iii. In Manicheism

Manicheism, like contemporary Zoroastrianism and various gnostic sects, offered a detailed cosmogonic myth, or cosmology. Although Mani (b. Babylon 216, executed probably 277 through the machinations of the Zoroastrian clergy and the high priest Kerdīr) claimed that his teaching would provide answers to all the riddles of the world, the principal aim of the cosmogonic myth was narrower, to provide answers to the primary existential questions about the origins of evil and of man, as well as about the role of man in the world.

Texts. Manichean cosmogony is known from a variety of primary and secondary sources. The ver­sions represented in these sources reflect the same basic ideas, though differing in some details and in what is included or omitted. For example, Mani’s cosmogony remained a closed system from its begin­ning in Mesopotamia and Persia throughout the history of the faith, among his followers in both the west (Egypt and North Africa) and in the east (Central Asia, Chinese Turkestan, and China). His own mother tongue was Aramaic (Syriac), and he wrote in this language, except for Šābuhragān, written in Middle Persian, the official language of the Sasanian empire, for the benefit and honor of King Šāpūr I (241-72). Mani discussed his cosmogony in several of his writ­ings, including Šābuhragān (note the quotation from this work in Šahrestānī, p. 192; Taqīzāda and Afšār Šīrāzī, p. 244; Adam, p. 6 text b) and the Epistula Fundamenti (see, e.g., Feldmann, pp. 12-21). Of his original writings only parts of the Šābuhragān have survived in fragmentary manuscripts; other works are known only from translations or extracts in texts in a variety of other languages. His western followers wrote in Syriac, Coptic, and Latin; his eastern follow­ers in Middle Persian, Parthian, Bactrian, Sogdian, Turkish, and Chinese (see chinese turkestan vii); and his Christian and Zoroastrian critics, as well as Christian and Muslim historians, in Greek, Latin, Syriac, Pahlavi, Persian, and Arabic. Unfortunately, unless the original source is mentioned by these au­thors (e.g., Bīrūnī, Āṯār, p. 208; Šahrestānī, explicitly citing Šabuhragān; cf. Hutter, pp. 159-60), it cannot be determined from which of Mani’s works they took their information.

Some of the most important texts containing descriptions of or references to Manichean cosmology will be mentioned here. The cosmogonic account in Šābuhragān can be reconstructed from fragments published by F. W. K. Müller (pp. 37-43; Salemann, 1908, pp. 16-17; cf. Jackson, pp. 22-73; Sundermann, 1979, pp. 97-98; Boyce, Reader, pp. 60-62) and by W. B. Henning (Mir. Man. I, pp. 175-222; cf. Boyce, Reader, pp. 63-87). Numerous other Middle Persian and Parthian fragments of cosmogonic texts, in both prose and verse, have been published, notably by Carl Salemann (1912, pp. 7-14: a fragmentary hymn in Middle Persian with some admixture of Parthian, later analyzed by Jackson and reedited and translated by Henning, 1932; cf. Boyce, Reader, pp. 100-01), Mary Boyce (1951; 1952; cf. Reader, pp. 94-100), and Werner Sundermann (1973, pp. 11-80). A few fragments from the beginning of the Parthian Manohmed rōšn wifrās (Sermon of the Light Nous) contain cosmological matter (Sundermann, 1973, pp. 54-57), and a fragmen­tary Sogdian manuscript published by Henning (1948) contains a detailed description of the World of Light. The Old Turkish text published by Albert von Le Coq (pp. 7-17) includes an account of the rescue of First Man (see below). In the Chinese “traité manichéen” (actually a translation of Manohmed rošn wifrās) there is a summary of Manichean cosmology (Chavannes and Pelliot; Schmidt-Glintzer, pp. 77-80). Finally, the Coptic Manichean texts include a cosmological passage in the Manichean Psalm Book (Psalm 223; Allberry, pp. 9-11) and discussions of individual ques­tions in the Kephalaia (esp. pp. 6-7, 17-18, 23, 31-35, 44-45, 53, 55, 56).

