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Manichaeism in Early Eastern Byzantium (4-6th centuries): Real and Imagined Manichaeans in Anti-Manichaean Byzantine Literature.
Supervisor: Prof. dr. A.F. de Jong
Byzantine literature as a source in the Manichaean studies
The references to Manichaeans and Manichaeism in anti-Manichaean Byzantine literature abound. However, it was pointed out early on in modern scholarship that this genre of literature has the following methodological problems: a) as a polemical anti-heretical literature (heresiology) can be regarded as unreliable and biased material (since any reference to Manichaeans spring forth from a polemical agenda) and b) that in patristic (ecclesiastical) writings, the word Manichaean was used as a technical term, an epithet of abuse for religious opponents of all sides.
The problems mentioned above, as well as the fact that from the beginning of the 20th century onward a series of original Manichaean texts were discovered in Central Asia and Egypt lead researchers to focus on the new findings and abandon patristic sources. Since then, the anti-Manichaica passed on the margins. Especially the Greek patristic sources were more neglected than the respective Latin, since the quoted Manichaean material in the latter was more abundant.
Yet, during the last decades, despite the reservation towards the patristic sources, some have argued that these are not that unreliable, and that they preserve much historical information, as long as they are critically read.
Aim of the research
Thus, taking into account the above problems and perspective, the aim of this research is through a critical re-reading of the Byzantine anti-Manichaean sources under the light of the new discoveries and their reassessment as sources for Byzantine Manichaeism to shed light on certain aspects of the religious and social profile and life of Byzantine Manichaeans.
Crucial research questions are:
a) How can we move from literary sources to social reality (methodological), b) how to distinguish between references to ‘real’ Manichaeans and the use of the nomen Manichaeorum for other, polemical, purposes (methodological), c) the dynamic of Manichaean penetration in Byzantium (missionary methods and strategies), d) the religious and social identity of the Byzantine Manichaeans as is represented by the byzantine anti-Manichaean writers, e) why Manichaeans were persecuted so much by both the Byzantine state and Church and how did anti-Manichaean laws, patristic writings and Church canons affect everyday life of the Manichaeans, f) whether distinctive Manichaean communities and churches existed, g) why although the sources create the impression that Manichaeans existed everywhere, incidents of specific Manichaean individuals are very rare and the Manichaean presence as a historically active distinctive religious community remains elusive, and h) the phenomenon of crypto-Manichaeism.
- The main basis for the research is the Greek patristic and ecclesiastical anti-Manichaean corpus (supplemented, where deemed necessary, by the relevant Latin anti-Manichaean corpus).
- The anti-Manichaean laws and Church canons, a type of primary sources which is barely investigated by Manichaean scholars, are also examined.
- Pagan anti-Manichaean works are also considered, since they shed light to Manichaeans from another angle, providing insight into a kind of intercultural literature circulated in the Near East during Late Antiquity.
All the above sources are examined taking into consideration the recent secondary bibliography based on the new findings of the original Manichaean writings. Real or imagined Manichaeans is the lens through which primary sources are examined.
- PhD candidate at the Centre for the Study of Religion (formerly Institute for Religious Studies) at Leiden University. Working Title: Manichaeism in Early Byzantium (expected to finish September 2017).
- Master of Arts in Religious Studies, specialization: Comparative Religion (2008-2009). Institute for Religious Studies, Graduate School of Humanities, University of Leiden. Thesis Title: “Decoding the Foolishness of the Holy Fools: a cross-cultural study of the figures of Salos and Malamati”.
- Bachelor (4y) in Theology (2007), Department of Theology, School of Theology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
- Bachelor (4y) in Economic Sciences (1985), Department of Economics, Athens University of Economics and Business.
- Since 2013, working as Laboratory Teaching Staff (responsible for the History Laboratory) at the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology (IAKA) of the University of Thessaly, Greece.
- Between 1994 and 2013 worked at the Department of Primary Education, University of Thessaly.
- From 1985 until 1994 worked as an economist in the private sector and at the Ministry of Culture.
Courses currently taught at the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology (IAKA):
- “Writing a research paper in history”
- “Methods of Analysis of Historical Sources” (formerly “Critical reading techniques”).
- Matsangou, R. (forthcoming 2016). Real and Imagined Manichaeans in Greek Patristic Anti-Manichaica (4th-6th centuries). In Proceedings from IAMS (International Association of Manichaean Studies) 8th Symposium (2013) (volume provisionally entitled Manichaeism East and West). Brepols.
- Matsangou, R. (forthcoming 2016). Strategius’ Assignment: an inquiry into Manichaeism and the Manichaean churches of the Roman East, during the 4th century. In Iranica (Memorial volume in honour of Werner Sundermann). Harrassowitz Verlag.
- Matsangou, R. (2012). Is this Comparison Legitimate? Social Science Tribune, vol. 61, http://www.uth.gr/tovima/periexomena.htm [in Greek].
- Matsangou, R. (2013). Real and Imagined Manichaeans in Greek Patristic Anti-manichaica (4th-6th century). 8th International Conference of IAMS. University of London, SOAS, 9th-13th September.
- Matsangou, R. (2013). Real and Imagined Manichaeans and Crypto-Manichaeans in Greek Patristic Anti-manichaica (4th-6th centuries). NGG Annual Conference 2013: Lived Religion: Studying Religious Practice. Leiden University, 24-25 October 2013.
- Matsangou, R. (2014). Manichaean and other ‘heretic’ churches in Jerusalem 4th century. Day-Conference: Constantinian Era: Issues of Historiography and Art. University of Thessaly, IAKA, Volos, January 11 [in Greek].
- Matsangou, R. (2013). On the Genesis of his Body or Returning Journey to the Self. Day-Conference: Knowledge and Metamorphosis: Travelling in Late Antiquity. University of Thessaly, IAKA, Volos, March 2 [in Greek].
- Matsangou, R. (2012). Manichaean Missionaries in the Silk Road. Day-Conference: Holy Emigration in Late Antiquity. University of Thessaly, IAKA, Volos, March 3 [in Greek].