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Prolegomena To A Study Of Women In Manichaeism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter talks about Manichaeism's idea of femaleness; its view of women in general; and the role to which its female followers were permitted access. There were women Manichaeans, and that like their male counterparts they were divided into Hearers and Elect. Manichaeans seem to have resigned themselves to its inevitability; and women, their childbearing capabilities notwithstanding, were not only tolerated in the Coptic Manichaean tradition, but specific women were even revered. The Manichaean use of apocryphal 'Acts' of apostles may provide a clue to Manichaeism's drawing power. Should it transpire that Manichaeism's stance on women was actually more positive than that of rival religious movements in the Roman Empire, one would need to seriously consider that Augustine's own position on the issue was less negative than so often claimed that its origin would lie elsewhere than in the Manichaean affiliation of his youth.

Keywords: apostles; Augustine; Manichaeism; Roman Empire; women



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