Mandaeism or Mandaeanism (Classical Mandaic: ࡌࡀࡍࡃࡀࡉࡉࡀ‎, romanized: mandaiia; Arabic: مَنْدَائِيَّة‎, Mandāʾīya or مَنْدَعِيَّة, Mandaʿīya), also known as Sabianism (Arabic: صَابِئِيَّة‎, Ṣābiʾīyah), is a Gnostic, monotheistic and ethnic religion.[1]: 4  Its adherents, the Mandaeans, revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enos, Noah, Shem, Aram, and especially John the Baptist. The Mandaeans speak an Eastern Aramaic language known as Mandaic. The name 'Mandaean' is said to come from the Aramaic manda meaning knowledge.[7][8] Within the Middle East, but outside of their community, the Mandaeans are more commonly known as the Arabic: صُبَّةṢubba (singular: Ṣubbī) or Sabians. The term Ṣubba is derived from the Aramaic root related to baptism, the neo-Mandaic is Ṣabi.[9] In the Quran, the Sabians (Arabic: الصَّابِئُون‎, aṣ-Ṣābiʾūn) are mentioned three times, alongside Jews and Christians. Occasionally, Mandaeans are called "Christians of Saint John".[10]

كنزا ربا .jpg
Ginza Rabba; the longest of the many holy scriptures of Mandaeism
ScriptureGinza Rabba, Qolusta, and Mandaean Book of John
ModeratorSattar Jabbar Hilo al-Zahrony[2]
RegionIraq and Iran
LanguageMandaic language[3]
OriginFirst three centuries CE[4]
Southwestern Mesopotamia or Levant[4]
Membersc. 60,000[5] - 70,000[6]
Other name(s)Sabianism

According to most scholars, Mandaeaism originated sometime in the first three centuries CE, in either southwestern Mesopotamia or the Syro-Palestinian area.[4] However, some scholars take the view that Mandaeanism is older and dates from pre-Christian times.[11] Mandaeans assert that their religion predates Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as a monotheistic faith.[12] Mandaeans believe that they descend directly from Shem, Noah's son,[13] and also from John the Baptist's original disciples.[14]

The religion has been practised primarily around the lower Karun, Euphrates and Tigris, and the rivers that surround the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, part of southern Iraq and Khuzestan Province in Iran. There are thought to be between 60,000 and 70,000 Mandaeans worldwide.[15] Until the Iraq War, almost all of them lived in Iraq.[16] Many Mandaean Iraqis have since fled their country because of the turmoil created by the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation by U.S. armed forces, and the related rise in sectarian violence by extremists.[17] By 2007, the population of Mandaeans in Iraq had fallen to approximately 5,000.[16]

The Mandaeans have remained separate and intensely private. Reports of them and of their religion have come primarily from outsiders: particularly from Julius Heinrich Petermann, an Orientalist[18] as well as from Nicolas Siouffi, a Syrian Christian who was the French vice-consul in Mosul in 1887,[19][20] and British cultural anthropologist Lady E. S. Drower. There is an early if highly prejudiced account by the French traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier[21] from the 1650s.


The term Mandaic or Mandaeic Mandaeism comes from Classical Mandaic Mandaiia and appears in Neo-Mandaic as Mandeyānā. On the basis of cognates in other Aramaic dialects, Semiticists such as Mark Lidzbarski and Rudolf Macuch have translated the term manda, from which Mandaiia derives, as "knowledge" (cf. Aramaic: מַנְדַּעmandaʻ in Dan. 2:21, 4:31, 33, 5:12; cf. Hebrew: מַדַּעmaddaʻ, with characteristic assimilation of /n/ to the following consonant, medial -nd- hence becoming -dd-[22]). This etymology suggests that the Mandaeans may well be the only sect surviving from Late Antiquity to identify themselves explicitly as Gnostics.[citation needed]

Other scholars[who?] derive the term mandaiia (Classical Mandaic: ࡌࡀࡍࡃࡀࡉࡉࡀ‎) from Mandā d-Heyyi (Classical Mandaic: ࡌࡀࡍࡃࡀ ࡖࡄࡉࡉࡀ‎) 'Knowledge of Life', in reference to the chief divinity Hayyi Rabbi (Classical Mandaic: ࡄࡉࡉࡀ ࡓࡁࡉࡀ‎) 'The Great Life' or 'The Great Living God' or from the word Beth Manda,[1]: 81 [1]: 167  which is the cultic hut in which many Mandaean ceremonies are performed (such as baptism, which is the central sacrament of Mandaean religious life).


An 18th-century Scroll of Abathur in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

According to the Mandaean text the Haran Gawaita, the recorded history of the Mandaeans began when a group called the Nasoraeans left Judea/Palestine and migrated to Media in the 1st century CE.[4] The reason given for this was their persecution in Jerusalem. The emigrants went first to Haran (probably Harran in modern-day Turkey), or Hauran and then the Median hills in Iran, before finally settling in the southern provinces of Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).

