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Manichaeism and Ancient Mesopotamian "Gnosticism"

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This essay compares Manichaean cosmogony with select ancient Mesopotamian myths with special emphasis on parallels between the Manichaean "First Creation" and the myth of the Descent of Inanna/Ishtar to the netherworld. It further compares the Manichaean "Second Creation" and "Third Creation" with aspects of the Babylonian Poem of Creation, Enuma Elish, and The Epic of Gilgamesh respectively. Unlike Gnostic myths, no overall semantic network seems to tie individual Mesopotamian myths together. However, close correspondence between both traditions not only helps one see certain Mesopotamian myths in a different light, but also reveals the indebtedness of Gnostic myths to Near Eastern antiquity.


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