Anush-Uthra vs. Jesus: Smackdown in Jerusalem

Anush-Uthra vs. Jesus: Smackdown in Jerusalem July 9, 2012

I just posted another draft of a chapter from the Mandaean Book of John. In this chapter, chapter 76, there are a few places where the meaning of the text is not entirely clear (do I need to mention this when it is true of pretty much every section of every Mandaic text?). But the gist is that Anush-Uthra did works in Jerusalem that Christians claim Jesus did. This is blatantly polemical, and so it would obviously be a mistake to view this as in any sense pre-Christian, as opposed to being a late response to Christian claims.

I used “Christ” in my English translation because the Aramaic/Mandaic word mšiha in the text seems to be used as a way of designating Jesus, almost as a name, rather than in its more general meaning of “anointed one.”

An “Uthra” is a spirit being – an Aeon or angel – but because both those terms are loaded from other traditions, it seemed best not to render the term using either of those words. We may change our minds about that, and some of you may remember me blogging about this very translation issue before. Anush corresponds to the name Enosh or perhaps Enoch. Whether and to what extent the Mandaeans were interacting with other strands of thought about Enoch in other literature will require a detailed study of its own by someone at some point. There is so much work to be done on the Mandaean literature, and its relationship to the literature of other religious traditions to which theirs is related and with which the Mandaeans interacted.

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  • These translated verses are mesmerizing to me. And I don’t use that word lightly having had to endure years of reading aloud, the Hawaiian creation chant (Kumulipo) to visitors and friends who wanted to know something about Hawaiian ancestry.

    “Fish assemble from the sea
    And water fowl from the mouth of the Euphrates
    come at Miriai’s voice
    and they do not love to lie down and sleep.
    They inhale the scent which is before her
    And forget this world.” –Miriai is a Vine

    Were the Mandaeans new age thinkers? How does a rock love? How does a fish worship? What makes a rainbow sing? The ancient Hawaiians too I believe had a gift for telling stories in astounding verse.

    Dr. McGrath, your work is amazing and grand! Please keep sharing these translations with us.