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Augustine’s Moulding of the Manichaean Idea of God in the Confessions

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AbstractThe present study aims to ask whether Augustine utilised elements of Manichaean theology to give an account of and profile to the Nicene Christian doctrinal system. In the Confessions Augustine links his narrative of the encounter with the Manichaeans, right from the start, to an epistemologically grounded critique of their idea of God (conf. 3.10f.). Whereas the pagan myths can be assigned the function of referring to non-fictional and thus ‘true’ spheres of meaning, the motifs of Manichaean myth are empty forms (phantasmata) without any reference to reality, which they are supposed to explain. The paper argues that this anti-Manichaean critique of myth is the starting-point for a theory of knowledge of God which opposes the biblical imago dei to the Manichaean phantasmata and can thus be understood as having been conceptualised in opposition to Mani’s doctrine of God.

Affiliations: 1: Ludwig – Maximilians – Universität Mü


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