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Hymnen und Gebete der Religion des Lichts: Iranische und turkische liturgische Texte der Manichaer Zentralasiens.

Between the years 1902 and 1914, the Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin sponsored four archaeological expeditions to the Turfan oasis region of Chinese Turkestan. One of the signal surprises of this exploratory work was the recovery of a vast hoard of authentic Manichaean manuscripts written in various Middle Iranian dialects and central Asian languages. Prior to this revolutionary discovery, information about Manichaeism was limited almost exclusively to the suspect reports of hostile heresiologists, both Christian and Muslim, and there was little means of gauging the accuracy of their testimonies, since hardly any trace of actual Manichaean literature survived. Now with the Turfan (and eventually the Tun-huang and Medinet Madi) discoveries scholars could peruse Manichaean works and form judgments regarding the reliability of the various reports from opponents of the group. Portions of the new textual material from Turfan began to be published over the next twenty-five years, chiefly in the Sitzungsberichte and the Abhandlungen of the Akademie, but also in a variety of more obscure journals and Festschriften, many of which are difficult to come by today. While significant portions of these edited texts have been examined anew in recent years and reissued in a more accessible format (notably in M. Boyce's A Reader in Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian |Leiden, 1975~), no systematic effort was expended in issuing revised translations to complement the new textual editions.

Professor Klimkeit, justly renowned for his many important contributions to the understanding of the religious interaction among Christians, Buddhists, and Manichaeans in Central Asia, has placed every student of Manichaeism in his debt with this splendid anthology of translated liturgical texts. As his title indicates, the volume features a representative sampling of both Iranian and Turkish liturgical texts used by central Asian Manichaean communities during the last half of the first millennium C.E. The section dealing with the Iranian material (i.e., Middle Persian, Parthian, and Sogdian) contains fourteen separate subdivisions demarcated by subject: 1) hymns to the Father of Greatness (the "supreme being" of Manichaeism); 2) hymns featuring cosmogonical or eschatological doctrines; 3) hymns to the Living Self (MP griw zindag); 4) hymns to the Third Messenger (i.e., the tertius legatus of Latin heresiologists); 5) hymns to Jesus the Splendor (Yiso ziwa); 6) hymns concerning Jesus the Messiah, i.e., the "historical Jesus"; 7) texts celebrating the twelve "ruling virtues"; 8) hymns to Mani and other church leaders; 9) hymns celebrating the ecclesiastical hierarchy; 10) material from the Parthian hymn-cycles Huyadagman and Angad Rosnan (regarding which see now W. Sundermann, The Manichaean Hymn Cycles Huyadagman and Angad Rosnan in Parthian and Sogdian, Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum Supplementary Series 2 |London, 1990~); 11) various poetic texts; 12) a prayer- and confessional-manual (i.e., material culled from W. B. Henning's Ein Bet- und Beichtbuch); 13) diverse liturgical compositions (including, e.g., a scribe's introduction to a manuscript hymnal, fragments of confessional recitations to be intoned by the electi), etc.; 14) various miscellaneous prayers, invocations, and conjurations. The second section featuring the Turkish (i.e., Uighur) material contains three separate subdivisions: 1) hymns to Mani; 2) general hymns and prayers; 3) confessional formulas, among which is included a lengthy extract from the Xuastvanift.

Do not be deceived by the title of this work. Professor Klimkeit does not simply provide translations of these hymns and prayers. Every text is furnished with a short introduction, all previous editions and/or translations are catalogued, and the translator's fresh renderings are painstakingly, even copiously, annotated. These annotations often feature observations contributed by M. Boyce, W. Sundermann, or P. Zieme, the three most prominent contemporary students of the Turfan manuscripts. Moreover, the work also features a monograph-length introduction that outlines the course of Turfan research, the historical circumstances surrounding the spread of Manichaeism from Babylonia to Central Asia, and the subsequent central Asiatic evolution of Manichaean doctrine. A meticulous bibliography and ten indices (sources and languages) complete the volume. No student of Manichaeism, at least of its eastern development, can safely ignore this work.
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Author:Reeves, John C.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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