Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental. 1
translated by rev. richard stothert, m.a., bombay
[Contra Epistolam Manichaei Quam Vocant Fundamentum.] a.d. 397.
Written about the year 397. In his Retractations (ii. 2) Augustin says: "The book against the Epistle of Manichaeus, called Fundamental, refutes only its commencement; but on the other parts of the epistle I have made notes, as required, refuting the whole, and sufficient to recall the argument, had I ever had leisure to write against the whole." [The Fundamental Epistle seems to have been a sort of hand-book for Manichaean catechumens or Auditors. In making this document the basis of his attack, Augustin felt that he had selected the best-known and most generally accepted standard of the Manichaean faith. The tone of the work is conciliatory, yet some very sharp thrusts are made at Manichaean error. The claims of Mani to be the Paraclete are set aside, and the absurd cosmological fancies of Mani are ruthlessly exposed. Dualism is combated with substantially the same weapons as in the treatise Concerning Two Souls. We could wish that the author had found time to finish the treatise, and had thus preserved for us more of the Fundamental Epistle itself. This work was written after the author had become Bishop of Hippo.--A.H.N.] ↩