At the beginning of the Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia, the leader of the Mandaeans, Anush Bar-Danqa appeared before Muslim authorities showing them a copy of the Ginza Rabba, the Mandaean holy book, and proclaiming the chief Mandaean prophet to be John the Baptist, who is also mentioned in the Quran as Yahya Bin Zakariya. This identified Mandaeans with the Sabians who are mentioned in the Quran as being counted among the Ahl al-Kitāb (People of the Book). This provided Mandaeans a status as a legal minority religion within the Muslim Empire. The Mandaeans were henceforth associated with the Sabians and the Jewish Christian group the Elcesaites, on account of the location of all three in Mesopotamia in the early centuries CE, and the similarities in their beliefs. The importance of baptism in the rituals of all three is particularly marked. Like the Mandaeans, the Sabians were also said to be gnostics and descendants of Noah. Mandaeans continue to be identified with Sabians up to the present day.

Around 1290, a Dominican Catholic from Tuscany, Ricoldo da Montecroce, or Ricoldo Pennini, was in Mesopotamia where he met the Mandaeans. He described them as follows:

A very strange and singular people, in terms of their rituals, lives in the desert near Baghdad; they are called Sabaeans. Many of them came to me and begged me insistently to go and visit them. They are a very simple people and they claim to possess a secret law of God, which they preserve in beautiful books. Their writing is a sort of middle way between Syriac and Arabic. They detest Abraham because of circumcision and they venerate John the Baptist above all. They live only near a few rivers in the desert. They wash day and night so as not to be condemned by God…

Mandaeans were called "Christians of Saint John" by members of the Discalced Carmelite mission in Basra during the 16th century, based upon their preliminary reports.[10][need quotation to verify] Some Portuguese Jesuits had also met some "Saint John Christians" around the Strait of Hormuz in 1559, when the Portuguese fleet fought with the Ottoman Turkish army in Bahrain. These Mandaeans seemed to be willing to obey the Catholic Church. They learned and used the seven Catholic sacraments and related ceremonies.[23]


Mandaeism, as the religion of the Mandaean people, is based on a set of religious creeds and doctrines. The corpus of Mandaean literature is quite large, and covers topics such as eschatology, the knowledge of God, and the afterlife.[24][need quotation to verify]

Fundamental tenetsEdit

According to E. S. Drower, the Mandaean Gnosis is characterized by nine features, which appear in various forms in other gnostic sects:[25]

  1. A supreme formless Entity, the expression of which in time and space is a creation of spiritual, etheric, and material worlds and beings. Production of these is delegated by It to a creator or creators who originated It. The cosmos is created by Archetypal Man, who produces it in similitude to his own shape.
  2. Dualism: a cosmic Mother and Father, Light and Darkness, Left and Right, 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; his home and origin being the supreme Entity to which he eventually returns.
  5. Planets and stars influence fate and human beings, and are also the places of detention after death.
  6. A savior spirit or savior spirits which assist the soul on his 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 its rebirth into a spiritual body, and its 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 Naṣoraeans, this interpretation is based on 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.


Image of Abatur from Diwan Abatur

As noted above, Mandaean theology is not systematic. There is no one single authoritative account of the creation of the cosmos, but rather a series of several accounts. Some scholars, such as Edmondo Lupieri,[26] maintain that comparison of these different accounts may reveal the diverse religious influences upon which the Mandaeans have drawn, and the ways in which the Mandaean religion has evolved over time.

In contrast with the religious texts of the western Gnostic sects, formerly found in Syria and Egypt, the earliest Mandaean religious texts suggest a more strictly dualistic theology, typical of other Iranian religions such as Zoroastrianism, Zurvanism, Manichaeism[27], and the teachings of Mazdak.[citation needed] In these texts, instead of a large pleroma, there is a discrete division between light and darkness.

The most common name for God in Mandaeism is Hayyi Rabbi ('The Great Life' or 'The Great Living God').[28] Other names used are Mare d'Rabuta ('Lord of Greatness'), Mana Rabba ('The Great Mind'), Melka d'Nhura ('King of Light') and Hayyi Qadmaiyi ('The First Life').[29][30]

Ptahil (Classical Mandaic: ࡐࡕࡀࡄࡉࡋ‎), the "Fourth Life" or emanation, alone does not constitute the demiurge, but only fills that role insofar as he is the creator of the material world. Rather, Ptahil is the lowest of a group of three emanations, the other two being Yushamin (Classical Mandaic: ࡉࡅࡔࡀࡌࡉࡍ‎; "Second Life" or emanation a.k.a. Joshamin) and Abathur (Classical Mandaic: ࡀࡁࡀࡕࡅࡓ‎), the "Third Life" or emanation. Abathur's demiurgic role consists of his sitting in judgment upon the souls of mortals. The role of Yushamin, the first emanation, is more obscure; wanting to create a world of his own, he was severely punished for opposing the King of Light (the "First Life"). The name may derive from Iao haš-šammayim (in Hebrew: Yahweh "of the heavens").[31]

