Christianity. The 'Prayer of the Emanations' from Kellis, which was composed in Greek, throws fascinating new light on this important aspect of Manichaean self-definition. The text was found inscribed on both sides of a single wooden board; the style of the Greek is too good for it to be a translation and it is therefore likely to have been an original composition in that language.9 The text begins with praise for the Great Father of Lights (i.e. Father of Greatness), the principal deity of the Manichaean pantheon:
I worship and glorify the Great Father of Lights from pure thought. With a guileless word have been glorified and honoured you and your majesty and the wholly blessed aeons. For you in glory have perfected their foundation. Your power and glory and your light and word and your majesty and the aeons of affirmation and all your counsel have been glorified. For you are God the foundation of every grace and life and truth.10
But then the author of the prayer gives praise to other Manichaean deities and does not hesitate to call them gods (theoi):
I worship and glorify all gods, all angels, all splendours, all luminaries, all powers, those which are from the great and glorious f(ath)er, those which subsist in his holiness and in his light are nourished, purified from all darkness and malignance.11
Despite this polytheistic teaching, the Manichaean community in Kellis (an isolated location in the late third and early fourth centuries) saw themselves as true Christians. The lack of pressure for religious conformity and of administrative coercion in the Dakhleh oasis enabled the Manichaean community there to develop its doctrines without having to reconfigure the inherent polytheism of its cosmogony in line with the general trend towards monotheism. The fact that a normative text from Paul's letter to the Romans (2.6-29) in the Sub-Achmimic dialect was found in House 3 at Kellis12 indicates that New Testament texts were read by the sect and probably used as a stylistic model for presenting Manichaean literature in Coptic. They also identified themselves as 'members of the holy church, the sons and/or daughters of the Light Mind (Nous).'13 The Light-Nous, a divine messenger and enlightener, is often met in
9 Cf.'The Prayer of the Emanations in Greek from Kellis', ed. Jenkins. 10 Prayer of the Emanations, ll. 2-14; trans. Jenkins, 255.
II Prayer of the Emanations, ll. 15-22; trans. Jenkins, 255.
12 P. Kell. Copt. 6 (ed. I. M. F. Gardner, Kellis literary texts, 1: 82-4).
13 P. Kell. Copt. 31.1-4 (eds. I. M. F. Gardner et al., Coptic documentary texts from Kellis, 1:
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