Manichaeans as Ahl al-Kitiib. A Study in Manichaean of a physical book or piece of writing, preferably one the candidate such status had retrieved from
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248 VVernerSundennann the Darkness and had become so sinful that it could no longer be This, however, does not worry the gods! 72 Cf. Kephalaia, chap. 40, trans. Gardner, The Kephalaia, 108-9. Augustine polemizes mently against the Manicheans on this point, e.g., De duabus animabus, CSEL 25, 73-79;’ dini Manichaei ad Augustinum epistula, CSEL 25, 894-95; (see other references in Asmussen;’J 16). John C. Reeves Manichaeans as Ahl A Study in Manichaean .this revelation of mine of (the) Two Principles and of (the) living books and and knowledge is greater than (that of) the religions ofthe ancients. l triumphalist proclamation belongs to Mani, a third-century “apostle of the God of truth to Babylonia”2 and the founder of what arguably be termed the first “world religion.” In this Middle Persian we discern a coupling of the two features of his religion that opponents most frequently condemn and remark: its stridently interpretation of existence, and its obsession with books that it accords status of revelatory scripture. Manichaeism, as Henri-Charles Puech aptly characterized it, was indubitably “une religion du Livre.”3 Much its distinctive doctrine, including its dualistic components, has its point . . not in Iranian religion, but in Mani’s subversive reading of and Christian scriptures and parascriptural compositions as and filtered through the lens of a morass of dualist sectarian groups at the margins (both cultural and geographical) of the vlesopotamian world, a collection of religions fanatics and social misfits M 5794 I verso lines 10-14: tswm kw Jm ‘bhwmy§n yg dw bwn ‘wd nbyg’n zyndg’n whyh d’nysn y mn ‘c h’n y pysyng’n.ilynfrYdr ‘wd why hynd; text cited from Mary Boyce, A in Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian (Leiden: Brill, 1975), 30. See also Friedrich and Walter B. Henning, “Mitteliranische Manichaica aus Chinesisch-Turkestan, II,” der preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (1933): 296; reprinted in W. B. Selected Papers (2 vo\s.; Acta Iranica 14-\5; Leiden: Brill, 1977), 1:193. A thiir al-biiqiya ‘an-il-quriin al-khiiliya (Chronologie orientalischer Volker von ed. C. Eduard Sachau [Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1878; repr., Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, .I3;S. Hasan Taqizadeh and A. A. Man! va din-e-ii (Teheran: Anjuman-e ::liii.nshinasT, 1335 A.H.l1956), 204. ” enri-Charles Puech, Le manicMisme: Son fondateur-sa doctrine (Paris: Civilisations du 1949),66. See also Geo Widengren, Mani and Manichaeism (New York: Holt, Rinehart and 1965),74. As Widengren notes, the earliest literary portrait we possess ofMani, found in mid-fourth century Acta Archelai (14.3), depicts Mani in colorful Persian garb bearing a staff his right hand and carrying a “Babylonian book” (Babylonium .. .librum) under his left arm. the first state-sponsored suppression of Manichaeism as enunciated in the edict of iDiocietian of 297 C.E. emphasizes that the “abominable scriptures” (abominandis scripturis) of ,Manichaeans must be burned. Citations from the Acta Archelai are taken from Hegemonius, Archelai, eO. Charles Henry Beeson (GCS 16; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1906). The edict of iDiocletian is conveniently accessible in Texte zum Manichiiismus, ed. Alfred Adam (2d ed.; W. de Gruyter & Co., 1969),82.,.83.
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251 250 John C. Reeves whom Ibn al-Nadim, an industrious tenth-century Muslim encyclope<11st living in Baghdad, felicitously termed "sects of the Chaldean dualists, rubric under which that same scholar also mapped Manichaeism.4 In tion to his expropriation of portions of the scriptural resources of the . cestral religions," Mani himself reputedly authored seven books to as a scriptural canon for his religion, and his community subsequentl placed great importance on their accurate preservation and reproduction The crucial role his writings played in the rapid promulgation of his ist message is underscored by the numerous references we find to them both Manichaean and anti-Manichaean tractates, whether in the c,t.,,,t proselytization, denunciation, or of state-sanctioned persecutions. Scriptures 'and Scripturalism in the Near East ofLate Antiquity Near Eastern "scripturalism" denotes the result of a cultural process reby divine