Manichaeism In The Later Roman Empire: A Study Of Augustine’s Contra Adimantum

Author: Baker-Brian, Nicholas
The book is the first monograph-length study of Augustine’s Contra Adimantum. The work demonstrates that, despite previous neglect of the work by Patristic scholars, a full appreciation of Augustine’s reaction to the Manichaean exegesis of the Bible is absolutely essential in understanding the development of Augustine’s early theology.


“. . . [a] new image of Adimantus emerges before our eyes: he is not merely the assumed polemicist, who controversially juxtaposed passages from the Old and the New Testament in his disputationes in order to discredit the Old Testament and his Christian opponents. He also becomes visible as the great teacher who, like Mani, considered the statements and teaching of the Gospels and the letters of Paul as having become perfected in the teachings and ecclesiastical structure of the Manichaean religion. Adimantus, therefore, wished to present in his disputationes the correct interpretation of the New Testament which, in his estimation, had been misunderstood by Christians under the influence of the Old Testament.” – Prof. Markus Stein, Heinrich-Heine-Universität

“Nicholas Baker-Brian’s book is distinctive in starting from a short, neglected work in which Augustine attacks the arguments of someone called Adimantus. Baker- Brian presents the case for taking Adimantus as the Latin name of Acida, disciple of Mani, and shows how we can read Augustine ‘against the grain’ to reconstruct Adda’s exegesis of Scripture. He explores the evidence for the cultural context, life, and teaching of Adda in the early third century, and for the reception of his teaching over a century later in Augustine’s North Africa. This exploration is the basis for a detailed commentary on the twenty-eight chapters of Augustine’s text, which respond to the arguments advanced by Adimantus. Baker-Brian writes throughout in awareness of recent work on religious identity, exegesis and authorship, and late antique modes of argument, and with full knowledge of the evidence on which leading scholars have based their interpretations of Manichaeism.” – Prof. Gillian Clark, University of Bristol

“. . . a very welcome contribution to a neglected area of early Christian history, namely the development of a critical understanding of the way in which the religion of the prophet Mani became established in the later Roman empire. Sources of evidence for the transplantation of Mani’s revelation into the west are scarce: this is regrettable considering the enormous influence which the religion went on to exert in the Roman world, stretching as far as the 8th century CE, when its influence was manifest in the dualist heresies of the Greek-speaking world of the Byzantine east.” – Dr. Shaun Tougher, Cardiff University

Table of Contents

Commendatory Foreword by Prof. Markus Stein
1. Personalities and Historical Contexts
2. Probing the disputationes
3. Manichaei dicunt: The Response of Augustine
4. The disputationes