Manichaeism As we have seen in the life of MANI SEE MANI (q.v.), the origin of Manichaeism, as well as the history of its founder and propagator, is matter of obscure and confused tradition. Although it utterly disclaimed being denominated Christian, it was reckoned among the heretical doctrines of the Church. It was intended, as we have already indicated in the sketch of Mani, to blend the chief doctrines of Parsism, or rather Magism, as reformed by Zoroaster, with a certain number of Buddhistic views, under the outward garb of Biblical, more especially New-Testament history, which, explained allegorically and symbolically, was made to represent an entirely new religious system, and one wholly at variance with Christianity and its fundamental teachings (comp. Hardwick, Christ and other Masters, 2:389 sq.; and see the references there for Lassen and others).
Doctrines. — Like Magism, Manichaeism holds that there are two eternal principles from which all things proceed, the two everlasting kingdoms, bordering on each other-the kingdom of light under the dominion of God, and the kingdom of darkness under the demon or hyle (ὕλη). The Light, the Good, or God, and the Darkness, the Bad, Matter, or Archon, each inhabited a region akin to their natures, and excluding each other to such a degree that the region of Darkness and its leader never knew of the existence of that of the Light. Twelve aeons — corresponding to the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve stages of the world — had sprung (emanated) from the Primeval Light; while "Darkness," filled with the eternal fire, which burned but shone not, was peopled by "daemons," who were constantly fighting among themselves. In one of these contests, pressing towards the outer edge, as it were, of their region, they became aware of the neighboring region, and forthwith united, attacked it, and succeeded in taking captive the Ray of Light that was sent against them at the head of the hosts of Light, and which was the embodiment of the Ideal or Primeval Man (Christ). A stronger aeon (the Holy Ghost) then hastened to the rescue, and redeemed the greater and better part of the captive Light (Jesus Impatibilis). The smaller and fainter portion, however (Jesus Passibilis), remained in the hands of the powers of Darkness, and out of this they formed, after the ideal of The Man of Light, mortal man. But even the small fraction of light left in him (broken in two souls) would have prevailed against them had they not found means to further divide and subdivide it by the propagation of this man (Eve-Sin). Not yet satisfied, they still more dimmed it by burying it under dark "forms of belief and faith, such as Paganism and Judaism." Once more, however, the Original Light came to save the light buried in man — to deliver the captive souls of men from their corporeal prison. On this account there were created two sublime beings, Christ and the Holy Ghost. Christ was sent into the world clothed with the shadowy form of a human body, and not with the real substance, to teach mortals how to deliver the rational soul from the corrupt body, and to overcome the power of malignant matter. But again the daemons succeeded in defeating the schemes of the power of light. Obscuring men's minds, even those of the apostles, so that they could not fully understand Christ's object, his career of salvation was cut short by the daemons seducing man to crucify him. His sufferings and death were, naturally, only fictitious, since he could not in reality die; he only allowed himself to become an example of endurance and passive pain for his own, the souls of light. But to carry out the intended salvation of men Christ, shortly before his crucifixion, gave the promise recorded by John (16:7- 15), that he would send to his disciples the Comforter, "who would lead them into all truth." This promise, the Manichaeans maintain, was fulfilled in the person of Mani, who was sent by the God of light to declare to all men the doctrine of salvation, without concealing any of its truths under the veil of metaphor, or under any other covering.
