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13459Re: Basic Elements of Mandaeanism

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  • pmcvflag
    Apr 14, 2008
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      Hey George

      Sorry it took so long to get back. I meant to write the same night I
      wrote my last post here, but I ran out of time and I was a bit busy
      last week.

      This week my library duties take me on a long outreach program that
      I do once a month, so I wanted to try and jump back in before I
      leave for a few days.

      You start....

      >>>In the Wikipedia discussion of the Mandaeans, we find surprisingly
      many correlations between their views and the groups that have
      been categorized as gnostics.<<<

      Although I am often particularly suspicious of Wikipedia articles,
      this one does seem to be pretty well written. It is informative and
      open to various theoretic possibilities offered in academic study.

      In contrast, the Wikipedia article on the Dositheans has some
      important flaws.

      >>>While there are differences (apparently around the practice of
      ethics of the lowest ranks of their culture), there seems to be
      enough to include them within the variants of diverse gnosticism
      we already know about:

      1. A supreme formless Entity, the expression of which in time and
      space is creation of spiritual, etheric, and material worlds and
      beings. Production of these is delegated by It to a creator or
      creators who originated in It. The cosmos is created by Archetypal
      Man, who produces it in similitude to his own shape.
      2. Dualism: a cosmic Father and Mother, Light and Darkness, Right
      and Left, syzygy in cosmic and microcosmic form.
      3. As a feature of this dualism, counter-types, a world of ideas.
      4. The soul is portrayed as an exile, a captive: her home and
      origin being the supreme Entity to which she eventually returns.
      5. Planets and stars influence fate and human beings, and are also
      places of detention after death.
      6. A saviour spirit or saviour spirits which assist the soul on her
      journey through life and after it to 'worlds of light'.
      7. A cult-language of symbol and metaphor. Ideas and qualities are
      personified.
      8. 'Mysteries', i.e. sacraments to aid and purify the soul, to
      ensure her rebirth into a spiritual body, and her ascent from the
      world of matter. These are often adaptations of existing seasonal and
      traditional rites to which an esoteric interpretation is attached. In
      the case of the Naá¹£oreans this interpretation is based upon the
      Creation story (see 1 and 2), especially on the Divine Man, Adam, as
      crowned and anointed King-priest.
      9. Great secrecy is enjoined upon initiates; full explanation of 1,
      2, and 8 being reserved for those considered able to understand and
      preserve the gnosis.
      [END OF QUOTATION]

      If we look at the various differences between individual groups
      that we already categorize as gnostic, the "standard deviation"
      (for want of a better term) of such differences seems more
      than enough to include the Mandaeans.<<<

      Many of these attributes listed above certainly do have correlation
      in Gnostic schools. These surely can help us in our study and
      perhaps lend some weight to the possibility of including them
      amongst the "Gnosticism" category. However, it is also worth
      examining whether these attributes are definitive. That is to say,
      whether they relate to what the category was created to define.

      I would point out that these attributes you listed were drawn up by
      Lady Drower, who was an expert in Near East studies, especially the
      Mandaeans. She initially stated her belief that they were a form
      of "Gnostics" but later recanted that belief stating that she was
      not originally familiar with Gnosticism and simply took the word of
      a "friend" (most likely Quispel). On further reflection she believed
      the differences outweighed the similarities.

      I'm not saying I agree or disagree, I am just giving some background
      on the source that may be important to the topic.

      These attributes could also easily be used to tie the Mandaeans with
      the Manichaeans. Certainly some interesting possibilities to explore.

      PMCV
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