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Autor:   •  December 26, 2010  •  1,575 Words (7 Pages)  •  577 Views

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Roughly 1600 years before the inception of Manichaeism, the prophet Zarathustra began professing his holy words that would later lay the ground for the establishment of Zoroastrianism. Zarathustra’s concept of duality, which is the existence of two ultimate forces, an ultimate good and an ultimate evil, would later influence Manichaeism. The central figure of Manichaeism is Mani, a Syrian who preached of a dual deistical system of faith similar to Zoroastrianism. However, Manichaeism, and Mani himself, tied together Judeo-Christian ideologies along with dualistic Zoroastrian ideologies . The religion’s dogmatic practices, philosophical perspectives, and poetic mythologies exemplify the complexity of the culture encompassed by Manichaeism. The professions of Mani, some of which could be considered heretical by several of the very religions Mani draws from, speak of conflicted ideals, a strict spiritual detachment from the “material” world, a complex cosmogony as well as a complex eschatology.

The fundamental texts for the Manichaean religion are The Shabuhragan, The Evangelion, and The Book of Giants. It is within the pages of these scriptures that the religion is mapped out. The Shabuhragan was a book written by Mani near the end of his life, and was presented to King Shapur I, of the Sassanid Persian Empire. The book was Mani’s declaration of a new religion, one that had a significant tie to Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Buddhism. The three divine prophets of each religion were viewed by Mani, as one of many apostles whose purpose, on the material realm of existence, was to educate the followers of the Great Light, the supreme deity in Manichaeism, much like that of Ahura Mazda or Yahweh in the Zoroastrian and Christian traditions.

At the time the three predominant religions, who were also contending with each other, in the Persian Empire, were Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Buddhism. According to the Coptic Homilies, when King Shapur supersedes his father, Ardashahr, he calls for Mani who is in India preaching. Mani travels back to Persia, then to Babylon and visits King Shapur and presents him with The Shabuhragan. This text gave consent to Mani, allowing him to preach wherever he may choose. In the other three predominant religions at the time stories of each prophet travelling the known world speaking the word seems to reoccur numerous times. Mani’s unifying vision is powerful both religiously and economically. The three contending religions unified as one entity would drastically alter politics and economics influenced by each religion, independently.

The Shabuhragan, which is incomplete due to the loss of the majority of its scripture, speaks Mani’s version of the cosmogony, theogony, and the dogmatic practices of Manichaeism. The cosmogony correlates intimately with the Christian cosmogony. The description of how certain aspects of earth came to be are described differently, but maintain similar occurrences, such as the creation of vegetation and fauna, bodies of water, and light. This may show the agriculture differences between the cultures of each script. At the time the Christian cosmogony, which is also the same text for the Judaic religion, was written, less was known about the physical world. Mani, who existed and wrote The Shabuhragan years later, had a different concept of the surrounding physical world, and therefore might have described and placed the order of events with an agricultural and scientific subjective state of mind. The following quotations illustrate Mani’s hypothesized subjectivity. The scientific knowledge is quite evident in the quotations.

“[discussing creation of vegetation]…and by the semen of archonts plants, flowers and

meadows, and various growing things were sown and grew.” - The Shabuhragan [M7981.1]

“[discussing the measurement of times, months to be exact]…the day is completed in those

30 revolutions of that second threshold, then the month of Ð"‚ban is attached and becomes

visible. And in the month of Ð"‚ban the day is 11 hours and the night 13.” - The Shabuhragan

[M 7981.2 (+ M 506V)]

Another difference that can be seen is Mani’s view of the creation of Adam and Eve, and it is here that the complexities of Mani’s dualistic ideologies begin to take form. To understand this, Mani’s ideologies relating to the theogony need to be developed.

There is one great being, known as The Twin, The Great Light, light, Mihr, and The Great Living Spirit; I shall refer to this deity as TGLS. There was no greater entity than TGLS; his equal was the One of Female Form, (OFF.) Together they are considered the creators. There is the existence of evil, which is coincidently named Ahrimen, a slight alteration from Ahriman, the prince of darkness in the Zoroastrian tradition. Ahrimen is associated with all that devoid of light, material form, and sexual activity. Humans, the descendents of Ohrmezdbay, another Zoroastrian alteration, consists of, a soul that is pure light and is trapped within a material (evil) body. The Shabuhragan states that at death the pure light of the soul will leave its malevolent surrounding and return to the TGLS where it originated. With that said, let’s return to Mani’s view of Adam and Eve. The events that take place are fundamentally the same, the only difference being the religious interpretation and its conflicting attributes with both Christianity and Manichaeism.

In The Shabuhragan, Mani describes Adam, as being the amalgamation of various wicked creature’s aborted children, originally descending from Ð"‚z, the equivalent of Ahrimen. Adam’s counterpart Eve is described a couple of times in The Shabuhragan. The first time Eve


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