The Manichaeism Religion was dualistic in regards to good and evil with a key belief that there is no omnipotent good power. This addresses a theoretical part of the problem of evil by denying the infinite perfection of God and the belief in two equal and opposite powers.
The human being is seen as a battleground for these powers: the good part is the soul, which is composed of light, and the bad part is the body, composed of dark earth. The soul defines the person and is incorruptible, but it is under the domination of a foreign power, which addressed the practical part of the problem of evil.
The Manichaeism Religion thrived between the third and seventh centuries, and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east as China and as far west as the Roman Empire.
Manichaeism appears to have faded away after the fourteenth century in southern China.
Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Manichaeism. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean belief, and the structure of the Manichaean community, divided between male and female monks (the "elect") and lay followers (the "hearers") who supported them, appears to be based on that of the Buddhist ideals.
The faith was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia. Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani (AD 216–276) have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived.
Manichaeism is distinguished by its elaborate cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. Through an ongoing process which takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light from which it came.
The original six sacred books of Manichaeism, composed in Syriac Aramaic, were soon translated into other languages to help spread the religion. As they spread to the east, the Manichaean writings passed through Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian, and ultimately Uyghur and Chinese translations. As they spread to the west, they were translated into Greek, Coptic, and Latin.
The spread and success of Manichaeism was seen as a threat to other religions, and it was widely persecuted in Christian, Zoroastrian, Islamic and Buddhist cultures.
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