BMCR 2000.09.18

Studia Manichaica. IV. Internationaler Kongress zum Manichäismus

, , , Studia Manichaica : IV. Internationaler Kongress zum Manichäismus, Berlin, 14.-18. juli 1997. Berichte und Abhandlungen. Sonderband ; 4. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2000. xiv, 666 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.. ISBN 3050033304. DM 198.

Studia Manichaica, Volume IV is a massive tome (666 pages) consisting of 47 articles in three languages and spans topics from the 4th up to the 11th centuries. It is a volume that reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in the field of Manichaeism and contains the proceedings of the Fourth International Congress on Manichaeaism held July 1997 in Berlin. Like the three previous Manichaean Conference volumes, we find an extensive study of the religion of Mani in its history, its impact on and its borrowings from other religions. But the current volume far surpasses the previous three in its scope of study which is more than likely an indication of the progressive growth and increasing interest in this international conference and its topic of Manichaeism.

The articles here can be broken up roughly into seven categories (the papers presented in the book are in semi-alphabetical order so these categories are my own): 1) History of Manichaeism (technically all the articles here could go in this category — I mean the history of the Manichaeans in specific geographical areas); 2) History of the study of Manichaeism; 3) Manichaean rituals and thoughts; 4) Manichaean art or art depicting the Manichaeans 5) Linguistic studies; 6) Articles on specific Manichaean writings; 7) and several miscellaneous topics. I will only touch on a certain number of articles since space does not permit a detailed review of each.

History of Manichaeism

With a religion that is no longer living religion, it is natural that the majority of articles given at the conference would touch on the subject of Manichaeaism in its various forms as well as on its geographical spread. Manichaeaism is known to have adapted amazingly well to its surroundings, and this spread is shown by articles dealing with Manichaeans from fourth century Iran, up to ninth century Central Asia. Hutter’s “Manichaeism in Iran in the Fourth Century” attempts to fill a hole in the history of the Manichaeans in Iran during the reign of King Sabuhr II (309-379) by examining the few original sources from this period. He claims that the writing of the Zoroastrian Avesta was in reaction to the writings of the Manichaeans and this gave the Zoroastrians a means to counter the growing Manichaean movement in Iran in the 4th century. Beltz in his article “Zur religiösen Tiefenstruktur des mittelasiatischen oder östlichen Manichäismus” examines the interesting phenomena of why the Manichaeans were able to survive throughout Central Asia while the Nestorian community did not. He finds that politics and persecution cannot be the only reason for this (45). Schipper’s “Manichaeans in Spain” looks at the very fascinating and sometimes overlooked source material found in the writings of Pope Leo and his influence of the growth of Manichaeaism in Spain. Through examination of Leo’s letters and sermons that he wrote against the Priscillianist movement, the picture of the Manichaeans becomes clearer. It is interesting that a number of arguments used by Leo are amazingly similar to those used by Augustine, and one wonders what kind of influence (if any) that Augustine had on Pope Leo. In a very interesting article, Gasparro’s “Addas-Adimantus unus ex discipulis Manichaei : for the History of Manichaeans in the West,” shows that the anti-Manichaean writer Titus of Bostra probably used a writing of the famous Manichaean Addas, a disciple of Mani, when he discussed Manichaean anthropology. She compares the creation myth of Adam and Eve found in the Epistula Fundamenti with that found in the writings of Titus as well as other works (see note 51 (556)). She concludes that Addas made a change to this myth by stating that Adam and Eve were molded by the Archons instead of what we find in the Epistula Fundamenti — that Adam and Eve were sexually produced. This made the creation story more palatable.

The next group of articles deal with the Manichaeans in Central Asia and China.

Clark’s “The Conversion of Bugu Khan to Manichaeism” gives us a very penetrating look into the conversion in Central Asia of the Uigur ruler, Bugu Khan (ruled from 759-779) which led to Manichaeism becoming the state religion and a major power for the next 250 years. He gives a very convincing argument for a new date for the year that Manichaeaism became the state religion as well as examining the evidence for the conversion date of Bugu Khan. Kauz (“Der ‘Mo-ni-gong’ — ein zweiter erhaltener manichäischer Temple in Fujian?”) looks at the exciting possibility that we have another Manichaean temple (the other is in the Fujian province in China). There is a difficulty, though, in the source material that makes it very difficult to determine whether the temple is indeed Manichaean. And speaking of temples, Klyashtornyj examines the descriptions of Manichaean monasteries in Central Asia. Rohrborn’s “Zum manichäischen Einfluss zum Manichäismus” looks at the Manichaean influence on Old Turkish Buddhism. He states that we have known for a long time that Buddhism influenced Manichaeism and he proceeds to study the Manichaean influence on Indian Buddhism. This influence can be plausibly shown because there are features in Old Turkish Buddhism that cannot be traced back to the Chinese original.

