Samaritan Baptist sects
Simon Magus (Simonians)
Nag Hammadi library
Gnosticism and the New Testament
John the Baptist
Neoplatonism and Gnosticism
Gnosticism in modern times
Manichaeism (/ˌmænɪˈkiːɪzəm/; in
Modern Persian آیین
مانی Āyin-e Māni; Chinese: 摩尼教; pinyin: Móní Jiào) was
a major religious movement that was founded by the Iranian prophet
Mani (in Persian: مانی, Syriac: ܡܐܢܝ, Latin: Manichaeus or
Manes; c. 216–276 AD) in the Sasanian Empire.
Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the
struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil,
material world of darkness. Through an ongoing process that takes
place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of
matter and returned to the world of light, whence it came. Its beliefs
were based on local
Mesopotamian gnostic and religious movements.
Manichaeism was quickly successful and spread far through the
Aramaic-Syriac speaking regions. It thrived between the 3rd and 7th
centuries, and at its height was one of the most widespread religions
in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east
China and as far west as the Roman Empire. It was briefly the
main rival to
Christianity in the competition to replace classical
Manichaeism survived longer in the east than in the west,
and it appears to have finally faded away after the 14th century in
southern China, contemporary to the decline in
China of the Church
of the East during the Ming Dynasty. While most of Manichaeism's
original writings have been lost, numerous translations and
fragmentary texts have survived.
An adherent of
Manichaeism is called a Manichaean or Manichean, or
Manichee, especially in older sources.
1.1 Life of Mani
1.4 Persecution and extinction
1.5 Later movements accused of "Neo-Manichaeism"
1.5.1 Present day
2 Teachings and beliefs
2.3 Outline of the beings and events in the Manichaean mythos
2.3.1 The World of Light
2.3.2 The first creation
2.3.3 The second creation
2.3.4 The third creation
2.3.5 The World of Darkness
3 The Manichaean Church
3.2 Religious practices
4 Primary sources
4.1 Originally written in Syriac
4.2 Originally written in Middle Persian
4.3 Other books
4.4 Non-Manichaean works preserved by the Manichaean Church
4.5 Later works
4.6 Critical and polemic sources
4.6.1 Patristic depictions of Mani and Manchæeism
4.6.2 Acta Archelai
126.96.36.199 View of
Judaism in the Acta Archelai
4.7 Central Asian and Iranian primary sources
4.8 Coptic primary sources
4.9 Chinese primary sources
4.10 Greek life of Mani, Cologne codex
5 Figurative use
6 See also
7.1 Books and articles
8 External links
8.1 Outside articles
8.2 Manichaean sources in English translation
8.3 Secondary Manichaean sources in English translation
8.4 Manichaean sources in their original languages
8.5 Secondary Manichaean sources in their original languages
Life of Mani
Manichaean priests, writing at their desks. 8th or 9th century CE
Gaochang (Khocho), Tarim Basin, China.
Yüen dynasty silk painting Mani's Birth.
Main article: Mani (prophet)
Mani was an Iranian born in 216 CE in or near Seleucia-Ctesiphon
in the Parthian Empire. According to the Cologne Mani-Codex,
Mani's parents were members of the Jewish
Gnostic sect known
as the Elcesaites.
Mani composed seven writings, six of which were written in Syriac
Aramaic. The seventh, the Shabuhragan, was written by Mani in
Middle Persian and presented by him to the King of Sassanid Persia,
Shapur I. Although there is no proof
Shapur I was a Manichaean, he
tolerated the spread of
Manichaeism and refrained from persecuting it
within his empire's boundaries. According to one tradition it was
Mani himself who invented the unique version of the Syriac script
called Manichaean script, which was used in all of the Manichaean
works written within the Persian Empire, whether they were in Syriac
or Middle Persian, and also for most of the works written within the
Uyghur Empire. The primary language of Babylon (and the administrative
and cultural language of the Sassanid Empire) at that time was Eastern
Middle Aramaic, which included three main dialects: Judeo-Aramaic (the
language of the Talmud), Mandaean Aramaic (the language of the
Mandaean religion), and Syriac Aramaic, which was the language of
Mani, as well as of the Syriac Christians.
Manichaeism was spreading, existing religions such as
Zoroastrianism were still popular and
Christianity was gaining social
and political influence. Although having fewer adherents, Manichaeism
won the support of many high-ranking political figures. With the
assistance of the Persian Empire, Mani began missionary expeditions.
After failing to win the favour of the next generation of Persian
royalty, and incurring the disapproval of the
Zoroastrian clergy, Mani
is reported to have died in prison awaiting execution by the Persian
Emperor Bahram I. The date of his death is estimated at AD
Sermon on Mani's Teaching of Salvation, 13th century Chinese
Manichaean silk painting.
Mani believed that the teachings of Buddha, Zoroaster, and
incomplete, and that his revelations were for the entire world,
calling his teachings the "
Religion of Light". Manichaean writings
indicate that Mani received revelations when he was 12 and again when
he was 24, and over this time period he grew dissatisfied with the
Elcesaite sect he was born into. Mani began preaching at an early
age and was possibly influenced by contemporary Babylonian-Aramaic
movements such as Mandaeanism, and Aramaic translations of Jewish
apocalyptic writings similar to those found at
Qumran (such as the
book of Enoch literature), and by the Syriac dualist-gnostic writer
Bardaisan (who lived a generation before Mani). With the discovery of
the Mani-Codex, it also became clear that he was raised in a
Christian baptism sect, the Elcesaites, and was influenced by
their writings, as well. According to biographies preserved by Ibn
al-Nadim and the Persian polymath al-Biruni, he received a revelation
as a youth from a spirit, whom he would later call his Twin (Aramaic
Tauma (תאומא), from which is also derived the name of the apostle
Thomas, the "twin"), his Syzygos (Greek for "partner", in the Cologne
Mani-Codex), his Double, his Protective Angel or Divine Self. It
taught him truths that he developed into a religion. His divine Twin
or true Self brought Mani to self-realization. He claimed to be the
Paraclete of the Truth, as promised by
Jesus in the New Testament.
Jesus Christ as a Manichaean prophet, the figure can be identified as
a representation of
Jesus Christ by the small gold cross that sits on
the red lotus pedestal in His left hand.
Manichaeism's views on
Jesus are described by historians:
Manichaeism possessed three separate identities: (1) Jesus
the Luminous, (2)
Messiah and (3)
Jesus patibilis (the
suffering Jesus). (1) As
Jesus the Luminous... his primary role was as
supreme revealer and guide and it was he who woke Adam from his
slumber and revealed to him the divine origins of his soul and its
painful captivity by the body and mixture with matter.
Messiah was a historical being who was the prophet of the Jews and the
forerunner of Mani. However, the Manichaeans believed he was wholly
divine. He never experienced human birth as notions of physical
conception and birth filled the Manichaeans with horror and the
Christian doctrine of virgin birth was regarded as equally obscene.
Since he was the light of the world, where was this light, they asked,
when he was in the womb of the Virgin? (2)
Messiah was truly
born at his baptism as it was on that occasion that the Father openly
acknowledged his sonship. The suffering, death and resurrection of
Jesus were in appearance only as they had no salvific value but
were an exemplum of the suffering and eventual deliverance of the
human soul and a prefiguration of Mani's own martyrdom. (3) The pain
suffered by the imprisoned Light-Particles in the whole of the visible
universe, on the other hand, was real and immanent. This was
symbolized by the mystic placing of the Cross whereby the wounds of
the passion of our souls are set forth. On this mystical Cross of
Light was suspended the Suffering
Jesus patibilis) who was the
life and salvation of Man. This mystica cruxificio was present in
every tree, herb, fruit, vegetable and even stones and the soil. This
constant and universal suffering of the captive soul is exquisitely
expressed in one of the Coptic Manichaean psalms.
Historians also note that Mani declared himself to be an "apostle of
Jesus Christ". Manichaean tradition is also noted to have claimed
that Mani was the reincarnation of different religious figures such as
Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, and Jesus.
Other than incorporating the symbols and doctrine of dominant
Manichaeism also incorporated the symbols and
deities of indigenous traditions, in particular the
Ganesha into its fold, demonstrated by the image available in the
article, "Manichaean Art and Calligraphy" by Hans-Joachim Klimkeit.
Mani was claiming to be the reincarnation of the Buddha, Lord Krishna,
Jesus depending on the context in which he was carrying
out his preachings. Such strategic claims fostered a spirit of
toleration among the Manichaeans and the other religious communities
and this particular feature greatly assisted them in gaining the
approval of authorities to practice in different regions along the
Academics also note that since much of what is known about Manichaeism
comes from later 10th- and 11th-century Muslim historians like
Al-Biruni and especially
Ibn al-Nadim (and his work Fihrist), "Islamic
authors ascribed to Mani the claim to be the Seal of the
Prophets." In reality, for Mani the expression "seal of prophecy"
refers to his disciples, who testify for the veracity of his message,
as a seal does.
10th century Manichaean Electae in
Gaochang (Khocho), China.
Another source of Mani's scriptures was original Aramaic writings
relating to the
Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch literature (see the
Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch and
the Second Book of Enoch), as well as an otherwise unknown section of
Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch called the "Book of Giants". This book was quoted
directly, and expanded on by Mani, becoming one of the original six
Syriac writings of the Manichaean Church. Besides brief references by
non-Manichaean authors through the centuries, no original sources of
"The Book of Giants" (which is actually part six of the Book of Enoch)
were available until the 20th century.