Descriptions of Manichean cosmogony can be found in two Greek texts, a refutation of Manichean doctrine by Alexander of Lycopolis (ca. 300 c.e.) and Acta Archelai (see archelaus) by Hegemonius (prob­ably composed in the first half of the 4th century, with a Latin translation from the end of the century), and in the Latin works of Augustine (354-430), which contain numerous references to Manichean doctrine, especially in Contra Epistulam Fundamenti (Against the Letter concerning the beginning; pp. 193-248; for attempts to identify fragments of the Epistula Fundamenti, a Manichean text current among North African Manicheans, see Decret, pp. 107-23; Feldmann). At the end of the 8th century the Christian Theodore Bar Kōnay (pp. 313.10-318.4; tr. in Cumont, I; tr. Hespel and Draguet, pp. 234-37; cf. Jackson, pp. 221-54; Adam, pp. 15-23), who wrote in Syriac, described the Manichean system, “in order to shame the faces of the Manichaeans” (Jackson, p. 222); if his account was based on original Manichean writings in Syriac, it may contain terms actually used by Mani himself. The late Zoroastrian Škand-gumānīg wizār (Exposition intended to smash all doubts, possi­bly of the late 9th century; ed. de Menasce, pp. 226-61; cf. Jackson, pp. 174-201), a critique of religions other than Zoroastrianism, also contains a chapter devoted to refutation of the Manichean heresy (ērang). The three most famous Muslim authors who discussed Manicheism in the 10th and 11th centuries were Ebn al-Nadīm (Fehrest, ed. Flügel, I, pp. 329-31, cf. pp. 52-58, 86-90; tr. Dodge, II, pp. 777-83), Bīrūnī (Āṯār, passim; 1885-86, passim), and Šahrestānī (pp. 620-28; tr., pp. 625-26; cf. Taqīzāda and Afšār Šīrāzī, pp. 240-44).

(For collections of source texts see especially Adam [Greek and Latin texts, translations of Iranian, Syriac, and Arabic texts], Taqīzāda and Afšār Šīrāzī [Arabic and Persian texts], and the translations in Böhlig and Asmussen, pp. 103-56; Asmussen, 1975, pp. 113-42; and Klimkeit, pp. 57-99).

The classic studies of the Manichean cosmogonic myth are those by H. J. Polotsky and Henri-Charles Puech, who, however, argued that all the versions could be traced to a single original (see also Jonas, pp. 209-28; Rudolph, pp. 336-39; for succinct surveys with notes, see Asmussen, 1965, pp. 12-14; Boyce, Reader, pp. 4-10, the latter with a useful table of the members of the different creations and their Iranian names). The most complete and detailed description of the Manichean worldview remains that of A. V. W. Jackson (pp. 22-73), which also includes drawings. Manfred Hutter’s work is a detailed reexamination of the Iranian cosmogonic texts. Reinhold Merkelbach has also contributed important new interpretations.

