Original Research - Special Collection: Augustinus Symposium

Manichaean exonyms and autonyms (including Augustine’s writings)

Nils A. Pedersen
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 1 | a1358 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v69i1.1358 | © 2013 Nils A. Pedersen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 November 2012 | Published: 10 April 2013

About the author(s)

Nils A. Pedersen, Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark; Research Fellow, Department of Church History and Polity, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Did the Western Manichaeans call themselves ‘Manichaean’ and ‘Christian’? A survey of the evidence, primarily Latin and Coptic, seems to show that the noun and adjective uses of ‘Manichaean’ were very rarely used and only in communication with non-Manichaeans. The use of ‘Christian’ is central in the Latin texts, which, however, is not written for internal use, but with a view to outsiders. The Coptic texts, on the other hand, are written for an internal audience; the word ‘Christian’ is only found twice and in fragmentary contexts, but it is suggested that some texts advocate a Christian self-understanding (Mani’s Epistles, the Psalm-Book) whilst others (the Kephalaia) are striving to establish an independent identity. Hence, the Christian self-understanding may reflect both the earliest Manichaeism and its later Western form whilst the attempt to be independent may be a secondary development.


Augustinus; Manichaeism; Exonyms; Autonymns


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