Today I will be leaving to make a fairly brief visit to Australia. It will be my first time there. The main purpose of the trip is to accompany a group of students on the first leg of a semester-long study abroad program that Butler University runs called GALA, short for Global Adventures in the Liberal Arts. While I was willing to help the university and take the place of a professor who had previously been slated to fill this role, I started to get excited about the prospect when I realized I would be able to connect (whether meeting face to face for the first time, reconnecting, or being introduced to) at least some of the large number of Mandaeans who live in Australia, primarily in the vicinity of Sydney. There are also academics and grad students working in this area who live and work in Australia. As you know, it is an exciting time for Mandaean studies, with an enormous upsurge of interest, which will hopefully continue to increase now that the Mandaean Book of John is available in print and as an ebook. I just spotted the day before yesterday that the book is nor previewable on Google Books:
I wanted to share this with readers of the blog.
I won’t see Australia at its best, obviously, given the bushfires that are devastating the country. Even the places I’ll be, Melbourne and Sydney and their immediate vicinity, are impacted by the smoke, albeit not as badly as other areas where friend of mine live who have been sharing photos of their surroundings on social media. But I am confident that this visit will leave me wanting to make sure that this is just the first of many, both because the country is so amazing and I’ll hardly scratch the surface of what it has to offer, and because the vibrant Mandaean community as well as academic institutions fostering the study of their texts and art will provide additional motivation to do so.