Manichaeism in the Later Roman Empire: A Study of Augustine's Contra Adimantum

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9780773447554: Manichaeism in the Later Roman Empire: A Study of Augustine's Contra Adimantum

The book is the first monograph-length study of Augustine's "Contra Adimantum". The work demonstrates that, despite previous neglect of the work by Patristic scholars, a full appreciation of Augustine's reaction to the Manichaean exegesis of the Bible is absolutely essential in understanding the development of Augustine's early theology. The emergence of Manichaeism in the Roman Empire during the third century of the Common Era profoundly influenced the religious and cultural landscape of the western world in Late Antiquity. This study returns to the origins of this process, by considering the transplantation of the 'Religion of Light', from its beginnings in Mesopotamia to the urban centers of Roman Egypt and North Africa, by Adda, one of Mani's earliest followers. The preliminary diffusion of Mani's revelation in the Roman world was effected by Adda (a.k.a. Adimantus), in part, through his propagandizing work of biblical exegesis, the disputationes, which aimed to sever the relationship between the Gospel of Jesus and the Jewish Bible as posited by the early Christian Church in canonized form as the Old and the New Testaments. Adda was demonstrably successful in this venture, as evidenced by the Catholic reaction to Manichaeism for most of the fourth century. St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the most virulent opponents of Mani's religion, preserved the disputationes in his reply to Adda, the "Contra Adimantum". This study considers, therefore, both sides of the debate, by investigating the clash between two rival forms of Christianity in the world of Roman North Africa.

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"... [a] new image of Adimantus emerges before our eyes: he is not merely the assumed polemicist, who controversially juxtaposed passages from the Old and the New Testament in his disputationes... He also becomes visible as the great teacher who, like Mani, considered the statements and teaching of the Gospels and the letters of Paul as having become perfected in the teachings and ecclesiastical structure of the Manichaean religion." - Prof. Markus Stein Heinrich-Heine-Universitat "... a very welcome contribution to a neglected area of early Christian history, namely the development of a critical understanding of the way in which the religion of the prophet Mani became established in the later Roman empire." - Prof. Shaun Tougher Cardiff University"

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