discourse, purportedly the very word of God, achieves tion; a message deemed revelatory is instantiated or registered in form. As I have sought to show elsewhere, this regional nuancing of constitutes an authoritative "scripture" is intimately bound with the ceptual evolution of the role of the "prophet" among the various communities of the Near East during late antiquity and the early era.6 Attaining social legitimacy as an authentic prophet or mes:>vug.:LU God in the late antique Near East demanded the authenticating credentil of a physical book or piece of writing, preferably one the candidate such status had retrieved from heaven. “We will not believe you,” Muhammad’s skeptical Meccan hecklers, “until you send down to book we can read” (Q 17:90-93). The Qur’an itself frequently concurs in the past whenever God dispatched prophets or messengers to instruct to warn humanity, he sent down “scripture” (kitiib) with them (Q 2:2 3:81; 35:25; 40:70; 57:25). This intimate intertwining of prophetic scriptural authorities is not however limited to the conceptual Islam. Their nexus is deeply rooted in the rich soil of earlier iWW5H systems, particularly those of Judaism and Syro-Mesopotamian 4 The Fihrist ofal-Nad/m: A Tenth-Century Survey ofMuslim Culture, ed. and Dodge (2 vols.; New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), 2:745. Ibn important details about many of these sects 5 See John C. Reeves, Jewish Lore in Manichaean Cosmogony: Studies in the Book Traditions (Monographs of the Hebrew Union College 14; Cincinnati: Hebrew Press, 1992),9-49, especially 6 In an essay entitled “Chaldean Dualist Gnosis and Islamicate Judaism,” chap. 3 of graph in progress, Shades ofLight and Darkness: Syra-Mesopotamian Gnosis and 7 John C. Reeves, Heralds ofThat Good Realm: Syra-Mesopotamian Gnosis andtions (NHMS 41; Leiden: Brill, 1996), Manichaeans as ahl al-Kitiib and it possesses a number of significant parallels within the literatures of several schismatic religious movements arising amidst both Jews and . Muslims in Mesopotamia and Persia.s The notion of scripture in the sense of a tangible record of divine sure and instruction very early approaches an iconic, almost totemic, status . One ideological aspect of the physical realization of scripture manifests itself in an interreligious flourishing of what we might term “alphabet ticism.” Displaying, arranging, and manipulating the graphic shapes of the characters of the sacred alphabet, or in some cases articulating the sounds which they represent, produces concrete effects in both the physical and . spiritual dimensions of the universe. It is as if the alphabetic graphemes signal the elemental structures and combinations that constitute the various levels of the universe. The cross-cultural migration of this phenomenon is well illustrated in the popular episode of the “wise child-prophet” who , embarrasses his primary school teacher with his superior knowledge of the ‘,esoteric mysteries encoded in the letters of the Semitic alphabet: we find . this tale reproduced in a number of eastern scriptures of varying nance.9 According to Shahrastani, the twelfth-century cataloger of world the quasi-Gnostic adherents of Mazdak, a sixth-century Persian sectarian whom Ibn aI-Narum situates among the Chaldean dualists, revere deity enthroned in the supernal world who rules the universe by the letters that spell out “the most powerful Name”; human tion on these same letters produces a revelation of “the most awesome cret(s).”lO The radical Shiite sect of the Mughiriyya held that God existed in an anthropoid shape whose limbs and members corresponded to the number and shape of the letters of the alphabet.l1 Works like Sefer Yetzira, ‘Otiyyot de R. Aqiva, and the Shi’ur Qomah illustrate the currency of similar ideas among Jewish esotericist circles in the East during this time. ( S An excellent discussion of Near Eastern scripturdlism in its medieval Jewish and Muslim . infestations is Haggai Ben-Shammai, “Return to the Scriptures in Ancient and Medieval Jewish ‘. Sectmianism and in Early Islam,” in Les retours aux Ecritures: Fondamentalismes presents et passes, ed. Evelyne Patlagean and Alain Le Boulluec (Bibliotheque de I’Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Section des Sciences Religieuses 99; LouvainIParis: Peeters, 1993),319-39. 9 In this episode, the child is usually instructed by his schoolteacher to repeat the first letter of the alphabet on command, but the child refuses to obey unless the teacher can expound that letter’s esoteric significance. When the latter confesses his inability to comply, the child proceeds to recite the entire alphabet and to discourse on the meaning of each character. For the distribution and ‘cultural significance of this tale, see especially Steven M. Wasserstrom, Between Muslim and Jew: The Problem ofSymbiosis Under Early Islam (princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 71. 10 ShahrastiinT, Kitiib al-milal wa ed. Muhammad b. Fath Alilih Badriin (2 vols.; Matba’at al-Azhar, [1951-55)), II Wilferd Madelung, “Mughlriyya,” Ei
