The 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.
Contribution to ‘Augustine
and Manichaean Christianity’,
the First South African
Symposium on Augustine of
Hippo, University of Pretoria,
24−26 April 2012. Prof.
Dr Iain Gardner is
participating as research
fellow of Prof. Dr Hans
van Oort, Professor
Extraordinarius in the
Department of Church History
and Polity of the Faculty of
Theology at the University of
Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.
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