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Manichaeism An Ancient Faith Rediscovered by Nicholas John Baker-Brian

Manichaeism An Ancient Faith Rediscovered


Manichaeism An Ancient Faith Rediscovered by Nicholas John Baker-Brian

This is the first general comprehensive introduction to Manichaeism aimed at a non-specialist and undergraduate readership. This study will be a historical and theological introduction to Manichaeism. It will comprise a biographical treatment of the founder Mani, situating his personality, his writings and his ideas within the Aramaic Christian tradition of third century (CE) Mesopotamia. It will provide a historical treatment of the Manichaean church in late antiquity (250-700 CE), detailing the emergence of Manichaeism in the late Roman and Byzantine empires, in addition to examining the continuation of Manichaean traditions in the eastern world (China) up to the thirteenth century and beyond. The book will consider the theology of Mani's system, with the aim of providing a clear-eyed treatment of the cosmogonic, scriptural and ecclesiological ideas forming its foundations. The study will base its analysis on original Manichaean literary sources, together with rehabilitating the representation of Manichaeism in those writings that polemicised against the religion. The study will aim to demonstrate the highly syncretic nature of Manichaeism, and will look to move forward 'traditional' perceptions of the religion as being simply a form of Christian Gnostic Dualism.


... manages to incorporate many critical perspectives and discussions... a straightforward and accessible treatment of a topic that is too often neglected.--Sanford Lakoff Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 st1\: *{behavior: url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name: Table Normal ; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow: yes; mso-style-parent:

; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom: .0001pt; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman ; mso-ansi-language: #0400; mso-fareast-language: #0400; mso-bidi-language: #0400;} 'In the studies of ancient religions and cultures few disciplines are more difficult to approach than Manichaeism, quite simply for its code of conduct, teachings and internal organization has long puzzled scholars. Its study involves the analysis of a number of key areas -theology, mythology, comparative literature and ancient history to name but a few- and deals with texts written in countless languages -namely Latin, ancient Greek, Syrian and Arabic- spanning a period of thirteen centuries, throughout a vast territory. Nevertheless misconceptions, a biased historiographical heritage and a certain degree of sluggishness on the part of many modern scholars in dealing with original sources have all contributed towards constructing a somewhat distorted image of Manichaeism. Hence it is within this context that Nicholas Baker-Brians book sets out to dispel such inaccuracies and work towards establishing a more coherent understanding of such a complicated topic, irrespective of the fragmentary and corrupt nature of many of the sources on Manis life and teachings. In doing so, Dr. Baker-Brian contests that certain beliefs in such misleading information and evidence derived from ancient heresiologists have long been perpetuated by modern scholars. Insightful analysis of original sources that had been carelessly read and therefore led to methodological misreading are constant throughout this work and help decipher the intricate layers that came to constitute Man Normal0falsefalsefalseMicrosoftInternetExplorer4st1\: *{behavior: url(#ieooui) }/* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name: Table Normal ;mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow: yes;mso-style-parent:

;mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom: .0001pt;mso-pagination: widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family: Times New Roman ;mso-ansi-language: #0400;mso-fareast-language: #0400;mso-bidi-language: #0400;}'Nottoo long ago, most of what we knew about the Manichaeans - followers of thethird-century religious visionary Mani - came from the pens of their manyenemies. It was hard to understand how a religion that preached sexualabstinence and vegetarianism as a means to cope with a world ruled by Evil everenjoyed any success. Yet at its height Manichaeism spread from Mesopotamia to China in the east and Spain in the west; in North Africa, it appealed to the young Augustine of Hippo. In this richly inform

About the Author

Dr Nicholas Baker-Brian is Lecturer in Theology at Cardiff University. He is an expert on the Religions of Late Antiquity, especially Manichaeism, and is the author of Manichaeism in the Later Roman Empire: A Study of Augustine's Contra Adimantum.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st February 2011


Nicholas John Baker-Brian

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T.& T.Clark Ltd an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


176 pages





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