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An “Heretical” Use of the New Testament: A Manichaean Adaptation of Matt 6:19–20 in P. Kell. Copt. 32

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Chapter Summary

P. Kell. Copt. 32 is one of the many letters written in Greek or Coptic found at ancient Roman Kellis in the Dakhleh Oasis in Egypt, and dating from the 4th century CE. The letter is a small piece of personal history from a fairly isolated oasis, and yet it asks the big questions about how religions deal with each other and get along. It urges us to think carefully about the way to define particular religious traditions and how to define religion in general and orthodoxy in particular. Manichaeans were, and sometimes still are, painted in the darkest of colours by the guardians of orthodoxy in the Christian Church and yet here is a text that signals so forcefully the Manichaean appreciation of the very same so called "orthodox" tradition of strong images of discipleship, spiritual riches, and good works in the Gospel of Matthew.

Keywords: ancient Roman Kellis; Christian Church; Dakhleh Oasis; Gospel of Matthew; Manichaeans; religious traditions



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