Gnostic Doctrine

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The Mandaeans

The Mandaeans

The only surviving gnostic sect today is that of the Mandaeans, who are not Christians but rather trace their religion back to John the Baptist and earlier prophets. The Mandaeans teach that this world was created by "the ruler of darkness," a demiurge known as Ptahil. The name Ptahil is derived from the ancient Egyptian Ptah, the Egyptian creator deity, and El, the Semitic term for God. Alongside Ptahil are two other quasi-demiurgic figures, Yushamin and Abathur. Ptahil, as the demiurgic creator and power of darkness, stands in contrast to the power of light, the true God. Thus, Mandaeism is a dualistic religion, akin to Zoroastrianism.

The proto-gnostic movement seems to have had a schism over the roles of John the Baptist and Jesus. The Mandaeans followed the teachings of John the Baptist and regarded him as a messianic figure, but they regarded Jesus as a "false messiah." The Mandaeans also rejected Moses and the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible).

 In Mandaeism, the laity are called mandaiia, "gnostics," while initiates into the priesthood are called naṣuraiia (naṣoreans).

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