It has been evidenced time and again that Christian and Muslim accounts of the Prophet Mar Mani and the Manichaean Religion can’t always be trusted for completely accurate information regarding the ancient Religion of Light.
It’s always best to go to the source when researching or documenting a religious group due to the obvious biases that exist in the writing of authors who are outright opposed to the group you’re studying. Unfortunately, for some of the more ancient religions that were heavily persecuted by both Christians and Muslims, their original texts are very difficult to locate and often times near impossible. Translations of such texts are usually made by those who persecuted the group in which the text belong, making the translation biased and unfortunately at times even worthless. Continue reading →
“I was gazing at my Twin-Spirit with my eyes of light, beholding my glorious Father, him who waits for me ever, opening before me the gate unto the height. I spread out my hands, praying unto him; I bent my knees, worshipping him also, that I might divest myself of the image of the flesh and put off the vesture of manhood.” (Mar Mani’s account of his encounter with the “Twin-Spirit”; from L.J.R. Ort’s Mani: A Religio-historical Description of His Personality, Brill Archive, 1967)
In all of my scholarly studies on the Manichaean Religion, and several other faiths that originated in the Middle or Near East, little if any was ever referred to about the topic of revelation, specifically divine or continuing revelation from a Higher Source or from its founders or prophets. Scholars write tome after tome about an ancient religious group, but their studies are always devoid of the possibility that divine revelation could even exist, either during the foundational years of the particular religious movement or in later years.
Even some followers of modern day revisions of some ancient religions or even those that have existed since ancient times without any period of decline, tend to relegate the subject of continuing revelation to a footnote or a brief note in passing tucked away in the corner of an appendix. In mainstream Christianity, for example, the belief exists that revelation was in fact part of the “early church,” but that such revelation came to a conclusion early in the first or possibly second century A.D. with the death of the last apostle. Continue reading →
“There are good grounds for affirming that Zendo was acquainted with Manichaeanism and that he borrowed some parts of his system, at least, from that religion.” (Excerpt from Shinran and His Work – Studies in Shinshu Theology) Continue reading →
While the author (Jason David BeDuhn) brings some confusing or contradictory material to the table in his work concerning Manichaean rituals, the references in the back of this book are invaluable to any student of history.
Studying this volume with an open mind, the student should be able to able to gain a better understanding of the religious offerings of the ancient Manichaeans according to what is known among scholars today.
I highly recommend reading the Gospel of the Prophet Mani, compiled and translated by Duncan Greenlees before attempting to read BeDuhn’s work or any other Manichaean related publication and research. If you have read either of these books, I would like to hear from you to know what you think about them.