While Mandaeans agree with other gnostic sects that the world is a prison governed by the planetary archons, they do not view it as a cruel and inhospitable one.[citation needed]

Chief prophetsEdit

Mandaeans recognize several prophets. Yahia-Yohanna, known in Christianity as John the Baptist, is accorded a special status, higher than his role in Christianity and Islam. Mandaeans do not consider John to be the founder of their religion but revere him as one of their greatest teachers, tracing their beliefs back to Adam.

Mandaeans do not believe in the sanctity of Abraham, Moses or Jesus,[32] but recognize other prophetic figures from the Abrahamic religions, such as Adam, his sons Hibil (Abel) and Sheetil (Seth), and his grandson Anush (Enosh), as well as Nuh (Noah), Sam (Shem), and Ram (Aram), whom they consider to be their direct ancestors.

Mandaeans also do not recognize the Holy Spirit in the Talmud and Bible, who is known in Mandaic as Ruha, Ruha d-Qudsha, or Ruha Masțanita, in the same way. Instead of being viewed positively as a holy spirit, she is viewed negatively as the personification of the lower, emotional, and feminine elements of the human psyche.[33]


Image of Abatur at the scales, from the Diwan Abatur

The Mandaeans have a large corpus of religious scriptures, the most important of which is the Ginza Rabba or Ginza, a collection of history, theology, and prayers.[34][need quotation to verify] The Ginza Rabba is divided into two halves—the Genzā Smālā or "Left Ginza", and the Genzā Yeminā or "Right Ginza". By consulting the colophons in the Left Ginza, Jorunn J. Buckley has identified an uninterrupted chain of copyists to the late second or early third century.[35] The colophons attest to the existence of the Mandaeans or their predecessors during the late Parthian Empire at the very latest.

The oldest texts are lead amulets from about the third century CE, followed by incantation bowls from about 600 CE. The important religious texts survived in manuscripts that are not older than the sixteenth century, with most coming from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.[36]

Although the Ginza continued to evolve under the rule of the Sasanian Empire and the Islamic caliphates, few textual traditions can lay claim to such extensive continuity.

Another important text is the Haran Gawaita, which tells the history of the Mandaeans. According to this text, a group of Nasoraeans (Mandean priests) left Judea before the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century CE, and settled within the Parthian Empire.

Other important books include the Qolusta, the canonical prayerbook of the Mandaeans, which was translated by E. S. Drower.[37] One of the chief works of Mandaean scripture, accessible to laymen and initiates alike, is the Mandaean Book of John, which includes a dialogue between John and Jesus. In addition to the Ginza, Qolusta, and Draša, there is the Dīvān, which contains a description of the 'regions' the soul ascends through, and the Book of the Zodiac (Asfar Malwāshē). Finally, there are some pre-Muslim artifacts that contain Mandaean writings and inscriptions, such as some Aramaic incantation bowls.

Mandaean ritual commentaries (esoteric exegetical literature), which are typically written in scrolls rather than codices, include:[38]

The language in which the Mandaean religious literature was originally composed is known as Mandaic, a member of the Aramaic group of dialects. It is written in the Mandaic script, a cursive variant of the Parthian chancellery script. Many Mandaean laypeople do not speak this language, although some members of the Mandaean community resident in Iran and Iraq continue to speak Neo-Mandaic, a modern version of this language.


Mandaean Darfash, symbol of the Mandaean faith

The two most important ceremonies in Mandaean worship are baptism (Masbuta), and 'the ascent' (Masiqta - a mass for the dead or ascent of the soul ceremony). Unlike in Christianity, baptism is not a one-off event but is performed every Sunday, the Mandaean holy day, as a ritual of purification. Baptism usually involves full immersion in flowing water, and all rivers considered fit for baptism are called Yardena (after the River Jordan). After emerging from the water, the worshipper is anointed with holy sesame oil and partakes in a communion of sacramental bread and water. The ascent of the soul ceremony, called the masiqta, can take various forms, but usually involves a ritual meal in memory of the dead. The ceremony is believed to help the souls of the departed on their journey through purgatory to the World of Light. Other rituals for purification include the Rishama and the Tamasha which, unlike Masbuta, can be performed without a priest.[29] Mandaeans must face north during prayers, which are performed three times a day.[39][40] Prayer in Mandaeism is called brakha [fa].

