Friday, August 17, 2018

John the Baptist and Mandeans in Aramaic and Syriac?

A BLEG FROM THE RELIGION PROF: Neglected Mentions of John the Baptist and Mandaeans in Syriac and Aramaic Sources? James McGrath is asking. If your scholarly work involves Aramaic and Syriac texts of late antiquity, you may be able to help. And he teases us with this:
In this context I can mention that I’ve begun work on one of my next big book projects, which relates to the historical John the Baptist and the question of whether we can usefully bring the Mandaeans and their texts into the picture. I think that the answer to that question is yes, but obviously will need to make that case in detail. Some of the groundwork, however, has already been laid in a work that is soon to appear, and I think that scholars of ancient religion (as well as Semitic linguistics) are going to be blown away by some of the things that I believe will become clear as a result of the publication of the two-volume Mandaean Book of John critical edition, translation, and commentary.
His emphasis. To be clear, these are the details:
The Mandaean Book of John
Critical Edition, Translation, and Commentary

Ed. by Häberl, Charles G. / McGrath, James F.

Aims and Scope

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.
Forthcoming from De Gruyter in December of 2018. Cross-file under Forthcoming Book, Mandean (Mandaean) Watch, Aramaic Watch, and Syriac Watch.

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