Scattered fragments of both the original Aramaic "Book of Giants"
(which were analyzed and published by
Józef Milik in 1976) and of
the Manichaean version of the same name (analyzed and published by W.
B. Henning in 1943) were found with the discovery in the twentieth
century of the
Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judaean Desert and the
Manichaean writings of the Uyghur Manichaean kingdom in Turpan.
Henning wrote in his analysis of them:
It is noteworthy that Mani, who was brought up and spent most of his
life in a province of the Persian empire, and whose mother belonged to
a famous Parthian family, did not make any use of the Iranian
mythological tradition. There can no longer be any doubt that the
Iranian names of Sām, Narīmān, etc., that appear in the Persian and
Sogdian versions of the Book of the Giants, did not figure in the
original edition, written by Mani in the Syriac language.
By comparing the cosmology in the
Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch literature and the
Book of Giants, alongside the description of the Manichaean myth,
scholars have observed that the Manichaean cosmology can be described
as being based, in part, on the description of the cosmology developed
in detail in the
Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch literature. This literature
describes the being that the prophets saw in their ascent to heaven,
as a king who sits on a throne at the highest of the heavens. In the
Manichaean description, this being, the "Great King of Honor", becomes
a deity who guards the entrance to the world of light, placed at the
seventh of ten heavens. In the Aramaic Book of Enoch, in the
Qumran writings in general, and in the original Syriac section of
Manichaean scriptures quoted by Theodore bar Konai, he is called
"malka raba de-ikara" (the Great King of Honor).
Mani was also influenced by writings of the Assyrian gnostic Bardaisan
(154–222), who, like Mani, wrote in Syriac, and presented a
dualistic interpretation of the world in terms of light and darkness,
in combination with elements from Christianity.
Akshobhya in his Eastern Paradise with Cross of Light, a symbol of
Noting Mani's travels to the
Kushan Empire (several religious
paintings in Bamiyan are attributed to him) at the beginning of his
Richard Foltz postulates
Buddhist influences in
Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Mani's
religious thought. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean
belief, and the quadripartite structure of the Manichaean community,
divided between male and female monks (the "elect") and lay followers
(the "hearers") who supported them, appears to be based on that of the
The Kushan monk Lokakṣema began translating Pure Land
into Chinese in the century prior to Mani arriving there, and the
Chinese texts of
Manichaeism are full of uniquely
Buddhist terms taken
directly from these Chinese Pure Land scriptures, including the term
"pure land" (淨土 Jìngtǔ) itself. However, the central object
of veneration in Pure Land Buddhism, Amitābha, the
Buddha of Infinite
Light, does not appear in Chinese Manichaeism, and seems to have been
replaced by another deity.
The spread of
Manichaeism (300–500 CE). World History Atlas, Dorling
Manichaeism spread with extraordinary speed through both the east and
west. It reached Rome through the apostle Psattiq by 280 CE, who was
Egypt in 244 and 251. It was flourishing in the
Fayum area of
Egypt in 290. Manichaean monasteries existed in Rome in 312 during the
time of the
Christian Pope Miltiades.
In 291, persecution arose in the Persian Empire with the murder of the
apostle Sisin by Bahram II, and the slaughter of many Manichaeans. In
Diocletian decreed against the Manichaeans: "We order that their
organizers and leaders be subject to the final penalties and condemned
to the fire with their abominable scriptures." This resulted in
martyrdom for many in
Egypt and North
Africa (see Diocletian
Persecution). By 354,
Hilary of Poitiers
Hilary of Poitiers wrote that the Manichaean
faith was a significant force in southern Gaul. In 381, Christians
Theodosius I to strip Manichaeans of their civil rights.
Starting in 382 the emperor issued a series of edicts to suppress
Manichaeism and punish its followers.
St. Augustine was once a Manichaean.
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo (354–430) converted to
Manichaeism in the year 387. This was shortly after the Roman Emperor
Theodosius I had issued a decree of death for all Manichaean monks in
382 and shortly before he declared
Christianity to be the only
legitimate religion for the
Roman Empire in 391. Due to the heavy
persecution, the religion almost disappeared from western Europe in
the 5th century and from the eastern portion of the empire in the 6th
century. According to his Confessions, after nine or ten years of
adhering to the Manichaean faith as a member of the group of
"hearers", Augustine became a
Christian and a potent adversary of
Manichaeism (which he expressed in writing against his Manichaean
opponent Faustus of Mileve), seeing their beliefs that knowledge was
the key to salvation as too passive and not able to effect any change
in one's life.
"I still thought that it is not we who sin but some other nature that
sins within us. It flattered my pride to think that I incurred no
guilt and, when I did wrong, not to confess it... I preferred to
excuse myself and blame this unknown thing which was in me but was not
part of me. The truth, of course, was that it was all my own self, and
my own impiety had divided me against myself. My sin was all the more
incurable because I did not think myself a sinner."
Some modern scholars have suggested that Manichaean ways of thinking
influenced the development of some of Augustine's ideas, such as the
nature of good and evil, the idea of hell, the separation of groups
into elect, hearers, and sinners, and the hostility to the flesh and
sexual activity, and his dualistic theology. These influences of
Manichaeism in Augustine's
Christian thinking may well have been part
of the conflict between Augustine and Pelagius, a British monk whose
theology, being less influenced by the
Latin (Roman) church, was
non-dualistic, and one that saw the created order, and mankind in
particular, as having a Divine core, rather than a 'darkness' at its
A 13th-century manuscript from Augustine's book VII of Confessions
Manichaeism might have influenced
Christianity continues to be
Manichaeism could have influenced the Bogomils, Paulicians,
and Cathars. However, these groups left few records, and the link
between them and Manichaeans is tenuous. Regardless of its accuracy,
the charge of
Manichaeism was levelled at them by contemporary
orthodox opponents, who often tried to make contemporary heresies
conform to those combatted by the church fathers. Whether the dualism
of the Paulicians, Bogomils, and Cathars and their belief that the
world was created by a Satanic demiurge were due to influence from
Manichaeism is impossible to determine. The Cathars apparently adopted
the Manichaean principles of church organization.
Priscillian and his
followers may also have been influenced by Manichaeism. The
Manichaeans preserved many apocryphal
Christian works, such as the
Acts of Thomas, that would otherwise have been lost.
Manichaeism maintained a sporadic and intermittent existence in the
west (Mesopotamia, Africa, Spain, France, North Italy, the Balkans)
for a thousand years, and flourished for a time in Persia and even
further east in Northern India, Western China, and Tibet. While it had
long been thought that
Manichaeism arrived in
China only at the end of
the 7th century, a recent archaeological discovery demonstrated that
it was already known there in the second half of the 6th century.
Amitābha in his
Western Paradise with Indians, Tibetans, and Central
Asians, with two symbols of Manichaeism: Sun and Cross.
Some Sogdians in
Central Asia believed in the religion. Uyghur
Khagan Boku Tekin (759–780) converted to the religion in 763
after a 3 days discussion with its preachers, the Babylonian
headquarters sent high rank clerics to Uyghur, and Manichaeism
remained the state religion for about a century before the collapse of
the Uyghur empire in 840. In the east it spread along trade routes as
far as Chang'an, the capital of the
Tang dynasty in China.
After the Tang Dynasty, some Manichaens groups participated in peasant
movements. The religion was used by many rebel leaders to mobilise
followers. In the Song and Yuan dynasties of
China remnants of
Manichaeism continued to leave a legacy contributing to sects such as
the Red Turbans. During the Song Dynasty, the Manichaeans were
derogatorily referred by the Chinese as chicai simo (meaning that they
"abstain from meat and worship demons"). An account in Fozu Tongji, an
important historiography of
China compiled by Buddhist
scholars during 1258-1269, says that the Manichaens worshipped the
"white Buddha" and their leader wore a violet headgear, while the
followers wore white costumes. Many Manichaeans took part in
rebellions against the Song government and were eventually quelled.
After that, all governments were suppressive against
its followers and the religion was banned by the
Ming Dynasty in
The Manichaeans tried to assimilate their religion along with
Islamic empires. Relatively little is known about the
religion during the first century of
Islamic rule. During the early
period of the Arab
Manichaeism attracted many
followers. It had a significant appeal among the Muslim society
especially among the elites. Due to the appeal of its teachings, many
Muslims adopted the ideas of its theology and some even became
dualists. An apologia for
Manichaeism ascribed to Ibn al-Muqaffa',
defended its phantasmagorical cosmogony and attacked the fideism of
Islam and other monotheistic religions. According to some accounts,
Al-Walid II was a follower of Mani. The
Manichaeans had sufficient structure to have a head of their
community. Under the 8th-century Abbasids, Arabic zindiq
and the adjectival zandaqa could denote many different things, though
it seems primarily (or at least initially) to have signified a
Manichaeism however its true meaning is not known. In
the ninth century, it is reported that the Muslim
tolerated a community of Manichaeans. During the early period of
Abbasids, the Manichaeans underwent persecution. The third Abbasid
caliph al-Mahdi persecuted the Manichaeans, establishing an
inquisition against dualists who if being found guilty of heresy
refused to renounce their beliefs, were executed. Their persecution
was finally ended in 780s by Harun al-Rashid. During the reign
Caliph Al-Muqtadir, many Manichaeans fled from
Khorasan from fear of persecution and the base of the religion was
later shifted to Samarkand.