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253 252 John C. Reeves A further aspect of scriptural totemism is that scripture and community come to be viewed as coextensive, as concrete embodiments or tions of each other. An attack on the integrity of the one can be read as an assault on the existence of the other. The physical manipulation, display, or even mutilation of the sacred book can rouse religious communities to a fever pitch of martial fervor or murderous rage. Martin Goodman and more recently Seth Schwartz have called attention to what the latter aptly terms a “fetishization of the Torah scroll,” an attitude already found within certain literary works of Hellenistic and Roman-era Judaism such as I Maccabees, the Epistle ofAristeas, and the histories of Josephus. 12 The willful tion and destruction of Torah scrolls, as was allegedly carried out by the agents of Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc I :56-57), signals more than a spree of thuggish vandalism; it represents the calculated annihilation of a tive Jewish identity within the cosmopolitan ethos of the Seleucid state. A clever, even diabolical plan, but hardly a novel one. Nebuchadnezzar had attempted to perform a similar purgation when he sacked Jerusalem-so claims Ya’qubI within th.e “biblical history” portion of his ninth-century Ta’rFfch (“Chronicle”}-but the Babylonian monarch’s plan of virtual cide was thwarted by Zerubbabel who recovered the Torah and the books of the Prophets from the pit wherein Bukht-Na!Raf (i.e., Nebuchadnezzar) had buried them. He discovercd that they had not burned at all.13 Hence he restored (and) transcribed (copies of) the Torah, the books of the Prophets, their eustomary practices (sunna), and their religious laws (sarF’a). He was the,.flfst to record these scriptures.14 Ya’quhi thus affirms that Zerubbabel’s successful recovery of the Jewish scriptures permitted not only the reclamation of his people’s literary age but also the successful reconstitution of every aspect of Jewish munal life, including its very status as a distinct people. The notions ((. scripture and ethnos are thus intertwined, and even the titles or tions for national scriptures can function as metonyms or can be employed interchangeably, even disparagingly, by one textual community when 12 Martin D. Goodman, “Texts, Scribes and Power in Roman Palestine,” in Literacy and Power in the Ancient World, ed. Alan K. Bowman and Greg Woolf (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 100-2; Seth Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 B. C. E. to 640 C. E. (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001), 59-61, cf. 231-33. 13 In his earlier account of the Babylonian sack of Jerusalem, Ya’qiibi had described how the impious Nebuchadnezzar had taken the Jewish scriptures, dumped them in a hole, tossed flaming torches on top ofthem, and filled the pit with dirt. 14 Ya’qiibT, Ta’rikh (2 vols.; Beirut: Dar Sadir, 1960), 1:66.4-6; cf. Ibn Wadih qui dicitur Ja’qubi historiae, ed. Martijn Th. Houtsma (2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1883), 1:71.12-15; Rifaat Y. Ebied and L. R. Wickham, “AI-Ya};:iibI’s Account of the Israelite Prophets and Kings,” JNES 29 (1970): 97; Camilla Adang, Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible: From Ibn RaMan to Ibn Hazm (Leiden: Brill, 1996),226-27. Manichaeans as ahl al-Kitiib referring to another rival group: witness the qur’anic manipulation of the appellatives Tawriit (or “the Law”) for Jews and Jnjll (or “the Gospel”) for Christians, or the demeaning Christian invocation of “that vomit of tanthe Avesta” for Zoroastrians. 