In: The Manichaean Church in Kellis
Håkon Fiane Teigen
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This book concerns the role of ‘religion’ in daily life in late antiquity. It springs out of an engagement with documents found in a small town in Roman Egypt, and their relationship to a lost religious tradition, ‘Manichaeism’, that once spread across the Eurasian continent. In order to approach this issue, I have drawn on a range of different fields: papyrology, Coptology, microhistory, prosopography, network theory, cultural sociology, Manichaean studies, early Christian studies, and the study of ancient associations. The aim has been to shed light on the dynamics between what we may roughly term ‘ideological’ and ‘social’ forces in the history of late antique religion.

In its present form, the book is a substantially rewritten version of my doctoral thesis, ‘The Limbs of the Light Mind: The Social World of a Manichaean Community in Fourth-Century Egypt’, which was defended at the University of Bergen in the Fall of 2018. The changes from thesis to book are many, however – too many to enumerate here. The most conspicuous one is the shedding of detailed discussion of the Kellis community’s economy, which has been replaced by a more focused engagement with religious identity. Several of the chapters from the thesis treating economic activity have been removed, while those chapters discussing religious life have been reorganised and greatly expanded.

The person to whom this work owes its greatest debt is undoubtedly my former supervisor, Eivind H. Seland. His unfailing support during my PhD made my ideas into a realisable project, and his continued advice, friendship, and invitations for walks have been a great source of strength and fresh air in the subsequent period – especially appreciated under the COVID19 pandemic, still-ongoing as I write this. I am, furthermore, most grateful to the members of my dissertation committee, Jacques van der Vliet, Arietta Papaconstantinou, and J. Christian Meyer, who pointed out important deficiencies and areas for improvement of the thesis, while also giving me the confidence to plan for a publication. I would, moreover, like to send my sincere thanks to the scholars who read and commented on the manuscript while still a thesis-in-waiting, especially Giovanni Ruffini, René Falkenberg, and Ingvild Gilhus.

Many others have been of great importance along the way; especially Alexandros Tsakos, who has been a great support and a tutor in all things Coptic, and Mattias Brand, with whom I’ve had many friendly and fruitful disagreements over the years. Furthermore, I wish to extend my thanks to Johannes van Oort, who both helped improve the manuscript and guided me through the publication process; my three anonymous reviewers, for their comments, corrections, and suggestions; and Carina van den Hoven and the other editors at Brill, for their work.

Above all, my gratefulness and my love go to Birgit, my closest supporter and most perceptive critic, – and to our daughter, Astrid, the sound of whose laughter in the hallway tells me it is time to leave the keyboard alone and go build a tower.

Håkon Fiane Teigen

Bergen, March 2021

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