Manichaeism claimed to present the complete version of teachings that
were corrupted and misinterpreted by the followers of its predecessors
Buddha and Jesus. Accordingly, as it spread, it
adapted new deities from other religions into forms it could use for
its scriptures. Its original Aramaic texts already contained stories
of Jesus. When they moved eastward and were translated into Iranian
languages, the names of the Manichaean deities (or angels) were often
transformed into the names of
Zoroastrian yazatas. Thus Abbā
dəRabbūṯā ("The Father of Greatness", the highest Manichaean
deity of Light), in
Middle Persian texts might either be translated
literally as pīd ī wuzurgīh, or substituted with the name of the
deity Zurwān. Similarly, the Manichaean primal figure Nāšā
Qaḏmāyā "The Original Man" was rendered
Ohrmazd Bay, after the
Zoroastrian god Ohrmazd. This process continued in Manichaeism's
meeting with Chinese Buddhism, where, for example, the original
Aramaic karia (the "call" from the world of
Light to those seeking
rescue from the world of Darkness), becomes identified in the Chinese
Guan Yin (觀音 or Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit,
literally, "watching/perceiving sounds [of the world]", the Chinese
Bodhisattva of Compassion).
Persecution and extinction
Manichaeism was repressed in Persia by the Sassanids. In 291,
persecution arose in the Persian empire with the murder of the apostle
Sisin by Bahram II, and the slaughter of many Manichaeans. In AD 296,
the Roman emperor
Diocletian decreed all the Manichaean leaders to be
burnt alive along with the Manichaean scriptures and many Manichaeans
in Europe and North
Africa were killed. This policy of persecution was
also followed by his successors.
Theodosius I issued a decree of death
for all Manichaean monks in 382 AD. The religion was vigorously
attacked and persecuted by both the
Christian Church and the Roman
state. (Augustine of Hippo, one of the early Doctors of the Catholic
Church was a Manichaean until his conversion to Catholicism in 386
A.D. He was never persecuted for this and he freely converted to
Catholicism.) Due to the heavy persecution upon its followers in the
Roman Empire, the religion almost disappeared from western Europe in
the 5th century and from the eastern portion of the empire in the 6th
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang banned any Chinese from converting to
the religion, saying it was a heretic religion that was confusing
people by claiming to be Buddhism. However the foreigners who followed
the religion were allowed to practice it without punishment. After
the fall of the
Uyghur Khaganate in 840, which was the chief patron of
Manichaeism (which was also the state religion of the Khaganate) in
China, all Manichaean temples in
China except in the two capitals and
Taiyuan were closed down and never reopened since these temples were
viewed as a symbol of foreign arrogance by the Chinese. Even those
that were allowed to remain open did not for long. The Manichaean
temples were attacked by
Chinese people who burned the images and
idols of these temples. The Manichaean priests were ordered to wear
Chinese dress. In 843,
Emperor Wuzong of Tang
Emperor Wuzong of Tang gave the order to kill
all Manichaean clerics as part of his campaign against
other religions, and over half died. They were made to look like
Buddhists by the authorities, their heads were shaved, they were made
to dress like
Buddhist monks and then killed. Although the
religion was mostly forbidden and its followers persecuted thereafter
in China, it survived till the 14th century in the country. Under the
Song dynasty, its followers were derogatorily called by the Chinese
people and the authorities as chicai simo (meaning that they "abstain
from meat and worship demons"). Many of the followers of the religion
took part in rebellions against the Song dynasty. They were quelled by
the Songs and were suppressed and persecuted by all successive
governments before the
Mongol Yuan dynasty. In 1370, the religion was
banned through an edict of the Ming dynasty, whose founding emperor
had a personal dislike for the religion. Its core teaching
influences many religious sects in China, including the White Lotus
The religion survived in the Uyghur
Kingdom of Qocho
Kingdom of Qocho of Kumul until
Mongol conquest of the kingdom in the 13th century.
The Manicheans also suffered persecution for some time under the
Abbasid Caliphate of Bagdad. In 780, the third
Al-Mahdi, started a campaign of inquisition against those who were
"dualist heretics" or "Manichaeans" called the Zindīq. He appointed a
master of the heretics (Sahib-az-Zanadiqa), an official whose task was
to pursue and investigate suspected dualists, who were then examined
by the Caliph. Those found guilty who refused to abjure their beliefs
were executed. This persecution continued under his successor, Caliph
al-Hadi, and continued for some time during reign of Harun al-Rashid,
who finally abolished it and ended it. During the reign of the
Caliph Al-Muqtadir, many Manichaeans fled from
Mesopotamia to Khorasan from fear of persecution by him and about 500
of them assembled in Samarkand. The base of the religion was later
shifted to this city, which became their new Patriarchate.
Later movements accused of "Neo-Manichaeism"
During the Middle Ages, several movements emerged that were
collectively described as "Manichaean" by the Catholic Church, and
Christian heresies through the establishment, in 1184,
of the Inquisition. They included the
Cathar churches of Western
Europe. Other groups sometimes referred to as "neo-Manichaean" were
the Paulician movement, which arose in Armenia, and the Bogomils
in Bulgaria. An example of this usage can be found in the
published edition of the
Cathar text, the Liber de duobus
principiis (Book of the Two Principles), which was described as
"Neo-Manichaean" by its publishers. As there is no presence of
Manichaean mythology or church terminology in the writings of these
groups, there has been some dispute among historians as to whether
these groups were descendants of Manichaeism.
Some sites are preserved in
Fujian in China. The
Cao'an temple is the only fully intact Manichaean
building,:256–257 though it later became associated with
Buddhism. Several small groups claim to continue to practice this
Teachings and beliefs
Mani's teaching dealt with the origin of evil, by addressing a
theoretical part of the problem of evil by denying the omnipotence of
God and postulating two opposite powers. Manichaean theology taught a
dualistic view of good and evil. A key belief in
Manichaeism is that
the powerful, though not omnipotent good power (God), was opposed by
the semi-eternal evil power (Satan). Humanity, the world and the soul
are seen as the byproduct of the battle between God's proxy, Primal
Man, and Satan. The human person is seen as a battleground for these
powers: the soul defines the person, but it is under the influence of
both light and dark. This contention plays out over the world as well
as the human body—neither the Earth nor the flesh were seen as
intrinsically evil, but rather possessed portions of both light and
dark. Natural phenomena (such as rain) were seen as the physical
manifestation of this spiritual contention. Therefore, the Manichaean
worldview explained the existence of evil with a flawed creation in
God took no role in forming but rather was the result of Satan
striking out against God.
"The Heaven" scene from the cosmic scroll.
Uyghur Manichaean clergymen, wall painting from the Khocho ruins,
10th/11th century CE. Located in the Museum für Indische Kunst,
Manichaeism presented an elaborate description of the conflict between
the spiritual world of light and the material world of darkness. The
beings of both the world of darkness and the world of light have
names. There are numerous sources for the details of the Manichaean
belief. There are two portions of Manichaean scriptures that are
probably the closest thing to the original Manichaean writings in
their original languages that will ever be available. These are the
Syriac-Aramaic quotation by the Nestorian
Christian Theodore bar
Konai, in his Syriac "Book of Scholia" (Ketba de-Skolionz, 8th
century), and the
Middle Persian sections of Mani's Shabuhragan
Turpan (a summary of Mani's teachings prepared for
Shapur I). These two sections are probably the original Syriac and
Middle Persian written by Mani.
From these and other sources, it is possible to derive an almost
complete description of the detailed Manichaean vision (a complete
list of Manichaean deities is outlined below). According to Mani, the
unfolding of the universe takes place with three "creations":[citation
The First Creation: Originally, good and evil existed in two
completely separate realms, one the World of Light, ruled by the
Father of Greatness together with his five Shekhinas (divine
attributes of light), and the other the World of Darkness, ruled by
the King of Darkness. At a certain point, the Kingdom of Darkness
notices the World of Light, becomes greedy for it and attacks it. The
Father of Greatness, in the first of three "creations" (or "calls"),
calls to the Mother of Life, who sends her son Original Man (Nāšā
Qaḏmāyā in Aramaic), to battle with the attacking powers of
Darkness, which include the Demon of Greed. The Original Man is armed
with five different shields of light (reflections of the five
Shekhinas), which he loses to the forces of darkness in the ensuing
battle, described as a kind of "bait" to trick the forces of darkness,
as the forces of darkness greedily consume as much light as they can.
When the Original Man comes to, he is trapped among the forces of
The Second Creation: Then the Father of Greatness begins the Second
Creation, calling to the Living Spirit, who calls to his five sons,
and sends a call to the Original Man (Call then becomes a Manichaean
deity). An answer (Answer becomes another Manichaean deity) then
returns from the Original Man to the World of Light. The Mother of
Life, the Living Spirit, and his five sons begin to create the
universe from the bodies of the evil beings of the World of Darkness,
together with the light that they have swallowed. Ten heavens and
eight earths are created, all consisting of various mixtures of the
evil material beings from the World of Darkness and the swallowed
light. The sun, moon, and stars are all created from light recovered
from the World of Darkness. The waxing and waning of the moon is
described as the moon filling with light, which passes to the sun,
then through the Milky Way, and eventually back to the World of Light.
