12369Re: The Yezidis
- May 1, 2006Hey Mer248lina
>>>I would welcome a lengthier response please to the highlightedline. Could you please elucidate why neither the mandaeans nor the
Yezidis are 'technically' gnostic groups.<<<
Well, perhaps it is easier to raise the question of what exactly
would make them "Gnostic" in the more technical sense. I know that
right now it is a vogue to talk about everything esoteric
as "Gnostic", and any kind of lesser known middle eastern religion
gets thrown in, and anything mystical as well.
I am not trying to be a "focus fascist" here *lol*, I think some of
these groups certainly have enough in common to make them of interest
here. For instance, even though the Sufis are not technically
Gnostics, the conversation about them certainly was of interest here.
Instead I am trying to keep the issue of categorization in the
conversation here so that people do understand that this forum is
much more specific than the other two hundred or so Yahoo groups on
A number of recent scholarly works, including "Rethinking Gnosticism"
by Williams, and "What is Gnosticism?" by King have raised important
issues with just what the historical category of "Gnosticism"
technically is. Many groups that used to be lumped into the category,
such as Manichaeans, Mandaeans, Marcionites and Cathars don't
The Mandaeans were thrown in the category of "Gnosticism" initially
by E. Drower, who said she did so based on the influence of a friend.
She stated that at the time she didn't know much about Gnosticism
(her specialty was the Mid East, not Gnosticism), and after more
study she realized that this categorization was false. Much of the
categorization was based on the name "Mandaean", which was actually
not even a name these people used for themselves. There was also a
bit of a hasty generalization of thier soteriology that turned out to
not be completely accurate. The initial categorization was then
repeated by people like Robinson who specialized in Gnosticism, but
not necessarily clear on the Mandaean belief system.
I have heard that as they have been in diaspora, many of the Mandaean
youth have taken up the "Gnostic" label and have actually become
closer to Gnostic thinking by mixing the religions a little.
Initially though, Mandaeans are not Platonists, and they don't
believe that "Gnosis" is salvation (a critical attribute for
something to be "Gnostic"). In the absence of such a defining
attribute, the question would be why would we categorize them
as "Gnostic" at all? The answer is that now scholars of this subject
Yezidis were never categorized as "Gnostic" in the first place. Why
would they be?
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