History of the Study of Manichaeism

Nearly all books that have been published regarding Manichaeism begin with an introduction to the religion — usually its cosmogony and a history of the textual finds of the Manichaeans in the 20th century. In any collection of talks, we do not expect (or need) something of this nature. What this volume does do, though, is to discuss in five articles the history of the study of Manichaeism. This is a very valuable and interesting set of articles. We read of the importance of Berlin as the center stage of Manichaen studies (Rudolph). Stausberg discusses the importance of Pierre Bayle (1647-1706) on bringing to the forefront an historical-critical study of Manichaeaism. This article ties very well into two articles regarding the ‘father of Manichaean studies’ Isaac de Beausobre by van Oort and Stroumsa. Stroumsa states that Beausobre was the first scholar ‘to do an honest scholarship'(605) on Manichaeaism as well as understanding that ‘one has to be particularly critical when reading the Patristic sources’ (607) when they deal with Manichaeism. Strohmaier also looks at the importance of another Manichaean Arabic scholar, Al-Biruni, as a source for what we know about Manichaeism today. These five articles are important in that they show examples of how a religion that is almost always regarded as a ‘heresy’ can be studied logically and fairly without the need to accept at face value what the Manichaean detractors had to say about the religion.

Manichaean Rituals and Thoughts

As stated above, Manichaeism is rarely treated fairly (or academically for that matter) in other fields of study, especially in Augustinian studies. The amazing Manichaean textual finds of the 1900’s have led to a revolution in Manichaean studies (especially in the last decade or so) whereby they are studied in terms of what they had to say about themselves. This volume is an excellent example of this trend of studying the Manichaeans on their own terms. BeDuhn starts us off in that direction and the trend can also be seen in the articles by de Blois, Coyle, Franzmann, Coyle and others.

Jason BeDuhn’s article, “Eucharist or Yasna? Antecedents of Manichaean Food Ritual,” begins with what one hopes is going to be the next trend in Manichaean studies — to look at the Manichaeans as they saw themselves. To begin, BeDuhn examines their daily food ritual by comparing and contrasting it to the Christian Eucharist and the Zoroastrian Yasna. He finds that the Manichaeans use more of the Zoroastrian tradition than the Christian tradition in their own food ritual. He then looks at how the Manichaeans ‘correct’ these ceremonies to create something uniquely their own which they believe was in fact the original form and function of the sacred meal. De Blois examines another fascinating aspect of the Manichaeans in terms of their daily prayers. As De Blois points out it has been known that the Manichaean auditors prayed four times daily and the Elect seven times. Comparing two Arabic sources (an-Nadim and al-Bayruni) De Blois finds that these two sources tell of the same number of daily prayers for both groups, but the times of these daily prayers differ. Those times given by an-Nadim come very close to the times of the daily prayers of the Muslims. He gives us yet one more piece of evidence of the well known fact that the Manichaeans adapted themselves quite well to whatever environment they found themselves in. Coyle (“The Idea of the ‘Good’ in Manichaeism”) looks at Manichaean sources (Coptic, Middle Persian, Middle Iranian) that deal with the nature of the Good and Evil to determine what the Manichaeans themselves thought about it. He examines what, ‘in the eyes of the Manichaeans, enabled them to label some persons, objects, actions, and events as “good” and others as “bad”‘ (125). He also concludes with the fascinating question whether Augustine was attracted to the Manichaeans because of their view of the good. Franzmann’s “Jesus in the Manichaean Writings — Work in Progress,” gives a very useful and much needed survey of the image of Jesus in Manichaean writings. The often very confusing picture of Jesus (it is good to see that the Manichaeans themselves may have been confused about Jesus as well! (241)) is made much more clear, and she ends her article by stating that although we can find a number of (apparently) different views of Jesus, one can break these down into two major categories — the immanent redeemed Jesus (Jesus Patabilis and Jesus the Child) and a transcendent redeemer Jesus (Jesus the Moon, the Splendour, the Apostle and Jesus the Judge/King).

Manichaean Art of Artwork Depicting Manichaeans

Mani was known as an artist, and the Manichaeans in general were known for their ornate style of books. Unfortunately the topic of Manichaean art or artwork that depicts the Manichaeans is a little studied area (although this may change soon with the publishing of Gulacsi’s new book). This volume contains three articles that add to this sparse field. Lieu (“A New Figurative Representation of Mani?”) gives a history of the few known portraits of Mani (2 from Turfan, one from China and the other which is housed in Paris). He then looks at the possibility that a mosaic found in the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem could be another portrait of Mani. This would be an important find if it can be proven. Gulacsi (“Rules of Page Arrangement in Manichaean Illuminated Book Fragments”) examines the very difficult task of putting together the fragments of Manichaean texts using the ‘codicological approach (270).’ Oerter’s “Zur Wirkungsgeschichte des Manichäismus in Böhmen” reveals the impact the Manichaeans had in Böhmen. This fascinating article details artwork that deals with the Manichaeans, and the photographs alone make this article worth looking at. What is of special interest is the statue of Augustine in which he is stepping on the books of Donatus, Man(es?) and Pelagius (447).