An analysis on Mani's cosmology.
The Third Creation: Great demons (called archons in bar-Khonai's
account) are hung out over the heavens, and then the Father of
Greatness begins the Third Creation.
Light is recovered from out of
the material bodies of the male and female evil beings and demons, by
causing them to become sexually aroused in greed, towards beautiful
images of the beings of light, such as the Third Messenger and the
Virgins of Light. However, as soon as the light is expelled from their
bodies and falls to the earth (some in the form of abortions – the
source of fallen angels in the Manichaean myth), the evil beings
continue to swallow up as much of it as they can to keep the light
inside of them. This results eventually in the evil beings swallowing
huge quantities of light, copulating, and producing Adam and Eve. The
Father of Greatness then sends the Radiant
Jesus to awaken Adam, and
to enlighten him to the true source of the light that is trapped in
his material body. Adam and Eve, however, eventually copulate, and
produce more human beings, trapping the light in bodies of mankind
throughout human history. The appearance of the
Prophet Mani was
another attempt by the World of
Light to reveal to mankind the true
source of the spiritual light imprisoned within their material bodies.
Outline of the beings and events in the Manichaean mythos
Worshiping the Tree of Life in the Kingdom of Light.
Beginning with the time of its creation by Mani, the Manichaean
religion had a detailed description of deities and events that took
place within the Manichaean scheme of the universe. In every language
and region that
Manichaeism spread to, these same deities reappear,
whether it is in the original Syriac quoted by Theodore bar Konai,
Latin terminology given by Saint Augustine from Mani's Epistola
Fundamenti, or the Persian and Chinese translations found as
Manichaeism spread eastward. While the original Syriac retained the
original description that Mani created, the transformation of the
deities through other languages and cultures produced incarnations of
the deities not implied in the original Syriac writings. This process
began in Mani's lifetime, with "The Father of Greatness", for example,
being translated into
Middle Persian as Zurvan, a
The World of Light
The Father of Greatness (Syriac: ܐܒܐ ܕܪܒܘܬܐ Abbā
dəRabbūṯā; Middle Persian: pīd ī wuzurgīh, or the Zoroastrian
deity Zurwān; Parthian: Pidar wuzurgift, Pidar roshn)
His Five Shekhinas (Syriac: ܚܡܫ ܫܟܝܢܬܗ khamesh shkhinatei;
Chinese: 五种大 wǔ zhǒng dà, "five great ones"):
相 xiāng, "phase"
心 xīn, "heart"
念 niàn, "idea"
思 sī, "thought"
意 yì, "meaning"
The Great Spirit (Middle Persian: Waxsh zindag, Waxsh yozdahr; Latin:
The first creation
The Mother of Life (Syriac: ܐܡܐ ܕܚܝܐ ima de-khaye)
The First Man (Syriac: ܐܢܫܐ ܩܕܡܝܐ Nāšā Qaḏmāyā; Middle
Ohrmazd Bay, the
Zoroastrian god of light and goodness;
Latin: Primus Homo)
His five Sons (the Five
Light Elements; Middle Persian:
Amahrāspandan; Parthian: panj rošn)
Ether (Middle Persian: frâwahr, Parthian: ardâw)
Middle Persian and Parthian: wâd)
Middle Persian and Parthian: rôšn)
Middle Persian and Parthian: âb)
Middle Persian and Parthian: âdur)
His sixth Son, the Answer-
God (Syriac: ܥܢܝܐ ania; Middle Persian:
xroshtag; Chinese: 勢至 Shì Zhì "The Power of Wisdom", a Chinese
Bodhisattva). The answer sent by the First Man to the Call from the
World of Light.
The Living Self (made up of the five Elements; Middle Persian: Griw
zindag, Griw roshn)
The second creation
The Friend of the Lights (Syriac: ܚܒܝܒ ܢܗܝܖܐ khaviv nehirei).
The Great Builder (Syriac: ܒܢ ܖܒܐ ban raba). In charge of
creating the new world that will separate the darkness from the light.
He calls to:
The Living Spirit (Syriac: ܪܘܚܐ ܚܝܐ rūḥā ḥayyā; Middle
Persian: Mihryazd; Chinese: 淨活風 jing huo feng; Latin: Spiritus
Vivens). Acts as a demiurge, creating the structure of the material
His five Sons (Syriac: ܚܡܫܐ ܒܢܘܗܝ khamsha benauhi)
The Keeper of the Splendour (Syriac: ܨܦܬ ܙܝܘܐ tzefat ziwa;
Latin: Splenditenens; Chinese: 催明). Holds up the ten heavens from
The King of Glory (Syriac: ܡܠܟ ܫܘܒܚܐ melekh shubkha; Latin:
Rex Gloriosus; Chinese: 地藏 Dì Zàng "Earth Treasury", a Chinese
Light (Syriac: ܐܕܡܘܣ ܢܘܗܪܐ adamus nuhra;
Latin: Adamas; Chinese: 降魔使). Fights with and overcomes an evil
being in the image of the King of Darkness.
The Great King of Honour (Syriac: ܡܠܟܐ ܪܒܐ ܕܐܝܩܪܐ malka
Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea Scrolls Aramaic: מלכא רבא דאיקרא
malka raba de-ikara; Latin: Rex Honoris; Chinese: 十天王 Shi Tian
Wang "Ten-heaven King"). A being that plays a central role in the Book
of Enoch (originally written in Aramaic), as well as Mani's Syriac
version of it, the Book of Giants. Sits in the seventh heaven of the
ten heavens (compare
Buddhist division of ten spiritual realms) and
guards the entrance to the world of light.
Atlas (Syriac: ܣܒܠܐ sabala; Latin: Atlas; Chinese: 持世主).
Supports the eight worlds from below.
His sixth Son, the Call-
God (Syriac: ܩܪܝܐ karia; Middle Persian:
padvaxtag; Chinese: 觀音
Guan Yin "watching/perceiving sounds [of
the world]", the Chinese
Bodhisattva of Compassion). Sent from the
Living Spirit to awaken the First Man from his battle with the forces
The third creation
The Third Messenger (Syriac: ܐܝܙܓܕܐ īzgaddā; Middle Persian
narēsahyazad, Parthian: hridīg frēštag; Latin: tertius legatus)
Jesus the Splendour (Syriac: ܝܫܘܥ ܙܝܘܐ Yisho Ziwa). Sent to
awaken Adam and Eve to the source of the spiritual light trapped
within their physical bodies.
The Maiden of Light
The Twelve Virgins of
Light (Syriac: ܬܪܬܥܣܪܐ ܒܬܘܠܬܐ
Middle Persian kanīgān rōšnān; Chinese:
日宮十二化女 ri gong shi er hua nyu). Reflected in the twelve
constellations of the Zodiac.
The Column of Glory (Syriac: ܐܣܛܘܢ ܫܘܒܚܐ esṭūn šubḥa;
Middle Persian: srōš-ahrāy, from Sraosha; Chinese: 蘇露沙羅夷,
su lou sha luo yi and 盧舍那, lu she na, both phonetic from Middle
Persian srōš-ahrāy). The path that souls take back to the World of
Light; corresponds to the Milky Way.
The Great Nous
His five Limbs
The Just Justice
The Last God
The World of Darkness
The King of Darkness (Syriac: ܡܠܟ ܚܫܘܟܐ melech kheshokha;
Middle Persian: Ahriman, the
Zoroastrian supreme evil being)
His five evil kingdoms
Evil counterparts of the five elements of
light, the lowest being the kingdom of Darkness.
His son (Syriac: ܐܫܩܠܘܢ Ashaklun; Middle Persian: Az, from the
Zoroastrian demon, Azi Dahaka)
His son's mate (Syriac: ܢܒܪܘܐܠ Nebroel)
Their offspring – Adam and Eve (Middle Persian: Gehmurd and
Giants (Fallen Angels, also Abortions): (Syriac: ܝܚܛܐ yakhte,
"abortions" or "those that fell"; also: ܐܪܟܘܢܬܐ arkhonata, the
Gnostic archons; Greek, Coptic: ’Εγρήγοροι Egrēgoroi,
"Giants"). Related to the story of the fallen angels in the Book of
Enoch (which Mani used extensively in his Book of Giants), and the
נפילים nephilim described in Genesis (6:1–4).
The Manichaean Church
The Manichaean Church was divided into "Elect(i)" –who had taken
upon themselves the vows of Manicheaism- and "Hearers" – those who
had not, but still participated in the Church. The terms for these
divisions were already common since the days of early Christianity. In
the Chinese writings, the
Middle Persian and Parthian terms are
transcribed phonetically (instead of being translated into
Chinese). These were recorded by St Augustine.
The Leader, (Syriac: ܟܗܢܐ; Parthian: yamag; Chinese: 閻默)
Mani's designated successor, seated as Patriarch at the head of the
Church, originally in
Ctesiphon (Babylonia), from the ninth century in
Samarkand (Uzbekistan). Two notable leaders were Mār Sīsin (or
Sisinnios), the first successor of Mani, and Abū Hilāl al-Dayhūri,
an 8th-century leader.
