Samuel N. C. Lieu

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199271566
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Of all the heresies that threatened the unity of the early church, the followers of Mani occupied an exceptional position, as they were devotees not of Jesus but first and foremost of a prophet from Mesopotamia who claimed to be a latter-day ‘Apostle of Jesus Christ’ and possessor of ‘the seal of the prophet’. Mani, the founder of the sect, gave a more gnostic interpretation to the rituals, but his views were held to be dangerous by the elders of the sect, who subsequently expelled him. It was probably in India that Mani encountered Buddhist asceticism and monasticism as well as the doctrine of metempsychosis. On his return to Mesopotamia, he converted the Shah of Mesene to his teaching, and through him Mani was able to have an audience with Shapur I, the second Shahanshah of the new Sasanian dynasty, which had replaced Parthian rule in the Near East.

Keywords: Mani; heresy; Buddhist asceticism; monasticism; metempsychosis; Mesopotamia; Shapur

Article.  7806 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Religious Studies ; Religion in the Ancient World

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