Members of the Mandaean clergy include the Ganzibra (Treasurer) and Tarmida (Disciple).[41] The patriarch of Mandaeism is His Holiness Ganzibra Sattar Jabbar Hilo al-Zahrony.[2][42]

A Mandī (Arabic: مندى‎) (Beth Manda) or Mashkhanna[43] is a place of worship for followers of Mandaeism. A Mandī must be built beside a river in order to perform Maṣbuta (baptism) because water is an essential element in the Mandaean faith. Modern Mandīs sometimes have a bath inside a building instead. Each Mandi is adorned with a Darfash, which is a cross of olive wood half covered with a piece of white pure silk cloth and seven branches of myrtle. The cross is not identified with the Christian cross. Instead, the four arms of the cross symbolize the four corners of the universe, while the pure silk cloth represents the Light of God.[44] The seven branches of myrtle represent the seven days of creation.[45]

Mandaeans believe in marriage and procreation, and in the importance of leading an ethical and moral lifestyle in this world. They are pacifist and egalitarian, with the earliest attested Mandaean scribe being a woman, Shlama Beth Qidra, who copied the Left Ginza sometime in the 2nd century CE.[46] There is evidence for women priests, especially in the pre-Islamic era.[47] They also place a high priority upon family life. Mandaeans do not practice asceticism and detest circumcision.[29] Mandaeans will, however, abstain from strong drink and red meat. Meat consumed by Mandaeans must also be slaughtered according to the proper rituals. On some days, meat is not allowed to be eaten.[41]


There is a strict division between Mandaean laity and the priests. According to E. S. Drower (The Secret Adam, p. ix):

[T]hose amongst the community who possess secret knowledge are called Naṣuraiia—Naṣoreans (or, if the emphatic ‹ṣ› is written as ‹z›, Nazorenes). At the same time the ignorant or semi-ignorant laity are called 'Mandaeans', Mandaiia—'gnostics.' When a man becomes a priest he leaves 'Mandaeanism' and enters tarmiduta, 'priesthood.' Even then he has not attained to true enlightenment, for this, called 'Naṣiruta', is reserved for a very few. Those possessed of its secrets may call themselves Naṣoreans, and 'Naṣorean' today indicates not only one who observes strictly all rules of ritual purity, but one who understands the secret doctrine.[48]

There are three grades of priesthood in Mandaeism: the tarmidia (Classical Mandaic: ࡕࡀࡓࡌࡉࡃࡉࡀ‎) “disciples” (Neo-Mandaic tarmidānā), the ganzibria (Classical Mandaic: ࡂࡀࡍࡆࡉࡁࡓࡉࡀ‎) “treasurers” (from Old Persian ganza-bara "id.," Neo-Mandaic ganzeḇrānā) and the rišamma (Classical Mandaic: ࡓࡉࡔࡀࡌࡀ‎) “leader of the people”. Ganzeḇrā, a title which appears first in a religious context in the Aramaic ritual texts from Persepolis (c. 3rd century BCE), and which may be related to the kamnaskires (Elamite <qa-ap-nu-iš-ki-ra> kapnuskir "treasurer"), title of the rulers of Elymais (modern Khuzestan) during the Hellenistic age. Traditionally, any ganzeḇrā who baptizes seven or more ganzeḇrānā may qualify for the office of rišamma. The current rišamma of the Mandaean community is Sattar Jabbar Hilo al-Zahrony.

The contemporary priesthood can trace its immediate origins to the first half of the 19th century. In 1831, an outbreak of cholera in Shushtar, Iran devastated the region and eliminated most if not all of the Mandaean religious authorities there. Two of the surviving acolytes (šgandia), Yahia Bihram and Ram Zihrun, reestablished the priesthood in Shushtar on the basis of their own training and the texts that were available to them.

In 2009, there were two dozen Mandaean priests in the world, according to the Associated Press.[49] However, according to the Mandaean Society in America, the number of priests has been growing in recent years.


According to Edmondo Lupieri, as stated in his article in Encyclopædia Iranica, "The possible historical connection with John the Baptist, as seen in the newly translated Mandaean texts, convinced many (notably R. Bultmann) that it was possible, through the Mandaean traditions, to shed some new light on the history of John and on the origins of Christianity. This brought around a revival of the otherwise almost fully abandoned idea of their Palestinian origins. As the archeological discovery of Mandaean incantation bowls and lead amulets proved a pre-Islamic Mandaean presence in the southern Mesopotamia, scholars were obliged to hypothesize otherwise unknown persecutions by Jews or by Christians to explain the reason for Mandaeans’ departure from Palestine." In addition to the archaeological evidence of Mandaeism being deeply rooted in Mesopotamia, Lupieri stresses that there is linguistic evidence of Mandaic, which is classified as an Eastern Mesopotamian Aramaic language, as Lupieri reaffirms that the Mandaeans are most likely a southern Mesopotamian gnostic community although the chronological origins of Mandaeism is disputed.[50] In addition to Edmondo Lupieri, Edwin Yamauchi, Christa Müller-Kessler, and Kevin Van Bladel argue against the Palestinian origin theory of the Mandaeans, claiming that the Mandaeans orginate from Babylonia. [51][52] [53]

