Gospel of Mani

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For the 1956 "The Gospel of the Prophet Mani", see Duncan Greenlees.

The Living Gospel (also Great Gospel, Gospel of the Living and variants) was a 3rd-century gnostic gospel written by Mani. It was originally written in Syriac and called the Evangelion (Syriac: ܐܘܢܓܠܝܘܢ), from the Greek: εὐαγγέλιον ("good news")[1] and was one of the seven original scriptures of Manichaeism. A number of fragments are preserved in the Cologne Mani-Codex (discovered 1969) and on manuscript fragments found in Turfan beginning in 1904.[2] Some Coptic manuscript fragments recovered at Fayyum appear to contain a sort of commentary or homily on the gospel.

Al-Biruni, who still had access to the full text, commented that it was a "gospel of a special kind", unlike any of the gospels of the Christians, and that the Manichaeans insisted that theirs was the only true gospel, and that the various gospels of the Christians misrepresented the truth about the Messiah.[3]

There is a tendency in historical scholarship to confuse the Mani's Living Gospel with another of his works,[4] known as Ertenk or Ardhang/Arzhang (ancient Persian: artha-thanha ≈ "message of truth") or The Picture Book. The Ardhang was in fact a picture-book,[5] given the name of Eikon in Greek and Coptic. This was a book containing illustrations to accompany and facilitate the understanding of Mani’s cosmology. Photius (or pseudo-Photius) comments on the text, saying that it contains a falsified account some of the acts of Jesus,[6] while Peter of Sicily insists that it contained no such material.[7]

It is known that the gospel had 22 parts, each labelled by a different letter of the Aramaic alphabet. The combination of two Turfan fragments allows the reconstruction of the text of the first part (alaph). The section deals with the nature of the "King of the World of Light" who resides at the "Navel of the World" but is also present on his whole earth, from without as from within, having no limits except where his earth borders on that of his enemy, the "Kingdom of Darkness". Schneemelcher (1990) suggests tentatively that the text may have been designed as a gospel of the gnostic type, perhaps intended to comment on or replace the Christian gospel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ G. Haloun and W.B. Henning, "The Compendium of the Doctrines and Styles of the Teaching of Mani the Buddha of Light", Asia Major, N. S. 3 (1952), 182-212, p. 205.
  2. ^ Wilhelm Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings, Westminster John Knox Press, 2nd ed. 1990, 2003, ISBN 9780664227210, 404-409.
  3. ^ Schneemelcher, Wilhelm (ed); Wilson, Robert McLachan (English transl.1991; 2003): New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings.' Cambridge: James Clark; Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press. Pp 406-411. (Link and website checked 2012-04-30.)
  4. ^ Schneemelcher, Wilhehelm (ed); Wilson, Robert McLachan (English transl.1991; 2003): New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings.' Cambridge: James Clark; Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press. Pp 409. (Link and website checked 2012-04-30.)
  5. ^ Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2006): An Introduction to Manicheism. Early Iranian Civilizations 103 ', p 42. (Link and website checked 2012-04-30.)
  6. ^ Lardner, Nathaniel (1857): The works of Nathaniel Lardner in five volumes, Vol II. London: Thomas Hamilton, pp 151-157 (Link and website checked 2012-04-30.)
  7. ^ Lardner, Nathaniel (1857): The works of Nathaniel Lardner in five volumes, Vol II. London: Thomas Hamilton, pp 151-157 (Link and website checked 2012-04-30.)

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