Mani (prophet)

From Academic Kids

Mani, born in western Persia (approximately 210-276 A.D.), was a religious preacher and the founder of Manichaeism, an ancient gnostic religion that was once prolific but now considered extinct.

Mani was of Iranian parentage. Mani's father, Pattig, was from Hamadan and his mother, Maryam, was of the family of the Kamsaragan, who claimed kinship with the Parthian royal house, the Arsacids. Mani first encountered religion in his early youth while living with a Jewish ascetic group known as the Elkasites. After receiving a revelation in his mid-twenties, he would come to a belief that salvation is possible through education, self-denial, vegetarianism, fasting, and chastity. He later claimed to be the Paraclete promised in the New Testament, The Last Prophet and Seal of the Prophets, finalizing a succession of men guided by God, which included figures such as Seth, Noah, Abraham, Shem, Nikotheos, Enoch, Zoroaster, Hermes, Plato, Buddha, and Jesus.

Although most of the writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost, significant portions remain preserved in Egypt and China. Neo-Manichaeism is a modern revivalist movement not considered directly connected to the ancient faith but is sympathetic to the teachings of Mani.

Mani, being influenced by Mandaeanism, began preaching at a young age. According to biographical accounts preserved by Ibn an-Nadim and al-Biruni, during his youth, Mani received a revelation from a spirit whom he would later call the Twin, who taught him the divine truths of the religion. During this period, the large existing religious groups, most notably Christianity and Zoroastrianism, were competing for stronger political and social power.Mani also followed the holy books Puran and Kural. Although less in adherents than Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism won the support of high ranking political figures and with the aid of the Persian Empire, Mani would initiate missionary excursions. After failing to win the favor of the next generation, and being disapproved of by the Zoroastrian clergy, Mani is reported to have died in prison awaiting execution by the Persian Emperor Bahram I, while alternate accounts have it that he was either flayed to death or beheaded.

It is theorized that the Manichees made every effort to include all known religious traditions. As a result they preserved many apocryphal Christian works, such as the Acts of Thomas, that would have been lost otherwise. Mani was eager to describe himself as a "disciple of Jesus Christ", but the orthodox church rejected him as a heretic. Mani declared himself, and was also referred to, as the Paraclete: a Biblical title, meaning "helper", which the Orthodox tradition understood as referring to God in the person of the Holy Spirit. The title was later applied to Muhammad, founder of the Islamic religion. There are many parallels to the teachings and story of Mani to the teachings and story of Muhammad, and it may be possible that Muhammad was influenced by Mani. Muhammad may have adopted many of Mani's concepts. Mani claimed to be the Paraclete and last of the Prophets, as Muhammad later would. Muhammad said that his prophethood was revealed to him by an angel as Mani had claimed about himself. And as Mani claimed to be the successor to prophets like Jesus and other prophets whose teachings he said were locally corrupted (or corrupted by his followers), so too did Muhammad later claim to be the successor to prophets whose teachings he said were locally corrupted.

Some scholars and anti-Roman Catholic polemicists argue that its influence subtly continues in Christian thought, through Augustine of Hippo, who converted to Christianity from Manichaeism, and whose writings continue to be enormously influential among Catholic theologians.

See also

External links

fr:Mani (prophte) it:Mani (manicheismo) pl:Mani

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