Thanks to generous funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (which President Trump would like to see eliminated) an open access edition of the Mandaean Book of John text and translation (without the critical edition and commentary available only in the full version for purchase) has been released. It will not be available through the De Gruyter website. We’ve shared it on Academia.edu and you can find it there. It is our sincere hope that, in addition to serving the needs of the Mandaean community, it will also draw the attention of the content of this important text to academics who might not otherwise look into the expensive print edition absent a free teaser of this sort.
On a related note, I created a subreddit as a place for discussion about the Mandaeans to take place online, and one of the first posts is about where one can find Mandaean texts online:
Focusing on all of this seems a fitting topic for Open Education Week. As noted in an IO9 article for their “Forever Week”:
Ebooks could theoretically circulate throughout public library systems forever, preserving books that could otherwise disappear when they go out of print—after all, ebooks can’t get damaged or lost. And multiple library-goers could technically check out one ebook simultaneously if publishers allowed. But the Big Five have contracts in place that limit ebook availability with high prices—much higher than regular folks pay per ebook—and short-term licenses. The publishers don’t walk in and demand librarians hand over the ebooks or pay up, but they do just…disappear.
“You think about Harvard Library or New York Public Library—these big systems that, in addition to lending out stuff for people to use, are also the places where we look to preserve our heritage forever,” said Alan Inouye, the American Library Association’s senior director of public policy and government relations. “You can’t do that if it’s a two-year license.”
I recently came across a thesis on Mandaean and Aramaic magic and demonology. There are some Mandaic texts produced by the Mubaraki family that are available here. And some important books have been digitized and shared by the Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis.
There is a distinction between open access scholarship and open access educational resources and textbooks, but there is a spectrum along which the two overlap. Open access scholarship of certain types can provide ideal reading material to be assigned for students in some courses.