The Light and the Darkness: Studies in Manichaeism and Its World

The Light and the Darkness: Studies in Manichaeism and Its World

The Light and the Darkness: Studies in Manichaeism and Its World

The Light and the Darkness: Studies in Manichaeism and Its World

Synopsis

This is the second volume of scholarly studies in Manichaeism which were originally presented before the Manichaean Studies Group of the Society of Biblical Literature from 1997 through 1999. Like its predecessor, Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the Recovery of Manichaean Sources (Brill, 1997), this volume presents the latest international scholarship from leading researchers in the growing field of Manichaean studies. Here the researchers move from the continuing foundational work of recovering Manichaean sources to the necessary task of understanding the relationship of Manichaeans to the larger world in which they lived. That relationship took several distinct forms, and the contributions in this book analyze those forms, examining the relationship of Manichaeism with diverse cultural, social and religious traditions.

Excerpt

Paul Mirecki and Jason Beduhn

This is the second volume of scholarly studies in Manichaeism which were originally presented before the Manichaean Studies Group of the Society of Biblical Literature from 1997 through 1999. Like its predecessor, Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the Recovery of Manichaean Sources (NHMS 43; Brill, 1997), this volume presents the latest inter- national scholarship from leading researchers in the growing field of Manichaean studies. Here we move from the continuing foundational work of recovering Manichaean sources to the necessary task of un- derstanding the relationship of Manichaeans to the larger world in which they lived. That relationship took several distinct forms, and the contributions in this book analyze those forms, examining the relationship of Manichaeism with diverse cultural, social and religious traditions.

The Manichaean community was a self-contained entity, holding itself apart from the world by fostering internal cohesion. To main- tain this seclusion, the Manichaean leadership employed several tech- niques. One of the earliest was initiated by its founder Mani, who himself wrote letters encouraging others in the faith, providing in- struction, correcting error, and warning of harmful ideas that might infiltrate the community from the outside. Like nearly all of Mani's writings, the majority of his letters have been lost. Iain Gardner, in β€œThe Reconstruction of Mani's Epistles from Three Coptic Codices (Ismant el-Kharab and Medinet Madi),” surveys the few surviving Coptic fragments of those letters and how such scarce texts can take us directly to the teachings of Mani himself and within defined so- cial and political contexts. Gardner indicates that the recovery of such information is the necessary precursor to understanding the origins and development of Manichaeism and its relationship to its world.

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