views updated May 23 2018

Mandeans (from manda, ‘knowledge’). Religious group in S. Iraq and the only surviving representative of Gnosticism. Important in an extensive literature are Ginza Raba (Great Treasure) and Drasha ed Yahia (Book of John). The appearance of John the Baptist in Mandean texts suggested to some that the Mandeans were descendants of John's own disciples. In their own estimate, their religion is much older. They have a hierarchy of Malki (King), Reesh Amma (leading people), Ganzebra and Termithy (supplying priests). They are strongly pacifist, and believe in redemption being effected by a series of messengers beginning with one known as ‘Gnosis of Life’. They may be the Sabeans mentioned in the Qurʾān, and today are called by Muslims Subbas.

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