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Chapter Summary

The use of numbers in theological and exegetical contexts became particularly controversial for the early church during the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE. This introductory chapter, based on the 9th-century Syriac account of Theodore bar Khonai, illuminates the general contours of the Manichaean creation myth. It shows that the use of pentads and five-part numeric patterns in the Kephalaia reveals important traces of how Manichaean traditions were transmitted, received, and redacted in response to a variety of internal and external concerns of the text's creators and their community. While the five-part structures provides an incomplete picture of what might have existed in Mani's canonical writings, they show aspects of Manichaean discourse that is encountered repeatedly throughout the course of this book. In contrast to the emphasis on triads that can be observed in Mani's canonical discourse, the Kephalaia attempts to bring pentads to the fore.

Keywords:five-part numeric pattern; Kephalaia; Manichaean theology; pentadic redaction; Theodore bar Khonai



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