Chapter

Introduction

Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley

in The Mandaeans

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195153859
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834051 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195153855.003.0001

Series: An American Academy of Religion Book

 Introduction

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Starts by tracing the origin of the Mandaeans to the Jordan/Palestine area (from whence they emigrated, in the first to third centuries CE, to Iran and Iraq), and gives a brief history to the present. Next, the characteristics of the religion are outlined: Mandaeans are the only still surviving group of Gnostics; their religion has an extensive literature with multifarious mythological traditions and intricate rituals; and their world is essentially three‐tiered, with an upper (heavenly) Lightworld on which much emphasis is placed, a middle earthly human world (Tibil), and a gloomy Underworld (which does not receive much attention). An overview is given of ancient Mandaean literature (the Ginza; the liturgies; the Book of John; ritual commentaries; and other works). There is then a brief note on European traditional Mandaean scholarship, which also covers the work of Lady Ethel S. Drower (1879–1972), who broke traditional scholarly moulds and did much of her work on the Mandaeans in the field. Lastly, the parameters and purpose of the book are described.

Keywords: ancient texts; beliefs; Gnosticism; Iran; Iraq; Lightworld; Mandaeans; Mandaeism; myths; religious history; rituals; Tibil; Underworld

Chapter.  10029 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Religion

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