The Mandaean Book of John: Critical Edition, Translation, and Commentary
by Charles G. Häberl & James F. McGrath 2020
About the Authors
Chares G. Häberl is an American religious studies scholar, linguist, and professor. He is currently Professor of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) and Religion at Rutgers University. Häberl’s primary interests include Mandaeism, Semitic philology, and Middle Eastern studies. He is known for his translation of the Mandaean Book of John in collaboration with James F. McGrath, as well as for his research on the Neo-Mandaic dialect of Khorramshahr, Iran.
Dr. James F. McGrath is the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University. His PhD is from the University of Durham in England. His interests include not only early Christianity but also the Mandaeans, science fiction, and the intersection of religion and science. He blogs at ReligionProf on the Patheos web site.
About the Book
“To sum up, the impressive new edition of The Mandaean book of John is indeed a
welcome one. The editors have presented the scholarly community with an up-todate,
well-arranged, accurate edition accompanied by a fluent English translation
and enlightening commentary. Thanks to the great efforts of Charles G. Häberl
and James F. McGrath we now have an almost full picture of one of the most
important compositions of the Mandaean congregation.” — Ohad Abudraham in: Journal of Ecclesiastical History 2021
The Mandaean community provides us with unparalleled access to a library of ancient Gnostic scriptures that are part of the living tradition that has sustained this community across the centuries. This book is a critical edition of one of these Gnostic texts: the Mandaean Book of John. It present a newly edited text, beautifully set in a new font developed for this project, and provides the first full translation into English, together with critical commentary. As an exemplar of Mandaean literature, the Book of John allows us not only to increase our knowledge about Gnosticism – and by extension the related religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – but also to observe the relationship between Gnostic texts, rituals, beliefs, and living practices, both historically and in the present day.
Given the degree of popular fascination with Gnostic religions, it is surprising how few pay attention to the one such religion that has survived from antiquity until the present day: Mandaism.
Mandaeans, who esteem John the Baptist as the most famous adherent to their religion, have in our time found themselves driven from their historic homelands by war and oppression. Today, they are a community in crisis, but they provide us with unparalleled access to a library of ancient Gnostic scriptures, as part of the living tradition that has sustained them across the centuries. Gnostic texts such as these have caught popular interest in recent times, as traditional assumptions about the original forms and cultural contexts of related religious traditions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, have been called into question. However, we can learn only so much from texts in isolation from their own contexts. Mandaean literature uniquely allows us not only to increase our knowledge about Gnosticism, and by extension all these other religions, but also to observe the relationship between Gnostic texts, rituals, beliefs, and living practices, both historically and in the present day.
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