Mani, like Christ, surrounded himself with twelve apostles, and sent them into the world to teach and to preach his doctrine of salvation. To carry out his work more successfully, and to make converts also of the Christians, he rejected the authority of the Old Testament, which, he said, was the work of the God of darkness, whom the Jews had worshipped in the place of light, and also a good part of the New Testament, upon the ground that many of the books had been grossly interpolated, and were not the productions of the persons whose names they bear. As strictly canonical, he admitted only his own writings, and such parts of the New Testament as answered his purpose. "Whatever," says Baur (Manicsh. Religions system p. 375), "in the writings of the New Testament seemed to concur with the dualism set forth by Mani was accounted among the most genuine ingredients in the doctrines of Christianity, and Mani and his adherents were very glad to cite for the confirmation of their own doctrines and principles passages like Mt 7:18; Mt 13:24; Joh 8:44; Joh 14:30; 2Co 4:4 (comp. Epiph. Haer. 66:67-69); and especially those in which the apostle Paul speaks of the opposition between flesh and spirit. As they found, however, so much in the New Testament which not only did not confirm the Manichaean doctrines, but stood in opposition to them, they were obliged, in accordance with the hypothesis that the original doctrines. of Christianity did no differ from those of Manicheism,. to regard all passages of this kind as a distortion and falsification of Christianity. Accordingly, they laid, down the rule that the written records of Christianity ought not to be received unconditionally, but must be subjected to a previous scrutiny, with a view to ascertain how far they exhibited the genuine substance of Christianity; and this was limited to those portions which bore the character of Manichaeism, so that, following this criterion, whatever did not harmonize with their own doctrines was rejected without hesitation, because original Christianity could not contradict itself." Mani also taught that those souls which obeyed the laws delivered by Christ, as explained by himself the Comforter, and struggled against; the lusts and appetites of a corrupt nature, would, on their death, be delivered from their sinful bodies, and, after being purified by the sun and moon — "the two light-ships for conducting the imprisoned light into the eternal kingdom of light" — would ascend to the regions of light; but that those souls which neglected to struggle against their corrupt. natures would pass after death into the bodies of animals or other beings, until they had expiated their guilt. Belief in the evil of matter led to a denial of the doctrine of the resurrection. "These ideas," says Donaldson, (Christian Orthodoxy, p. 143), "they [the Manicheans]) worked out in a manner peculiar to themselves, and with results decidedly unfavorable to the integrity and authenticity of the New Testament. They could accept. neither the doctrine nor the facts of revelation, unless. they could regard them as a reflex of their own dualism. Without wishing to reject Christianity, they made their own system the standard of measurement, and lopped off or stretched the religion of the Cross, wherever it did not fit the religion of light and darkness. The identification of Christ with Mithras led, of course, to a profession of Docetism, namely, to the assertion that our Lord's sufferings on the cross were not real, but apparent only. Christ had no real human body, no double nature, but only a fantastic semblance of corporeity, in which his essence, as the Son of Everlasting Light, was presented to the eyes of men... Accordingly, Christ had no human birth, and his apparent sufferings were really inflicted on him by his enemy, the Prince of Darkness; and in thus resolving the life of Jesus into a series of illusory appearances, the Manichaeans take from Christianity all its historical foundation, and leave us nothing but the realistic applications of a few Christian metaphors." "Christianity," says Dr. Schaff (Ch. History, 1:249) "is here resolved into a fantastic, dualistic-pantheistic philosophy of nature; moral regeneration is identified with a process of physical refinement; and the whole mystery of redemption is found in light, which was always worshipped in the East as the symbol of deity. Unquestionably there pervades the Manichaean system a kind of groaning of the creature for redemption, and a deep sympathy with nature, that hieroglyphic of spirit; but all is distorted and confused. The suffering Jesus on the cross, Jesus patibilis, is here a mere illusion, a symbol of the world-soul still enchained in matter, and is seen in every plant which works upwards from the clark bosom of the earth towards the light; towards bloom and fruit, yearning after freedom. Hence the class of the 'perfect' would not kill nor wound a beast, pluck a flower, nor break a blade of grass. The system, instead of being, as it pretends, a liberation of light from darkness, is really a turning of light into darkness."
