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Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism

Texte und Studien zum Antiken Judentum

Edited by
Peter Schfer (Princeton, NJ)
Annette Y. Reed (Philadelphia, PA)
Seth Schwartz (New York, NY)
Azzan Yadin (New Brunswick, NJ)
Mohr Siebeck
Heresy and Identity
in Late Antiquity
Edited by
Eduard Iricinschi and Holger M. Zellentin
Studien zu einer narrativen Anthropologie
im frhen Judentum
Eduard Iricinschi, born 1968; MA in Philosophy from Bucharest University, and MA
in Religious Studies from New York University; is finishing a doctorate in the Depart-
ment of Religion at Princeton University.
Holger M. Zellentin, born 1976, is an Assistant Professor of Rabbinics at the Richard
S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley,
ISBN 978-3-16-149122-1
ISSN 0721-8753 (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism)
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graphie; detailed bibliographic data is available in the Internet at
2008 Mohr Siebeck, Tbingen, Germany.
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The colloquium held on January 1618 2005, Making Selves and
Marking Others: Heresy and Self-Definition in Late Antiquity, follows
in the steps of two earlier Princeton colloquia and volumes, which have
gained wide academic attention. The series of colloquia was initiated by
Peter Schfer in 2000, with generous funding from the Princeton
University Graduate School, and continued in the following years under
his tutelage.
Each year, two graduate students in the Department of
Religion at Princeton University choose a topic of interdisciplinary
interest and organize a semester-long workshop on the selected theme,
followed by a colloquium. During the workshop, graduate students
present their papers to colleagues and faculty from a variety of fields, and
rework them into a formal presentation. At the concluding colloquium,
the participants discuss their revised work with recognized scholars from
Princeton University and other institutions, invited by the organizers to
present their views on the same topic.
We take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to our
contributors, and to all who so generously supported the colloquium and
this publication. As representative of all those who ensured our success,
we have space to name only the most prominent ones. It is hardly
possible to exaggerate Peter Schfers initiative and support for this
project. Annette Yoshiko Reed has considerably facilitated our task by
providing us with invaluable academic and editorial advice. Baru Saul
and Lorraine Fuhrmann have ensured a pleasant stay at Princeton for all
participants of the colloquium. At Princeton University, the Center for the
Study of Religion, the Department of Religion, and the Program in Judaic
Studies generously provided office space and funding for the colloquium
and the publication. Finally, Henning Ziebritzki and Tanja Mix from
Mohr Siebeck guided the project to its present form.
Holger Zellentin and Eduard Iricinschi

Adam H. Becker and Annette Y. Reed, eds. The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and
Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, TSAJ 95 (Tbingen: Mohr
Siebeck, 2003); and Raanan Boustan and Annette Y. Reed, eds., Heavenly Realms and
Earthly Realities in Late Antique Religions (Cambridge, U.K; New York: Cambridge
University Press, 2004). See now also Gregg Gardner and Kevin L. Osterloh, eds.,
Antiquity in Antiquity: Jewish and Christian Pasts in the Greco-Roman World
(Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, forthcoming); and the colloquium organized in January 2007
by Philippa Townsend and Moulie Vidas, Revelation, Literature, and Community in
Table of Contents
Preface ...................................................................................................... V

Making Selves and Marking Others: Identity
and Late Antique Heresiologies .................................................................. 1

Social and Theological Effects of Heresiological Discourse..................... 28

Doxa, Heresy, and Self-Construction: The Pauline Ekklsiai
and the Boundaries of Urban Identities..................................................... 50

The Violence of Orthodoxy .................................................................... 102

Defining Orthodoxy in Pseudo-Justins Quaestiones
et responsiones ad orthodoxos............................................................... 115

Citizens and Heretics: Late Roman Lawyers on Christian Heresy .......... 128

The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity..................... 143

Judea, Rome and the Hellenistic Oikoumen: Emulation
and the Reinvention of Communal Identity ............................................ 168

Where Does Lukes Anti-Judaism Come from?...................................... 207

Who Were the First Christians? Jews, Gentiles and the Christianoi ...... 212

Table of Contents VIII
The Social History of Satan, Part III: John of Patmos and Ignatius of
Antioch Contrasting Visions of Gods People .................................. 231

If You Got It, Flaunt It: Religious Advertising
in the Gospel of Philip ........................................................................... 253

Heresiology and the (Jewish-)Christian Novel:
Narrativized Polemics in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies .................... 273

Goys nt Us: Rabbinic Anti-Gentile Polemic
in Yerushalmi Berachot 9:1 .................................................................... 299

Astrology in the Talmud: An Analysis of Bavli Shabbat 156 ................. 314

Margin of Error: Women, Law,
and Christianity in Bavli Shabbat 116ab............................................... 339

The Other in Us: Liturgica, Poetica, Polemica........................................ 364

List of Contributors................................................................................. 387

Modern Author Index ............................................................................. 389
Subject Index .......................................................................................... 397
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity
In 405/6, a certain Secundinus boldly identified himself in a letter as a
This educated man from Italy was then responding to
Augustines polemical treatise against him, the Contra Secundinum, which
in turn was occasioned by a letter he had written earlier.
Addressing his
correspondent as dominus, Secundinus began by invoking the Trinity,
albeit in a self-consciously unorthodox manner: the ineffable God, his
First-born, King of all Lights Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, followed
by citations from the sayings of Paul the Apostle.
In so doing, he aimed to
underscore the point that Paul and Mani shared consonant views: This is
what Paul testifies and this is what Manichaeus himself testifies.

This letter provides us with an interesting starting point for examining
the uses of the nomen Manichaeorum in Late Antiquity. At a time when
the teachings of Mani had already been proscribed by imperial laws and
condemned by ecclesiastical authorities, Secundinus displayed no shyness
in declaring his adhesion to the teachings of Mani and, moreover, did so
while maintaining a claim to being a Christian, indeed, a Christian of a
superior disposition. The Manichaean name stood for him as a badge of
honor, an honor he bestowed upon himself but refused to concede to
Augustine, even to the younger Augustine from the time when the latter
was a Manichaean auditor. Indeed Secundinus went so far as to criticize
Augustine for never having properly understood let alone followed the
teachings of Mani and thereby made himself worthy of the nomen
Manichaeorum, a position that was diametrically opposite to that of Julian
of Eclanum, who contended that Augustine never ceased to be a

Secundinus, Ad sanctum Augustinum epistula, Joseph Zycha, ed., Corpus
Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 25.2 (Vienna/Prague/Leipzig 1891), 893901.
On this figure, see Janine Desmulliez et al., eds., Prosopographie Chrtienne du Bas-
Empire, II/2. Prosopographie de lItalie Chrtienne (Paris/Rome: cole Franaise de
Rome, 2000), 20089, s.v. Secundinus 2.
Augustine, Contra Secundinum Manichaeum, Zycha, ed., CSEL 25.2, 90547.
Secundinus, Ad sanctum Augustinum epistula, Zycha, ed., CSEL 25.2, 893: Habeo
et ago gratias ineffabili ac sacratissimae maiestati eiusque primogenito omnium luminum
regi Iesu Christo, habeo gratias et subplex sancto refero spiritui. The title King of All
Lights unambiguously refers to the dualistic teachings of Mani.
Secundinus, ibid., 894: hoc Paulus, hoc ipse testatus Manichaeus.
Richard Lim 144
Manichaean even after he had become a catholic Christian priest and

In thus employing the nomen as a term of praise reserved for the lovers
of truth, Secundinus was distinctly in the minority even close to being
unique among the extant writers of Late Antiquity. For him, to be
Manichaean was to think and act as a rationalist and a true philosopher.
Augustine was for Secundinus not so much a follower of Mani, the
purveyor of truth, as that of the ars rhetorica.
This invocation of the
categorical distinction between sophists and philosophers recalls Jeromes
self-accusation of having been a Ciceronian rather than a Christian. As
such, the charge appears to stem from the world of the literati and
philosophers rather than the rough-and-tumble scene that characterized late
antique religious controversies. The cultural snobbery of the Greco-Roman
elite and its observed reluctance to admit that Christians constituted a
Third Race indeed surfaced in Secundinus suggestion that Augustine,
by forsaking the doctrines of Mani, had gone over to the Jewish tribes
with their barbaric customs.

Should Secundinus positive construal of the Manichaean name be read
as a quaint exception during a time when a variety of public statements,
ranging from imperial laws to sermons from the pulpit, portrayed
Manichaeans as belonging to an evil and foreign sect? This begs the
further question of how the nomen Manichaeorum was more commonly
employed in Late Antiquity and to what ends. My paper will examine this
question, focusing on the period of the late fourth and fifth centuries when
the contestations over the meaning of name remained in flux.

