Manichaeism was created by Mani, during the IIIe century.
Through the protection of the Persian king Shapur Ier, Mani was able to preach Manichaeism throughout the Middle East. His religion later spread across North Africa and Europe to Gaul and across Asia to China, where he was called the "Buddha of Light." Mani is nevertheless executed in 276, and other persecutions against the Manicheans take place in the Persian Empire which saw him be born from 287.
Manichaeism entered the Roman Empire, particularly in Egypt and Roman Africa, and was the subject of a decree of persecution in 297, because of its novelty, opposed to traditional Roman worship, and its Persian origin, therefore coming from the enemies of the Romans. The religious tolerance decrees of 311 and 313 (edict of Milan), mainly enacted to stop the persecution against Christians, put an end to this period of persecution.
One of the foundations of Manichaeism is to separate the world in two:
- the kingdom of Light, the kingdom of divine Life, where that which is of eternity is expressed;
- the realm of Darkness, the realm of matter, the realm of the "dead", where what is space / time is expressed.
According to Manichaeism, Light and Darkness coexisted without ever mingling. But following a catastrophic event, Darkness invaded the Light. From this conflict was born the (natural) man, his spirit belongs to the realm of Light and his body belongs to the realm of Darkness - which can transform death no longer into a destructive process but into a process of supreme elevation, of liberation of the spirit.
According to Manichaeism, the natural man is therefore double. He owns :
- a spirit belonging to the kingdom of Light - this is the immortal part of man;
- a body belonging to the kingdom of darkness - this is the mortal part of man.
Mani wrote (in a way about) nine works: Shâbuhragân, Living Gospel, Treasure of life, Mysteries, Legends (Pragmateia), Image, Giants, Letters, Book of psalms and prayers.
Manichean mythology (texts)
- The Hymn on the Third Messenger and the Archons.
- Hymn to the Father of Greatness.
- The Hymn about the Captivity of Light.
- Invocation of Jesus the Splendor.
- Hymn on the Second Coming of Jesus.
- Hymn on the Fate of the Living Soul.
- Hymn Exhorting the Soul to Remembrance
- Hymn to the Living Soul.
- Hymn to the Third Messenger.
- Hymn in Praise of Mani.
- Commemorative Hymn for Mar Zaku.
- Homily on the Correct Preparations for the Sacred Meal.
- Invocation of the Angels.
- The Invocation of Bar Simus.
- Invocation of the Gods in the Moon.
- A Confessional Prayer for the Elect.
- The Hymn on the End of the World.
- The Hymn on Body-and-Soul.
- The Funerary Hymn.
- Hymns to the Soul.
- Hymn in Honor of the Dominions of Light.
- Untitled Parthian Hymn.
- The Crucifixion Hymn.
- The Psalms of Thomas (a collection of 12 psalms)
- To Manichaean Psalm: A summary of the Manichaean creation myth
- Primal Man, a Manichaean fragment.
- Come to Me, My Kinsman, the Light, My Guide. A Manichaean Prayer.
- The End of the Deficiency. A Manichaean eschatological hymn.
- Joy Came Over Me. A Manichaean fragment.
- Salvation of the Soul. A Turkish Manichaean fragment.
- Excerpt from the Fundamental Epistle of Mani.
- O Soul, a Manichaean fragment.