12 Apostles (Latin: magistri; Syriac: ܫܠܝܚܐ; Middle Persian:
možag; Chinese: 慕闍). Three of Mani's original apostles were Mār
Pattī (Pattikios; Mani's father),
Mār Zaku and Mār Ammo.
72 Bishops (Latin: episcopi; Syriac: ܐܦܣܩܘܦܐ; Middle Persian:
aspasag, aftadan; Chinese: 薩波塞, 拂多誕; see also: Seventy
Disciples). One of Mani's original disciples who was specifically
referred to as a bishop was Mār Addā.
360 Presbyters (Latin: presbyteri; Syriac: ܩܫܝܫܐ; Middle Persian:
mahistan; Chinese: 默奚悉德)
The general body of the Elect(ed) (Latin: electi; Syriac:
ܡܫܡܫܢܐ; Middle Persian: ardawan, dēnāwar; Chinese: 阿羅緩,
The Hearers (Latin: auditores; Syriac: ܫܡܘܥܐ; Middle Persian:
niyoshagan; Chinese: 耨沙喭)
The most important religious observance of the Manichaeans was the
Bema Fest, observed annually:
The Bema was originally, in the Syriac
Christian churches, a seat
placed in the middle of the nave on which the bishop would preside and
from which the Gospel would be read. In the Manichaean places of
worship, the throne was a five-stepped altar, covered by precious
cloths, symbolizing the five classes of the hierarchy. The top of the
Bema was always empty, as it was the seat of Mani. The Bema was
celebrated at the vernal equinox, was preceded by fasts, and
symbolized the passion of Mani, thus it was strictly parallel to the
While it is often presumed that the Bema seat was empty, there is some
evidence from the Coptic Manichaean Bema Psalms, that the Bema seat
may have actually contained a copy of Mani's picture book, the
Image of the
Buddha as one of the primary prophets on a Manichaean
pictorial roll fragment from Chotscho, 10th century.
Mani wrote either seven or eight books, which contained the teachings
of the religion. Only scattered fragments and translations of the
originals remain.
The original six Syriac writings are not preserved, although their
Syriac names have been. There are also fragments and quotations from
them. A long quotation, preserved by the eighth-century Nestorian
Christian author Theodore bar Konai, shows that in the original
Syriac Aramaic writings of Mani there was no influence of Iranian or
Zoroastrian terms. The terms for the Manichaean deities in the
original Syriac writings are in Aramaic. The adaptation of Manichaeism
Zoroastrian religion appears to have begun in Mani's lifetime
however, with his writing of the
Middle Persian Shabuhragan, his book
dedicated to the King Shapuhr. In it, there are mentions of
Zoroastrian deities such as Ohrmazd, Ahriman, and Az.
often presented as a Persian religion, mostly due to the vast number
of Middle Persian, Parthian, and Soghdian (as well as Turkish) texts
discovered by German researchers near Turpan, in the
Turkestan) province of China, during the early 1900s. However, from
the vantage point of its original Syriac descriptions (as quoted by
Theodore bar Khonai and outlined above),
Manichaeism may be better
described as a unique phenomenon of Aramaic Babylonia, occurring in
proximity to two other new Aramaic religious phenomena, Talmudic
Judaism and Babylonian Mandaeism, which were also appearing in
Babylonia in roughly the 3rd century CE.
The original, but now lost, six sacred books of
composed in Syriac Aramaic, and translated into other languages to
help spread the religion. As they spread to the east, the Manichaean
writings passed through Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian, Tocharian,
and ultimately Uyghur and Chinese translations. As they spread to the
west, they were translated into Greek, Coptic, and Latin.[citation
Statue of prophet Mani as the "
Buddha of Light" in
Cao'an Temple in
Jinjiang, Fujian, "a Manichaean temple in
which is considered "the only extant Manichean temple in China"
Henning describes how this translation process evolved and influenced
the Manichaeans of Central Asia:
Beyond doubt, Sogdian was the national language of the Majority of
clerics and propagandists of the Manichaean faith in Central Asia.
Middle Persian (= Pārsīg), and to a lesser degree, Parthian (=
Pahlavānīg), occupied the position held by
Latin in the medieval
church. The founder of
Manichaeism had employed Syriac (his own
language) as his medium, but conveniently he had written at least one
book in Middle Persian, and it is likely that he himself had arranged
for the translation of some or all of his numerous writings from
Syriac into Middle Persian. Thus the Eastern Manichaeans found
themselves entitled to dispense with the study of Mani’s original
writings, and to continue themselves to reading the Middle Persian
edition; it presented small difficulty to them to acquire a good
knowledge of the
Middle Persian language, owing to its affinity with
Originally written in Syriac
The Evangelion (Syriac: ܐܘܢܓܠܝܘܢ; Greek, Coptic:
Ευαγγελιον, meaning roughly "good news"). Also known as the
Gospel of Mani. Quotations from the first chapter were brought in
Arabic by Ibn al-Nadim, who lived in Baghdad at a time when there were
still Manichaeans living there, in his book the "Fihrist" (written in
938), a catalog of all written books known to him.
The Treasure of Life
The Treatise (Coptic: πραγματεία)
The Book of Giants: Original fragments were discovered at Qumran
(pre-Manichaean) and Turpan.
Epistles: Augustine brings quotations, in Latin, from Mani's
Fundamental Epistle in some of his anti-Manichaean works.
Psalms and Prayers. A Coptic Manichaean Psalter, discovered in Egypt
in the early 1900s, was edited and published by
Charles Allberry from
Manichaean manuscripts in the Chester Beatty collection and in the
Berlin Academy, 1938–9.
Originally written in Middle Persian
The Shabuhragan, dedicated to Shapur I: Original Middle Persian
fragments were discovered at Turpan, quotations were brought in Arabic
The Ardahang, the "Picture Book". In Iranian tradition, this was one
of Mani's holy books that became remembered in later Persian history,
and was also called Aržang, a Parthian word meaning "Worthy", and was
beautified with paintings. Therefore, Iranians gave him the title of
The Kephalaia of the Teacher (Κεφαλαια), "Discourses", found
in Coptic translation.
On the Origin of His Body, the title of the Cologne Mani-Codex, a
Greek translation of an Aramaic book that describes the early life of
Non-Manichaean works preserved by the Manichaean Church
Some portions of the
Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch literature such as the Book of
Some literature relating to the apostle Thomas (who by tradition went
to India, and was also venerated in Syria), such as portions of the
Syriac The Acts of Thomas, and the Psalms of Thomas. The Gospel of
Thomas was also attributed to Manichaeans by Cyril of Jerusalem, a
fourth-century Church Father.
The legend of
Barlaam and Josaphat
Barlaam and Josaphat passed from an Indian story about
the Buddha, through a Manichaean version, before it transformed into
the story of a
Christian Saint in the west.
摩尼教文獻 The Chinese Manichaean "Compendium"
In later centuries, as
Manichaeism passed through eastern Persian
speaking lands and arrived at the
Uyghur Empire (回鶻帝國), and
eventually the Uyghur kingdom of
Turpan (destroyed around 1335),
Middle Persian and Parthian prayers (āfrīwan or āfurišn) and the
Parthian hymn-cycles (the Huwīdagmān and Angad Rōšnan created by
Mar Ammo) were added to the Manichaean writings. A translation of
a collection of these produced the Manichaean Chinese Hymnscroll (the
摩尼教下部讚, which Lieu translates as "Hymns for the Lower
Section [i.e. the Hearers] of the Manichaean Religion"). In
addition to containing hymns attributed to Mani, it contains prayers
attributed to Mani's earliest disciples, including Mār Zaku, Mār
Ammo and Mār Sīsin. Another Chinese work is a complete translation
of the "Sermon of the
Light Nous", presented as a discussion between
Mani and his disciple Adda.
Critical and polemic sources
Until discoveries in the 1900s of original sources, the only sources
Manichaeism were descriptions and quotations from non-Manichaean
authors, either Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Zoroastrian. While
often criticizing Manichaeism, they also quoted directly from
Manichaean scriptures. This enabled Isaac de Beausobre, writing in the
18th century, to create a comprehensive work on Manichaeism, relying
solely on anti-Manichaean sources. Thus quotations and
descriptions in Greek and Arabic have long been known to scholars, as
have the long quotations in
Latin by Saint Augustine, and the
extremely important quotation in Syriac by Theodore Bar
Patristic depictions of Mani and Manchæeism
Eusebius commented as follows:
The error of the Manichees, which commenced at this time.
— In the mean time, also, that madman Manes, (Mani is of Persian
or Semitic origin) as he was called, well agreeing with his name, for
his demoniacal heresy, armed himself by the perversion of his reason,
and at the instruction of Satan, to the destruction of many. He was a
barbarian in his life, both in speech and conduct, but in his nature
as one possessed and insane. Accordingly, he attempted to form himself
into a Christ, and then also proclaimed himself to be the very
paraclete and the Holy Spirit, and with all this was greatly puffed up
with his madness. Then, as if he were Christ, he selected twelve
disciples, the partners of his new religion, and after patching
together false and ungodly doctrines, collected from a thousand
heresies long since extinct, he swept them off like a deadly poison,
from Persia, upon this part of the world. Hence the impious name of
the Manichaeans spreading among many, even to the present day. Such
then was the occasion of this knowledge, as it was falsely called,
that sprouted up in these times.