See below n. 23.
Secundinus, ibid., 895: uisus enim mihi es et pro certo sic est et numquam
fuisse Manichaeum nec eius te potuisse arcana incognita secreti cognoscere atque sub
Manichaei nominee persequi te Hannibalem atque Mithridatem. (For it seems to me
that you have never been a Manichaean, and never been able to discover the unknown
mysteries of his secret, and that under the name of Manichaeus you are attacking
Hannibal or Mithridates); English translation in text from Iain Gardner and Samuel N.C.
Lieu, eds., Manichaean Texts from the Roman Empire (Cambridge: CUP, 2004), 138.
Secundinus, ibid., 896: O utinam a Manichaeo recedens academiam petisses aut
Romanorum bella, quia omnia superarunt, interpretatus fuisses! Quam magna ibi, quam
egregia conperisses, et non castus homo utique totius pudicitiae et pauperitatis isses ad
Iudaeorum gentes barbaras moribus. (How much better it would have been if when you
left Manichaeus you had joined the Academy or written an exposition of the wars of the
Romans who conquered the world. What great and noble achievements you would have
found there, and you, a chaste man of absolute modesty and poverty, would not have
gone over to the Jewish tribes with their barbaric customs.) Trans. in Manichaean Texts
(ed. Gardner and Lieu), 139. On the uses of the notion of Christians as the tertium genus,
see Judith M. Lieu, Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World (Oxford:
OUP, 2004), 26065.
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 145
At first glance, the nomen Manichaeorum belonged generically to the
class of sectarian labels that identifies the follower in reference to the
founder of the religion or philosophical sect. Insiders often came to
embrace terms of abuse by outsiders as sources of positive identity. Such
has traditionally been thought to be the case with the nomen christianum.

According to the author of Luke-Acts, the citizens of Antioch first coined
the Christian name to mock the so-called followers of Christ.
This name
later turned from an outsiders term of derision to the self-chosen label of
those so derided.
By the early second century, the religious insiders
identification with the Christian name had become so complete that public
persecutions against Christians turned on, and could be made to turn on,
whether accused individuals would, of their own volition, assert a form of
self-identification with the nomen. Geoffrey de Ste Croix has observed
that, from at least 112 onwards, the normal charge against Christian was
simply being Christian: they are punished, that is to say for the Name,
the nomen Christianum.
In Christian acta martyrum, presiding Roman
magistrates would typically inquire of those brought before them whether
they were Christians or not, and would proceed to punish only those who
persisted in replying in the affirmative. Tertullian (Apologeticus liber) and
Minucius Felix (Octavius) were two apologists who challenged those who
used the nomen Christianum as the basis for persecuting Christians to
justify how they could condemn individuals by associating with a group
identity that had itself not been incontrovertibly linked to the commitment
of punishable crimes. This last point, that crimes Christians were accused
of remain unprove, was indeed confirmed by Pliny the Younger in his
letter to Trajan c. CE 111.

See, e.g., Elias Bickerman, The Name of Christians, HTR 42 (1949): 10924;
Harold Mattingly, The Origin of the Name Christiani, JTS n.s. 9 (1958): 2637;
Orsolino Montevecchi, Nomen Christianorum, in Paradoxos Politeia: Studi Patristici
in onore di Giuseppe Lazzati, Studia Patristica Mediolanensia 10 (ed. Raniero
Cantalamessa and Luigi F. Pizzolato; Milan: Pubblicazioni della Universit Cattolica del
Sacro Cuore, 1979), 485500; and Justin Taylor, Why Were the Disciples First Called
Christians at Antioch? (Acts 11, 26), RB 101 (1994): 7594.
Acts 11:26.
See Philippa Townsends article in this volume, Who Were the First Christians?
Jews, Gentiles and the Christianoi, which argues convincingly that the original usage of
the name hoi Christianoi was used to refer to Gentile Christians.
Geoffrey E.M. de Ste. Croix, Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted? Past
and Present 26 (1963): 638; esp. 9: This is quite certain, from what the Christian
apologists say in the second and early third centuries, from several accounts of
martyrdoms, and from the technical language used by Pliny and Trajan... See also Judith
M. Lieu, I am a Christian: Martyrdom and the Beginning of Christian Identity, in
Neither Jew nor Greek: Constructing Early Christianity (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2001),
Richard Lim 146
The growth of the phenomenon of Christian martyrdom turned the
Christian name into the privileged possession of those who would follow
Christ even unto death in imitation of his passion.
Yet we do well to
recall that not all followers of Christ at the time invested their identities
in martyrdom or indeed in the Christian name. Christians who professed
docetic beliefs did not think that the real Christ was hung on the cross
and that he indeed merely appeared to have been crucified; they would
have accordingly interpreted the injunction to imitate Christ in a different
manner from those who actively sought martyrdom as the path toward the
imitatio Christi.
These men and women were also less likely to believe
that the defense of the Christian name was somehow a core aspect of their
religious self-identities. But as many Christians increasingly defined theirs
as the church of the martyrs and the Christian name as a badge reserved for
those with a commitment to martyrdom, Christians with docetic and
gnostic leanings increasingly became marginalized and even categorized as

Labels of religious ethnicity were rarely ones that remained stable over
time and their ascribed meanings were often fiercely contested during
periods of foment. The meaning of the name of Jew (Judaios/Iudaeus)
came to be sharpened on account of the confrontations of certain Jews with
the Roman authorities. In the aftermath of the Bar Kochba evolt in 135 CE,
the emperors briefly imposed the fiscus judaicus, which converted the
traditional contributions that Jews made to the temple cult into a tax paid
to the imperial fisc.
Jews would then have had the choice to decide
whether they wished to pay the tax; if they did not wish to do so they could
simply not identify themselves as Jews. By thus increasing the cost of
being a self-declared Jew, the authorities arguably caused many Jews to
reinvest in their inherited identity with deliberate and meaningful action.
In Late Antiquity, Christian and Jewish self-identities came more and
more to be associated with their respective religious labels. In contrast,

See Daniel Boyarin, Dying for God: Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity
and Judaism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), esp. 1021.
See, e.g., Jean Doresse, Le refus de la croix: gnostiques et manichens, La Table
Ronde 102 (1957): 8997.
The seminal work on this topic remains Alain Le Boulluec, La notion dhrsie
dans la littrature grecque, II
sicles, 2 vols (Paris: tudes Augustiniennes, 1985).
There is a copious, burgeoning literature that uses theories of cultural identity to
elucidate the process of religious identity-formation. Many of the basic ideas behind this
approach are expounded in Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on
the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (rev. ed.; London: Verso, 1991).
See Martin Goodman, Nerva, the Fiscus Judaicus and Jewish Identity, JRS 79
(1989): 4044. For a fine study of the intricate processes that shaped the formation of a
Jewish identity, see Seth Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society, 152 BCE640 CE
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 147
Manichaeans in the Roman world by and large did not seem to have
exhibited a comparable degree of identification with the nomen
Manichaeorum. Instead, efforts to turn that name into a meaningful
religious label were made mostly by those who would suppress it. Indeed
we owe the sense of a distinctive Manichaean identity to the works of
catholic/orthodox Christian writers who, in accordance with the tendencies
of heresiography and their growing alliance with the Roman state
following the reign of Theodosius I, sought to invent the image of an alien
Other so as to be able to condemn more efficaciously the specific
practices, beliefs and persons.

It is a well attested but often overlooked nostrum that people whom we
have grown accustomed to calling Manichaeans mainly represented
themselves as Christians. Throughout his own writings, Mani invariably
styled himself an apostle of Jesus Christ after the fashion of Paul.
In the
Living Gospel, he introduces himself as Mannichaeus (sic), apostle of
Jesus Christ
The same reference appears in one of his epistles
discovered at Ismant el-Kharab: Manichaios, apostle of Jesus Christ

Throughout the Coptic Kephalaia, Mani represents himself as an apostle or
phstr who engages in a dialogue with disciples.

