Walking in MesoPTAHmia?

There’s a double-attempt at lame humor in the title of this post. But I do have a serious question. I’m gearing up to spend this summer working on the Mandaean Book of John, and I had a question come to mind as I was thinking about the figure of Ptahil. This name is clearly connected with the Egyptian god Ptah. (Mandaean figures regularly have the -il ending, equivalent of -el endings in Hebrew, and these are often added to otherwise familiar names, such as Šitil = Seth). It suddently struck me that connecting a prominent figure with Ptah in a Mesopotamian setting might be rather odd. Are there any readers who work on Mesopotamian, Persian, and/or Egyptian material, who might know whether and to what extent the figure of Ptah was known in Mesopotamia, or where to look to try to answer that question? If Ptah is mentioned little if at all in Mesopotamian literature, then this might be a clue that the formation of key elements of Mandaean thinking took place in another geographical locale.

Ptahil, the Mandaean demiurge, is in some places in some manuscripts of the Book of John referred to as Gabriel. This too is an intriguing aspect of the material that deserves further attention.

If you’re wondering what Ptahil has been up to lately, you can find out on MySpace. 🙂

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