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Towards An Understanding Of Mani's Religious Development And The Archaeology Of Manichaean Identity

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Chapter Summary

Over the last century and more, new discoveries and trends of scholarship have rescued the study of Manichaeism from the polemic of heresy, and identified it as a major world religion in its own right. It has even been claimed that it was the first real religion in the modern sense, in that it was (supposedly) created with its doctrines, practices, scriptures and institutions all in place. Nevertheless, debate continues about the core issues of Manichaean identity; and, in particular, its relationship to prior religions such as 'gnosticism', Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. This chapter explores some of these issues through a number of rather specific examples drawn from Manichaean thought and practice. The purpose of the chapter is to show how an archaeology of Manichaean identity might be possible through an exacting examination of textual traditions.

Keywords: archaeology of religion; Buddhism; Christianity; gnosticism; Manichaean identity; religious development; Zoroastrianism



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