The Manichean system. Bar Kōnay provided a suc­cinct description in Syriac of the Manichean cosmol­ogy. (Arabic technical terms in the following discus­sion have been drawn from the Fehrest; Latin terms, chiefly from Hegemonius, are common in the schol­arly literature; for the Iranian names of deities, de­mons, and men, see Sundermann, 1979.) Before the cosmos was created there were two natures (Syr. kyānīn, Mid. Pers. bun, Ar. kawnān): that of the Father of Greatness (Syr. abā d.rabbūtā, Lat. bonus pater, pater ingenitus, Mid. Pers. bay zarwān, pid ī wazargīh, etc., Ar. malek jenān al-nūr) and that of the King of Darkness (Syr. mlekḥeššōkā, Mid. Pers. Ahriman, Ar. Šayṭān), each with his five attendant worlds. When the King of Darkness sought to invade the Realm of Light, the Father of Greatness adopted countermeasures, which, through a series of “evocations,” ultimately led to the creation of the world. In order to understand subsequent developments, it is important to keep in mind that all these evocations, or creations, were derived from the Father, that is, the original Light itself, and identical with it (Augustine: una substantia “of one and the same substance”). The Father of Greatness evoked from himself the Mother of Life (Syr. emmā d.ḥayyē, Lat. mater vitae, Mid. Pers. mādar ī zīndagān, Ar. omm al-eḥyāʾ), who in turn evoked the First (or Primal) Man (Syr. nāšā qadmāyā, Lat. primus homo, Mid. Pers. ohrmizdbay, Parth. mard hasēnag, etc., Ar. al-ensān al-qadīm), who, as an evocation of the Father himself, is also his “soul”; the Mother of Life and the First Man constituted the First Creation. The First Man and his sons, the Five Resplendent Gods (Syr. ḥamšā elāhē zīwānē; Mid. Pers. mahrāspandān: air or breeze, wind, light, water, fire), then went into battle against the King of Evil and his five sons. When the powers of Darkness came against the World of Light, First Man and his sons offered themselves to them as a meal (Syr. l.mēkultā, Mid. Pers. sūr ī xwaš; Sundermann, 1973, p. 18), “as somebody mixes poi­son in a cake to give to his enemy” (or as bait to catch fish; see Puech, p. 169 n. 311). The five sons of First Man were then literally swallowed or devoured by the five sons of Darkness, with the result that a part of the Light became imprisoned in the Darkness. The First Man, however, was only rendered unconscious by the Darkness and soon regained consciousness and pleaded with the Father of Greatness for the rescue of the Light. This plea led to the Second Creation, of the Friend of the Lights (Syr. ḥabbīb nahīrē, Mid. Pers. rōšnān dōšist or xwārist, Ar. ḥabīb al-anwār), the Great Builder (Syr. bān rabbā, Mid. Pers. rāz ī wuzurg, Parth. bāmyazad, Ar. al-bannāʾ al-kabīr), and the Living Spirit (Syr. rūḥā ḥayyā, Lat. spiritus vivens, Mid. Pers. wāxš zīndag, Parth. wād žīwandag, Ar. rūḥ al-ḥayāt). The Mother of Life and the Living Spirit together rescued the First Man. First, the Living Spirit called down to the First Man; his call split the darkness like a sword and uncovered the First Man, who responded to it; as this exchange of greetings is in metrical form, it may be from an original poem by Mani. The call (Syr. qāryā, Mid. Pers. xwandag, mizdagtāzyazad, Parth. xruštag, Ar. al-ṣawt) and the response (Syr. ʿanyā, Mid. Pers. azdegar yazad, Parth. padwāxtag) ascended to the Mother of Life, who donned the re­sponse, “her beloved son,” and the Living Spirit, who donned the call. (According to Ebn al-Nadīm the call “became another god,” the Enthymesis of life, Mid. Pers. handēšišn ī zīndag, the power that at the end of the world will gather the remaining Light and arrange for it to be brought back to the Realm of Light; its opposite, the Enthymesis of death, is equal to the greedy spirituality of matter; see below.) The Living Spirit and the Mother of Life, assuming the function of demiurges, then formed from the bodies of the slain demons eight worlds and from their skins eleven heav­ens (ten spheres and the zodiac). Other demons were imprisoned in the worlds and the heavens, and the task of watching over and protecting the regions of the world was assigned to the five sons of the Living Spirit (hence their names in Mid. Pers.: Dahibed, Pāhragbed, Zandbed, Wished, Mānbed). The Living Spirit then revealed himself to the captured demons, or archons (the so-called “seduction of the archons”), which caused them to emit some of the Light that they had swal­lowed, and from some of this Light he made the “ships” of sun and moon. From the remainder of the Light emitted by the archons he created the “wheels” of wind, water, and fire, as well as other parts of a cosmic machine constructed for the deliverance (Mid. Pers. uzēnišn; Mir. Man. II, p. 296) of the still-impris­oned Light. At the request of the Mother of Life, the First Man, and the Living Spirit, the Father of Great­ness then called forth the Third Creation, the Third Messenger (Syr. izgaddā, Lat. tertius legatus, Mid. Pers. narēsahyazad, Parth. hridīg frēštag, etc.), who evoked the twelve maidens (Syr. btultē, Mid. Pers. kanīgān rōšnān). The Third Messenger arranged to set the two “ships” (sun and moon) and the three “wheels” in motion, and, as the “ships” reached the middle of the sky, he showed himself naked to the male and female archons in female and male form respectively; because of their lecherous nature they began to emit (through ejaculation and abortion, according to the long Middle Persian text) the remaining Light, the Light Soul, though mingled with some of their own sin, “like a hair in the dough.” The Third Messenger then covered his manifestations and separated the sin from the Light. The sin fell to the earth, half on wet and half on dry land. What fell onto wet land became a horrible dragon (Mid. Pers. azdahāg, see aûdahā i); the fourth son of the Living Spirit (Light Adamas, Sogd. wašaγni βaγi < O.Ir. vṛθragna) went to war against it and conquered it. What fell onto dry land became demons, plants, and animals. At the conclusion of a series of cannibalistic and sexual acts among the demonic creations Ašaqlūn and Nebrōʾēl (Namrāʾēl; see āsrēštār), incarnations of the principle of Lust itself (Mid. Pers. āz), which was also identical with matter (Greek hylē), fashioned the first two people in the image of the Third Messenger, Adam (Mid. Pers. noxwīr, lit. “first man”) and Eve (Mid. Pers. farrahān srīgar, lit. “the female of the glories”). In this way, through continuous frag­mentation of the Light Soul by means of procreation, they endeavored to render redemption more difficult and to keep it forever imprisoned in the demonic creation, the human body. The Light Soul was also called World Soul, because imprisoned in the world, and Living Soul or Living Self (Mid. Pers. grīw zīndag, etc.), in contrast to matter, which belonged to death; the human body, however, was called “corpse” (Mid. Pers. nasā, contrasted to gyān “soul”; see, e.g., Boyce, Reader, p. 75). In the same way that the Living Spirit aroused and redeemed the First Man, Jesus the Splen­dor (Syr. Išōʿ Zīwānā, Mid. Pers. Xradešahryazad), an emanation of the Third Messenger, then awakened Adam from his deathlike sleep and showed him the way to salvation. With this event the history of mankind began.