An example of how inaccurate some of these accounts could be is seen
in the account of the origins of
Manichaeism contained in the Acta
Archelai. This was a Greek anti-manichaean work written before 348,
most well known in its
Latin version, which was regarded as an
accurate account of
Manichaeism until refuted by
Isaac de Beausobre in
the 18th century:
In the time of the Apostles there lived a man named Scythianus, who is
described as coming "from Scythia", and also as being "a Saracen by
race" ("ex genere Saracenorum"). He settled in Egypt, where he became
acquainted with "the wisdom of the Egyptians", and invented the
religious system that was afterwards known as Manichaeism. Finally he
emigrated to Palestine, and, when he died, his writings passed into
the hands of his sole disciple, a certain Terebinthus. The latter
betook himself to Babylonia, assumed the name of Budda, and
endeavoured to propagate his master's teaching. But he, like
Scythianus, gained only one disciple, who was an old woman. After a
while he died, in consequence of a fall from the roof of a house, and
the books that he had inherited from
Scythianus became the property of
the old woman, who, on her death, bequeathed them to a young man named
Corbicius, who had been her slave. Corbicius thereupon changed his
name to Manes, studied the writings of Scythianus, and began to teach
the doctrines that they contained, with many additions of his own. He
gained three disciples, named Thomas, Addas, and Hermas. About this
time the son of the Persian king fell ill, and Manes undertook to cure
him; the prince, however, died, whereupon Manes was thrown into
prison. He succeeded in escaping, but eventually fell into the hands
of the king, by whose order he was flayed, and his corpse was hung up
at the city gate.
A. A. Bevan, who quoted this story, commented that it "has no claim to
be considered historical".
Judaism in the Acta Archelai
According to Hegemonius' portrayal of Mani, the devil god who created
the world was the Jewish Jehovah.
Hegemonius reports that Mani said,
"It is the Prince of Darkness who spoke with Moses, the Jews and their
priests. Thus the Christians, the Jews, and the Pagans are involved in
the same error when they worship this God. For he leads them astray in
the lusts he taught them." He goes on to state: "Now, he who spoke
with Moses, the Jews, and the priests he says is the archont of
Darkness, and the Christians, Jews, and pagans (ethnic) are one and
the same, as they revere the same god. For in his aspirations he
seduces them, as he is not the god of truth. And so therefore all
those who put their hope in the god who spoke with Moses and the
prophets have (this in store for themselves, namely) to be bound with
him, because they did not put their hope in the god of truth. For that
one spoke with them (only) according to their own aspirations."
Central Asian and Iranian primary sources
In the early 1900s, original Manichaean writings started to come to
light when German scholars led by Albert Grünwedel, and then by
Albert von Le Coq, began excavating at Gaochang, the ancient site of
the Manichaean Uyghur Kingdom near Turpan, in Chinese Turkestan
(destroyed around AD 1300). While most of the writings they uncovered
were in very poor condition, there were still hundreds of pages of
Manichaean scriptures, written in three Iranian languages (Middle
Persian, Parthian, and Sogdian) and old Uyghur. These writings were
taken back to Germany, and were analyzed and published at the
Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin, by Le Coq and
others, such as
Friedrich W. K. Müller and Walter Bruno Henning.
While the vast majority of these writings were written in a version of
the Syriac script known as Manichaean script, the German researchers,
perhaps for lack of suitable fonts, published most of them using the
Hebrew alphabet (which could easily be substituted for the 22 Syriac
Perhaps the most comprehensive of these publications was Manichaeische
Dogmatik aus chinesischen und iranischen Texten (Manichaean Dogma from
Chinese and Iranian texts), by
Ernst Waldschmidt and Wolfgang Lentz,
published in Berlin in 1933. More than any other research work
published before or since, this work printed, and then discussed, the
original key Manichaean texts in the original scripts, and consists
chiefly of sections from Chinese texts, and
Middle Persian and
Parthian texts transcribed with the Hebrew alphabet. After the Nazi
party gained power in Germany, the Manichaean writings continued to be
published during the 1930s, but the publishers no longer used Hebrew
letters, instead transliterating the texts into Latin
Coptic primary sources
Additionally, in 1930, German researchers in
Egypt found a large body
of Manichaean works in Coptic. Though these were also damaged,
hundreds of complete pages survived and, beginning in 1933, were
analyzed and published in Berlin before World War II, by German
scholars such as Hans Jakob Polotsky. Some of these Coptic
Manichaean writings were lost during the war.
Chinese primary sources
After the success of the German researchers, French scholars visited
China and discovered what is perhaps the most complete set of
Manichaean writings, written in Chinese. These three Chinese writings,
all found at the
Caves of the Thousand Buddhas
Caves of the Thousand Buddhas among the Dunhuang
manuscripts, and all written before the 9th century, are today kept in
London, Paris, and Beijing. Some of the scholars involved with their
initial discovery and publication were Édouard Chavannes, Paul
Pelliot, and Aurel Stein. The original studies and analyses of these
writings, along with their translations, first appeared in French,
English, and German, before and after World War II. The complete
Chinese texts themselves were first published in Tokyo, Japan in 1927,
in the Taisho Tripitaka, volume 54. While in the last thirty years or
so they have been republished in both Germany (with a complete
translation into German, alongside the 1927 Japanese edition), and
China, the Japanese publication remains the standard reference for the
Chinese texts.
Greek life of Mani, Cologne codex
In Egypt, a small codex was found and became known through antique
dealers in Cairo. It was purchased by the
University of Cologne
University of Cologne in
1969. Two of its scientists, Henrichs and Koenen, produced the first
edition known since as the Cologne Mani-Codex, which was published in
four articles in the Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. The
ancient papyrus manuscript contained a Greek text describing the life
of Mani. Thanks to this discovery, much more is known about the man
who founded one of the most influential world religions of the
The terms "Manichaean" and "Manichaeism" are sometimes used
figuratively as a synonym of the more general term "dualist" with
respect to a philosophy, outlook or worldview. The terms are often
used to suggest that the world view in question simplistically reduces
the world to a struggle between good and evil. For example, Zbigniew
Brzezinski used the phrase "Manichaean paranoia" in reference to U.S.
President George W. Bush's world view (in The Daily Show with Jon
Stewart, March 14, 2007); Brzezinski elaborated that he meant "the
notion that he [Bush] is leading the forces of good against the empire
of evil". Philosopher
Frantz Fanon frequently invoked the concept of
Manicheanism in his discussions of violence between colonizers and the
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo was deeply influenced by
Manicheanism prior to his conversion to Christianity.
Author and journalist
Glenn Greenwald followed up on the theme in
describing Bush in his book
A Tragic Legacy (2007).
In "The Man Who Shot Snapping Turtles" (Memoirs of Hecate County),
Edmund Wilson's narrator refers to Asa Stryker's argument as "the
Manichaean heresy".
The attitudes and foreign policies of the present-day United States
and its leaders have been described as reflecting a Manichaean
worldview, though this is a criticism easily
applied to any country or culture that propagandizes their own
intrinsic good and their enemy's intrinsic evil.
Abū Hilāl al-Dayhūri (8th century)
Agapius (Manichaean) (4th or 5th centuries)
Mar Ammo (third century)
Abu Isa al-Warraq
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford
University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK
public library membership required.)
^ "Mani (Iranian prophet)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 4
^ "Manichaeism". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 4 September
^ "Manichaeism". New Advent Encyclopedia. Retrieved 4 October
^ "COSMOGONY AND COSMOLOGY iii. In Manicheism". Encyclopædia Iranica.
Retrieved 2018-02-24. [I]n Manicheism the world was a prison for
^ Widengren, Geo
Mesopotamian elements in
Manichaeism (King and
Saviour II): Studies in Manichaean, Mandaean, and Syrian-gnostic
religion, Lundequistska bokhandeln, 1946.
^ Jason BeDuhn; Paul Allan Mirecki (2007). Frontiers of Faith: The
Christian Encounter With
Manichaeism in the Acts of Archelaus. BRILL.
pp. 6–. ISBN 978-90-04-16180-1. Retrieved 27 August
^ Andrew Welburn, Mani, the Angel and the Column of Glory: An
Anthology of Manichaean Texts (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1998), p. 68
^ Jason David BeDuhn The Manichaean Body: In Discipline and Ritual
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 2000 republished 2002 p.IX
^ Such as the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers First Series, ed. Philip
Schaff, writing of Augustine
Merriam-Webster ─ Manichaean
^ 1) Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: their religious beliefs and practices,
Routledge, 2001. p. 111: "He was Iranian, of noble Parthian blood..."
2) Warwick Ball, Rome in the East: the transformation of an empire,
Routledge, 2001. p. 437: "
Manichaeism was a syncretic religion,
proclaimed by the Iranian
Prophet Mani... 3) Sundermann, Werner,
"Mani, the founder of the religion of Manicheism in the 3rd century
AD", Encyclopaeia Iranica, 2009. Sundermann summarizes the available
sources thus: "According to the Fehrest, Mani was of Arsacid stock on
both his father's and his mother's sides, at least if the readings
al-ḥaskāniya (Mani's father) and al-asʿāniya (Mani's mother) are
corrected to al-aškāniya and al-ašḡāniya (ed. Flügel, 1862, p.
