Mani, Augustine and the vision of God
AbstractThe recovery of the text of the Manichaean daily prayers provides an opportunity to consider how their recitation and practice may have influenced the young Augustine. It is argued that the prayers focused the mental and indeed physical gaze of the believer on the manifestation of God in this present reality, and through that upon the transcendent eternal world of future hope. If one accepts that Augustine as a Manichaean catechumen would have partaken in this most basic of the community’s religious duties then one must consider what effect this could have had on the development of his own striking and influential teachings about the vision of God. The article discusses evident allusions to this Manichaean practice in Augustine’s writings, and suggests that its influence continued through his later life despite his disavowal of his former faith. In particular, attention is drawn to similarities between the Manichaean ‘new aeon’ and the ‘heaven of heaven’ in Augustine’s writings, where the pure of heart can look forward to unmediated contemplation of God.
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