See Samuel N.C. Lieu, Some Themes in Later Roman Anti-Manichaean
Polemics, Bulletin of the Johns Rylands University Library of Manchester 68 (1986):
43469; rev. version in idem, Manichaeism in Mesopotamia and the Roman East
(Leiden: Brill, 1994), 156202; and Sarah Stroumsa and Gedaliahu A.G. Stroumsa,
Aspects of the Anti-Manichaean Polemics in Late Antiquity and under Early Islam,
HTR 81 (1988): 3758.
See Ernst Waldschmidt and Otto Helmut Wolfgang Lentz, Die Stellung Jesu im
Manichismus, Abhandlungen der preuischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1926,
Phil.-hist. Klasse 4 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1926); and Eugen Rose, Die
manichische Christologie, Zeitschrift fr Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 32 (1980):
21931. The Jesus that Mani invokes is often termed the Iesus Patibilis, a cosmic docetic
figure, to distinguish him from the historical Jesus.
Cologne Mani Codex 65.2368; ed. cit., 445, English translation by Judith M. and
Samuel N.C. Lieu, cited in Manichaean Texts (ed. Gardner and Lieu), 156.
A critical edition of this text is currently under preparation by Iain Gardner and
Wolf-Peter Funk. English translation in text from Manichaean Texts (ed. Gardner and
Lieu), 167.
Carl Schmidt and Hans Jakob Polotsky, Ein Mani-Fund in gypten:
Originalschriften des Mani und seiner Schler, Sitzungberichte der preuischen
Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Klasse (Berlin, 1933), 190, esp. 2021. See
Iain Gardner, The Kephalaia of the Teacher (Leiden: Brill, 1995), 15ff. The Berlin
Papyrusbuch also contains this form of self-representation: Manichaios, der Apostel
Jesu Christi; see Schmidt and Polotsky, Ein Mani-Fund, 24. This usage of
Manichaios the Apostle of Jesus Christ appears also in the Acta Archelai, see
Hegemonius, Acta Archelai 5.5.22, in Charles Henri Beeson, ed., Die griechischen
christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte 16 (Leipzig, 1906) [= Epiphanius,
Richard Lim 148
This was such a consistent practice that outsiders took note of it. In the
Epistula Fundamenti, preserved in Augustines Contra Epistulam
Fundamenti (396/97) and referred to as one of the most widely read
Manichaean texts in Roman North Africa, the same Pauline echoes are
evident: Mani, apostle of Jesus Christ
Augustine himself regarded
this as a common practice in Manichaeans texts. In his Contra Faustum, he
said that every one of Manis epistles begins this way, with Mani, Apostle
of Jesus Christ.
Educated men were well apprised of this practice, so
much so that Julian of Eclanum, in his attack on Augustines former
association with Manichaeans, also took note of this fact in the so-called
Letter of Menoch, likely a forgery.
This epistle begins with these words:

Panarion Haer. 6.6, in Karl Holl, Epiphanius III: Panarion haer. 6580, De Fide,
(Berlin, 1933), 25, 14; rev. ed. Jrgen Dummer, Berlin, 1985]. On this problematical
source, see Samuel N.C. Lieu, Fact and Fiction in the Acta Archelai, in Peter Bryder,
ed., Manichaean Studies I, 6994; and Madeleine Scopello, Hgmonius, les Acta
Archelai et lhistoire de la controverse anti-manichenne, in Studia Manichaica: IV.
Internationaler Kongre zum Manichismus, Berlin, 14.18. Juli 1997 (ed. Ronald E.
Emmerick, Werner Sundermann and Peter Zieme; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2000), 528
Augustine, Contra epistulam Fundamenti 5.1011, Zycha, ed., CSEL 25.1, 197:
Manichaeus apostolus Iesu Christi. Erich Feldman, Die Epistula Fundamenti der
nordafrikanischen Manicher: Versuch einer Rekonstruktion (Altenberge: CIS Verlag,
1987) discusses this form of self-address as used in North Africa. This Augustinian text
is one of the few works in which he uses direct quotations from a work of Mani to
structure his polemical treatise, see Madeleine Scopello, Lepistula Fundamenti la
lumire des sources manichenes du Fayoum, in Augustine and Manichaeism in the
Latin West, Proceedings of the Fribourg-Utrecht International Symposium of the IAMS
(ed. Johannes Van Oort, Otto Wermelinger and Gregor Wurst; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 205
29, esp. 206, 209ff. The formula was well-known and was uttered by Felix in his
disputation with Augustine, see Augustine, Contra Felicem 1.1, Zycha, ed., CSEL 25.2,
Augustine, Contra Faustum 13.4, Zycha, ed., CSEL 25.1, p. 381: Omnes tamen
eius epistulae ita exordiuntur: Manichaeus apostolus Iesu Christi. See also Aug. De
haeresibus 46: unde se in suis litteris Iesu Christi apostolum dicit. On Augustines
engagement with this form of address, see Julien Ries, Jsus sauveur dans la controverse
anti-manichene de saint Augustin, in Augustine and Manichaeism in the Latin West
(ed. Van Oort, Wermelinger and Wurst), 18594.
Preserved in Augustines Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum, in CSEL 75.1
(Vienna, 1974). English translation by S.N.C. Lieu and Stephen R. Llewelyn, in
Manichaean Texts (ed. Gardner and Lieu), 17274. On the emerging scholarly consensus
against the authenticity of this letter, see G.J.D. Aalders, Lptre Menoch, attribue
Mani, VC 14 (1960): 24549 and M. Stein, Manichaica Latina, Bd. I, epistula ad
Menoch. Abhandlungen der Nordhein-Westflischen Akademie der Wissenschaften,
Sonderreihe Papyrologica Coloniensa 27/1 (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1998). On
the controversy between Augustine and Julian, see Robert A. Markus, Augustines
Confessions and the Controversy with Julianum of Eclanum: Manicheism Revisited,
Augustinianum 41 (1991): 91325.
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 149
Manes the apostle of Jesus Christ to Menoch his daughter Generally,
the catholic Christian authorities bridled at the thought that Mani might
have thought of himself an agent of Christ and the ecclesiastical abjuration
formulae required of suspected Manichaeans denounced Mani for having
dared to call him the Paraclete and Apostle of Jesus Christ.

If Manis preferred self-address blurred the distinction between himself
and [other] Christian teachers, his followers likewise did not always mark
themselves off as distinct from [other] Christians. Despite Manis
elaborate measures to establish and disseminate his teachings and ecclesial
institutions, he had not insisted upon a distinctive name for his church.
Manis contrast of the earlier churches with his own church (ekklsia)
comes through in a number of texts, including the Coptic Kephalaia.

However, Manis ekklsia was simply, for him at least, the one true church.
When first identified as a distinctive group within the Roman Empire, the
so-called Manichaeans were called Akouanitai after Akouas, whom some
have equated with Mar Zaku, a noted Manichaean missionary.

Elsewhere, leaving aside the debates over the etymology of the word
Mani, it was opponents who likely first devised the term Manichaios
both as an epithet for the founder of the religion (as one finds in Coptic
texts) and his individual follower.
Many were indeed fond of stressing
the similarity of Mani as well as Manichaios to maneis, mad, or mania,
madness, in Greek.
In the late third century, a Christian bishop from
Egypt warned against the false teachers who were the Manichaeans and
claimed to have received a Manichaean text, which he refers to as the
document of the madness of the Manichaeans.
Eusebius of Caesarea
calls Mani a madman and an Anti-Christ, from whom the profane name
of Manichaean is still commonly on mans lips to this day.
thus took great delight in taunting the followers of Mani by calling their
religion the madness of the Manichaeans (h tn Manichain mania).
Such a usage became as common as it was to appear (virtually)

Waldeschmidt-Lentz, Stellung Iesu, 1 c. 59ff., cited in Schmidt and Polotsky, Ein
Mani-Fund, 26.
Schmidt and Polotsky, Ein Mani-Fund, 42, 43, 45.
Epiphanius, Panarion 66.1.1; see discussion in Gedaliahu Stroumsa, Gnostics and
Manichaeans in Byzantine Palestine, Studia Patristica I, Papers of the Ninth
International Conference on Patristic Studies, Oxford 1983 (Kalamazoo, 1985), 27378,
esp. 275.
Schmidt and Polotsky, Ein Mani-Fund, 26 n5.
See Lieu, Some Themes, 16069.
P. Rylands Greek 469.1242. See Colin H. Robert, Catalogue of Greek and Latin
Papyri in the John Rylands Library Manchester, Vol. III: Theological and Literary Texts
(Manchester: University Press 1938), 4243. Cited in Manichaean Texts (ed. Gardner
and Lieu), 11415.
Eusebius of Caesarea, Hist. eccl. 7.31 (J.E.L. Oulton, LCL).
Richard Lim 150
tautological. A slightly different context obtained in the west where the
Latin term Manichaeus. While learned authors such as Augustine who
knew Greek and had access to Greek sources were aware of this word play,
the same in-built imputation of irrationality did not obtain on a more
popular level.
Perhaps for this reason it was instead given a negative
charge by being associated with particular crimes (of which more later).
One group that did much to reify the identity of Manichaeans was the
Roman emperors who issued laws that targeted them. In 302, Diocletian
famously first persecuted Manichaeans, not Christians, in a rescript sent to
Julianus, proconsul of Africa, in which he links Manichaeans with Romes
enemy Persia.
That North Africa offers up this evidence occasions little
surprise. The same context of official persecution and judicial inquiries
that had made the nomen christianum a bone of contention and for a time
the cornerstone of official Roman anti-Christian policy greeted the
attempts to invoke the Manichaean name.
Condemnatory rhetoric issuing from the emperors and orthodox
Christian authorities came to include crimina in the bill of indictment
against the Manichaeans.
In a manner, this repeated the tactic of those
earlier critics of Christianity who had, unfairly according to apologists