49, ll. 2 and 3) respectively. The forefathers of Mani's father are
said to have been from Hamadan and so perhaps of Iranian origin (ed.
Flügel, 1862, p. 49, 5–6). The Chinese Compendium, which makes the
father a local king, maintains that his mother was from the house
Jinsajian, explained by Henning as the Armenian Arsacid family of
Kamsarakan (Henning, 1943, p. 52, n. 4 = 1977, II, p. 115). Is that
fact, or fiction, or both? The historicity of this tradition is
assumed by most, but the possibility that Mani's noble Arsacid
background is legendary cannot be ruled out (cf. Scheftelowitz, 1933,
pp. 403–4). In any case, it is characteristic that Mani took pride
in his origin from time-honored Babel, but never claimed affiliation
to the Iranian upper class."
^ a b c d John Kevin Coyle (15 September 2009).
Manichaeism and Its
Legacy. BRILL. pp. 13–. ISBN 978-90-04-17574-7. Retrieved
27 August 2012.
^ a b L. Koenen and C. Römer, eds., Der Kölner Mani-Kodex. Über das
Werden seines Leibes. Kritische Edition, (Abhandlung der
Reinisch-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: Papyrologica
Coloniensia 14) (Opladen, Germany) 1988.
^ "Mani". Encyclopedia Iranica.
^ a b c
Middle Persian Sources: D. N. MacKenzie, Mani's Šābuhragān,
pt. 1 (text and translation), BSOAS 42/3, 1979, pp. 500–34, pt. 2
(glossary and plates), BSOAS 43/2, 1980, pp. 288–310.
^ Welburn (1998), pp. 67–68
^ John C. Reeves (1996). Heralds of That Good Realm: Syro-Mesopotamian
Gnosis and Jewish Traditions. BRILL. pp. 6–.
ISBN 978-90-04-10459-4. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
^ Lutkemeyer, Lawrence J. "THE ROLE OF THE PARACLETE (Jn. 16:7-15)".
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly. Catholic Biblical Association. 8
(02): 220. JSTOR 43719890.
^ a b Lieu, Samuel N. C. (1992-01-01).
Manichaeism in the Later Roman
Empire and Medieval China. ISBN 9783161458200.
^ The Manichean Debate, by Saint Augustine (
Bishop of Hippo).
Books.google.com. 2006. ISBN 9781565482470. Retrieved
^ a b "The movement of the Manichaean tradition along the Silk Road".
Silkspice.wordpress.com. 2011-04-05. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
^ W. Sundermann, "Manichean Eschatology", in Encyclopaedia Iranica.
^ C. Colpe, Das Siegel der Propheten: historische Beziehungen zwischen
Judentum, Judenchristentum, Heidentum und frühem Islam, Arbeiten zur
neutestamentlichen Theologie und Zeitgeschichte, 3 (Berlin: Institut
Kirche und judentum, 1990), 227-43; G.G. Stroumsa, The Making of the
Abrahamic Religions in Late Antiquity, Oxford Studies in the Abrahamic
Religions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 68.
^ J. T. Milik, ed. and trans., The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments
Qumran Cave 4, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976.
^ a b In: Henning, W. B., The Book of Giants, BSOAS, Vol. XI, Part 1,
1943, pp. 52–74.
^ Reeves, John C. Jewish Lore in Manichaean Cosmogony: Studies in the
Book of Giants Traditions (1992)
^ See Henning, A Sogdian Fragment of the Manichaean Cosmogony, BSOAS,
^ a b c d Original Syriac in: Theodorus bar Konai, Liber Scholiorum,
II, ed. A. Scher, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium scrip.
syri, 1912, pp. 311–8, ISBN 978-90-429-0104-9; English
translation in: A.V.W. Jackson, Researches in Manichaeism, New York,
1932, pp. 222–54.
^ Richard Foltz, Religions of the Silk Road, Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd
edition, 2010, p. 71 ISBN 978-0-230-62125-1
^ Peter Bryder, The Chinese Transformation of Manichaeism: A Study of
Chinese Manichaean Terminology, 1985.
^ Lieu, Samuel (1992)
Manichaeism in the Later
Roman Empire and
China 2d edition, pp. 145-48
^ a b c d e
Wendy Doniger (1999). Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of
World Religions. Merriam-Webster. pp. 689, 690.
^ "St. Augustine of Hippo". Catholic.org. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
^ Confessions, Book V, Section 10.
^ A. Adam, Das Fortwirken des Manichäismus bei Augustin. In: ZKG (69)
1958, S. 1–25.
^ a b Runciman, Steven, The Medieval Manichee: a study of the
Christian dualist heresy. Cambridge University Press, 1947.
^ Étienne de la Vaissière, "Mani en Chine au VIe siècle", Journal
asiatique, 293–1 (2005): 357–378.
^ 从信仰摩尼教看漠北回纥[permanent dead link]
^ 关于回鹘摩尼教史的几个问题 Archived August 7, 2007, at
the Wayback Machine.
Bbs.sjtu.edu.cn. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
^ TM276 Uygurca_Alttuerkisch_Qedimi Uygurche/TT 2.pdf Türkische
Turfan-Texte. ~[permanent dead link]
^ Perkins, Dorothy (2013). Encyclopedia of China: History and Culture.
Routledge. p. 309. ISBN 9781135935627.
^ a b c S.N.C.L. Lieu (1998). Manachaeism in
Central Asia and China.
Brill Publishers. pp. 115, 129, 130.
^ Patricia Ebrey, Anne Walthall (2013). Pre-Modern East Asia: A
Cultural, Social, and Political History, Volume I: To 1800. Cengage
Learning. p. 228. ISBN 9781285546230.
^ Chung, Tan (1998). Across the Himalayan Gap: An Indian Quest for
Understanding China. Gyan Publishing House. p. 232.
^ a b Xisha Ma, Huiying Meng (2011). Popular
Religion and Shamanism.
Brill Publishers. pp. 56, 57, 99. ISBN 9789004174559.
^ a b
Andrew Rippin (2013). The
Islamic World. Routledge. p. 73.
^ Jonathan Porter Berkey (2003). The Formation of Islam:
Society in the Near East. Cambridge University Press. pp. 99,
100. ISBN 9780521588133.
Bernard Lewis (2009). The Middle East. Simon & Schuster.
^ Ann K. S. Lambton (2013). State and Government in Medieval Islam.
Routledge. pp. 50, 51. ISBN 9781136605215.
^ Zaman, Muhammad Qasim (1997),
Religion and Politics Under the Early
'Abbasids: The Emergence of the Proto-Sunni Elite, Brill,
^ Ibrahim, Mahmood (1994). "Religious inquisition as social policy:
the persecution of the 'Zanadiqa' in the early
Arab Studies Quarterly. Archived from the original on
^ a b Christine Caldwell Ames (2015). Medieval Heresies. Cambridge
University Press. p. 88. ISBN 9781107023369.
Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the fourth century, 1984,
^ a b Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, Pierre Lecoq (1985). Papers in Honor
of Professor Mary Boyce. Brill Publishers. p. 658.
^ J. Gordon Melton (2014). Faiths Across Time: 5000 years of Religious
History. ABC-CLIO. p. 361. ISBN 9781610690263.
^ Liu, Xinru (1997). Silk and Religion: An Exploration of Material
Life and the Thought of People, AD 600-1200, Parts 600–1200. Oxford
University Press. p. 182. ISBN 9780195644524.
^ Samuel N.C. Lieu (1985).
Manichaeism in the Later
Roman Empire and
Medieval China: A Historical Survey. Manchester University Press.
p. 261. ISBN 9780719010880.
^ Stroumsa, Gedaliahu G., Anti-
Cathar Polemics and the Liber de duobus
principiis, in B. Lewis and F. Niewöhner, eds., Religionsgespräche
im Mittelalter (Wolfenbütteler Mittelalter-Studien, 4; Wiesbaden:
Harrassowitz, 1992), 169–183, p. 170
^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Paulicians". Newadvent.org. 1911-02-01.
^ Dondaine, Antoine. O.P. Un traite neo-manicheen du XIIIe siecle: Le
Liber de duobus principiis, suivi d'un fragment de rituel Cathare
(Rome: Institutum Historicum Fratrum Praedicatorum, 1939)
^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Albigenses". Newadvent.org. 1907-03-01.
^ 明教在温州的最后遗存 – 温州社会研究所. 25 August
2013. Archived from the original on 25 August 2013.
^ "崇寿宫记". Cxsz.cixi.gov.cn. 2012-10-08. Retrieved
^ "Manichaean and (Nestorian)
Christian Remains in Zayton (Quanzhou,
South China) ARC DP0557098". Mq.edu.au. Archived from the original on
2014-08-08. Retrieved 2014-08-27.
^ "Central Manichaean Temple". Manichaean.org. 2014-06-20. Retrieved
^ "Manichaeism, Esoteric
Buddhism and Oriental Theosophy" (PDF).
^ (2011-06-14 21:01:40) (2011-06-14). "天书降世
Blog.sina.com.cn. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
^ "Neo-Manichaeanism: Questions and Answers". Oocities.org. Retrieved
^ Bevan, A. A. (1930). "Manichaeism". Encyclopaedia of
Ethics, Volume VIII Ed. James Hastings. London
^ A completely sourced description (built around bar-Khoni's account,
with additional sources), is found in: Jonas, Hans The Gnostic
Religion, 1958, Ch. 9: Creation, World History, Salvation According to
^ Chart from: E. Waldschmidt and W. Lenz, Die Stellung Jesu im
Manichäismus, Berlin, 1926, p 42.
