Eugenia Smagina

Еditor: Lejli Laxuti

Moskva, 2011, 519 pages

ISBN: 978-5-02-036474-5

The book concerns the origins, sources and history of the Manichaean religion, according chiefly to Greek, Latin, Coptic and Syriac texts.
In Part I, the author describes the history of Manichaean sources. Special attention is paid to the Coptic Manichaean texts from Medinet Madi and from Kellis.
Investigating the early anti-Manichaean book Acta Archelai, the author concludes that there was genuine material among the sources of the text. Probably it was a polimical fiction in the form of a dialog with a Manichaean missionary (not with Mani himself, but with the Manichaean Turbo mentioned in the book) written by Archelaus. The image of the town Kaschara where the scene is set probably combines two towns: the episcopate Kashkar and the Roman town Carrae, cf. the
toponym Charax and the town Kholassar mentioned in a Coptic text.
In Part I, the biography of Mani and the history of Manichaeism is also reconstructed. The comparison of the Manichaean data on Mani’s life with the so-called “anti-Manichaean legend” shows that the legend, apart from some coinciding points, does not rely on any authentic biographical text. It is a polemical “parody” of the Manichaean myth about the reincarnation of the Apostles, founders of the eternal true Church.
The anti-heretical data about the death of Mani by rawing are probably based on the Manichaean story of his death in prison plus a frequent formula “he took off his body” describing the death of Mani.
Some considerations are presented about the language and genre of the Coptic Kephalaia. The author concludes that this title is rather a name of the exegetical genre used both in the early Christian and post-Biblical Jewish exegetical literature. The Coptic treatise is based on two literary genres of Biblical exegesis: numerical parable and catechesis. In the Manichaean literature, it is perhaps the heritage of Mani’s predecessors, the Aramaic-speaking Jewish￾Christian sect. The Coptic Manichaica may go back to the Aramaic canon, but the forms of some words and the proper names show that there was an intermedeary Greek translation.
As regards the Cologne Mani Codex, the author supposes that the tiny format of this book is caused by the necessity to hide it. It means that the time when the book was copied was a period of intensive persecutions of the Manichaeans.
In Part II, a reconstruction of the Manichaean teaching (chiefly on the basis of Coptic sources) and an analysis of many basic elements and persons of the Manichaean myth are presented. The investigation shows that they are to be traced mostly to some Biblical texts and expressions. The
Manichaean myths show very close parallels with apocryphal stories on the Biblical material and with some Talmudic and Midrashic exegetical legends. We can conclude that Manichaeism originates in a teaching of the Gnostic type, i.e. an early Christian one enriched with large apocryphal material. Perhaps it was the teaching of the Jewish-Christian sect of “baptists” in Mesopotamia where Mani was raised and educated. The sources show no theoretical controversies among Mani and “baptists”: their polemics concern some practics and rituals. Thus the Zoroastrian element in Manichaeism is very important but secondary. It is confirmed by the fact that, in different Iranian sources, there is no unity in the identification fo Manichaean deities and demons with the Iranian ones.
Part III concerns translations (with commentaries) of some Greek, Latin and Coptic Manichaean and anti-Manichaean sources, with some commentaries. Then the translations of some Jewish and Christian apocryphal texts are given as a material for juxtaposition, such as the Pseudepigraph Life of Adam and Eve, the Legend of Guardians from a Greek version of the 1st Book of Enoch and the Spell of Paredros from a Greek magical papyrus.