Mandaean scripture in Gnostic Christianity

Mandaean Theology
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The Mandaeans believe that Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad were nothing more than false messengers; as they revere John the Baptist to be the most honorable messenger of God. Other venerated individuals in the Mandaean teaching include Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Shem and Aram. The Mandaean belief system is mostly based upon a common heritage rather than on religious creeds and doctrines. Today, there is no authoritative guide to the Mandaean theology. However, there is still a vast amount of Mandaean scripture to shed light on the beliefs, cosmology and church structure of this fascinating Gnostic religion. The fundamental doctrine of Mandaeanism is generally characterized by nine features that appear in various forms throughout other Gnostic sects. The first of these is a supreme, formless Entity. The second of these is the dualistic nature of the theology; Mandaeans believe in a Father and Mother, light and darkness, right and left. Syzygy is found in nearly all cosmic forms throughout the Mandaean teachings. As dualism is easily described as a “packaged deal”, the counter-types that create a world of ideas constitute the third common feature. Fourth, the soul is portrayed by the Mandaeans as an exile that must find its way home to its origin – the supreme Entity. Next, the Mandaeans hold that the planets and stars are heavily influential of fate and are fashioned as various final destination places after death. Sixth, a savior spirit is assigned to assist the soul on its journey to return to the supreme Entity, and ultimately to assist the soul on the journey through the “worlds of light” after death. The seventh feature of Mandaean beliefs involves a cult-language of symbol and metaphor; by composing in this language, ideas and qualities about their religion become personified. Contiguous to this language is the installment of sacraments and mysteries performed to aid and purify the soul. According to Mandaean scripture, the purpose of these sacraments is to ensure the rebirth of the soul into a spiritual body, and to ensure the soul’s ascent from the world of matter to the heavens. Finally, the Mandaeans teach a religion of Great Secrecy. Full explanation of the previous features is only reserved for initiated members of the Mandaean faith that are considered fully capable of comprehending and preserving the gnosis. While some Gnostic sects of antiquity did not believe in marriage and procreation, the Mandaean people do indeed wed and conceive children. Consequently, the importance of family values and an ethically sound life are also highly regarded by the Mandaean Gnostics. An interesting note about the Mandaean faith teaches scholars that while they are in agreement with other Gnostic sects in regards to the idea that the world was created and governed to be a prison by archons, they do not view the world as cruel and inhospitable as other Gnostics do.

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