This book collects most of my essays on Mani, Manichaeism and Augustine as they appeared during the past years in various scientific journals and congress collections. Supplemented by a number of relevant review articles and more or less extensive reviews, all studies have been divided into three parts. Part One ‘Mani and Manichaeism’ gives an overview of the origins of Mani’s gnostic church and discusses a number of characteristic features of his world religion. Part Two ‘Augustine and Manichaeism’ comprises eighteen studies examining the significance Mani and his gnostic Christianity may have had for the church father Augustine. Since the ultimate purpose of my researches was and still is to find out to what extent the most important thinker of (Western) Christianity has been influenced by Mani and his followers, the main emphasis of this book is on these studies. They are based on my endeavours to understand the fascinating worldview of Mani and his many disciples. Over the years I have become increasingly convinced that Augustine was very well aware of Mani’s teachings; it has also become increasingly my conviction that the lasting impact of Manichaeism on Augustine was considerable. I hope that the studies collected here provide convincing evidence of this, especially with regard to Augustine’s distinctive Christian spirituality, his negative attitude to sexuality (and the role of sex in the transmission of original sin) and, for instance, his theories about memory, all being so very influential in our intellectual and cultural history. Part Three assembles topical reviews and review articles on the themes of ‘Mani and Manichaeism’ and ‘Augustine and Manichaeism’ respectively. Extensive indices have been added which, I assume, may help not only readers seeking for quick reference but also those researchers who aim at further study of so many an intriguing feature of both Mani’s and Augustine’s worldviews.
The essays collected here (I also enclosed two previously unpublished ones) have been written over the course of a good number of years. I have not removed all traces of the different times and places of origin, but supplemented new information where this seemed desirable. All essays have in principle retained their original ‘complete’ character and can therefore be read as independent studies. I hereby meet an increasingly common form of publication in which individual chapters of a book are also made available electronically to the interested student for download. The benevolent reader will understand that in this way repetition of essential information sometimes turned out to be inevitable.
With this collection, I am concluding a long period of research. Thankfully I think back to my many years at the University of Utrecht (my alma mater) and to the subsequent long decade at Radboud University Nijmegen where—after the flourishing Utrecht Faculty of Theology became increasingly liquidated—I was offered the newly established chair ‘Christianity and Gnosticism’. With special thanks I also recall the facilities at Pretoria’s Faculty of Theology and Religion since 2000, particularly made possible by its former dean Johan Buitendag and now by its current head Jerry Pillay. Many friends and colleagues (in the IAMS, in the Boards of NHMS, CFM and VC/SVC) stimulated my research; not least this applies to all those colleagues who came to Pretoria in 2012 and 2019 to participate in two special stimulating conferences. My heartfelt thanks also go to Loes Schouten, Wilma de Weert and Marjolein van Zuylen who, as a unique type of efficient and accurate Brill three-star, facilitated this publication.
Now, after so many years of blessed love, tenderness and cheerfulness, I am most happy to again dedicate a book to Ineke, our children and grandchildren.
Brooklyn, Pretoria, 10 January 2020