Organization. — "Manichaeism," says Dr. Schaff (1:250), "differed from the Gnostic schools in having a fixed, and that a strictly hierarchal organization. At the head of the sect stood twelve apostles or magistri, among whom Mani and his successors, like Peter and the pope, held the chief place. Under them were seventy-two bishops, answering to the seventy-two (strictly, seventy) of the disciples of Jesus; and under these came presbyters, deacons, and itinerant evangelists. In the congregations there were two distinct classes, designed to correspond to the catechumens and the faithful in the Catholic Church — the 'hearers' (Auditores) and the 'perfect' (Electi), the esoteric, the priestly caste, which represents the last stage in the process of the liberation of the spirit and its separation from the world, the transition from the kingdom of matter into the kingdom of light, or, in the Buddhistic terms, from the world of Sansara into Nirvana." The Elect are required to adhere to the Signaculumn Oris, Muanes, and Sinus, that is, they have to take the oath of abstinence from evil and profane speech (including "religious terms such as Christians use respecting the Godhead and religion"), further, from flesh, eggs, milk, fish, wine, and all intoxicating drinks (comp. Manu, Instit. vs. 51, 52, 53: "He who makes the flesh of an animal his food... not a mortal exists more sinful... he who... desires to enlarge his own flesh with the flesh of another creature," etc.); further, from the possession of riches, or, indeed, any property whatsoever; from hurting any being, animal or vegetable; from heeding their own family, or showing any pity to him who is not of the Manichaean creed; and finally, from breaking their chastity by marriage or otherwise. The Auditors were comparatively free to partake of the good things of this world, but they had to provide for the subsistence of the Elect, and their highest aim, also, was the attainment of the state of their superior brethren.
Cultus. — In Manichaean worship, the visible representatives of the light (sun and moon) were revered, but only as representatives of the Ideal, of the good or supreme God. Neither altar nor sacrifice was to be found in their places of religious assemblies, nor did they erect sumptuous temples. Fasts, prayers, occasional readings in the supposed writings of Mani, chiefly a certain Fundamental Epistle, were all their outer worship. Sunday, as the day on which the visible universe was to be consumed, the day consecrated to the sun, was kept as a great festival; Church festivals they rejected, and, instead, made the most solemn day in their year the anniversary of the death of Mani. Baptism they repudiated, considering it useless; the Lord's Supper was celebrated, but only by the Elect. Of the mode of celebration, however, we know next to nothing; even Augustine, who, for about nine years, belonged to the sect, and who is our chief authority on this subject, confesses his ignorance of it. Dr. Schaff (Ch. Hist. 1:250) says that they partook of it without wine (because Christ had no blood), "and regarded it perhaps according to their pantheistic symbolism, as the commemoration of the light-soul crucified in all nature."
Character. — As to the general morality of the Manichaeans, we are equally left to conjecture; but their doctrine certainly appears to have had a tendency, chiefly in the case of the uneducated, to lead to a sensual fanaticism hurtful to a pure mode of life. Bower, in the second volume of his History of the Popes, has attempted to prove that the Manichaeans were addicted to immoral practices, but this (pinion has been ably controverted by Beausobre and Lardner. "The morality of the Manichaeans," says Dr. Schaff, "was severely ascetic, based on the fundamental error of the intrinsic evil of matter and the body; the extreme opposite of the Pelagian view of the essential moral purity of human nature. The great moral aim is to become entirely unworldly, in the Buddhistic sense; to renounce and destroy corporeity; to set the good soul free from the fetters of matter. This is accomplished by the most rigid and gloomy abstinence, which, however, is required only of the elect, not of the catechumens."
