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The Manichaean Body

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The Manichaean Body

In Discipline and Ritual

Award for the Best First Book in the History of Religions from the American Academy of Religion

Reconstructing Manichaeism from scraps of ancient texts and the ungenerous polemic of its enemies (such as the ex-Manichaean Augustine of Hippo), BeDuhn reveals for the first time the religion as it was actually practiced. He describes the Manichaeans' daily ritual meal, their stringent disciplinary codes (intended to prevent humans from harming plants and animals), and their secretive religious procedures designed to transform the cosmos and bring about the salvation of all living beings.

Overturning long-held assumptions about Manichaean dualism, asceticism, spirituality, and the pursuit of salvation, The Manichaean Body changes completely how we look at this ancient religion and the environment in which Christianity arose. BeDuhn's conclusions revolutionize our understanding of the Manichaeans, clearly distinguishing them from Gnostics and other early Christian heretics and revealing them to be practitioners of a unique world religion.