As I’ve been working on the commentary on the Mandaean Book of John this summer, I’ve been struck from time to time by seemingly close parallels and points of intersection with the New Testament. For instance, here’s an excerpt from the start of chapter 13, from which the quote above is taken:
It is to you that I am speaking and teaching,
the chosen and perfect people who are living in this world.
Don’t be part of the darkness,
but set your eyes upon the place of light.
Learn to distinguish yourselves from the wicked and [to] the good,
learn to distinguish yourselves from the wicked sinners of the place of darkness.
Love and teach one another
So that your sins and trespasses may be forgiven (to you).
Watch, listen, and learn,
And rise victoriously to the place of light.
The good sit and argue, and how they argue and learn!
The good talk and give advice to one another…
The suggestion that the Mandaeans have some connection to the New Testament, or to the world of Jesus via John the Baptist, is not a new one. Earlier versions of such proposals were set aside because they were unduly speculative. But if many of the criticisms were on target, many were equally poorly informed about the Mandaeans and their literature. Is the time ripe for this to be reexamined?
Let’s sit and argue about this, and learn together!