Also Schrieb Zarathustra? New Manichaean Sources for the “Law of Zarades” & His Otherworldly Journeys

Recorded: March 1, 2021
Event: Pourdavoud Center Workshop - Current Trends in Manichaeism Studies

by Paul Dilley (University of Iowa)

Paul Dilley, Associate Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions at the University of Iowa


The second volume of the Kephalaia, a Coptic papyrus manuscript held at the Chester Beatty library, is a major source for the history of early Manichaeism in its Iranian context. In this talk, I will give an overview of the multispectral imaging of the codex, reporting on the latest results which have significantly improved its legibility. I will then discuss the various references to and quotations of the so-called “Law of Zarades,” comparing them to both Iranian and Greco-Roman sources, and assess their rhetorical significance in the Kephalaia as well as their importance for understanding the Sasanian background of third-century Manichaeism. Finally, I will contextualize the Kephalaia passage on the journey to heaven and hell by Zarades and other apostles of light, connecting it to rival claims of inspired vision by Mani and Kartir.