I learned today that my paper, “The Satirical Use of Christian Material in the Mandaean Book of John,” has been accepted for the Aramaic Studies section at the Society of Biblical Literature 2011 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. I’m excited and honored to be the first to add Mandaic to the list of Aramaic dialects represented in papers presented in that section!
Here’s the abstract:
The Satirical Use of Christian Material in the Mandaean Book of John
Gnosticism is well known for its satirical treatment of texts from the Jewish Scriptures. Mandaean texts, written in a dialect of Aramaic, offer a similarly ambivalent use of material deriving not only from Jewish sources, but also from early Christian texts. This paper will look at the Mandaean Book of John’s satirical reworking of material known from the New Testament, such as its account of John the Baptist’s reluctance to baptize Jesus (for reasons other than those indicated in the Gospel of Matthew). The Mandaean Book of John appears to include material that has undergone an extended history of transmission and reworking, and this material has been shaped by Mandaean interaction with Jews, Christians and eventually Muslims. This paper will seek to tease out clues from allusions to and intertextual echoes of stories and sayings found in Christian sources, in order to piece together the context of the Mandaeans’ polemical engagement with other Aramaic-speaking religious communities in their environment. Particular attention will be paid to deliberate inversions and parodies of well-known Christian material, which presuppose an environment in which the New Testament Gospels were familiar.