Linguistic Studies

Linguistic studies have always been at the forefront in the study of Manichaeism since we know that they wrote their documents in at least ten different languages. The three linguistic articles here examine Sogdian, Bactrian and Uigur. Weber’s “Zur grammatisch-semantischen Bestimmung einiger Lemmata des sogdischen Lexikons” looks at the importance of gathering the Manichaean Sogdian material in Sogdian lexicographical material and Sims-Williams (” Aurentes“) looks at the importance of some recently decipherments and editions of Bactrian letters and documents for the study of a particular Manichaean Bactrian fragment. Moriyasu’s “On the Uighur cxsapt ay and the Spreading of Manichaeism into South China” shows that through linguistic means we can discover a direct connection among the groups of Northern Chinese Manichaeans, the Southern Chinese Manichaeans and those of the Manichaean Uighurs. He shows that the Uighur term cxsapt ay should not be understood as a translation of the Chinese term of the ‘twelfth month’ but as a Manichaean term for the ‘month of discipline or commandment’ (437). One would wish, though, that after reporting this, Moriyasu had then described a little of what the ‘month of discipline’ or ‘commandment’ meant to the Manichaeans.

Manichaean writings

The last century presented an explosion in Manichaean textual finds. From the Turfan material in the early 1900’s up to the late 1990’s finds in Kellis (Egypt), Manichaean scholars have had a wealth of material to work with. A great majority of the rest of the articles deal with specific Manichaean writings. Since there are so many, I will touch briefly on a random few, but the articles not discussed here are worth reading as well.

Gardner’s “‘He has gone to the monastery…'” discusses another important find for Manichaean studies from the ongoing excavations at Ismant el-Kharab (Roman period Kellis) in the Dakhleh Oasis. He examines the literary and documentary evidence of a Manichaean community established in the early 4th century, which existed over a series of generations (254). He ends his article with a discussion about the presence of a Manichaean monastery. Iwersen examines the possible influences that the Manichaeans may have had on two of the Nag Hammadi texts. Morano looks at the crucifixion hymns in Parthian and gives a couple of previously unpublished hymns. Van Lindt’s “Studies on the Manichaean Myth” examines the sources of the Co-Eternal principle of the Good/Light. He gives a very fair view of the Manichaeans, concluding that “Mani succeeded in transposing the abstract concept of transcendental light as part of a dualistic ontology into a comprehensive, even visual myth, acceptable to Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists and philosophers: a really inspired achievement” (395). Van Oort’s article in this book, (“Mani and Manichaeism in Augustine’s De haeresibus“) concentrates on the description of the Manichaeans as given there by Augustine. Here Augustine gives far more information (1/4 of the work) than he does for any other heresy. This is of course due to the fact that Augustine was a Manichaean for at least nine years. Van Tongerloo looks at the important theme of the prophet as physician. A.P. Schmidt examines the complex connections between the demon Azi in the Avesta, who plays an insignificant role, to Mani’s understanding of Az, a female demon who is the mother of all demons. He looks at the two and their connection to Mani’s concept of Hyle. Ferreira examines the links between the Syriac Hymn of the Pearl and the Chinese Manichaean Hymnscroll. He concludes that the Hymnscroll was produced early in the 9th century when the Manichaeans were being persecuted. This persecution led to the usage of garment imagery as a protection metaphor (not found in the Hymn of the Pearl) as well as a salvific metaphor as in the Hymn of the Pearl. Smagina’s “Die apokalyptische Vorlage in der manichäischen Kosmologie” examines the apocalyptic world of early Christianity and Judaism and compares this with some of the Manichaean sources, especially from the Cologne Mani Codex. This is a very useful article but one wishes for more details on the sources. For example she says that “Der erste Sohn des Lebendigen Geistes heisst in den lateinischen Quellen Splenditenens…” (565) but does not give references to the Latin texts. Wurst examines the interesting ‘trinitarian’ confession of Faustus, especially Faustus’ comment on the mortal Jesus ‘who is hanging from every tree.’ He looks at the phrase ‘suffering Jesus’ ( Jesus Patabilis) which does not occur in Faustus’ description. He determines that this Jesus Patabilis is an “allegorical understanding of the person of Jesus through his explicit identification of the Light Soul.”

Other articles that are quite valuable are Decret’s “La doctrine centrale du spiritalis salvator dans les sources manichéenes africaines” which examines the North African Manichaean material found in the writings of Augustine; Feldmann’s “Der Begriff der Augustinischen “ratio” im existentiellen Vollzug innerhalb und ausserhalb des manichäischen Mythos,” which is an important article that looks at the various sources of reason ( ratio) for Augustine and how this affected his anti-Manichaean arguments; Scopello’s “Hégémonius, les Acta Archelai et l’histoire de la controverse anti-Manichéene,” which examines the very important anti-Manichaean work of the Acta Archelai and its effects on the Manichaean communities and Klimkeit’s “Das Weiterleben manichäischer Erzählstoffee im Islam.”

This is a very readable book despite its large size and the number of articles. In fact, because of this it is an excellent resource for anyone interested in Manichaeaism or the history of religions in general and is sure to become a reference book for Manichaean studies. Nearly all articles have excellent bibliographies. It is certainly a book worth buying.