Manichaeism is a now extinct religious system, a fully institutionalized “Holy Church” that arose at the intersection of the Judeo-Christian tradition of the Levant with religious cultures further east in Asia – in Mesopotamia, Iran, and India. Characterized by dualism, asceticism, and an acute sense of worldwide mission, it originated in the teaching of Mani (216–277 ce), reportedly of Parthian parentage, but raised in an Aramaic-speaking Jewish-Christian community known as the Elchasaites. He experienced visions in his youth that made him aware of a pantheistic presence in the world that he was called upon to help liberate from its suffering. He broke with the Elchasaites circa 240 ce, visited India, and upon his return to Mesopotamia formed his own religious community. He proselytized throughout Iran and Mesopotamia, and sent his disciples further afield to India, Central Asia, and the Roman Empire. By the time of his death as a prisoner of the Persian king, Mani had succeeded in establishing a well-organized institutional structure that spread and preserved his teachings for more than a thousand years.