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The Medieval Manichee: A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy

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A reissue of Sir Steven Runciman's classic account of the Dualist heretic tradition in Christianity from its Gnostic origins, through Armenia, Byzantium, and the Balkans to its final flowering in Italy and Southern France. The chief danger that early Christianity had to face came from the heretical Dualist sect founded in the mid-third century AD by the prophet Mani. Withi A reissue of Sir Steven Runciman's classic account of the Dualist heretic tradition in Christianity from its Gnostic origins, through Armenia, Byzantium, and the Balkans to its final flowering in Italy and Southern France. The chief danger that early Christianity had to face came from the heretical Dualist sect founded in the mid-third century AD by the prophet Mani. Within a century of his death Manichaean churches were established from western Mediterranean lands to eastern Turkestan. Though Manichaeism failed in the end to supplant orthodox Christianity, the Church had been badly frightened; and henceforth it gave the hated epithet of 'Manichaean' to the churches of Dualist doctrines that survived into the late Middle Ages.


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A reissue of Sir Steven Runciman's classic account of the Dualist heretic tradition in Christianity from its Gnostic origins, through Armenia, Byzantium, and the Balkans to its final flowering in Italy and Southern France. The chief danger that early Christianity had to face came from the heretical Dualist sect founded in the mid-third century AD by the prophet Mani. Withi A reissue of Sir Steven Runciman's classic account of the Dualist heretic tradition in Christianity from its Gnostic origins, through Armenia, Byzantium, and the Balkans to its final flowering in Italy and Southern France. The chief danger that early Christianity had to face came from the heretical Dualist sect founded in the mid-third century AD by the prophet Mani. Within a century of his death Manichaean churches were established from western Mediterranean lands to eastern Turkestan. Though Manichaeism failed in the end to supplant orthodox Christianity, the Church had been badly frightened; and henceforth it gave the hated epithet of 'Manichaean' to the churches of Dualist doctrines that survived into the late Middle Ages.

30 review for The Medieval Manichee: A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    I found The Medieval Manichee for a dollar a few months ago. I'd never hard of it, didn't connect this Runciman with the Runciman who wrote about the Crusades or the Sicilian Vespers, but couldn't go past such a fabulous title or subtitle. There's not much to review: it's out of date in some particulars, but a solid overview of the Big Dualist Heresies, from the Paulicians to Cathars. Most importantly, Runciman writes more or less in the language of the (self-described) orthodox, but ironically I found The Medieval Manichee for a dollar a few months ago. I'd never hard of it, didn't connect this Runciman with the Runciman who wrote about the Crusades or the Sicilian Vespers, but couldn't go past such a fabulous title or subtitle. There's not much to review: it's out of date in some particulars, but a solid overview of the Big Dualist Heresies, from the Paulicians to Cathars. Most importantly, Runciman writes more or less in the language of the (self-described) orthodox, but ironically so. I laughed often, which you could hardly expect from the subject matter. It's as if Gibbon was a little less snarky, and worth it for the style alone. But Runciman also makes good points that get ignored by the 'Gnostics were peace loving hippies who we should embrace instead of Christians' crowd, the 'Religion caused all the world's problems including that I didn't like my breakfast this morning' crowd, and the 'quite right to burn them' crowd (the latter of which I don't really come across, ever). In short: the success or failure of heresy, like everything else, relies more on politics and economics than it does on 'religion,' because without the support of the nobility, there is no church, heretical or otherwise. He's preaching to the choir with me, but he makes good points. Two minor highlights: anyone who loves the sound of words will get a kick out of the appendices, in which he lists the names of heretical groups. You might have heard of the Bogomils but how about hte Phundaites, Kudugers, Babuni, Deonarii, Piphles, Bougres, Textores, Runcarii, Bonshommes or Garatenses? And the name alone is almost enough to convert me to Athinganism, which is sadly not the belief that there are no things. And Runciman can be added to the long list of books written during the second world war, when scholars didn't have access to libraries and had to rely on their memory or the few things they had to hand. It's surely no coincidence that so many of those books are so good: rather than trying to respond to the latest article in 'The Welsh Journal of the Theologies of Slightly Odd Religious Groups,' they were actually trying to produce knowledge. Finally, a completely subjective pleasure: reading my serendipitous find took me back to my teenage years. When I was younger, I couldn't shop for books online. I lived in Australia, which meant that even second-hand books cost ten dollars, and the selection was, to put it kindly, minimal. Thanks to my student budget, I basically read whatever I could afford and find. Sometimes the result was good, sometimes bad. Thank God I'm not a teenager anymore. Once is worth it, but also enough. This book, on the other hand, is well worth it, and a great resource for the surely *enormous* public out there itching for some mid twentieth century scholarship on dualist heresies.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liam Day

    As with all of Runciman's work, The Medieval Manichee is elegantly written. I wished I'd had a greater knowledge of church history, because it would have helped in some early stretches of the book in which the subject seemed to adhere to that most disparaging description of history being just one damn thing after another. But, as the book progresses, Runciman begins making connections that for even a lay reader such as myself bring the topic to both coherence and relevance. The last two chapters As with all of Runciman's work, The Medieval Manichee is elegantly written. I wished I'd had a greater knowledge of church history, because it would have helped in some early stretches of the book in which the subject seemed to adhere to that most disparaging description of history being just one damn thing after another. But, as the book progresses, Runciman begins making connections that for even a lay reader such as myself bring the topic to both coherence and relevance. The last two chapters in particular are worth the read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    cool (the book, not the wretched heresies)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Guillaume

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kamil Rosiak

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stefano Sioletic

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emilio Manzorro

  9. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Slawnyk

  10. 5 out of 5

    Liviu

  11. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  13. 5 out of 5

    Trudi Gordon

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul Matsi

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  17. 5 out of 5

    Milija

  18. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kürşad Görgen

  20. 4 out of 5

    Arnulfo Velasco

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jean-Michel B

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Hamzey

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

  24. 4 out of 5

    Terence

  25. 5 out of 5

    Calthalas

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tom Breed

  27. 5 out of 5

    James

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nick Brooke

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dan Yingst

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