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Apocalypses Real and Alleged in the Mani Codex

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The florilegium of revelations that Mani adduces as proof of his own authority in the Cologne Mani Codex has stimulated research into the circulation and influence of Jewish apocalypses among the various Jewish-Christian sects of late antiquity. But it has also proved frustrating, since not one of the apocalyptic “texts” that Mani quotes matches extant apocalypses in the name of Enoch, Adam, Seth, or Enosh. Considering the breadth of the Enoch literature now known from textual and patristic sources, including Manichaean literature, the absence of a parallel for Mani's Enoch-“quotation” may be reason to suspect that Mani invented this quotation as well as the others. This paper proposes an interpretation of Mani's apocalyptic florilegium that depends not on the historical existence of the putative texts but on Mani's own distinctive scheme of prophetic lineage and authority. It is argued that Mani's universalist view of mission and religion led him to revise existing schemes of Jewish revelatory heroes that were traditional to Jewish and Jewish-Christian sects and that invoked the patriarchs constitutive of Jewish identity, like Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. In contrast, Mani promotes his relevation's ecumenical appeal by casting himself in a line of biblical figures who in the late antique world had especially universalist significance: Adam, Seth, and Enoch (all antediluvian and therefore pre-covenantal) and Paul (Mani's model of an ecumenical missionary).

Affiliations: 1: University of New Hampshire Department of HistoryDurham, NH 03824-3586, USA


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