15 . Accordingly religious innovation or dissent can be legitimated only through scriptural means. ‘Anan b. David, often but erroneously branded as the founder of the Karaite or “scripturalist” movement within medieval Judaism,16 reportedly based his teachings on what were supposedly superior “manuscripts of the Mishnah (sic!) written in the handwriting copied from the prophet Moses,” copies of which ‘Anan allegedly brought with him to Baghdad “from the East.”,17 ‘Anan also generated additional writings under his own name explicating his new insights; these works were predictably and pejoratively dismissed by one of his opponents as “a wicked and verse Talmud.”18 Certain later Karaite authors (Ya’qub al-QirqisanI, Sahl b. ground the validity of their schism in an appeal to the authority of more ancient “Zadokite” writings, some of which may have resurfaced among their community.J9 Another eighth-century Jewish dissident, the messianic pretender Abu ‘Isa al-I:;;fahiinI, reportedly authored a divinely inspired book in which he critiqued and reinterpreted the Jewish Bible,2o but he also supposedly exhorted his followers to study the Gospels, the Qur’an, and their commentaries, thereby endorsing a kind of scriptural [5 Ho’dad of Marw apud Malt 2:2, cited from The Commentaries ofIsho ‘dad ofMerv, Bishop of Hadatha (c. 850 A.D.) in Syriac and English, ed. Margaret Dunlop Gibson (2 vols.; Horae Semiticae 5-6; Cambridge: University Press, 1911),2:32.11-12. 16 For some excellently nuanced discussions of this issue, see Haggai Ben-Shammai, “Between Ananites and Karaites: Observations on Early Medieval Jewisb Sectarianism,” in Studies in lim.Jewish Relations: Volume I, ed. Ronald L Nettler (Oxford: Oxford Center for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, 1993), 19-29; Yoram Erder, ‘The Karaites’ Sadducee Dilemma,” lOS 14 (1994): 195-226. [1 MaqrizI, Kh/fa!, as published in Antoine I. Silvestre de Sacy, Chrestomathie arabe (3 vols.; Paris: Imprimerie imperiale, 1806), I: 161.6-8. See also Salo Wittmayer Baron, A Social and Religious History ofthe Jews (18 vols.; 2d ed.; New York and Philadelphia: Columbia University Press and the Jewish Publication Society, 1952-83), 5:183; Steven M. Wasserstmm, Species of Misbeliif; A History of Muslim Heresiography of the Jews (Ph.D. diss., University of Toronto, 1985), 436. This curious claim is now clarified by the near contemporary oriental traditions of Eldad ha·Dani about the legendary existence of a Levitical tribe known as the beney Mosheh or “children of Moses” wbo dwelt in the East and who moreover were supposedly in possession of Hebrew language editions of talmudic literature emanating directly from Moses. 18 So Natronai b. Hilai, the ninth·century Gaon of Sura; text available in Andre Paul, Ecrits de Qumran et sects juives aux premiers siecles de I ‘Is/am: Recherches sur 1’origine du QaralSme (paris: Letouzey el Ane, 1969), 146 n. 26. 19 See Baron, History, 5:187-88; John C. Reeves, “Exploring the Afterlifu ofJewisb grapha in Medieval Near Eastern Religious Traditions: Some Initial Soundings,” JSJ 30 (1999): 148-77, especially 159-64; Fred Astren, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Medieval Jewish Studies: Methods and Problems,” DSD 8 (2001): 105-23. 20 So Qirqisii.nI and ShahrastilnI; see Baron, History, 5: 185.
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255 254 John C. Reeves eclecticism that is intriguingly reminiscent of the Manichaean tactic of adoption and cooptation ofthe scriptures of the “ancestral religions.”2l More common, however, than this scriptural irenism is scriptural micism, where texts are wielded like weapons and where one scripturl directly opposed, blunted, and undermined by another.22 Qur’iin, for pIe, trumps Tawriit and Injfl, even though all three scriptures share status of divine revelation (Q 5:44-48). One might, like the former caliphal bureaucrat John of Damascus, contrast the sober testimony of the “Old New Testaments and the words of the holy and elect Fathers’ with ‘the loathsome and unclean writings ofthe accursed Manichaeans, Gnostics, the rest of the heretics. “’23 Or, in those cases where particular scriptures ,are’ shared by the competing communities, one might wage battle at the neuticallevel and strive to demonstrate that widely accepted and interpretations of prominent verses or stories are in fact wrong and be amended or replaced. The Chaldean dualists, many of whom eXlUUlLtlU. various degrees of Christianization and hence nominally respectful attitudes toward most biblically allied scriptures, were especially adept at this type warfare. Theodore AbU Qurra, the eighth-century Melkite bishop of ijaniin; speaks of arguing with people of the Manicbaeans. These are they who are called the Zanadiqa, and they Thou must attach thyself to the (true) Christians and give