The Manichaeans are usually regarded as a Christian heretical sect. In fact, they are a completely independent religion, combining Christian elements with Zoroastrian and Buddhist elements. Manichaeism was founded by a certain Mani, born in Babylonia about 216 A.D. and martyred in 277 A.D. His system was a form of Gnosticism; that is, salvation through “knowledge.” According to Manichaeism, the world, or reality, consists of two forces eternally opposed: Good (that is, God, Truth, Light) and Evil (Darkness). The latter is identified with matter. Man, however, “is the same essence” as God; salvation comes by inward illumination which enables the soul to withdraw “from the contamination of the flesh” (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 5th ed. [London: 1977], p. 13f).