See Augustine, Contra Iulianum 1.5 on his debt to the Cappadocians for the use of
certain anti-Manichaean arguments.
Collatio Mosaicorum Mosaicorum et Romanorum Legum 15.34; in M. Hyamson,
ed., Mosaicorum et Romanorum Legum Collectio (Oxford: OUP, 1913), 13133: De
quibus sollertia tua serenitati nostrae retulit, Manichaei, audivimus eos nuperime veluti
nova et inopinata prodigia in hunc mundum de Persica adversaria nobis gente progressa
vel orta esse et multa facinora ibi committere, populos namque quietos perturbare nec
non et civitatibus maxima detrimenta inserere: et verendum est, ne forte, ut fieri adsolet,
accedenti tempore conentur per execrandas consuetudines et scaevas leges Persarum
innocentioris naturae homines, Romanam gentem modestam atque tranquillam et
universum orbem nostrum veluti venenis de suis malivolis inficere. English translation
from Gardner and Lieu, eds., Manichaean Texts, pp. 11718: As regards the
Manichaean, concerning whom your carefulness has reported to our serenity, who, in
opposition to the older creeds, set up new and unheard-of sects, purposing in their
wickedness to cast out the doctrines vouchsafed to us by divine favour in olden times, we
have heard that they have but recently advanced or sprung forth, like strange and
monstrous portents, from their native homes among the Persians a nation hostile to us
and have settled in this part of the world, where they are perpetrating many evil deed.
Generally, see Peter Brown, The Diffusion of Manichaeism in the Roman
Empire, JRS 29 (1969): 92103. On imperial legislations against Manichaeans in
particular, see Per Beskow, The Theodosian Laws against Manichaeism, in
Manichaean Studies, Vol. I. Proceedings of the First International Conference on
Manichaeism, August 57, 1987 (ed. Peter Bryder; Lund, Sweden: Plus Ultra, 1988), 1
11. Also Erich-Hans Kaden, Die Edikte gegen die Manicher von Diokletian bis
Justininan, in Festschrift Hans Lewald bei Vollendung des vierzigstens Amtsjahres als
ordentlicher Professor im Oktober 1953 (Basel: Helbing & Lichtenhahn 1953), 5568.
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 151
such as Minucius Felix and Tertullian, previously used the nomen
christianum, and an implicit association of the name to crimes, to
persecute Christians. In 381 Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius, in an
edict to Eutropius, praetorian prefect, imposed the penalty of perpetual
infamia upon any male or female Manichaean by denying him or her the
ability to make a binding will, or to pass on or receive property through the
Roman laws of inheritance.
The emphatic nature of the emperors
displeasure was underscored by the fact that they stipulated that its
provisions were to be retroactive, contrary to customary Roman legal
usage. This was done knowingly, as the law explains the provision as
follows: We sanction the severity of the present statute not so much as an
example of a law that should be established but as one that should be
avenged, so that the defense of time also shall not be an advantage to
So extraordinary was this aspect of the anti-Manichaean
legislation that a subsequent edict was issued in 383 to limit its retroactive

The efficacy of such laws, if they are not strictly to be read as pieces of
moral legislation, required first that it be practicable for particular
individuals to be definitively labeled as Manichaeans. There were in fact
many obstacles in the path of easy identification. Some of the difficulty
arose because the followers of Mani did not generally demonstrate the
same commitment to the nomen Manichaeorum that earlier Christians had
shown with respect to the nomen christianum. There are few documented

CTh 16.5.7; Pharr, ed., p. 451: If any Manichaean man or woman (Manichaeus
Manichaeave), from the date of the law, as previously and originally issued by Our
Fathers, has transmitted his own property to any person whatsoever, by the execution of a
testament or under any title of liberality whatever or any kind of gift, or if any one of the
aforesaid persons has become enriched by the bestowal, through any form whatever, of
an inheritance upon which he has entered, inasmuch as We forthwith deprive the
aforesaid persons under the perpetual brand of just infamy of all right to make a will and
to live under the Roman law (sub perpetua inustae infamiae nota testandi ac vivendi iure
Roma) The inheritance of paternal or maternal goods shall be bestowed only upon
those children who, although born of Manichaeans, nevertheless are immune from such a
crime and have dedicated themselves to the pure religion.
CTh; Pharr, ed., 451.
CTh 16.7.3; Pharr, ed., 466: those who at any time prefer to frequent the
nefarious retreats and the wicked seclusion of the Manichaeans (Manichaeorum nefanda
secreta) shall be pursued constantly and perpetually by that penalty which even Our
progenitor Valentinian, of sainted authority, has prescribed and which Our decrees have
no less frequently commanded But in order that the dead may not be harassed by the
perpetual outrage of criminal accusation or that questions of inheritance which have been
extinguished through various lapses of many years may not be continually agitated into
revived conflicts, We prescribe a time limitation [of five years] for such inquisitions
For a discussion of this law, see Caroline Humfresss article in this volume, Citizens
and Heretics: Late Roman Lawyers on Christian Heresy.
Richard Lim 152
cases from this time in which individuals would actively claim the name
when faced with severe sanctions. This is not to say that there were no
Manichaean equivalents to those Christian martyrs whose literary history
we know so very well. It would appear that Diocletians persecutions
against Manichaeans yielded some martyrs in Egypt at any rate.

But in the cities of the empire, Manichaeans appeared but only as
shifting and elusive targets. In one instance, the emperors were informed
either by their local agents or by catholic Christian leaders that various
individuals who had been charged as Manichaeans were in the habit of
denying the nomen Manichaeorum. These persons indeed were said to
have claimed that they were the followers of other sectae that had not as
yet been banned by imperial law. Attempting to end what they saw as an
evasive tactic, the emperors revised their ban in the following manner:

Now with malignant fraud they should defend themselves under pretence of those
fallacious names, by which many, as we have discovered, desire to be called and to be
designated as of approved faith and of rather chaste course of life; especially since some
of these persons desire themselves to be denominated Encratitans, Apotactitans,
Hydroparastatans, or Saccoforians and by a variety of diverse names falsify as it were
the services of their religious profession. For it is not proper that all these persons should
be protected by a profession of names, but should be held notorious and execrable by the
criminality of their sects.
The textual logic of this imperial law presumes that Manichaeans were in
the habit of dissimulating their religious identities to avoid detection and
persecution. Such a view was certainly that of the emperors and many of
the catholic bishops. But what if we indeed have here a situation in which
individuals or groups that really did not regard themselves as Manichaeans
were being assigned that name by detractors to serve the latters agendas?
There is certainly ample evidence that the practice of labeling ones
religious rivals Manichaeans became a common practice during the later
Christological controversies.
Wandering ascetics, for example, especially
those who followed a vegetarian diet, were routinely called Manichaeans

See the Coptic hymns lauding these Manichaean martyrs; in A. Allbery, A
Manichaean Psalm Book, 142. The author links these martyrs to Mani as well as other
well-known Christian martyrs including the apostles and Jesus himself. This material is
nicely discussed and set in context in David S. Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay, AD
180395 (London: Routledge, 2004), 32021.
CTh Nec se sub simulatione fallaci eorum scilicet nominum, quibus
plerique, ut cognovimus, probatae fidei et propositi castioris dici ac signari volent,
maligna fraude defendant; cum praesertim nonnulli ex his Encratitas, Apotactitas,
Hydroparastatas vel Saccoforos nominari se velint et varietate nominum diversorum velut
religiosae professionis officia mentiantur. Eos enim omnes convenit non professione
defendi nominum, sed notabiles atque execrandos haberi scelere sectarum.
See above n. 16.
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 153
by others regardless of whether they themselves participated in a
Manichaean self-identity or not.

What becomes abundantly clear from the late fourth-century laws is that
finding and labeling individual Manichaeans was no straightforward
matter. Eventually, the emperors appointed special agents, inquisitores, to
look into the matter closely. What did these imperial inquisitores find?
There is little in our evidence that what they reported back to the emperors
allowed the latter to devise a successful strategy to attach individuals to the
Manichaean name.
Instead the emperors continued to fire large rhetorical salvoes at the
perceived problem. In a 383 law to Postumianus, praetorian prefect, they
included Manichaeans with several other groups in a list of proscribed
heretical sects:

All persons whatsoever who are tossed about by the false doctrine of diverse heresies,
namely, the Eunomians, the Arians, the Macedonians, the Pneumatomachi, the
Manichaeans, the Encratites, the Apotactites, the Saccophori, and the Hydroparastatae,
shall not assemble in any groups, shall not collect any multitude, shall not attract any
people to themselves, shall not show any walls of private houses after the likenesses of
churches, and shall practice nothing publicly or privately which may be detrimental to
the Catholic sanctity.
One could argue that, in serially listing all the names that belonged to the
growing catalogue of heresies, the emperors had simply given up on
trying to determine the interrelationship of these groups. While two years
earlier they had postulated that the ascetic groups called Encratitae,
Apotactitae, Saccofori, Hydroparastatae were in fact all crypto-
Manichaeans, the new law makes no mention of this link. Instead, all the
named groups are cited individually and, moreover, are put together with
Eunomians, Arians, Macedonians, and Pneumatomachians, other groups of
banned heretics.
What the special imperial inquisitores failed to find out surprisingly
also eluded the catholic Christian authorities. While the latter may be seen
as the lynchpin in the imperial campaign to suppress the religion of Mani,
they were in fact often the most interested parties who had petitioned for