Scholars specializing in Mandaeism such as Kurt Rudolph, Mark Lidzbarski, Rudolf Macúch, Ethel S. Drower, James F. McGrath, Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley, and Şinasi Gündüz argue for a Palestinian origin. The majority of these scholars believe that the Mandaeans likely have a historical connection with John the Baptist's inner circle of disciples.[54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63] Linguists specializing in Mandaic, such as Charles G. Häberl, find Palestinian and Samaritan Aramaic influence on Mandaic and accept Mandaeans having a "shared Palestinian history with Jews".[64][65]

Other namesEdit


The Quran makes several references to the Sabians, who are identified with the Mandaeans.[66][67] Sabians are counted among the Ahl al-Kitāb (People of the Book), and several hadith feature them. Arab sources of early Quranic times (7th century) also make some references to Sabians. The word Sabian is said to be derived from the Aramaic root related to baptism with the cognate in Neo-Mandaic being Ṣabi 'to baptize'.[68] In the Middle East, they are more commonly known as the Ṣābi'ūn, i.e. 'the Sabians‘, or colloquially as the Ṣubba.[68] The Sabians believed they "belong to the prophet Noah";[69] Similarly, the Mandaeans claim direct descent from Noah.

The Syrian Christian writer Nicolas Siouffi,[70][71] wrote in 1880 that the true 'Sabians' or Subba lived in the marshes of lower Iraq. The Assyrian writer Theodore Bar Konai (in the Scholion, 792) described a "sect" of "Sabians", who were located in southern Mesopotamia.[72][full citation needed]

Al-Biruni (writing at the beginning of the 11th century) said that the 'real Sabians' were "the remnants of the Jewish tribes who remained in Babylonia when the other tribes left it for Jerusalem in the days of Cyrus and Artaxerxes. These remaining tribes... adopted a system mixed-up of Magism and Judaism."[73]


The Haran Gawaita uses the name Nasoraeans for the Mandaeans arriving from Jerusalem. Scholars such as Kurt Rudolph, Rudolf Macúch, Ethel S. Drower, Jorunn J. Buckley and Şinasi Gündüz connect the Mandaeans with the Nasaraeans described by Epiphanius, a group within the Essenes.[74][56][75][76][77][78][79] Epiphanius says (29:6) that they existed before Christ. That is questioned by some, but others accept the pre-Christian origin of the Nasaraeans.[80]

The Nasaraeans ‐ they were Jews by nationality ‐ originally from Gileaditis, Bashanitis and the Transjordan ... They acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received laws ‐ not this law, however, but some other. And so, they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, but they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat. They considered it unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with it. They claim that these Books are fictions, and that none of these customs were instituted by the fathers. This was the difference between the Nasaraeans and the others.

— Epiphanius' Panarion 1:18

Relations with other groupsEdit


The Hemerobaptists were an ancient religious sect that practiced daily baptism. They were likely a division of the Essenes.[81] In the Clementine Homilies (ii. 23), John the Baptist is mentioned as a Hemerobaptist. The Mandaeans have been associated with the Hemerobaptists on the account of both practicing frequent baptism.[82]


The Elkesaites were a Judeo-Christian baptismal sect, which seems to have been related, and possibly ancestral, to the Mandaeans (see Sabians). The members of this sect, like the Mandaeans, wore white and performed baptisms. They dwelt in east Judea and Assyria, whence the Mandaeans claim to have migrated to southern Mesopotamia, according to the Harran Gawaiṯā. In the Fihrist ("Book of Nations") of Arabic scholar Al-Nadim (c. 987), the Mogtasilah (Mughtasila, "self-ablutionists") are counted among the followers of El-Hasaih or Elkesaites. Mogtasilah may thus have been Al-Nadim's term for the Mandaeans, as the few details on rituals and habits are similar to Mandaeans ones. The Elkesaites seem to have prospered for a while, but ultimately splintered. They may have originated in a schism where they renounced the Torah, while the mainstream Sampsaeans[citation needed] held on to it (as Elchasai's followers did)—if so, this must have happened around the mid-late 1st millennium CE. However, it is not clear exactly which group he referred to, for by then the Elkesaite sects may have been at their most diverse. Some disappeared subsequently; for example, the Sampsaeans are not well attested in later sources. The Ginza Rabba, one of the chief holy scriptures of the Mandaeans, appears to originate around the time of Elchasai or somewhat thereafter.[citation needed]


According to the Fihrist of ibn al-Nadim, the Mesopotamian prophet Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, was brought up within the Elkesaite (Elcesaite or Elchasaite) sect, this being confirmed more recently by the Cologne Mani Codex. None of the Manichaean scriptures has survived in its entirety, and it seems that the remaining fragments have not been compared to the Ginza Rabba. Mani later left the Elkasaites to found his own religion. In a comparative analysis, the Egyptologist Säve-Söderbergh indicated that Mani's Psalms of Thomas was closely related to Mandaean texts.[83] This would imply that Mani had access to Mandaean religious literature, or that both derived from the same source.