The most important omission in Bar Kōnay’s ac­count is that of any mention of the Column of Glory (Syr. esṭūn šubaḥ [mentioned by St. Ephrem], Lat. columna gloriae, Parth. bāmistūn, Ar. ʿamūd al-sobḥ), also called the Perfect Man (Mid. Pers. mard īg ispurr, Lat. vir perfectus), an evocation of the Third Messen­ger, through which the portions of the Light scattered through the world were purified and carried up to the moon, whence they ascended into the ship of the sun and thence into the New Paradise of Light (Polotsky, col. 255). These concepts are, however, mentioned in several other texts.

Bar Kōnay’s source appears to have been one of Mani’s Syriac works, for the long Middle Persian text that appears to be part of Šābuhragān (see above) contains a much more complete and detailed descrip­tion. In the latter the Column of Glory appears as the World-Bearing God (kišwarwār-yazad) and perhaps also as the Upward-Leading God (abar-ahrām­ [yazad]), as well as with a Zoroastrian appellation, srōš-ahrāy. The description of the redemption of the Light is not very clear, however. Instead of the twelve Light Maidens mentioned by Bar Kōnay, there is reference to the female incarnation of God (srīgar-kirb čihr ī yazadān), that is, the Light Maiden, who is an aspect of the Third Messenger. Another noteworthy feature of this text not mentioned by Bar Kōnay is the connection between the cosmogony and calendrical speculations stimulated by the Aramaic Enoch writ­ings (Tubach; see aḵnuᵛkǰ), as well as a travesty of the biblical creation story within the framework of a de­scription of the demonic creation of the first human couple (Mir. Man. I, p. 200).

The detailed Middle Persian work of cosmogonic content published by Sundermann (1973, pp. 11-37, text no. 1) was probably also based on a work by Mani; the fragmentary nature of the text, the complexity of its language, and the comparatively large number of unfamiliar words make it very difficult to understand, but it appears to contain passages related to the sacrifice of the First Man, the “seduction of the archons,” and the arrangement of macrocosmos and microcosmos (see below). Among the many other cosmogonic frag­ments published by Sundermann is a detailed descrip­tion (1973, pp. 37-41 text no. 2) of the creation of the world by the Living Spirit (Mihr-yazad).

A second group of texts, preserved in Middle Per­sian, Parthian, and Turkish in versions that are closely related but not identical, may not have been based directly on Mani’s writings. In these texts the sacrifice of the First Man and his sons is described in terms of the heroic and victorious struggle of a ruler and his entourage, while the aspects of sacrifice and suffering remain in the background (Sundermann, 1973, pp. 41­-54 texts nos. 3-4).

Characteristics of Manichean cosmogony and anthropogony. The doctrine of two original principles exposed Manicheism to occasional criticism for being dyotheistic (Polotsky, col. 250). The two principles were never regarded as of equal importance, however; the powers of Darkness always proved inferior to those of the Light. For example, the First Man, though merely a part of the Light, dared to descend into the very depths of the Darkness and face it in its totality. The demons, who had left their world to invade the Realm of Light, were all bound in the precosmic mingling and thus came into the cosmos of the Living Spirit as into a prison, not as rulers. The powers of Darkness did for a while display their evil might, yet, with the establishment of the world as a mechanism for redemption, their final defeat was already a certainty. Man was created as a defensive act by the she-demon Lust only out of fear that the conquered Light might escape, but instead of an eternal prison for the Living Self man became the means of salvation. The world of Darkness will never again be as it was before the prehistoric battle, whereas the world of Light suffered only one loss and a temporary change in its nature.

