustus strikes anti-Jewish notes, they derive from developments peculiar to western Manichaeism, in an environment where issues of biblical canon hardened Manichaean opposition to the Old Testament, which—rather than Jews—is the true target of Faustus’s polemic. By contrast, Mani and early Manichaeism show greater continuity with Jewish traditions, albeit in a sectarian Jewish-Christian form that apparently had marginalized Moses and Torah. Traces of this earlier position vis-à-vis Jewish traditions still can be found in Faustus.

In: Manichaeism and Early Christianity

Abstract

We only know Augustine’s youth work De pulchro et apto from his famous Confessiones. There he slightly lifts the veil that hangs over its contents. The present essay examines the possible subject matter of De pulchro et apto within the context of Augustine’s former Manichaeism. Apart from the Confessiones, other writings of the Catholic Church Father seem to shed light on his former Manichaean work. But most important to unravel the topics of Augustine’s first writing appear to be some genuine Manichaean sources. My search for the contents of De pulchro et apto in the context of ‘Manichaeism and Early Christianity’ ends up with twelve conclusions.

In: Manichaeism and Early Christianity
Author: Rea Matsangou

Abstract

This chapter investigates how and why in both legal and ecclesiastical sources ascetic groups such as the Encratites and the Messalians are associated with the Manichaeans, as well as the way these ascetics are treated by the state and church authorities. The ultimate aim of the research is to answer the question: what does this link (made by the sources) reveal about the Manichaeans of the Roman East?

In modern scholarship it has been supported that this connection did not actually exist, but only served the rhetoric of the authorities against anarchist asceticism. However, this paper—taking into account (1) that these ascetics shared a series of common features (practices, beliefs behind the practices, and lifestyle) with the Manichaeans; (2) the emphasis of the sources that some of these features have been established by Manichaean leaders; and (3) the organized character of the Manichaean movement in contrast to the anarchist and irregular character of these ascetic groups—argues that the answer to the question whether the ‘Manichaean’ features of the Messalian or Encratite portrait were a heresiological construction or reflect a Manichaean influence upon anarchist Christian asceticism (as the sources imply) is not one-dimensional. A possible interpretation need not exclude the others.

In: Manichaeism and Early Christianity

Abstract

Previous scholarship has demonstrated that a significant part of Christian themes in early Manichaean text and art deal with the life of Christ. This study centers on one example in the form of a sermon, purportedly given by Mani and preserved in Coptic translation from the late 4th or early 5th century in the first chapter of the Berlin Kephalaia (Kephalaion 1, 12.21–13.11). The 22-line passage under consideration is a brief summary of Jesus’ life narrated in sixteen events from Incarnation to Ascension. By focusing on the question of the sourcing of these sixteen events, this study maps their correlation to the canonical gospels and to Tatian’s Diatessaron. It demonstrates that these sixteen events do not accord with any one particular gospel, nor with a straightforward combination of the four gospels collectively. Instead, they follow a chronology unique to the Diatessaron—the earliest known gospel harmony dating from the late 2nd century and attributed to Tatian—that was used in the place of the four gospels until the end of the 5th century across Syro-Mesopotamia. This comparative assessment thus suggests that the ultimate source behind Mani’s sermon was most likely the Diatessaron, which in turn leads to a dual conclusion: (1) Mani and the early Manichaeans in 3rd-century southern Mesopotamia learned about the life of Christ from Tatian’s gospel harmony; and (2) this passage of the Berlin Kephalaia constitutes a Late Antique, Coptic Manichaean witness to the Diatessaron.

In: Manichaeism and Early Christianity

Abstract

This chapter examines part of the development of North African Manichaeism, with a specific focus on Aduersus Manichaeos, an anti-Manichaean treatise attributed to Evodius of Uzalis. Evodius, a friend of Augustine of Hippo, probably wrote Aduersus Manichaeos in the years 420–425. Thus, the treatise constitutes an important source on North African Manichaeism, written two decades after the major anti-Manichaean works of Augustine. A preliminary section discusses Evodius’ sources. Unlike Augustine, he was not a former member of the Manichaean movement, and his Aduersus Manichaeos lacks the insiders’ knowledge of Augustine’s treatises. Nevertheless, it will be argued that Evodius had prepared himself thoroughly in order to write his anti-Manichaean treatise. The subsequent section offers an overview of testimonia on the Manichaean canon in the Latin world. These testimonia seem to suggest that—over time—the North African Manichaeans held one particular letter of Mani, the Epistula fundamenti, in high esteem. The concluding section briefly addresses the genre, status, contents and circulation of Mani’s letter.

In: Manichaeism and Early Christianity
Author: Mattias Brand

Abstract

Relatively newly published papyri from ancient Kellis (modern Ismant el-Kharab in the Dakhleh Oasis) enable us to identify a Roman-Egyptian patron of the local Manichaeans. Prosopographical connections reveal not only his name, Pausanias son of Valerius, but also his prominent role as the strategos of the Great Oasis. This chapter places Pausanias in the context of other Manichaean patronage relationships, like those between the elect and the catechumens. The similarities between the fundraising letters of the elect and a Greek letter praising Pausanias, including marked religious rhetoric and observable asymmetrical relationship between author and recipients, raises the question of Pausanias’s religious affiliation. Specifically, the Greek letter’s statement that “only our lord the Paraclete is competent to praise you as you deserve”, seems to imply that Pausanias was familiar with Manichaean terminology. Would he have identified as Manichaean catechumen? If so, would it be warranted to connect the Kellis evidence for patronage with Manichaean hagiographical narratives about converting wealthy and powerful patrons as a strategy for the propagation of the Manichaean church? Rather than harmonizing these different types of accounts, I propose to reflect on their situatedness—as well as how the context and desires of present-day scholars shape our interpretation of the ancient sources.

In: Manichaeism and Early Christianity

Résumé

Nous montrons dans la première partie de cette étude sur les Acta Archelai, composés par Hégémonius en grec vers 345 et conservés dans une version latine datant d’ environ 365, que la ville de Carchara/Carrhes (l’ ancienne Harran) où l’ auteur situe une disputatio entre Mani et l’ évêque de la ville Archélaüs n’ est pas chrétienne comme il voudrait le faire croire. Carrhes est en effet restée fidèle pendant de longs siècles à la foi païenne et au culte de la divinité lunaire Sin, et le christianisme peina à s’ y enraciner. Il n’ y eut d’ ailleurs pas d’ évêque à Carrhes avant 361. Dans l’ intrigue nouée par Hégémonius, Mani avait projeté de se rendre à Carrhes pour entrer en contact avec l’ homme le plus puissant de la ville, Marcellus, présenté comme un chrétien exemplaire, dans l’ espoir de gagner ensuite à la religion des Deux Principes la région tout entière. Notre analyse fait apparaître que l’ illustre Marcellus n’ est vraisemblablement pas un chrétien, mais un haut fonctionnaire provincial, sans doute païen. La vision christianisée de la ville ne correspond donc aucunement à sa réelle situation historique, religieuse et sociale : c’ est une réinterprétation artificielle opérée par Hégémonius pour les besoins de sa controverse. Dans la seconde partie de ce travail nous analysons les caractères de trois principaux personnages des Acta Archelai, Marcellus, Archélaüs et Mani et leurs interactions à travers une étude lexicale qui met en évidence les traits de leurs caractères. Le langage d’ Hégémonius est d’ une extrême précision, chaque terme est choisi avec soin pour illustrer les thèmes et motifs qu’ il entend développer. Cela transparaît à travers la traduction latine des Acta Archelai, effectuée par un traducteur expérimenté.

In: Manichaeism and Early Christianity