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A Quodam Persa Exstiterunt Re-Orienting Manichaean Origins

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Chapter Summary

The fate of the Elchasaites in recent scholarship has been prodigious. This is an amazing accomplishment, for the sources for this movement are scanty and deeply beset with historical problems. In the early third century, Christianity had already struck deep roots in Mesopotamia. Christians in the late Parthian and early Sasanian empire, like all other religious communities, were enabled by the absence of state repression and interference to develop their own communal and theological identities. It has always been common to seek the 'origins' of Manichaeism, rather exclusively, in a single setting. The Manichaen notion of a prophetic succession - as most other aspects of Manichaean doctrine and praxis - must be reconstructed from disparate sources in various languages. The existence of the notion of a prophetic succession in Zoroastrian literature has long been known, although it tends to be obscured in introductory surveys of that religion.

Keywords: Christianity; Elchasaites; Manichaeism; Mesopotamia; Parthian; Sasanian; Zoroastrian



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