heed to the word of gospel. For the true Gospel is in our possession, which the twelve apostles written, and there is’ no religion other than that which we possess, and there are Christians apart from us. No one understands the interpretation of the Gospel Mani, our Lord,24 21 Abu ‘!sa allegedly accepted a restrictive prophetic status for both Jesus and hammad. Note also the similar ecumenical attitude displayed by the early Isma’Iliyya movement (see Wilferd Madelung, Ei 4: 19&-206) and the infamous Rasa’il of the Ikhwiin i;latli’; i.e” the “Brethren of Purity”: “The prophets are to be valued highly, because of their edience to the angels in writing down in the revealed books the inspiration and announcements they received the Torah, the Gospel, the Koran, and the of the prophets.” Quotation from Fred Leemhuis, “The Arabic Version of the Apocalypse of Baruch: A Christian Text?,” 4 (1989): 23. . 22 Wasserstrom also reviews aspects of this phenomenon in a discussion of what he ternfs: “comparative exegesis”; see his Between Muslim andJew, 145-53. 23 John of Damascus, Orationes tres 2,10, cited from Averil Cameron, “Texts as Weapons: lemic in the Byzantine Dark Ages,” in Bowman and Woolf, Literacy and Power in the World,214. 24 Cited by Henri-Charles Puech, “Gnostic Gospels and Related Documents,” in Edgar necke, New Testament Apocrypha, ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher(2 vols.; Philadelphia: The minster Press, 1963-65), I :268. Similarly the tenth·century Muslim jurist’Abd al·Jabbar “Mani claims that he knows the truth concerning Christ, that he is one of the latter’s followers, nobody with the exception of himself and his (Le.,.Mani’s) followers observes Christ’s law precepts and that the Gospel which Mani has with him is the Gospel ofChrist” (Tathbft dala’il al-Manichaeans as ahl al-Kitiib Finally one might, like l;liwI al-Balkhi, the so-called Jewish Marcion,25 engage in a systematically destructive exposure of the discrepancies, ‘. tradictions, and absurdities to be found in canonical scriptures in order to ridicule their allegedly divine origin. l;liwi himself attacked the Hebrew · Bible with devastating effect, forcing a half dozen or so later generations · of Jewish exegetes to respond to and counter his critique. So-called lim “free-thinkers” like Ibn al-Rawandi and al-Razi, both of whom exhibit tantalizing links with dualist thinkers and writings, similarly disparage the · Qur’an and even the very possibility of a prophetically countenance<:\ religion.26 According to the Karaite scholar Va'qlib al-QirqisanI, ters and deviants like the Manichaeans" were particularly active in · ploiting the ambiguities and apparent contradictions to be found in the · biblical book of GenesisP In fact Manichaeans and their Chaldean dualist brethren were infamous for their uncompromising rejection of the · cal form of the Hebrew Bible. Barely a century after the death of Mani, :-Ephrem Syrus reports that "they (the Manichaeans) revile our Old ment just as the Jews revile the New Testament."28 While largely · markable at first glance, this statement meritS a closer scrutiny. It does not say that Mani or his religion rejected the importance of the dramatis sonae and narrated events that figure in certain portions of Christian scripture; such a reading is clearly false in light of the crucial significance Manichaeism manifestly accords to the words and deeds of the pre-Abrahamic biblical forefathers29 and QirqisiinI's aforementioned nubiiwwah, ed. 'Abd al-Karim 'Uthmiin [2 vols.; Beirut: Dar al-Arabiyah, 1966-67], 1 :114). Translation is that of Shlomo Pines, "Two Passages Concerning Mani," The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries ofChristianity According to a New Source (Proceedings of the Israel mY ofScienccs and'Humanities 2.13; Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1966),66. 25 So M, Stein, "Hiwi al·Balkhi, the Jewish Marcion," in Sefer Qlozner (= Klausner Volume), ed. Naftali H. Tur-Sinai (Tel Aviv: Va'ad ha-Yovcl, 1937),210-55 (Hebrew). 26 For the most recent discussion ofthese figures, see Sarah Stroumsa, Freethinkers ofal Islam: Ibn al-Rawandi. Abii Bala-ai-RazZ, and Their Impact on Islamic Thought (Leiden: Brill, 1999). 