Manichaeism

By: Olivia Cimo

  • A major Gnostic religion that was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani
  • Based on local Mesopotamian gnostic and religious movements
  • An elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness
  • According to their beliefs, the unfolding of the universe takes place with three separate creations: the first creation, the second creation, and the third creation
  • Believed in salvation by knowledge
  • Manichaeists despised Christianity and its mysteries because they believed reason provided an answer for everything
  • To set the light-substance free from the pollution of matter was the ultimate aim of all Manich├Žan life, those who entirely devoted themselves to this work were the "Elect" or the "Perfect"
  • Those who felt unable to abstain from all earthly joys were "the Hearers", and they were forbidden to have property, to eat meat or drink wine, to gratify any sexual desire, to engage in any servile occupation, commerce or trade, to possess house or home, to practice magic, or to practice any other religion
  • Mani believed that the teachings of Buddha, Zoroaster, and Jesus were incomplete, and that his revelations were for the entire world, calling his teachings the "Religion of Light."
  • 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 movements such as Mandaenism, and Aramaic translations of Jewish apocalyptic writings similar to those found at Qumran, and by the Syriac dualist-gnostic writer Bardaisan

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