Mandaeans: Mysteries and Misunderstandings

The Mandaeans and related topics have gotten mentions in the blogosphere and elsewhere online recently, and so I thought I would round up some of those instances: Brian LePort has been teaching about John the Baptist, and in the process, has been diving into the Mandaean sources. Tony Burke noted, as did I, the Mandaeans [Read More...]

Baptism for the Dead: Paul and the Mandaeans

A student who gave a presentation on the Mandaeans in my “Heresy” class used the phrase “baptism for the dead” to describe the masiqta – more frequently translated as “mass for the dead” or something similar in English. The masiqta proper, of course, is a ritual meal which takes after someone has died, and not an [Read More...]

John the Baptist’s Bones, Serapion, and the Mandaeans

As a result of the episode of the CNN series Finding Jesus which focused on John the Baptist, significant attention is being paid to bones which are supposedly his, and genetic testing of which has suggested they belong to a first-century Middle Eastern man. See  Tony Burke’s earlier post about Serapion’s “Life of John the Baptist” and [Read More...]

Gnostic Survivors: 2015 David Noel Freedman Lecture

If any readers are in the vicinity of Ann Arbor, Michigan, I’ll be speaking at the University of Michigan tomorrow evening on the subject of the Mandaeans. Here’s the blurb from the University of Michigan website: 2015 David Noel Freedman Lecture Gnostic Survivors: the Mandeans in their relations with Judaism, Christianity and Islam The 20th [Read More...]

Mandaean Music

One of the best questions I was asked after my recent talk about the Mandaeans was from a music professor, who asked whether the Mandaeans have a distinctive musical tradition. I did not know the answer, and still do not, but the question is an important one, and I hope that some musicologist might one [Read More...]

The First Baptists, The Last Gnostics

Here’s a recording of the talk I gave about the Mandaeans yesterday to an audience of faculty, staff, and students at Butler University, as part of the Faculty Brown Bag series. [Read more...]

Brown Bag Talk on the Mandaeans

I am very impressed with the poster that Rebecca DeGrazia made for my upcoming brown bag lunchtime talk on the Mandaeans. On Thursday, January 22nd, I’ll be talking about the Mandaeans, their history, scholarship on them, and my work on translating and commenting on the Mandaean Book of John. [Read more...]

Independent Scholars

The late Maurice Casey described himself as an “independent historian,” but for the most part, that term “independent scholar” has been used for people who dabble in scholarly inquiry, having advanced studies in the area, but who are not employed at a university or similar institution of higher education. I have at times offered cautionary [Read More...]

Lexidion Codicis Nasaraei

I had the privilege of visiting the rare books room at Christian Theological Seminary yesterday. One item that caught my eye is the one I took a photo of above, Matthias Norberg’s Lexidion Codicis Nasaraei. It is a dictionary of the words in the Ginza Rba (Great Treasure), the principal sacred text of the Mandaeans. [Read More...]

The Peacock’s Lament

Charles Häberl wrote a new blog post, about a connection between the traditions of the Yazidi and the Mandaeans, noting that both groups have been in the news lately because of their persecution by ISIS in Iraq. Click through to read his post, including a transcription and translation of part of the Mandaean Book of John. Of [Read More...]

Notsrim in the Talmud: Mandaeans, Christians, or Both?

A recent article in Tablet magazine mentions the reference to notsrim in a Talmud discussion of Sunday. There is a longstanding use of this term in reference to Christians, inasmuch as Jesus himself is described as “Yeshu ha-notsri.” But the term “notsri” does not naturally denote Nazareth, and the use of “Nazarenes” to describe Christians [Read More...]


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