27 AbU YiisufYa'qiibal-QirqisiinI, Tajsfr Bereshit (sic), British Library Ms. Or. 2557, as lished in Hartwig Hirschfeld, Qirqisiini Studies (Jews' College Publication 6; London: Oxford University Press, 1918),39.11-12. It is now recognized that the text published by Hirschfeld is actually QirqisiinI's introduction to his much lengthier commentary on the narrative sections of the Pentateuch. His briefer commentary (called hy Chiesa an "epitome") on Genesis (Tajsfr Bereshit) is extant as British Library Ms. Or. 2492, which remains unpublished. Sec Bruno Chiesa, "A New · Fragment of al-Qirqisiini's Kitiib al-Riyii(i," JQR 78 (1987-88): 175-85. 28 Translated from S. Ephraim's Prose RefutatiOns of Marcion, and Bardaisan, ed. Charles W. Mitchell (2 vols.; London: Williams and Norgate, 1912-21), 1:43.40-44, 29See Reeves, Heralds, 7-17. It is barely possible that Abraham may have been viewed by Mani as a legitimate Apostle of Light to the Jews, a "national" prophet holding a rank and prestige similar to that enjoyed by the Buddha, Zoroaster, and Jesus, See Augustine, contra Faustum 19.3; PAGE - 5 ============ 257 256 John C. Reeves remark attesting a Manichaean infatuation with the biblical book of sis. Rather, the operative word in Ephrem's report is the pronoun (dilan); namely, it is our version of the Old Testament that effects sion among the Manichaeans. Manichaeism denigrates only those tions of the Jewish scriptures that were read as such among the contempO-' rary Jewish and Christian communities. Competing versions of what we today refer to as Bible were rife the initial centuries of the Common Era. Thanks to the important script discoveries of the past century and the close study of these finds tandem with a reassessment of the structure and contents of various literatures like Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha., rabbinic midr""h1m Christian parascriptural sources (e.g., the Cave ofTreasures cycle), and Muslim prophetic lore (the so-called "lives of the prophets"), a paradigm for understanding and explaining the development of Bible canon is beginning to emerge,30 and it possesses far-reaching implicatlUIlli for the scholarly evaluation of the use of "biblical" characters, episodes, motifs in a variety of Near Eastern literary contexts. Succinctly stated, new way of reading suggests that in the absence of firm evidence to contrary no one form of a "biblical" narrative need necessarily enjoy poral priority or social authority over another one. Moreover, even in diminishing cases where one can establish such priority or authority, are sometimes embedded frozen remnants of more primitive formulanums, or motifs within the later text.31 /' A Manichaean Counter-Version ofGenesis 1-6? The biblical book of Genesis as known to us in its Jewish and '-'1111""'<.W..· canonical recensions and as refracted to us in a bewildering variety alternative formulations .and arrangements provides an excellent focus illustrating this approach. Works like the Masoretic recension of Gene"lli, Jubilees, the Qumran Genesis Apocryphon (IQapGen), Liber Antiquitates, and the Nag Hammadi Apocalypse of Adam different portrayals, recountals, and even stages of redaction of a roster of basic characters and narrative events like the creation, the human couple, their immediate descendants, the corruption of and the universal Flood. Isolated blocks or parallel fragments of """."t1ve ShahrastlinI, Kiliib milal wa'l-ni/.lal, ed. Muhammad Sayyid KTIlini (2 vols.; Cairo, Beirut: Dar al-Marefah, n.d.), I :248; also Taqi;dideh-SIriizi, Mani va din-e-u, 30 See James E. Bowley and John C. Reeves, "Rethinking the Concept of 'Bible': and Proposals," Henoch 25 (2003): 31 For some illustrations, see John C. Reeves, "Some Explorations of the and Qur'lin," in Bible and Qur'on: Essays in Scriptural lntertextuality, ed. John (SBLSymS 24; LeideniAtianta: BrilllSociety of Biblical Literature, 2003), Manichaeans as ahl al-Kitab .materials related to the opening scenes in Genesis can be found in portions of the Enochic literature (e.g., the Book of Watchers; the Animal lypse; the Qumran Book of Giants) or early Jewish compositions like 4 Ezra (3:4-11; 6:38-53) and the Wisdom of Solomon (4: I 0-15; 10: 1-4). Absorption with these primal traditions was however not confined to ish circles: Christianity and Islam, insofar as they consciously viewed themselves as heirs to a living scriptural tradition, also fostered creative . readings and verbal construals of the primary narrative cycles attested in the early chapters of the canonical form of the book of Genesis, and their . rich collections of exegetical and legendary lore occasionally attest the presence of far older constellations of motifs and narrative trajectories.32 Gnostic literatures--whether Jewish, Christian, pagan, or abundantly bear witness to a