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Foreign And Insane: Labelling Manichaeism In The Roman Empire

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on two labels applied by polemical discourse to Manichaeism, a religion in serious competition with Christianity in Late Antiquity. It charts the progression of these and some related labels touching on Manichaeism's Western manifestations, from their entry into the Roman Empire to the disappearance of the empire's Western part in 476. Thee chapter addresses the questions: what discourse was employed to identify Manichaeism ab extra, and how did that discourse relate to Manichaeans' ab intra expressions of their religious identity. The labels-foreign, insane, demonic, unoriginal, heretical, illegal, and impure-by the end of the 4th century C.E., long part of the heresiologist's vocabulary, had been applied regularly to Manichaeism. Two of them applied in a special way: one used Mani's own name to call him and his movement 'insane,' while the other exploited social and political concerns to label them not just 'foreign,' but 'Persian'. .

Keywords: foreign; heresiologist; insane; labels groups; Manichaeism; religious identity; Roman Empire



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