Journal of history of Iran)

Document Type : review paper


Mani’s intellectual growth among the Gnostic believers led to the foundation formation of the Gnostic ideas of his newly made cult. Therefore, researchers have always been interested in understanding the depth of this effect and the Gnostic character of Mani. It is important to note that based on newly found Manichean texts, such as Manichaean Cologne Codex, Mani had a quite Gnostic character prior to a Manichean one. The fact that Mani is represented as a prophetic character in later Manichaean texts indicates the evolution of this cult from a Gnostic sect to a worldwide religion. In this view, this research is concerned with reconstructing Mani’s religious character as a Gnostic Reformer based on newly found texts such as Coptic Egyptian texts and Greek manuscripts of Cologne. Based on a descriptive-analytical method, this research concludes Mani was represented as a Gnostic Reformer in the early Manichean texts, composed by Mani himself as well as his followers. In the second religious phase of his life after traveling and preaching, he modified his sect into a worldwide religion. Gnostic influences on Mani’s thought are evident in the first religious phase of his life.