Extent. — Mani, as we have noted already in cur sketch of his life, was put to death about 275; but the sect soon spread into proconsular Asia, and even into Africa, Sicily, and Italy, although they were vehemently opposed by the Catholic Church, and persecuted by the heathen emperors, who enacted bloody laws against them, as a sect derived from hostile Persia. The precise time when the doctrines of Mani made their way into the Roman empire it is impossible definitely to determine. The principal document on the subject, entitled Acta disputationis Archelai, episcopi Mesopotanmice, et Manetis haeresiarchoe, is deemed apocryphal. Diocletian, as early as A.D. 296, issued rigorous laws against the Manichaeans, which were reiterated by Valentinian, Theodosius I, and successive monarchs. Notwithstanding this, they gained numerous adherents; and very many medieval sects, as the Priscillians, Paulicians, Bogomiles, Catharists, Josephinians, etc., were suspected to be secretly Manichaeans, and were therefore called "New Manichaeans." "Indeed, the leading features of Manichaeism, the dualistic separation of soul and body, the ascription of nature to the devil, the pantheistic confusion of the moral and the physical, the hypocritical symbolism, concealing heathen views under Christian phrases, the haughty air of mystery, and the aristocratic distinction of esoteric and exoteric, still live in various forms even in modern systems of philosophy and sects of religion. The Mormons of our day strongly bring to mind, in many respects, even in their organization, the ancient Manichaeans" (Dr. Schaff). It is a remarkable circumstance in their history, that though they could not stand openly against the power and severity of their persecutors, they continued for ages, up to the very time of the Reformation, to make proselytes in secret. Their doctrines lurked even among the clergy and the monks. The profound and noble Augustine fell under their influence, and was a member of the sect from his twentieth to his twenty-ninth year (374-383). They were still to be found in Leo's time, 440. The Arian Hunneric, in 477, began his reign with attempts to persecute them, and was mortified to find most of those whom he detected had professed to be lay or clerical members of his own sect. Gregory the Great, about 600, had to take means for extirpating them from Africa; and even after his pontificate traces of them appeared now and then in Italy, as well as other countries, threatening danger to the Church. About the year 1000 they spread from Italy into other countries, especially into southern France, Spain, and even Germany.
Literature. — Archelaus (bishop of Cascar about 278), Acta disputationis cum Manete (first composed in Syriac, but extant only in a Latin translation, and in many respects untrustworthy), in Routh's Reliquiae sacrae, v. 3-206. The Oriental accounts, of later date, indeed (the 9th and 10th centuries), but drawn from ancient sources, are collected in Herbelot, Bibl. Orient. (Par. 1679), s.v. Mani. See Titus Bostrensis (about 360), Κατὰ Μανιχαίων; Epiphanius, Haer. p. 66 (drawn from Archelaus); Zachagni, Monumenta Ecclesiae Graecae et Latinae (Rome, 1698); St. Augustine, De Moribus Manichceorum; De Genesi contra Manichaeos; e duabus animabus contra Manichaeos; De Tera religione Epoistola fundamentis contra lustum; Fabricius, Biblioth. Graeca, v. 284; Beausobre, Histoire crit. de Manichee et du Scanicheisnme (Anhst. 1734 and 1739, 2 vols.); F. Chr. Baur, Deas Manichusche Religionssysteml nach den Quellen untersucht (Tiub. 1831); Fligel, Marni, seine Iebre u. seine Schriften (Lpz. 1862); Trechsel, Ueber den Kranon1 die Kritiki, u. die Exeyese der Manlimchaier (Berne, 1832); Colditz, Entstehung d. mancich. Reli/ionss;ysntemls (Lpz. 1837); Reichlin-Meldegg, Theologie d.s Milliers Jlansi ut. ilhr Ursprung (Frankf. 1825); V. de Wagnerln, Manich. indulgoentiaicum brevi totius Munich. adumilbratione, e fbntibus descripsit (Lpz. 1827); P. de Lagardle, Titi Bostreni contra Manich. libri quatuor Syriace (Berl. 1859); Stud. und Ksrit.vi. 3, 875 sq. (review of Baur); Schrockh, Kirchengesch. 4:400 sq.; 11:245 sq.; Neander, Chl. Hist. 2:707 sq.; Schaff, Ch. Hist. i, § 73; Donaldson, Christian Orthodoxy, p. 127 sq.; Haag, Hist. des Dogmes Chretiens (see Index); Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctrines, 1:240 sq., 337, 352, 353; Pressense, L'histoire du Dogme (Par. 1869), chap. 2 (J. H. W.)