Mani: Evangelium

(ca. 240–270)

Audience

Like most religious literature, Mani’s Evangelium was likely intended for consumption within the Manichaean tradition, unlike his first known work, Shaburagan, which was addressed specifically to the Persian court of King Shapur I. Still, it is entirely possible that portions of the gospel were used in or adapted to literature aimed at recruiting new members. While it is conceivable that a text such as On the Origin of His Body could have been read as a sort of introductory biography by outsiders interested in the movement, the passages from the Evangelium contained in the unedited Coptic manuscript were certainly intended for liturgical use within the community itself. Yet given the fragmentary nature of the text, it remains difficult to ascertain its full function and intended audience. Presumably that function parallels the purpose of other early Christian Gospels or at least Mani’s idea of how those Gospels functioned, in that the Evangelium probably provided a...

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Shapur I (Yale University Art Gallery)

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