They are connected with the Samaritan group, the Dositheans, by Theodore Bar Kōnī in his Scholion.


Mandaean Beth Manda (Mashkhanna) in Nasiriyah, southern Iraq in 2016

It is estimated that there are 60,000–100,000 Mandaeans worldwide.[84] Their proportion in their native lands has collapsed because of the Iraq War, with most of the community relocating to nearby Iran, Syria, and Jordan. There are approximately 2,500 Mandaeans in Jordan.[85]

In 2011, Al Arabiya put the number of hidden and unaccounted for Iranian Mandaeans in Iran as high as 60,000.[86] According to a 2009 article in The Holland Sentinel, the Mandaean community in Iran has also been dwindling, numbering between 5,000 and at most 10,000 people.

Most Mandaeans live in the Middle East.[85] Many Mandaeans have formed diaspora communities outside the Middle East in Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, USA, Canada, New Zealand, UK and especially Australia, where around 10,000 now reside, mainly around Sydney, representing 15% of the total world Mandaean population.[87]

Approximately 1,000 Iranian Mandaeans have emigrated to the United States, since the US State Department in 2002 granted them protective refugee status, which was also later accorded to Iraqi Mandaeans in 2007.[88] A community estimated at 2,500 members live in Worcester, Massachusetts, where they began settling in 2008. Most emigrated from Iraq.[89]