For a study of how the enactment of rituals shaped the body and in turn contributed
to the construction of Manichaean identity in both east and west, see Jason D. BeDuhn,
The Manichaean Body in Discipline and Ritual (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 2000).
CTh 16.5.11; English translation in text from Pharr, ed., 452: Omnino,
quoscumque diversarum haeresum error exagitat, id est Eunomiani, Arriani,
Macedoniani, Pneumatomachi Manichaei, Encratitae, Apotactitae, Saccofori,
Hydroparastatae nullis circulis coeant, nullam colligant multitudinem, nullum ad se
populum trahant nec ad imaginem ecclesiarum parietes privatos ostendant, nihil vel
publice vel privatim, quod catholicae sanctitati officere possit, exerceant.
Richard Lim 154
the various imperial rescripts in the first case. On the other hand, because
of their local network and knowledge, they were also the ones who might
be expected to be able to identify Manichaeans. Indeed, none more so than
Augustine of Hippo. Yet, his own works at times reveal how challenging
this task could be even for those in the know.
In De Haeresibus, Augustine discusses how an alleged splinter group
from the Manichaeans modified the Christian eucharistic rite by adding
human semen to the flour that made up the Host. Some contemporaries
regarded these Purifiers, or Catharists, so called because of their alleged
concern to liberate Light elements trapped in matter by ingesting human
seed, as Manichaeans. Others, however, vehemently denied that these
Purifiers were Manichaeans at all. Augustine was of the former opinion
and tried to persuade his readers that this disavowal of Manichaean
identity was just the kind of ruse one would expect from heretics. Indeed,
such a notion was popularized by Epiphanius of Salamis who equated
heresy to a many-hued snake that seeks to deceive the human eye so as to
impart a deadly sting to the unsuspecting.

How are modern historians to approach this question? Quite often,
scholars understanding of this and similar situations are heavily reliant
upon a master narrative of Manichaeism as both a clearly distinct religious
tradition and as one that habitually deceived others regarding its own
identity in order to attract gain adherents.
Augustine, in one of his letters
to a bishop in Mauretania, called attention to the alleged subterfuge of a
certain Victorinus, formerly a subdeacon in the church of Malliana.
time after 395, Victorinus was denounced to Augustine as a Manichaean
and the latter questioned him before the matter reached the level of a
public trial with witnesses. Augustine said:
He was so well known that I questioned him before he could be arraigned by witnesses;
he could not deny the accusation (negare non posset), for he knew that there were many
such to whom he had incautiously given himself away. He would have appeared
altogether too bold, not to say out of his mind, if he had tried to deny it. He admitted that
he was indeed a Manichaean hearer (auditorem Manichaeorum) but not an elect (non

Cf. Ambrosiaster, Epistula ad Timotheum. 2.3.67.
Franois Decret, Du bon usage du mensonge et du parjure. Manichens et
Priscillianistes face la perscution dans lEmpire chrtien IIVeVe sicles, in
Mlanges Pierre Lvque I (ed. Marie-Madeleine Mactoux and velyne Geny; Paris:
Belles lettres, 1990), 11149.
Augustine, Ep. 236; A. Goldbacher. ed., CSEL 57 (Vienna/Leipzig, 1911), 52324.
Augustine, Ep. 236.1; CSEL 57, 524; English translation in text from Wilfrid
Parsons, ed., St. Augustine. Letters, Vol. 5 (Letters 20470), Fathers of the Church Series
32 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1956), 180.
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 155
At this point Augustine offers an extensive gloss regarding the activities
and beliefs of Manichaean auditors and what they shared (and did not
share) with the elect:

Those who are called hearers among them eat meat, till the soil, and, if they wish, have
wives, but those called elect do none of these things. The hearers kneel before the elect
that these may lay a hand on the suppliant, and this is done not only toward their priest or
bishops or deacons, but toward any of the elect. Like these, they adore and pray to the
sun and moon. Like them, they fast on Sundays; like them, they believe all the
blasphemies for which the heresy of the Manichaeans is to be abominated; denying, for
example, that Christ was born of a virgin, claiming that his body was not real but
apparent, and for this reason insisting that his passion was apparent, too, and that there
was no resurrection
Note, however, that while Victorinus owned up to being a Manichaean
hearer, what someone might understand such a statement to mean has been
deftly shaped by Augustine through the insertion of this extensive gloss;
Victorinus himself had not stated either that he did or believed in the
specific things that are enumerated in Augustines gloss. After this,
Augustine went on to describe the activities that Victorinus was actually
alleged to have engaged in and the negotiations that had taken place
between the two men:

That subdeacon, posing as a Catholic, not only believed those intolerable blasphemies as
the Manichaeans do, but he taught them as vigorously as he could. He was discovered by
his teachings (docens patefactus est) when he trusted himself, so to speak, to his pupils.
Indeed, he asked me, after he had confessed that he was a Manichaean hearer
(Manichaeorum auditorem), to lead him back to the way of truth of the Catholic doctrine,
but I confess I was horrified at his duplicity under his clerical guise and I took steps to
have him confined and driven from the city.
If this scenario appears unremarkable, it does so because it conforms to our
expectations of what Manichaeans tended to do. Here, it seems, we have
yet another case of a crypto-Manichaean whose disguise was stripped bare
thanks to the vigilance of the catholic Christian authorities. Yet
Augustines own statement of what Victorinus owned up to is suspiciously
lacunose. He failed to mention that Victorinus had connected himself with
a Manichaean community or with particular electi; the suspected heretic
was evidently not required to identify individual Manichaeans with whom
he had associated, a common enough line of questioning in such
proceedings that this particular argumentum e silentio may have some
force. Nor was Victorinus condemned in Augustines narrative for
possessing Manichaean books to which the non-elect would not have had
ready access to at any rate.

Augustine, Ep. 236.2; CSEL 57, 524; English in text from Parsons, ed., 180.
Augustine, Ep. 236.3; CSEL 57, 525; English in text from Parsons, ed., 181.
Richard Lim 156
So in what manner was Victorinus a Manichaean? We may surmise that
he was denounced as a Manichaean to the authorities for teaching dualistic
doctrines of a certain sort. But a propensity for dualistic teachings
pervaded the early Christian communities, especially in so-called gnostic
and Valentinian circles. Could it be that Victorinus simply regarded
himself as a Christian and therefore saw nothing amiss in holding forth on
his own views on good and evil while discharging the duties of a lay
subdeacon? Augustine was the one who thought the two roles incompatible
and did his utmost to make it so for everyone else. A traditional scholarly
interpretation would represent Augustine as playing the part of proto-
inquisitor whose diligent work unmasked Victorinus subterfuge. And yet
if we regard the formers role not so much as a discoverer of
Manichaeans as the inventor of them, we will have instead a case in
which the nomen Manichaeorum was invoked principally to serve the
agenda of the self-identified orthodox group.
Finally, Victorinus allegedly confessed that he was a Manichaean
hearer. Such a term readily invites scholars to place him within the table of
organization of the highly structured two-tiered communities with which
Manichaeans everywhere were associated. But was he a hearer in that
sense? Perhaps this was simply a way for Victorinus to represent himself
as someone with an interest in the teachings popularly attributed to Mani?
Instead of being seen as a crypto-heretic who in actuality belonged to
another church, which was how Augustine represented Victorinus to us,
could the man not just as readily be seen as a pious person whose pursuit
of truth led him to eclectic (i.e., unorthodox) choices in authoritative texts
and ideas?
Victorinus public confession was in any event likely to have been
agreed upon in advance. Making such a declaration allowed him to state
for the record that he was not a real Manichaean, that is, a Manichaean
elect; he would also thus be able avoid a public trial and evaded serious
consequences such as the demand that he receive re-baptism. In turn, this
scripted public performance allowed Augustine to claim to have
successfully uncovered a crypto-Manichaean and, through the exercise of
episcopal authority and pastoral care, made safe the catholic flock. In the
end, Augustine arranged to have Victorinus expelled from the Christian
church without the opportunity for rehabilitation; on the other hand, he did
not press for more substantial punishments to be imposed upon him.
Augustine and other catholic hierarchs could have prosecuted suspected
Manichaeans under the authority of the imperial rescripts that associated
the nomen Manichaeorum with crimina. The list of these alleged misdeeds
instantly recalls the accusations that were made against Christians in the
earlier centuries. One crimen associated with the Manichaean name was
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 157
the eating of hosts that had been tainted with human semen. Yet this
charge, even if it could be substantiated and there is little reason to
believe that it could be, given its previous history of being directed against
Jews and Christians
properly condemned only the elect; hearers could
at best be accused of having been accomplices by providing them with the
offensive props for the sacrilegious rite.
Catholic Christian priest and bishops such as Augustine in fact took an
active role in the circulation of such stories, which, together with imperial
rescripts that formally condemned Manichaeans, gave the authorities
needed ammunition to exact confessions from those whom they
suspected of being Manichaeans. Augustine narrates just such a confession
(c. 4218) that Ursus, an imperial functionary holding the office of a
tribunus, extracted from a woman named Eusebia. Augustine, in
recounting the incident, identifies the woman in question as a female
Manichaean elect:

Their elect are forced to consume a sort of eucharist sprinkled with human seed in order
that the divine substance may be freed even from that, just as it is from other foods of
which they partake. However, they deny that they do this, claiming that some others do
it, using the name of the Manichaeans; but they were exposed in the church at Carthage,
as your know, for you were a deacon there at the time when, under the prosecution of
Ursus the tribune, whom was then prefect of the palace, some of them were brought to
trial. At this time a girl by the name of Margaret gave evidence of their obscene practices
and claimed, though she was not yet twelve years old, that she had been violated in the
performance of this criminal rite. Then with difficulty he compelled Eusebia, some kind
of Manichaean nun, to admit that she had undergone the same treatment in this regard,
though at first, she maintained that she was a virgin and insisted on being examined by a
midwife. When she was examined and when her true condition was discovered, she
likewise gave information on that whole loathsome business at which flour is sprinkled
beneath a couple in sexual intercourse to receive and commingle with their seed. This she
had not heard when Margaret gave her testimony, for she had not been present.
According to the text, Eusebias confession was obtained using the
leverage of an earlier confession by a twelve-year old girl named
Margaret. Historians these days no longer regard confessions gathered
through inquisitorial techniques as revealing much aside from what the
interrogators most wished to hear.
The formal proceedings and allowed

On similar accusations, see Albert Henrichs, Pagan Ritual and the Alleged Crimes
of the Early Christians, in Kyriakon: Festschrift J. Quasten I (ed. P. Granfield and J. A.
Jungmann; Mnster: Aschendorff, 1970), 1835; and Andrew McGowan, Eating People:
Accusations of Cannibalism against Christians in the Second Century, JECS 2 (1994):
Augustine, De haeresibus 46.9; English translation in text from Manichaean Texts
(ed. Gardner and Lieu), 144.
On how early modern European inquisitorial records might be used as historical
sources contra extreme skeptics, see Carlo Ginzburg, The Inquisitor as Anthropologist,
Richard Lim 158
rules of evidence described above fell far short of the high standards
upheld by enlightened imperial governors such as Pliny the Younger, who
quite wisely thought little of the truth-value of any confessions obtained
under such duress.
The ecclesiastical authorities were themselves not above employing
similar tactics either. Overt manipulation of the proceedings is clearly
evident in Augustines dealings with a certain Viator who was suspected
by some of being a Manichaean. When examined by catholic Christian
authorities, Viator confessed that he indeed had knowledge of the practice
of eating semen-laden hosts but insisted that it was exclusive to a group
that called itself the Catharists. Augustine was not content to allow such a
defense to stand and pressed him further. Viators subsequent admissions
raise more questions than they answer, as evidenced by Augustines
reportage of his claims:

Nevertheless, though he asserted that there are other groups of the Manichaean sect
divided into Mattarii and especially Manichaeans, he could not deny that all of these
three forms [that is, Catharists, Mattarii and Manichaeans] were propagated by the same
founder and that all of them are, generally speaking, Manichaeans.
What follows in Augustines account is an elaborate gloss that is as
lawyerly in its argumentation as it is suspect:

Surely the Manichaean books are unquestionably common to all of them, and in these
books are described these dreadful things relating to the transformation of males into
females, and of females into males to attract and to loosen through concupiscence the
princes of darkness of both sexes so that the divine substance which is imprisoned in
them may be set free and escape. This is the source of the obscene practices which some
of the Manichaeans refuse to admit pertain to them. For they imagine that they are
imitating divine powers to the highest degree and so they attempt to purge a part of their
god, which they really believe is held befouled just as much in human seed as it is in all
celestial and terrestrial bodies, and in the seeds of all things. And for this reason, it
follows that they are just as much obliged to purge it from human seed by eating, as they
are in reference to other seed which they consume in their food. This is the reason they
are also called Catharists, that is, purifiers; for they are so attentive to purifying this part
that they do not refrain even from such horrifying food as this.
At this point we would logically wish to examine how bonafide
Manichaeans employed the nomen Manichaeorum when not made to
confess to that identity before imperial officials and catholic bishops.

in his Clues, Myths and the Historical Method (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 1989), 15664. I thank Eduard Iricinschi for this helpful reference. Note, however,
that Augustine in the above text presents us with an ex post facto third-person narrative
and not the verbatim transcript of the proceedings presided over by Ursus.
Augustine, De haeresibus 46.910.
Ibid.; English translation in text from Manichaean Texts (ed. Gardner and Lieu),
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 159
Unfortunately, our sources are reticent on this matter. Indeed, few
Manichaean texts refer to the community of the faithful as Manichaeans,
preferring, as one might reasonably expect, more metaphorical and
scriptural labels such as the just or righteous ones. Evidence that
reveals clear self-identification with the nomen Manichaeorum is rare. In
Mark the Deacons Life of Porphyry of Gaza, the bishop confronted Julia
who declared that she was Manichaean (hoti Manichaia etugchanen).

But Julias reported self-identification with Mani not only appears within
an orthodox religious narrative; in that narrative itself it only arises as a
direct response to specific posed question regarding whose teachings she
was in fact following. She may therefore be described as a Manichaean in
the sense that she followed the teachings of Mani rather than held active
membership in a socio-religious institution called the Manichaean
church. Was she essentially a female counterpart to Secundinus then,
that is, a Christian who regarded Manis teachings as a superior, more
philosophical brand of the Christian truth? To confuse matters even more,
Julia was in fact not identified as a Manichaean electa in the Georgian
version of Marks vita at all but rather as a female philosopher.

There exist a number of cases that appear to suggest rather strong
personal identifications with the nomen Manichaeorum. Specifically, we
know of two instances in which the Manichaean name was invoked within
the context of the marking of the body and burial. In the first case, a
woman who was buried in Salona (Dalmatia) receiving this following
epitaph: Bassa, virgin [from] Lydia, Manichea.
What is the date and
likely context of this epitaph? The epigraphical style of the inscription
suggests a date of late third to early fourth century. There is furthermore a
supposition that such a frank and public declaration of ones Manichaean
identity was hardly practicable after Diocletians edict.
Yet even if this

Mark the Deacon, Life of Porphyry of Gaza 87. Henri Grgoire and Marc-Antoine
Kugener, eds., Marc le Diacre, Vie de Porphyre, vque de Gaza (Paris 1930), 68;
English translation in text from Manichaean Texts (ed. Gardner and Lieu), 127.
See Paul Peters, ed., La vie gorgienne de Saint Porphyre de Gaza, Analaecta
Bollandiana 59 (1941): 65217.
Bassa parthenos Ludia Maniche[a] Text and discussion in Franz Cumont and
M.-A. Kugener, Recherches sur le Manichisme II, Extrait de la CXXIIIe Homlie de
Svre dAntioche. III. Linscription de Salone (Brussels, 1912), 17577; Franois
Decret, LAfrique manichene (IV
sicles): Etude historique et doctrinale (Paris:
tudes augustiniennes, 1976), II, 96 n.68; and idem, Mani et la tradition manichene
(Paris: Seuil, 1974).
Ibid., 176: notre fragment doit tre plac un moment o le manichisme
jouisssait dune tolerance assez large pour quune profession de foi publique ne
constitut pas un danger, peut-tre sous le rgne de Julien ou sous celui de Constantin ou
mme plus anciennement encore, avant le premier dit par lequel Diocltien ordonna de
poursuivre la secte venue de Perse.
Richard Lim 160
dating is secure, interpreting such a laconic and atypical inscription poses a
considerable challenge. One cannot assume a priori that the term
Manichea or Manichaia on the inscription must be translated as a female
Manichaean because it remains highly unclear whether such a term meant
especially given its completely unknown context. The explicit citation of
religious affiliation, as opposed to the mention of religious offices held,
may be said to be an unusual feature within the corpus of Greco-Roman
funerary inscriptions generally. Cumont and Kugener have acknowledged
this fact, suggesting that such a usage is in accord with the reference to
Lydia, from which Bassa presumably hailed, where we find some of the
earliest inscriptions referring to individuals as Christianoi.
They go on to
suggest that the terms parthenos and Manichea derive from the fact that
Bassa was one of the Manichaean electae mentioned in other sources.