fascination with the textual dimensions of cosmogony and theodicy in their "biblical" format,33 and the published writings associated with the Mesopotamian Gnostic sect known as the Mandaeans display a prominent interest in Genesis figures and themes.34 Manichaeism unsurprisingly shares this interest, although its version of the Genesis materials presents a drastic polemical recasting of the major characters, themes: and stories related in canonical forms of the Jewish text. Even so, the Manichaean version of Genesis cannot be summarily missed as a patently derivative distortion of orthodox scriptures; it in fact exhibits several intriguing suggestive of its close kinship to certain older complexes of allied traditions that once circulated as integral parts of an earlier stage of the biblical narrative tradition, but that were subsequently expunged from their original settings by the final redactors of Genesis and are now situated beyond the boundaries of the canonical forms of Genesis in parascriptural texts like Jubilees and portions of 1 Enoch. One might in fact state it this way: Manichaeism subverts the canonical narrative setting, l2 The Syriac Cave of Treasures, for example, demonstrates how one Christian community could manipulate the discourse ofGenesis to express distinctly parochial concerns (e.g., a positive evaluation of celibacy), while Muslim collections of so-called Isra 'jliyyiit (Jewish stories) exploit the hortatory value of the deeds and sayings of earlier prophets like Adam, Noah, or Abraham. 33 In addition to the aforementioned Apocalypse ofAdam, note also the Apocryphon ofJohn, the Hypostasis of the Archons, On the Origin ofthe World, and the Gospel of the Egyptians, as well as several pseudepigrapha ascribed to prominent Genesis characters like Seth or Melchizedek. Essential guidance concerning the "biblical" roots of these gnostic texts is provided by Birger A. . Pearson, "Jewish Sources in Gnostic Literature," in Jewish Writings ofthe Second Temple Period, ed. Michael E. Stone (CRINT 2.2; AssenlPhiladelphia: Van GorcumIFortress, 1984), 443-81; idem, "The Problem of 'Jewish Gnostic' Literature," in Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism, & Early Christianity, ed. Charles W. Hedrick and Robert Hodgson, Jr. (Peahody, Mass.: Hendrickson . PubliShers, \986), 15-35; and especially Gedaliahu A. G. Stroumsa, Another Seed: Studies in Gnostic Mythology (NHS 24; Leiden: Brill, 1984). , 34 See especially Eric Segelberg, "Old and New Testament Figures in Mandaean Version," in Syncretism, ed. Sven S. Hartman (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1969),228-39. PAGE - 6 ============ 259 258 John C. Reeves characters, and plot of the early chapters of Genesis by restoring certain motifs and themes it gleaned from more primitive forms of the same text The purpose of this textual subversion is apparently to demonstrate that the _. distinctive message of Mani was originally encoded within what was perc ceived to be a more authentic form ofthis "ancestral scripture." In order to appreciate the astonishing nature of this claim, it must be called that a principal critique Mani levels against some of his prophetic predecessors is that they failed to insure the accurate registration and prC'o servation of their writings and that consequently these eventually evolve into the canonical scriptures associated with religions like Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity-were corrupted and falsified by later generations of disciples and followers.35 Ibn al-NadiID mentions that "ManT disparaged the other prophets in his writings. He found fault with them and charged them with lies, and maintained that devils had taken possession of them and had spoken using their tongues. "36 This mode of argument is hardly new: Christian polemicists since the time of Justiri Martyr had been charging Jews with the tendentious alteration of those portions of Jewish scripture that purportedly predicted the advent of Jesus and the Church, and the same accusation would enjoy renewed currency in Islam under the label of tal;rif ("alteration, forgery"), particularly with regard to the falsification of both the Jewish and Christian scriptures (cf. Q 3:78; 4:46; 5:15).37 Certain trajectories within early Syrian Christianity; such as those represented by the pseudo-Clementine corpus of writings and the Didaskalia, visualized a distinction in the contents of the Jewish tures between those passages that were authentically revelatory and ceived by Moses directly from God and other passages, the so-called "false peri copes" emanating from corrupt writings prepared by later generations of scribes.38 It is surely not coincidental that it is out of such a sectarian milieu 35 See the sources cited by Carl Schmidt and Hans 1. Polotsky, Ein Mani-Fund in Originalschriflen des Man; und seiner Schuler (Berlin: Verlag der Akademie dcr 1933),40-44; Andreas and Henning. "Mitteliranische Manichaica II," 295 n. I; Walter B. ning, "The Murder of the Magi," JRAS (1944), 136-37 (reprinted in Henning: Selected 2: 142-43); Puech, Le manicheisme, 66-67, 149 nn. 259-61. 