Mandaeism does not allow conversion, and the religious status of Mandaeans who marry outside the faith and their children is disputed.[49]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). "Part I: Beginnings - Introduction: The Mandaean World". The Mandaeans: Ancient Texts and Modern People. New York: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. pp. 1–20. doi:10.1093/0195153855.003.0001. ISBN 9780195153859. OCLC 57385973.
  2. ^ a b Patriarch and Worldwide Head of The Sabian Mandeans; His Holiness Ganzevra Sattar Jabbar Hilo al-Zahrony, the worldwide head of The Sabian Mandeans, is a member of the Interfaith Network of the Global Imams Council.
  3. ^ Ethel Stefana Drower, The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran (Leiden: Brill, 1937; reprint 1962); Kurt Rudolph, Die Mandäer II. Der Kult (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht; Göttingen, 1961; Kurt Rudolph, Mandaeans (Leiden: Brill, 1967); Christa Müller-Kessler, Sacred Meals and Rituals of the Mandaeans”, in David Hellholm, Dieter Sänger (eds.), Sacred Meal, Communal Meal, Table Fellowship, and the Eucharist: Late Antiquity, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity, Vol. 3 (Tübingen: Mohr, 2017), pp. 1715–1726, pls.
  4. ^ a b c d "Mandaeanism | religion".
  5. ^ Bell, Matthew
  6. ^ Iraqi minority group needs U.S. attention, Kai Thaler,Yale Daily News, March 9, 2007.
  7. ^ Rudolph, Kurt (1978). Mandaeism. BRILL. p. 15. ISBN 9789004052529.
  8. ^ The Light and the Dark: Dualism in ancient Iran, India, and China Petrus Danker John Williams – 1990 "Although it shows Jewish and Christian influences, Mandaeism was hostile to Judaism and Christianity. Mandaeans spoke an East-Aramaic language in which 'manda' means 'knowledge'; this already is sufficient proof of the connection of Mandaeism with the Gnosis...
  9. ^ Häberl 2009, p. 1
  10. ^ a b Edmondo, Lupieri (2004). "Friar of Ignatius of Jesus (Carlo Leonelli) and the First "Scholarly" Book on Mandaeaism (1652)". ARAM Periodical. 16 (Mandaeans and Manichaeans): 25–46. ISSN 0959-4213.
  11. ^ Etudes mithriaques 1978 p545 Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin "The conviction of the leading Mandaean scholars – E. S. Drower, Kurt Rudolph, Rudolph Macuch – that Mandaeanism had a pre-Christian origin rests largely upon the subjective evaluation of parallels between Mandaean texts and the Gospel of John."
  12. ^ "The People of the Book and the Hierarchy of Discrimination".
  13. ^ Drower, Ethel Stefana. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. Oxford At The Clarendon Press, 1937, p182.
  14. ^ Drower, Ethel Stefana. The Haran Gawaita and the Baptism of Hibil-Ziwa. Biblioteca Apostolica Vatican, 1953
  15. ^ Iraqi minority group needs U.S. attention Archived 2007-10-25 at the Wayback Machine, Kai Thaler, Yale Daily News, 9 March 2007.
  16. ^ a b "Save the Gnostics" by Nathaniel Deutsch, 6 October 2007, New York Times.
  17. ^ Iraq's Mandaeans 'face extinction', Angus Crawford, BBC, 4 March 2007.
  18. ^ Foerster, Werner (1974). Gnosis: A Selection of Gnostic texts. 2. Oxford University Press. p. 126. ISBN 9780198264347.
  19. ^ Lupieri, Edmundo (2001). The Mandaeans: The Last Gnostics. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 9780802833501. Siouffi was a Syrian Christian who, having received a European education, entered the French diplomatic corps.
  20. ^ Häberl 2009, p. 18: "In 1873, the French vice-consul in Mosul, a Syrian Christian by the name of Nicholas Siouffi, sought Mandaean informants in Baghdad without success."
  21. ^ Tavernier, J.-B. (1678). The Six Voyages of John Baptista Tavernier. Translated by Phillips, J. pp. 90–93.
  22. ^ Angel Sáenz-Badillos, A History of the Hebrew Language. Cambridge University Press, 1993 (ISBN 978-0521556347), p. 36 et passim. (See also Biblical Hebrew phonology#Classification: "Hebrew also shares with the Canaanite languages ... assimilation of non-final /n/ to the following consonant.")
  23. ^ "The Mandaeans: True descendents of ancient Babylonians". Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  24. ^ Eric Segelberg "Maşbūtā. Studies in the Ritual of the Mandæan Baptism, Uppsala, Sweden, 1958."
  25. ^ Drower, Ethel Stephana (1960). The secret Adam, a study of Nasoraean gnosis (PDF). London UK: Clarendon Press. xvi. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  26. ^ Lupieri (2002), pp. 38–41.
  27. ^ Bancila, Ionut (2018). Die mandäische Religion und der aramäische Hintergrund des Manichäismus : Forschungsgeschichte, Textvergleiche, historisch-geographische Verortung (in German). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-11002-0. OCLC 1043707818.
  28. ^ Contemporary Issues for the Mandaean Faith
  29. ^ a b c Drower, Ethel Stefana. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. Oxford At The Clarendon Press, 1937.
  30. ^ Rudolf, K. (1978). Mandaeism. Leiden: Brill.
  31. ^ Lupieri (2002), pp. 39–40, n. 43.
  32. ^ Lupieri (2002), p. 116.
  33. ^ Aldihisi, Sabah (2013). The Story of Creation in the Mandaean Holy Book the Ginza Rba (PDF). ProQuest LLC. p. 188. OCLC 1063456888.
  34. ^ "Ginzā, der Schatz [microform] oder das grosse Buch der Mandäer : Ginzā : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". 2001-03-10. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  35. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen. The Great Stem of Souls: Reconstructing Mandaean History. Gorgias Pr Llc (Dec 1 2010)
  36. ^ Edwin Yamauchi (1982). "The Mandaeans: Gnostic Survivors". Eerdmans' Handbook to the World's Religions, Lion Publishing, Herts., England, page 110
  37. ^ "The Ginza Rba – Mandaean Scriptures". The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  38. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515385-5. OCLC 65198443.
  39. ^ Baker, Karen (September 28, 2017). The Mandaeans—Baptizers of Iraq and Iran. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781498246200 – via Google Books.
  40. ^ "The Edinburgh Review". A. and C. Black. April 26, 1880 – via Google Books.
  41. ^ a b Aldihisi, Sabah (2008). The story of creation in the Mandaean holy book in the Ginza Rba (PhD). University of London.
