- Manichaeism 1550s, "the religion of the Manichees" (late 14c.) a Gnostic Christian sect named for its founder, Mani (L. Manichæus), c.215-275, Syriac-speaking apostle from a Jesus cult in Mesopotamia in 240s, who taught a universal religion. Vegetarian and visionary, they saw "particles of light and goodness" trapped in evil matter and regarded Satan as co-eternal with God. The universe was a scene of struggle between good and evil. The sect was characterized by dualism and a double-standard of perfectionist "elects" and a larger group of fellow travelers who would require several reincarnations before their particles of light would be liberated.
Etymology dictionary. 2014.