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Discovered in 1929, the Manichaean Kephalaia have opened up an important window on the early development of Manichaean doctrine. This study identifies a significant redactional tendency whereby the compilers of the text sought to clarify ambiguities in “canonical” Manichaean tradition by means of five-part numerical series. This discovery challenges the conventional wisdom of Manichaean scholarship, which has long maintained that, since Mani recorded his own teachings in a series of what later became canonical writings, Manichaean doctrines were transmitted relatively unchanged from the master to successive generations of disciples. Since this assumption is now called into question, it now becomes necessary to re-evaluate received notions about the shape of both the Manichaean “canon” and “tradition.”

Abstract

One of the most striking characteristics of the first volume of Manichaean Kephalaia is the occurrence of five-part patterns in a wide variety of contexts. Even though the importance of pentads in Manichaeism has long been recognized, few attempts have been made to study what implications they might have for tracing the development of early Manichaean tradition. By examining the attribution of five qualities to the Father of Greatness in Kephalaia Chapter 21, this article suggests that a deliberate attempt was made to revise the Manichaean concept of divinity from one based on tetrads to one based on pentads.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
In: Pentadic Redaction in the Manichaean Kephalaia
In: Pentadic Redaction in the Manichaean Kephalaia
In: Pentadic Redaction in the Manichaean Kephalaia
In: Pentadic Redaction in the Manichaean Kephalaia
In: Pentadic Redaction in the Manichaean Kephalaia