Prince of Darkness in Manichaeism

Manichaean cosmology, the world of darkness, which invaded the world of light in a lustful desire to mingle with the light, is ruled by five evil Archons(demon, dragon, eagle, fish and lion), who together make up the Prince of Darkness.[1] The Father of greatness parries the assault by evoking a number of entities, who sacrifice themselves and are absorbed by the Prince of Darkness, however, tricked by the Father of Greatness, their existence now depends on the light they absorbed.[1] To prevent the light particles from returning into their divine origin, they counter by giving birth to two demonic beings: Sakla and Nebroel. As the strict anti-thesis of the pure light, the Prince of Darkness can not create ex nihilo, but only by copulation.[1]

Polytheism and Dualism

Augustine of Hippo was once a Manichaean.

Augustine of Hippo, who converted from Manichaeism to Christianity, criticised the Manichaeans of polytheism and paganism, stating that Manichaeans, due to their dual cosmology, believe in two different deities. The Manichaean bishop Faustus of Mileve defends Manichaeism by stating that Catholics erroneously assume that the Prince of Darkness had a divine essence, while in fact, the Prince of Darkness does not share any attributes with the Divine, thus Manichaeism would not worship multiple gods, but rather one true god.[2] They are both two different principles, although eternally existing, clearly distinct. Only the light particles within humans are consubstantial to the Divine.

Alternative names

Manichaean missionaries adjusted the name of the Prince of Darkness, depending on the audience. Towards Christians, they commonly used the name Satanas.[3] In relation to Islam, the expression Iblis Al-Qadim (the primordial Iblis) can be found.[3] In Iranian Manichaeism, he was called Ahriman.[4]

References

  1. Willis Barnstone, Marvin Meyer The Gnostic Bible: Revised and Expanded Edition Shambhala Publications 2009 ISBN978-0-834-82414-0 page 575-577
  2.  Johannes van Oort Augustine and Manichaean Christianity: Selected Papers from the First South African Conference on Augustine of Hippo, University of Pretoria, 24-26 April 2012 BRILL 2013 ISBN9789004255067 p. 210
  3.  Peter J. Awn Satan’s Tragedy and Redemption: Iblis in Sufi Psychology BRILL 1983 ISBN9789004069060
  4. Yuri Stoyanov The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy Yale University Press 2000 9780300082531 p. 108

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