Published in Open Access with the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Winner of the Manfred Lautenschläger Award!
Religion is never simply there. In Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis, Mattias Brand shows where and when ordinary individuals and families in Egypt practiced a Manichaean way of life. Rather than portraying this ancient religion as a well-structured, totalizing community, the fourth-century papyri sketch a dynamic image of lived religious practice, with all the contradictions, fuzzy boundaries, and limitations of everyday life. Following these microhistorical insights, this book demonstrates how family life, gift-giving, death rituals, communal gatherings, and book writing are connected to our larger academic debates about religious change in late antiquity.
Mattias Brand, Ph.D. (2019), Leiden University, is postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zürich. He has published on Manichaeism, ancient Christianity, and the study of religion. Currently, he is researching the transformation of religious practices within ancient and contemporary houses.
Mattias Brand has produced a well-conceived and nuanced study of Manichean life in late antique Kellis that usefully brings theoretical insights to bear on textual, material, and visual evidence. I would strongly recommend this book to any historian or student interested in Manichaeism or lived religion in late antiquity.
Joseph E. Sanzo, BMCR 2023
Acknowledgments List of Figures and Tables Abbreviations and Translations
Introduction Religion and Everyday Groupness
Manichaeans and the Transformation of Religion in Late Antiquity
Theoretical Framework: Everyday Groupness
Sources and the Structure of the Book
1 Makarios’s Family: Manichaeans at Home in the Oasis
Kellis in the Dakhleh Oasis
Locating Makarios and Pamour: The Archaeological Context
Makarios and Maria
Pamour and His Brothers
Other Clusters of Letters
Indications of Manichaeanness
Documents Associated with the Various Family Clusters
2 Pamour’s Connections: Religion beyond a Conflict Model
Egyptian Temple Religion
Classical Traditions from the Greek and Roman World
Celestial Power and Amulets
Christian Institutions and Repertoire
Manichaeans and the Roman Administration
3 Orion’s Language: Manichaean Self-Designation in the Kellis Papyri
Performing Personal Letters
Self-Designation in Documentary Papyri
Excursus: Coptic as a Community-Specific Language?
Appendix: List of Self-Designators in the Personal Letters
4 Tehat’s Gifts: Everyday Community Boundaries
The Manichaean Ideology of Giving
Five Types of Giving in the Kellis Letters
The Agape, a Manichaean Ritual Meal?
5 The Deacon’s Practice: Manichaean Gatherings with Prayer and Psalm Singing
Manichaean Communal Gatherings
Did Makarios Go to Church? On the Location of Manichaean Gatherings
A Manichaean Monastery in the Oasis?
Evoking Groupness: Teaching and Emotional Arousal through Song
6 Matthaios’s Grief: Manichaean Death Rituals
Death and the Deceased in Documentary Papyri
Songs and Prayers for the Deceased
Christian and Manichaean Funerary Meals
Burial Practices and Material Culture
7 Ision’s Books: Scribal Culture and Access to Manichaean Texts
Copying and Circulating Books
The Syriac Connection
Materiality: The Ude of the Codex and Wooden Tablets
Identifying Manichaean Scribes
Conclusion: Untidy History: Manichaeanness in Everyday Life
When Did Manichaeism Matter?
Modeling Late Antique Religion
Appendix 1: Outline of Published Documents from Kellis Appendix 2: Prosopography of Makarios’s and Pamour’s Relatives Bibliography Index of Sources Index of Names Subject Index
Scholars interested in Manichaean Studies, the History of religion, religious change in Late Antiquity, the art and archaeology of fourth-century Egypt, and the application of social-scientific theories to the ancient world.