In Manichean cosmogony and anthropogony, the creation of the world by gods and the creation of man by demons were recognized as mirror images of a sort. Man, as microcosm (Mid. Pers. nasā and šahr ī kōdag, Parth. zambudīg kašūdag), was an imitation of the macrocosm (Mid. Pers. nasā ī wuzurg, Parth. zambudīg wuzarg; Sundermann, 1973, pp. 25-33, 57, cf. idem, 1983, pp. 232-33; cf. Kephalaion 70). The macrocosm and microcosm had in common their construction from demonic matter, yet the world became a prison for demons under the rule of the Perfect Man or the Column of Glory, and man became a prison for Light under the rule of Lust. Although there was thus no opportunity for the demons to overthrow the cosmic order, the rule of Lust in man could be overthrown by the interference of the Light Nous, and the New Man could be called into being (see Kephalaion 33, esp. pp. 96-97). Equally, although the macrocosm primarily hindered the demons from invading the Realm of Light by confining them in the matter they caused to be created, the microcosm, created from the same matter, became the most effective instrument for the escape of Light from confining matter. Man’s fate was thus the central concern of Manichean cosmology and soteriology.

The similarities in soteriological functions of the various creations sometimes led to the transfer of motifs and names from one to another. The deities of the Third Creation effected the release and salvation of the Light trapped in the cosmos in the same way that the Living Spirit and the Mother of Life of the First Creation had effected the salvation of the First Man, who embodied the major part of the Light trapped before the cosmos was created. In Bar Kōnay’s text the Living Spirit, by displaying himself to the demons in order to cause them to emit the light they had swal­lowed, anticipated the similar methods of the Third Messenger (see above). Finally, in the Chinese text, in which other parts of the cosmogonic myth are also distorted, the Living Spirit (jing feng “pure wind”) was transformed into the Holy Spirit, that is, the Light Nous (Mid. Pers. wahman or farrah ī dēn, Parth. manohmēd rōšn) of the Third Creation. These pheno­mena have not yet been systematically examined, nor is it known whether they can be ascribed to Mani himself or result from later speculations.

If cosmogony is defined as the creation of the world and the time in which it exists, then, to the Manicheans, this event was not the “beginning.” The struggle between Light and Darkness and the suffering of the Living Soul began before the cosmos was formed. Similarly, the redemption of the Living Soul, that is, the return of the Light to its origin, was not completed before the end of the cosmos. According to Kephalaion 39, the redeemed Light would abide for a while in the New Paradise of Light (like a tribe of nomads traveling from place to place; Mir. Man. III, p. 850), a creation of the Great Builder (cf. Mid. Pers. nōgšahrāfur-­yazad), before it returns to the realm of the Father of Greatness. Cosmogony was thus viewed in Manicheism as one stage in a long process of salvation, its exact function being, first, to protect the Realm of Light from the attacks of the powers of Darkness and, second, to restore, as far as possible, the world of Light in its original integrity.

Sources for Mani’s cosmogonic ideas. According to Mani, knowledge (Gk. gnôsis, Mid. Pers. dānišn) was a prerequisite for salvation (see, e.g., Mir. Man. II, pp. 297-99; Boyce, Reader, pp. 88-89; tr. in Asmussen, 1975, pp. 7-8). Manicheism was, as noted, anticosmic and antimaterial, and it contained the idea of a Soul that had somehow become separated from its original homeland and fallen into a degenerate world, as in a Parthian hymn to the Living Self: “I am of the Light and the Gods, and I have become exiled from them. The enemies fell upon me and led me into corpses” (Mir. Man. III, p. 874; Boyce, Reader, p. 106; cf., e.g., the summary of the Valentinian speculation in bardesanes; on the characteristic features of gnosti­cism, see, e.g., Puech, pp. 69-72; Rudolph, pp. 53-59). What distinguished Manicheism from other gnostic teachings, however, was the concept of two active and independent worlds of Light and Darkness, separate from the outset, and the attribution of the fall of the Soul into the worldly sphere, not to a progressive degeneration of the Light, as in several other gnostic speculations, but rather to the attack of evil upon the world of Light. On this particular point Mani’s cos­mogony is strongly reminiscent of Zoroastrian cosmol­ogy as described in the Pahlavi texts, and it has been repeatedly argued that Mani borrowed numerous details from Zoroastrianism. On this basis, Hans Jonas (pp. 236-37) characterized Manicheism as an “Iranian” type of gnosis (cf. Rudolph, pp. 335-36). Dependence upon Zoroastrian ideas—as they are known chiefly from the 8th-9th-century Pahlavi books—is most certainly clear in the framework for the cosmog­onic events, the strict dualism between Light and Darkness and between good and evil (also characteristic of the Mandeans of Mesopotamia [Rudolf, p. 65] and the Mazdakites [see iv, below]), but perhaps also for the course of history, in which three phases are distin­guished: first separation of Light from Darkness, their mingling, and renewed separation (see, e.g., Widengren, 1978, pp. 312-13), though the contents of these three phases differ considerably in the two systems.

