Mani: Evangelium

(ca. 240–270)

Context

Mani “the Living” (Mani hayya in Aramaic), or Manichaeus, as he was known to Westerners, was a Persian prophet of the third century CE who lived in the early years of the Sassanian Empire and founded what might be called the first self-consciously world-oriented religion in history. Persia (modern-day Iran) at this time was home to a number of different religious groups, including Zoroastrians, Jews, and various Christians sects as well as Buddhists on the eastern frontiers. While Zoroastrianism was the traditional Persian religion, and Judaism had been present for many centuries, Christianity was rapidly expanding throughout the Persian Empire, which had only recently reestablished itself after a long period of decline. Some thought that this diversity of “foreign” religions was a threat to the traditional Zoroastrian priests, while others believed that the empire should be unified under a single faith. It was in this context that Mani was able to present himself as...

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Shapur I (Yale University Art Gallery)

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