Still, the evidence does not rule out possibility that the term Manichea
on Bassas epitaph meant much the same as Manichaeus does in
Secundinus writings, that is, as a way to refer to a philosophically inclined
Christian who has chosen to follow the superior teachings of Mani. Just as
there is little reason to suppose that Secundinus was one of the male elect
simply because he called himself a Manichaeus, one cannot assume that
Bassa, because she is referred to on the inscription as a parthenos, was a
female Manichaean elect.
In general, Manichaeans were, according to the teachings established by
Mani, not to invest great significance in their own physical bodies. In a
monastic text from the Tunhuang Manichaica (the cache of Manichaean
works in Chinese discovered at Dunhuang), corpses of Manichaeans,
presumably both elect and hearers, were to be buried without clothes,
bodily adornment or any other grave goods.
But, at least in one case, we
hear of the self-marking of the body as part of Manichaean practice in
the later fifth century. Victor of Vita, in his history of the Vandal
persecution, mentioned that an ascetic named Clementianus had inscribed
on his own femur bone the following words: Manichaeus discipulus
Christi Iesu.
Aside from the fact that this reference issues from the

See Cumont and Kugener, Recherches sur le manichisme, III, 177.
There is also the mysterious Manichaean mythological figure of the parthenos tou
photos, see Ernst Artur Voretzsch, Parthenos tou photos. Archologisches Material aus
Turfan zur Deutung der manichischen Lichtjungfrau, in Atti dell VII Congresso
Internazaionale di Storia della Religioni (Florence, 1956), 21821.
Eduard Chavannes and Paul Pelliot, Un trait manichen retrouv en Chine (Paris,
1913), 338, 35556.
See Peter Brown, Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in
Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 197200; and Mark
Gustafson, Inscripta in fronte: Penal Tattooing in Late Antiquity, Classical Antiquity
16 (1997): 79105, esp. 98.
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 161
stylus of a hostile critic of things Manichaean, the meaning of the
tattooed words remains highly ambiguous, perhaps deliberately so. Do
the words amount to an unequivocal declaration of the mans own
Manichaean religious identity so that they should be translated as follows:
I am a Manichaean, a disciple of Jesus Christ? Or is it not in fact a re-
statement of the religious claim that we have encountered so often before,
to wit: Mani[chaeus is a/the] disciple of Jesus Christ? If the latter, then
this tattooed message should be interpreted not as a clear declaration of
Manichaean religious self-identity but rather as a forceful declaration of
Christian self-identity on the part of those who followed the teachings of
Mani. In Arian-ruled Vandal Africa, where the very notion of orthodox
Christianity remained an unsettled question during this time, such a claim
to Christian identity actually makes a certain sense.
But in the broader
context of the times, it would have constituted a defiant statement of
religious identity given the authorities demanded of suspected
Manichaeans a public ritual of abjuration in which they must reject the
name and teachings of Mani.
Unfortunately, we cannot know the impact
of sustained persecution on the outlook of individuals thought to have been
Manichaeans due to the nature of the sources. It would hardly be
surprising, should some Manichaeans find in religious oppression the
impetus that helped them crystallize their own religious self-identity. But
the fact that many persisted in maintaining that they were Christians
speaks to the problem of using the nomen Manichaeorum as a
straightforward religious label to designate the essential religious identities
of such persons.
An ancillary question that emerges in the course of these controversies
is whether the nomen Manichaeorum ought to be applied to the hearers
also, or only to the elect. The Manichaean text from Tebessa clearly shows
that the two grades were clearly distinguished even if the relationship
between them was intimate. Outsiders did not always perceive the
difference clearly and, on the whole, it was to the elect that the term
Manichaean was mainly applied. Thus a law of 382 describes
Manichaeans as solitarii, a Latin translation of hoi monachoi perhaps.
Eutychiuss description of the life of Timothy of Alexandria (38085), the

On the religious situation of Vandal Africa at the time of Victor of Vitas Historia
persecutorum, see Hans-Joachim Diesner, Religionen, Konfessionen und Hresien im
vandalenzeitlichen Nordafrika, Forschungen und Fortschritte 41 (1967): 8890.
See Samuel N.C. Lieu, An Early Byzantine Formula for the Renunciation of
Manichaeism the Capita VII contra Manichaeos of <Zacharias of Mitylene>,
Jahrbuch fr Antike und Christentum 26 (1983): 152218; rev. version in idem,
Manichaeism in Mesopotamia and the Roman East, 203305.
CTh 16.5.9. Yet other laws (see above) suggest that hearers (who held property and
had children) were to be labeled Manichaeans.
Richard Lim 162
Manichaean name was associated with those who practiced a form of
vegetarianism. While this ought only to apply to the elect, the author
blurred the distinction by saying that, while initially vegetarians, hearers
later took to eating meat when it was feared that their abstemiousness
would expose them to persecution by catholic Christians.

The self-identity of Manichaean hearers remains an elusive topic for
modern scholars. While belief in Manis teachings played some role to be
sure, it was also to a great extent created around the acts of almsgiving and
sociability within particular networks of itinerant ascetics and supporters.
Augustine was the one Manichaean hearer we know the most about.
his evidence, which heavily colors our understanding, may in fact distract
more than it enlightens. He, having been repeatedly accused by opponents
due to his former association with Manichaeans, was greatly concerned to
demarcate the boundaries between catholic Christianity and Manichaeism
in his writings. In the disputes with the Italian bishop Julian of Eclanum, a
devotee of the teachings of Pelagius, Augustines relationship with the
religion of Mani became a central issue in the early 420s, a time when so-
called Manichaeans were being pursued openly in Carthage. In Book One
of Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum, Augustine affirmed his wholesale
rejection of Manichaean teachings and insisted upon the incompatibility of
Manichaean identity and that of a (catholic) Christian:

Consider, you who so often accuse us of Manichaeism, if you are alert, whom and what
kind of men and what great defenders of the Catholic faith you dare insult with such a
detestable charge.
In any event, he claimed that while he was a hearer among the
Manichaeans he not only did not know what went on among the elect but

Eutychius, Annales, in Michael Breydey ed., Das Annalenwerk des Eutychius von
Alexandria, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 472, Series Arabica 45
(Louvain: Peeters, 1985), 83. English translation in text by S. Calderini, in Manichaean
Texts, (ed. Gardner and Lieu), 122. This text is discussed in Gedaliahu Stroumsa, The
Manichaean Challenge to Egyptian Christianity, in The Roots of Egyptian Christianity
(ed. Birger Pearson and J. E. Goehring; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), 30719.
J. Kevin Coyle, What did Augustine Know about Manichaeism when He Wrote
his Two Treatises De moribus? in Augustine and Manichaeism in the Latin West (ed.
Van Oort, Wermelinger, and Wurst), 4356.
Augustine, Contra Iulianum 1.3; English translation in text from Matthew A.
Schumacher, ed., Saint Augustine. Against Julian, Fathers of the Church 35 (New York,
1957), 67. On Julian of Eclanum, his own conception as a philosopher and his views on
the teachings of Mani, see Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (Berkeley: U.
of California Press, 1967), 370, 386 and 393; Josef Lssl, Julian von Aeclanum: Studien
zu seinem Werk, seiner Lehre und ihrer berlieferung (Leiden: Brill, 2001), esp. 12930;
and Mathijs Lamberigts, Was Augustine a Manichaean? The Assessment of Julian of
Aeclanum, in Augustine and Manichaeism in the Latin West (ed. Van Oort,
Wermelinger, and Wurst), 11336.
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 163
that he also did not know that he was actually departing from the worship
of Christ. Did he even regard himself as a Manichaean rather than a
Christian? He would naturally consider the two identities as incompatible
by his own writings after he became priest and bishop. At the same time he
was also quick to point out that the distinction was not so clear to him
then. Thus he made the following observation in his Contra Epistulam
Fundamenti (396):

When I was a hearer among you, I frequently asked why it was that the paschal feast of
our lord was celebrated with little or no interest, though sometimes there were a few half-
hearted worshippers, but no special fast was prescribed for the hearers, in short, no
solemn ceremony, while great honour is paid to your (feast of the) bema, that is, the
day on which Manichaeus was martyred
The reply that Augustine reported as having been given was that:
[T]he day to observe was the day of the passion of him who really suffered, and that
Christ, who was not born, but appeared to human eyes not in real but a semblance of
flesh, did not endure but feigned suffering.
If we grant this reportage, it would appear that the local Manichaean
community was having its cake and eating it too. The interlocutor
subscribed to a docetic Christology and yet also expressed the wish to
commemorate Christs passio at a time when the passiones of martyrs,
those imitators of Christ, were widely celebrated throughout North Africa
and elsewhere.
There is ample evidence to suggest that many who were called
Manichaeans in Late Antiquity regarded themselves quite simply as
Christians. This was similarly the case with many who were labeled
gnostics. In rejecting the teachings of the Old Testament as the creation of
the Demiurge, Manichaeans shared a basic outlook with docetic and
gnostic Christians.
This all contributed to their conceit that they were
superior Christians who did not subscribe to a carnal or literal
understandings of Scriptures that marked the general tendency of the
Church catholic in the post-Constantinan era.
Such a construction of what the teachings of Mani meant to local
individuals in Late Antiquity draws on hints regarding the local
understanding of what the teachings meant rather than on a gods eye view
of Manichaeism as a stand-alone universal religion. In this manner, one
could give due consideration to the possibility that not all religious

Augustine, Contra epistulam Fundamenti 8; Zycha, ed., CSEL 25.1, 202; English
translation in text from Manichaean Texts (ed. Gardner and Lieu), 237.
On the affinity between the so-called Manichaeans and gnostics and their possible
conflation in the literary testimonia, see the enlightening study by Gedaliahu G.
Stroumsa, Gnostics and Manichaeans in Byzantine Palestine.
Richard Lim 164
identities were regarded as exclusive and that being a follower of Mani
would have been for many another indeed a more rigorist way to
follow Christs teachings.

