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Author: Mattias Brand


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