36 Taqlzadeh-SrrazI, Man; va din-e-ii, 159; cf. Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist (trans. Dodge), 2:794. Compare Acta Archelai 11.3; Titus of Bostra, Contra Manichaeos (see Titi Bostreni contra chaeos libri quatuor syriace, ed. Paul A. de Lagarde [Berlin: C_ Schullze, 1859], 129). 37 See especially HavaLazarus-Yafeh, "Tal:rrif," Ei 10:111-12; idem, "Muslim Medieval tudes towards the Qur'an and the Bible," in Patlagean and Le Boulluec, Les retours aux Ecritures; 253-67. 38 Ps-Clementine Homilies 2.38; 3.47-48. See Hans-Joachim Schoeps, Theologle und schichte des Judenchristentums (Tilbingen: 1. C. B. Mohr, 1949), 148-87; Georg Strecker, Kerygmata Petrou," in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 2:102-27; "On the Problem of Jewish Christianity," in Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Manichaeans as ahl al-Kitah that many of the later Chaldean dualist sects emerged, including most portantly for our purposes, Manichaeism.39 Is it possible that Mani was conversant with the divergent forms or even the redactional history of the biblical book of Genesis? Is it possible that when he prepared his rendering of those traditions he was consciously reintroducing or reintegrating ments that stemmed from a more primitive rendition of the text than those represented by its present canonical forms? Manichaeism uses a "corrective" reading of the initial chapters of sis that frequently applies and exploits motifs drawn from what are arguably earlier renditions of the principal Genesis narratives, especially those which highlight topics and motifs associated with that school of authors biblical source critics identify as the Priestly source (P).40 Several distinctive tures of the Priestly account of primeval history (fuller forms of which may still be visible in parascriptural sources like Jubilees, 1 Enoch, rabbinic and early medieval collections of midrash, and later Christian and Muslim pilations of exegetical lore) would seem to require only minimal adjustment by Mani (at least from the point of view ofmature.Manichaeism) in order to integrate them within the Manichaean system of discourse. These include: (1) the Priestly source's general affinity with Mesopotamian41 traditions pertaining to primeval history; (2) the largely asexual nature of the creative process itself;42 (3) the notion that humanity came into being as a conscious imitation or copy ofan androgynous divine entity;43 (4) a plurality of divine beings;44 (5) a strict abhorrence of unsanctioned bloodshed;45 and (6) the apparent prominence of the figure of Enoch as a crucial transitional " Christianity, ed. Robert A. Kraft and Gerhard Krodcl (2d ed.; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), 241-85. 39 See John C. Reeves, "The 'Elchasaite Sanhedrin' of the Cologne Mani Codex in Light of Second Temple Jewish Sectarian Sources," JJS 42 (1991): 68-91; Samuel N. C. Lieu, ism In the Loter Roman Empire and Medieval China (2d ed.; Tilbingen: 1. C. B. Mohr, 1992), 85. 40 I.e., Gen 1:1-2:4a; 5:1-28, 30-32a; 6:9-14 + portions ofthe Flood narrative. 41 As opposed to autochthonous Canaanite or revisionist Deuteronomistic ones. 42 Both the Priestly (Gen I: 1-2:4a) and Manichaean myths of cosmogony emphasize linguistic rather than sexual or-demiurgic modes ofcreation. See Reeves, Jewish Lore, 201 n. 20. 43 Gen I :26-27 with its emphasis upon the creation of Adam in the divine "image and ness" is a crucial text in the elaboration ofboth creation myths. 44 Gen I :26 ("let us create Adam") plus the consistent employment of the grammatically plural term 'elohim for the deity(s). 45 According to pentateuchal source critics, the Priestly source lacked the Eden (2:4b-3:24) and the Cain and Abel (4:1-24) stories, both of which contain instances involving the possible or actual mortal spilling of blood. For the importance of this point, see Reeves, "Some Explorations," 52-58. 239 KB – 10 Pages