  42. ^ "الريشما ستار جبار حلو رئيس ديانة الصابئة المندائيين". Mandaean Library مكتبة موسوعة العيون المعرفية (in Arabic). Retrieved 2021-09-21.
  43. ^ Secunda, Shai, and Steven Fine. Secunda, Shai; Fine, Steven (2012-09-03). Shoshannat Yaakov. ISBN 978-9004235441. Brill, 2012.p345
  44. ^ "Iraq: Old Sabaean-Mandean Community is Proud of Its Ancient Faith".
  45. ^ Holy Spirit University of Kaslik - USEK, Open discussion with the Sabaeans Mandaeans Nov 27, 2017
  46. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen. The Mandaeans: Ancient Texts and Modern People. Oxford University Press, 2002.p4
  47. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen. The Evidence for Women Priests in Mandaeism. April 2000. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 59(2)
  48. ^ Eric Segelberg, "The Ordination of the Mandæan tarmida and its Relation to Jewish and Early Christian Ordination Rites," (Studia patristica 10, 1970).
  49. ^ a b Contrera, Russell (8 August 2009). "Saving the people, killing the faith". Holland Sentinel. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015.
  50. ^ "MANDAEANS i. HISTORY". Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  51. ^ Yamauchi, Edwin. Gnostic Ethics and Mandaean Origins. Gorgias Press. ISBN 9781463209476.
  52. ^ Müller-Kessler, Christa (2004). "The Mandaeans and the Question of Their Origin". ARAM (16). doi:10.2143/ARAM.16.0.504671.
  53. ^ Van Bladel, Kevin (6 February 2017). From Sasanian Mandaeans to Sabians of the Marshes. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-33946-0.
  54. ^ Zinner, Samuel,Zinner, Samuel. "THE VINES OF JOY: Comparative Studies in Mandaean History and Theology". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
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  56. ^ a b Rudolph 1977, p. 4.
  57. ^ Thomas, Richard. "The Israelite Origins of the Mandaean People." Studia Antiqua 5, no. 2 (2007).
  58. ^ GÜNDÜZ, ŞINASI. The Knowledge of Life. The Origins and Early History of the Mandaeans and Their Relation to the Sabians of the Qurʾān and to the Harranians. Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of Manchester, 1994. Pp. vii + 256
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  61. ^ Lidzbarski, Mark 1915 Das Johannesbuch der Mandäer. Giessen: Alfred Töpelmann.
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  63. ^ R. Macuch, “Anfänge der Mandäer. Versuch eines geschichtliches Bildes bis zur früh-islamischen Zeit,” chap. 6 of F. Altheim and R. Stiehl, Die Araber in der alten Welt II: Bis zur Reichstrennung, Berlin, 1965.
  64. ^ Charles Häberl, "Hebraisms in Mandaic" Mar 3, 2021
  65. ^ Häberl, Charles,Häberl, Charles (2021). "Mandaic and the Palestinian Question". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 141 (1): 171–184. doi:10.7817/jameroriesoci.141.1.0171. S2CID 234204741.Journal of the American Oriental Society 141.1 (2021) p171-184.
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  67. ^ Zaman, Muhammad Qasim (1997), Religion and Politics Under the Early 'Abbasids: The Emergence of the Proto-Sunni Elite, Brill, pp. 63–65, ISBN 978-9004106789
  68. ^ a b Häberl 2009, p. 1.
  69. ^ Khalil ‘ibn Ahmad (d. 786–787), who was in Basra before his death, wrote: "The Sabians believe they belong to the prophet Noah, they read Zaboor (see also Book of Psalms), and their religion looks like Christianity." He also states that "they worship the angels".
  70. ^ The Mandaeans: The Last Gnostics
  71. ^ Survival Among The Kurds
  72. ^ Chwolsohn, Die Sabier, 1856, I, 112; II, 543, cited by Salmon.
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  • Häberl, Charles G. (2009), The neo-Mandaic dialect of Khorramshahr, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3-447-05874-2
  • Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen. 2002. The Mandaeans: Ancient Texts and Modern People. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Buckley. J.J. "Mandaeans" in Encyclopædia Iranica
  • Drower, Ethel Stefana. 2002. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran: Their Cults, Customs, Magic Legends, and Folklore (reprint). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press.
  • Lupieri, Edmondo. (Charles Hindley, trans.) 2002. The Mandaeans: The Last Gnostics. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
  • "A Brief Note on the Mandaeans: Their History, Religion and Mythology," Mandaean Society in America.
  • Newmarker, Chris, Associated Press article, "Faith under fire: Iraq war threatens extinction for ancient religious group" (headline in The Advocate of Stamford, Connecticut, page A12, 10 February 2007)
  • Petermann, J. Heinrich. 2007 The Great Treasure of the Mandaeans (reprint of Thesaurus s. Liber Magni). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press.
  • Segelberg, Eric, 1958, Maşbūtā. Studies in the Ritual of the Mandæan Baptism. Uppsala
  • Segelberg, Eric, 1970, "The Ordination of the Mandæan tarmida and its Relation to Jewish and Early Christian Ordination Rites," in Studia patristica 10.
  • Eric Segelberg, Trāşa d-Tāga d-Śiślām Rabba. Studies in the rite called the Coronation of Śiślām Rabba. i: Zur Sprache und Literatur der Mandäer (Studia Mandaica 1.) Berlin & New York 1976.
  • Segelberg, Eric, 1977, "Zidqa Brika and the Mandæan Problem. In Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Gnosticism. Ed. Geo Widengren and David Hellholm. Stockholm.
  • Segelberg, Eric, 1978, "The pihta and mambuha Prayers. To the Question of the Liturgical Development amnong the Mandæans" in Gnosis. Festschrift für Hans Jonas. Göttingen.
  • Segelberg, Eric, 1990, "Mandæan – Jewish – Christian. How does the Mandæan tradition relate to Jewish and Christian tradition? in: Segelberg, Gnostica Madaica Liturgica. (Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Historia Religionum 11.) Uppsala 1990.
  • Yamauchi, Edwin. 2004. Gnostic Ethics and Mandaean Origins (reprint). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press.

External linksEdit

Mandaean scripturesEdit

Books about Mandaeism available onlineEdit