1550s, "the religion of the Manichees" (late 14c.) a Gnostic Christian sect named for its founder, Mani (Latin Manichæus), c. 215-275, Syriac-speaking apostle from a Jesus cult in Mesopotamia in 240s, who taught a universal religion. Vegetarian and visionary, they saw "particles of light and goodness" trapped in evil matter and regarded Satan as co-eternal with God. The universe was a scene of struggle between good and evil.
The sect was characterized by dualism and a double-standard of perfectionist "elects" and a larger group of fellow travelers who would require several reincarnations before their particles of light would be liberated. It spread through the Roman Empire and survived at late as 7c.; its doctrines were revived or redeveloped by the Albigenses and Catharists.
updated on November 15, 2018