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The First Generation of Manichaeans and Other Comunities in the Egyptian Deserts: Methodology, the Available Evidence, and Conclusions

Keywords: Rosicrucian AMORC , Manichaean , Manichaeism , Copt , Coptic , Egypt , Origenism , Origenist , Meletian , christian , orthodox , gnostic

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Abstract:

Three steps are necessary for a study of the presence of possible Manich an influence on the first generation of monastic and eremitical life of what is commonly known as the Coptic Orthodox tradition, and to study the interactions of Manich ans with Coptic Orthodox, Origenists, Meletians and others:(1) Show the availability of Manich an materials, teachers or communities, temporally, geographically and culturally, to the Egyptian desert communities and hermits. This would, in effect, be a Manich an prosopography.(2) Show evidence of actual contacts between Manich ans, "Orthodox" Christian ascetics, and others.(3) Discover in the texts of the Apophthegmata Patrum (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers) evidence of Manich an themes, images, etc. This would require distinguishing actual and verifiable Manich an literature and theology from that claimed by heresiologists, without other substantiation.The current study considers the evidence available for each of the areas above, and makes a judgment as to the probability of the thesis: The relationship of the Manich ans to the "Orthodox" appears to have been substantially different than that between the "Orthodox" and other groups. There is evidence of occasional cooperation between Coptic Orthodox, Meletian and Origenist ascetics, but as yet no evidence of a cooperative connection between Manich ans and these other groups, although emerging textual evidence from new finds will be helpful in seeking literary and spiritual connections in future research.

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