Within the Byzantine Empire and medieval west, to accuse someone of
being a Manichaean served as a well-known smear tactic.
employment of the label often accompanied the spread of spurious rumors
in the manner of urban legends. Thus we learn of a tradition in which two
merchants described by the orthodox narrator as Manichaeans confessed to
selling the host.
The story belongs to the genre of tales of demonic
possession and exorcism, since the merchants allegedly found their bodies
constrained as if bounded by irons after they sold the host to the Devil in
the Fayum (Egypt). The text goes on:
Judas sold the lord once; these men, on the other hand, have sold him many times. The
Jews crucified the lord once; these men, on the contrary, have crucified the lord many
times. In fact these men we have sent to you are Manichaeans, who sell the lord for
To the extent that such stories are directly comparable to medieval and
early modern blood libels, in which apostate Christians would sell the Host
to Jews for ritual desecration, we must exercise due caution in accepting
their veracity.
Even while I have so far only discussed select cases in the uses the
nomen Manichaeorum in Late Antiquity, we can readily see that religious
identities were invariably negotiated, debated and prescribed in the
process. I shall not go so far as to suggest that there were no
Manichaeans in Late Antiquity but rather that using the term to label

The model of dual, non-exclusive identities existed also in the civic sphere where
an individual could be both a citizen of a local city and a citizen of Rome, see Michel
Clvenot, La double citoyennet: situation des chrtiens dans lempire romain, in
Mlanges Pierre Lvque, I:10715.
Generally on the deployment of such polemic, see Averil Cameron, Texts as
Weapons: Polemic in the Byzantine Dark Ages, in Literacy and Power in the Ancient
World (ed. Alan K. Bowman and Greg Woolf; Cambridge: CUP, 1994), 198215; and the
collected essays in Susanna Elm, Eric Rbillard, and Antonella Romano, eds.,
Orthodoxie, christianisme, histoire, Collection de lcole Franaise de Rome 270 (Rome:
cole Franaise de Rome, 2000).
Benjamin of Alexandria, On the Marriage Feast of Cana, in H. de Vies, ed.,
Homlies copte de la Vaticane, I (Hauniae, 1922), 8088; English translation in text from
Manichaean Texts (ed. Gardner and Lieu), 123. See Stroumsa, Manichaean Challenge to
Egyptian Christianity, 312.
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 165
individuals and groups in the Roman world is a much more problematic
operation than much of the current scholarship on the subject assumes.
Cultural theorists have been questioning not just the essential nature but
also the stability of identities. Even identities of the subjective self,
according to the leading scholars of life writings, are discursive,
provisional, intersectional, and unfixed.
Part of this process involves
externalization or embodiment, whereby a person or members of a group
could find reification of their notions of self-identity through interaction
with others.
Recent works on Jews and Christians have focused on the idea of
ethnogenesis to provide a compelling analytical frame to approach to the
question of religious identities. Judith Lieus recent book Christian
Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World offers a fine synopsis of
the most pertinent aspects of such an approach.
The study of
Manichaeism will benefit from the same analytical tools that have been
applied with such telling effect there and elsewhere. But the field of
Manichaean studies is probably still years away from the turn from
objectivist history. Many of its practitioners, admirably skilled and
enterprising in their own ways, are still largely focused on the task of
legitimation and recovery, issuing publications that have evocative titles
such as Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the Recovery of Manichaean
This perhaps parallels the stage through which feminist
scholarship passed in the 1970s. But just as the latter has now moved on to
more critical reflections on even the premise for womens history,
scholars of Manichaeism might ready themselves to enter the next stage of
theoretical sophistication. Critical to such a shift would be a willingness to
consider how their own practices in fact contribute to the creation of the
very subject that is notionally being examined. An even more direct
analogy lies in the treatment of Gnosticism and gnostics, which has
captured both scholarly and popular imagination for many decades but

Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Interfaces: Women, Autobiography, Image,
Performance (Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press, 2002), 10.
See Denise K. Buell, Making Christians: Clement of Alexandria and the Rhetoric
of Legitimacy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999); eadem, Race and
Universalism in Early Christianity, JECS 10 (2002): 42968; eadem, Rethinking the
Relevance of Race for Early Christian Self-definition, HTR 94 (2001): 44976; and also
Judith M. Lieu, Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World (Oxford,
Jason BeDuhn and Paul A. Mirecki, eds., Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the
Recovery of Manichaean Sources, Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 43 (Leiden:
Brill, 1997).
Richard Lim 166
which has now been called into question by a growing majority of
academic specialists.

Most modern studies of Manichaeism and Manichaeans take for granted
that both of these things existed as meaningfully stable and discernible
entities. That ethnogenesis might have played a role in the continual
creation and re-creation of the religion of Mani seems to be counter-
intuitive given the prevalent belief that the religion of light was a
designed religion, even the first modern religion. After all, unlike
Christianity, with its diverse, uncertain early traditions, the religion of
Mani supposedly emerged fully-formed from the mind of its founder, and
thereafter spread across the landmass of Eurasia. It should therefore be in
possession of a distinctive identity and name for in such a carefully
orchestrated religious phenomenon one might expect to find branding, to
use a modern marketing term, a central concern. Manis well-known
insistence on religious syncretism and his embrace of a docetic Christology
and the idea of a form of religious knowingness (gnsis), both of which
speak against the stubborn adherence to external forms or labels, might
have contributed to this phenomenon. The result was that the religion of
Mani seems to have had no singular name and few among its ranks
embraced the use of a clear, unmistakable label for self-identification.
Instead, most in the Greco-Roman world at any rate appeared to have
insisted that they were just as much the followers of Christ as of Mani.
On their part, modern scholars have devoted themselves to the task of
re-branding Manichaeism and establishing its place in history as one of
the great late antique universal religions. Their lively intellectual and
scholarly cooperation takes the form of international enterprises that are
every bit as transnational, if one may use this term, as the Manichaeans
were supposed to have been in their heyday. The Corpus Fontium
Manichaeorum based in Macquarie University in Australia (directed by
Profs. Alos Van Tongerloo and Samuel Lieu) includes nine series:
Syriaca, Arabica, Coptica, Dachlaica, Medio-Iranica, Uighurica, Sinica,
Latina and Graeca. There can be little question that these texts will provide
important scholarly tools for research and yet, by systematically searching
out and tagging texts and persons as Manichaean, Manichaean studies
has become surprising analogous to its professed object of study. By
insisting on the identification and recovery of Manichaeans across the
centuries and the continents as one of their chief goals, scholars in the field

On this revisionist approach as applied to the study of the so-called gnostics and
Gnosticism, see Michael A. Williams, Rethinking Gnosticism: An Argument for
Dismantling a Dubious Category (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999); and
Karen L. King, What is Gnosticism? (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
The Nomen Manichaeorum and Its Uses in Late Antiquity 167
are unwittingly joining forces with the likes of Augustine to create and
sustain a master discourse about who and what the Manichaeans were.
This is not to say that scholars ignore variations in the local
constructions of Manichaeism. Most recognize that Manichaeism had a
very different history in the east as it had in the west for instance. In the
east, in Central Asia especially, the monastery served as a key feature of
Manichaeism and so it was relatively easy, one may think, to identify both
Manichaeism and Manichaeans. In contrast, there was less by way of
formal institutions in the west to go by. William H.C. Frend has suggested:
that Manichaeism failed to survive in the West as an organised religion
may be due largely to Augustines writings controversies in the years 387
Indeed, one may just as easily turn this comment around by
suggesting that it was Augustines writings and others like them that
helped to create the seemingly solid edifice we now call the Manichaean
In Late Antiquity, the nomen Manichaeorum was after all a label
used less for making selves than for marking the religious Other.

William H.C. Frend, The Gnostic-Manichaean Tradition in Roman North Africa,
JEH 4 (1953): 1326, esp. 24.
On the likely connections between figures such as Augustine of Hippo and the
imperial rescripts against Manichaeans, see Scopello, Lepistula Fundamenti, 207.

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