In many instances the similarities are more superfi­cial, however, and more closely reflect the Iranian terminology used than actual identical functions; it thus may not be possible to go as far as Geo Widengren, who repeatedly argued (e.g., 1978, pp. 307, 314; 1961, pp. 48-50; 1965, p. 300) that all the basic mythological features of Manichean cosmogony are in keeping with those of Zurvanism, the Zoroastrian heresy; in one version of the latter Zurwān, the god of time, was the father of Ohrmazd, and, according to another, he was the father of both Ohrmazd and Ahriman. Gherardo Gnoli has argued that, if the Zoroastrian features were removed, there would be nothing left of the Manichean system (pp. 74-75). At the other extreme Alexander Böhlig has considered the alternative possibility that Mani’s dualism was no more than a sharp dialectical intensification of gnostic mythology (p. 29). As in Zoroastrianism, evil was seen as the cause for the creation of the world, but, whereas in Zoroastrianism this material world (gētīg) was a creation of Ohrmazd, man an auxiliary to the divine, and its ethic based on life in the world, in Manicheism the world was a prison for demons made from demons and man a creation of demons. The Manichean worldview was therefore materialistic and negative (cf., e.g., Bianchi, pp. 13-­18) and its ethic ascetic and hostile to the world.

As for the division of history into three phases, not mentioned in the extant Avesta, the similarities be­tween the two religions are also not very great. Widengren emphasized the “mixture” (Mid. Pers. gumēzišn) of matter, which is prominent in Zoroas­trian teachings, and traced the Manichean phases to such a pattern (1961, p. 71; 1965, p. 307; 1978, pp. 306-07). The concept of “mixture” is applied in very different contexts in the two religions, however: In Manicheism “mixture” refers to the imprisonment of the Living Self in demonic matter, whereas in Zoroas­trianism it refers to a period of 3,000 years when “the will of both Ohrmazd and Ahriman would prevail” (Bundahišn, ed. Anklesaria, pp. 8-11). In eastern Manicheism, where the doctrine was often simply called “the teaching of the two principles and the three ages” (cf. Asmussen, 1965, pp. 174-75, 196, 220), the first age was the time from before the principles of Light and Darkness met until the fall of the First Man, and the second encompassed the time between the rescue of the First Man and the final separation of the principles. There are some indications that this doc­trine of three phases was current in western Manicheism as well (Koenen), which could point to Zoroastrian influence and thus support Widengren’s view, but a totally different version of the three ages, though no doubt equally old, is to be found in the seventeenth Kephalaion, in which they are said to correspond to the First, Second, and Third Creations (Nagel, pp. 201-07; Henrichs, pp. 190-96). The second age (that of mix­ture) would thus refer to the original mixture of Light with Darkness through the defeat of the five sons of the First Man, not to the creation of man and the historical period in which man lives.

As Zoroastrian theology is known mainly from texts that are much later than the 3rd century c.e., it is also possible that some of the similarities between the two religions may reflect the influence of Manicheism upon Zoroastrianism. One example of such influence is the function of āz “greed” in Zoroastrianism, where it does not seem to be derived from Avestan āzi (masculine) but rather from the Manichean female principle of Lust (Sundermann, 1986, pp. 15-16).

Details of the Manichean myth reveal greater simi­larities with the cosmogonic and anthropological teach­ings of Bardesanes than with Zoroastrianism, suggesting that he may have been the most significant source of inspiration for Mani (Drijvers; Aland). Fi­nally, the uniqueness of Mani’s teaching about the aborted demons, fallen from heaven as creators of human beings, can be traced back to Jewish Enoch literature (Henning, 1943, p. 53; Stroumsa, pp. 153­-54, 158-67).



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(Werner Sundermann)

Originally Published: December 15, 1993

Last Updated: October 31, 2011

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Vol. VI, Fasc. 3, pp. 310-315