Satan as Tuna (Yahoo! Mandaic Autocorrect Fail)

Satan as Tuna (Yahoo! Mandaic Autocorrect Fail) February 23, 2011

Today in my “Heresy” class the reading consisted of excerpts from the Mandaean Book of John and Ginza Rba, passages that relate to figures like John the Baptist, Jesus and Miriai. One name mentioned in the Book of John is rendered by Edmondo Lupieri as “Zatan the Column.” Lupieri suggests in a footnote that “Zatan is Satan.” The character in question is an ordinary human being, but a Mandaean author might well delight in the irony of having a character who is a Jewish leader named “Satan.” Mandaean texts delight in puns, and so I suspected that there might be a pun in the Mandaic text, just as one finds “Bnia Amin” (“the sons of Amen”) instead of “Benjamin.”

Zatan the Column is Zatan-`ṣṭuna in Mandaic, and I could not think of a name that this might be a pun of. So I typed Zatanastuna into Google to see whether its automated correction facility might find a similar name.

It suggested that perhaps I meant “Satan as Tuna.” Maybe Lupieri was on the right track…

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