Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 11. The Heresies of the Ante-Nicene Age” Sections 112-136, Loc. 17655-18757.
§ 135. Mani and the Manichaeans.
As Schaff introduces the Manichaeans he first provides a bibliography, with Islamic sources first. He then observes a number of critiques coming from Christian sources (Schaff 2014, Loc. 18615). Schaff describes Manichaeism as “the latest, the best organized, the most consistent, tenacious and dangerous form of Gnosticism, with which Christianity had to wage a long conflict” (Schaff 2014,18656). He considers both Manichaeism and Islam to be religions which invented divine revelations, but that Manichaeism was dualistic and anti-Jewish, while Islam called upon some Jewish roots and is monotheistic.
The philosophy traces roots to Mani, a third century Persian, who borrowed some elements of Christianity into his Zoroastrian sect about the year 238 (Schaff 2014,18662). He set himself up as a new apostle, then, when he fled to India and China, incorporated some elements of Buddhism into his doctrine (Schaff 2014,18668). He was eventually killed about 277. From that point the sect spread into the broader Mediterranean region, where it developed more similarities to Christianity before losing most of its popularity in the sixth century (Schaff 2014,18679).
Manichaeism had a very tight organization and made attempts at a solution for evil. It showed ascetic tendencies, persuading people of its holiness (Schaff 2014,18679). The heresy attracted Augustine for some years before his conversion, after which he wrote specific refutations of the doctrines (Schaff 2014,18685). Though the movement largely lost power in the fifth and sixth centuries, there were some features which remained influential and which lasted into the thirteenth century (Schaff 2014,18691).