^ G. Haloun and W. B. Henning, The Compendium of the Doctrines and
Styles of the Teaching of Mani, the
Buddha of Light, Asia Major, 1952,
pp. 184–212, p. 195.
^ "Manichæism". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 1910.
^ Skjærvø, Prods Oktor, An Introduction to Manicheism, 2006.
^ Ort, L. J. R., Mani: a religio-historical description of his
personality, 1967, p. 254.
^ MANICHEISM i. GENERAL SURVEY at Encyclopædia Iranica
^ CHINESE TURKESTAN: vii. Manicheism in Chinese Turkestan and
^ W. B. Henning, Sogdica, 1940, p. 11.
^ "Let none read the gospel according to Thomas, for it is the work,
not of one of the twelve apostles, but of one of Mani's three wicked
disciples."—Cyril of Jerusalem, Cathechesis V (4th century)
^ See, for example, Boyce, Mary The Manichaean hymn-cycles in Parthian
(London Oriental Series, Vol. 3). London: Oxford University Press,
^ Lieu, Samuel N. C.,
Central Asia and China, 1998, p.
^ "The Traité is, despite its title (Moni jiao cao jing, lit.
"fragmentary [Mathews, no. 6689] Manichean scripture"), a long text in
an excellent state of preservation, with only a few lines missing at
the beginning. It was first fully published with a facsimile by
Edouard Chavannes (q.v.) and
Paul Pelliot in 1911 and is frequently
known as Traité Pelliot. Their transcription (including typographical
errors) was reproduced in the Chinese translation of the Buddhist
Tripiṭaka (Taishō, no. 2141 B, LIV, pp. 1281a16-1286a29); that text
was in turn reproduced with critical notes by Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer
(1987b, pp. T. 81–86). A more accurate transcription was published
by Chen Yuan in 1923 (pp. 531–44), and a new collation based on a
reexamination of the original photographs of the manuscript has now
been published by Lin Wu-shu (1987, pp. 217–29), with the
photographs", from "CHINESE TURKESTAN vii. Manicheism in Chinese
Turkestan and China", by Samuel Lieu, 2011.
^ de Beausobre, Isaac, Histoire critique de Manichée et du
Manichéisme, 1734–1739, Amsterdam.
^ Eusebius. The Ecclesiastical History of
Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop
of Caesarea, Translated from the originals by
Cruse.1939. Ch. XXXI.
^ Bevan, A. A. (1930). "Manichaeism". Encyclopaedia of
Ethics, Volume VIII. Ed. James Hastings. London.
^ "Classical Texts: Acta Archelai of Mani" (PDF). Iranian Studies at
Harvard University. p. 76.
^ Waldschmidt, E., and Lentz, W., Manichäische Dogmatik aus
chinesischen und iranischen Texten (SPAW 1933, No. 13)
Hans Jakob Polotsky and Karl Schmidt, Ein Mani-Fund in Ägypten,
Original-Schriften des Mani und seiner Schüler. Berlin: Akademie der
^ Schmidt-Glintzer, Helwig, Chinesische Manichaeica, Wiesbaden, 1987
^ "Cologne Mani Codex". Encyclopedia Iranica.
^ "Manichaean - definition of Manichaean in English from the Oxford
^ "Frantz Fanon".
^ Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, 5:3-7
^ "The Revenge Of The Lost Boys". 9 July 2015.
^ "Ode to a philistine: Howard Jacobson's Pussy".
^ Kaplan, Fred (21 October 2004). "Paul Nitze" – via Slate.
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Books and articles
Ibscher, Hugo (1938). Allberry Charles R. C., ed. Manichaean
Manuscripts in the Chester Beatty Collection: Vol II, part II: A
Manichaean Psalm Book. Stuttgart: W. Kohlammer.
Beatty, Alfred Chester (1938). Charles Allberry, ed. A Manichean
Psalm-Book, Part II. Stuttgart.
Beausobre, de, Isaac (1734–1739). Histoire critique de Manichée et
du Manichéisme. Amsterdam: Garland Pub.
BeDuhn, Jason David (2002). The Manichaean Body: In Discipline and
Ritual. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Cross, F. L.; E. A. Livingstone (1974). The Oxford Dictionary of the
Christian Church. London: Oxford UP: Oxford University Press.
Favre, Francois (2005-05-05). Mani, the Gift of Light. Renova
symposium. Bilthoven, The Netherlands.
Foltz, Richard (2010). Religions of the Silk Road. New York: Palgrave
Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-62125-1.
Foltz, Richard (2013). Religions of Iran: From Prehistory to the
Present. London: Oneworld publications.
Gardner, Iain; Samuel N. C. Lieu (2004). Manichaean Texts from the
Roman Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Giversen, Soren (1988). The Manichaean Coptic Papyri in The Chester
Beatty Library Vol. III: Psalm Book part I (Facsimile ed.). Geneva:
Patrick Crammer. (Cahiers D'Orientalism XVI) 1988a
Giversen, Soren (1988). The Manichaean Coptic Papyri in The Chester
Beatty Library Vol. IV: Psalm Book part II (Facsimile ed.). Geneva:
Patrick Crammer. (Cahiers D'Orientalism XVI) 1988b.
Grousset, Rene (1939), tr. Walford, Naomi (1970), The Empire of the
Steppes: A History of Central Asia, New Brunswick, N.J.:
Gulácsi, Zsuzsanna (2001). Manichaean art in Berlin Collections.
Turnhout. (Original Manichaean manuscripts found since 1902 in
China, Egypt, Turkestan to be seen in the Museum of Indian Art in
Heinrichs, Albert; Ludwig Koenen, Ein griechischer Mani-Kodex, 1970
(ed.) Der Kölner Mani-
Codex ( P. Colon. Inv. nr. 4780), 1975–1982.
La Vaissière, Etienne de, "Mani en Chine au VIe siècle", Journal
Asiatique, 293–1, 2005, p. 357–378.
Legge, Francis (1964) . Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity,
From 330 B.C. to 330 A.D. (reprinted in two volumes bound as
one)format= requires url= (help). New York: University Books. LC
Lieu, Samuel (1992).
Manichaeism in the Later
Roman Empire and
Medieval China. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr.
Mani (216–276/7) and his 'biography': the
Melchert, Norman (2002). The Great Conversation: A Historical
Introduction to Philosophy. McGraw Hill.
Runciman, Steven (1982) . The Medieval Manichee: a study of the
Christian dualist heresy. Cambridge University Press.
Welburn, Andrew (1998). Mani, the Angel and the Column of Glory.
Edinburgh: Floris. ISBN 0-86315-274-0.
Widengren, Geo (1965). Mani and Manichaeism. London: Weidenfeld and
Wurst, Gregor (July 2001). "Die Bema-Psalmen". Journal of Near Eastern
Studies. 60 (3): 203–204. doi:10.1086/468925.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Manichaeism.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Catholic Encyclopedia – Manichæism public domain, published 1917.
International Association of Manichaean Studies
Christian Remains in Zayton (Quanzhou, South China)
Religions of Iran:
Manichaeism by I.J.S. Taraporewala
Manichaean sources in English translation
A summary of the Manichaean creation myth
Manicheism. Complete bibliography and selection of Manichaean source
texts in PDF format:
A thorough bibliography and outline of Manichaean Studies
A number of key Manichaean texts in English translation
The Book of the Giants by W.B. Henning, 1943
Secondary Manichaean sources in English translation
St. Augustine Against the
Fundamental Epistle of Manichaeus
Manichaean sources in their original languages
Photos of the Entire Koeln Mani-Kodex (Greek).
The Syriac Manichaean work quoted by Theodor bar Khonai
Photos of the Original
Middle Persian Manichaean Writings/Fragments
Turpan (The index of this German site can be searched
for additional Manichaean material, including photos of the original
Chinese Manichaean writings)
"Sermon of the Soul", in Parthian and Sogdian
Middle Persian and Parthian Texts
D. N. MacKenzie, Mani's Šābuhragān, pt. 1 (text and translation),
BSOAS 42/3, 1979, pp. 500–34, pt. 2 (glossary and plates),
BSOAS 43/2, 1980, pp. 288–310 .
Chinese Manichaean Scriptures: 摩尼教殘經一 ("Incomplete Sutra
one of Manichaeism") & 摩尼光佛教法儀略("The Mani Bright
Buddha teaching plan") & 下部贊("The Lower Part Praises")
Secondary Manichaean sources in their original languages
Augustine's Contra Epistolam Manichaei (Latin)
Major religious groups
Major religious groups and religious denominations
Eastern Catholic Churches
Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
Nation of Islam
Fon and Ewe
Apostasy / Disaffiliation
National religiosity levels
Irreligion by country
Separation of church and state
New religious movements
Religions and spiritual traditions
Beliefs condemned as heretical by the Catholic Church
Arianism (Anomoeanism, Semi-Arianism)
Gnosticism (Manichaeism, Paulicianism, Priscillianism, Naassenes,
Ophites, Sethianism, Valentinianism)
Protestantism (Arminianism, Calvinism, Lutheranism)
Community of the Lady of All Nations