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Hesitant And Ignorant: The Portrayal Of Mani In The Acts Of Archelaus

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Chapter Summary

It is a commonplace that the Acts of Archelaus (AA) were highly influential in early Christian heresiology; a commonplace, too, that this influence extended mainly to the work's outline of the Manichaean cosmogony, and to the biographical details it supplied on Mani. This chapter looks at the agenda behind these details and the general picture of Mani. in order to explain the AA's inner structure and purpose. It discusses two encounters between Archelaus and Mani. Mani begins the first in classic Manichaean fashion, over the issues of evil's origin and of dualism. The second encounter appears even less formal. Mani is depicted as an ex-slave, unoriginal, a quack, a plagiarizer, deceitful, and (again) a false prophet. With his forerunners Scythianus and Terebinthus, he forms an "Unholy Trinity", and in the excursus he is described as a deservedly executed criminal.

Keywords: Acts of Archelaus (AA); Christian heresiology; false prophet; Mani; Unholy Trinity



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