Mandaean Beliefs

Life Recognition of the existence of one God, whom Nasurai call "Hayyi" which in Aramaic means "the Living" or life itself. The Great Life (or Supreme Deity) is a personification of the creative and sustaining force of the universe, and is spoken of always in the impersonal plural, it remains mystery and abstraction. The modern Jewish practice of saying "To Life! and of wearing the Chai (Life) letters as pendants may be related to this Mandaean reverence for Life. The symbol of the Great Life is flowing 'living' water or yardna. Because of this, flowing water holds a central place in all Nasurai rituals, hence the necessity of living near rivers.

Light The second vivifying power is light, which is represented by a personification of light, Melka d Nhura (the King of Light) and the light spirits, who bestow health, strength, virtue and justice . In the ethical system of the Mandaeans, as in that of the Zoroastrians, cleanliness, health of body and ritual obedience must be accompanied by purity of mind, health of conscience and obedience to moral laws. A phrase in the Manual of Discipline reads: that they may behold the Light of Life.

Immortality The third important rite of the religion is the belief in the immortality of the soul, and its close relationship with the souls of its ancestors, immediate and divine. The fate of the soul is a chief concern, while the body is treated with disdain. Belief in the existence of the next life, in which there will be reward and punishment. The sinner will be punished in al-Matarathi and then
enter Paradise. There is no eternal punishment because God is merciful and forgiving.



B. Drasha d Yahya (The Book of John, Chapters 1-4, 8-10). This book is a mixed collection of fragments and may be a supplement to the Ginza. This text mentions Mt. Carmel and the Beni-Amin, or B'nai-Amen Temple Order, in chapter 10.
C. Sfar Malwasha - this is an astrological codex.
D. Sidra d Nishmatha (The Book of Souls). This is a codex about baptismal ritual with that of the baptismal sacraments. In the Qabbalah Neshamah is the name for the highest soul, above the Ruach and Nephesh, both of which are considered evil by Mandeaens.
E. Tafsir Paghra - a roll concerning the inner meaning of the ritual meals and the constitution of the Soul.
F. Qolasta (Praise). A conical prayer book, contains hymns, songs and prayers together with appropriate directions which are necessary for cultic ceremonies, above all for baptisms and rituals for the dead.
G. Alf Trisar Shiala (One Thousand and Twelve Questions). This is supposed to be in five or seven parts and is intended for priests only.

Mandaean Parallels With Other Traditions

Interesting parallels exist between the traditional Catholic-christian tradition and the Mandaean practices. This is not surprising when one understands that both go back to the same source - Nazarene Essenism. Some parallels suggest that what has traditionally been considered purely Christian, may in fact be pre-christian and traditional to the Nazarene sect of Essenes.

The Christian Mass has strong, almost identical, elements in common with the Ginza Rba's outline for ritualistic Pita bread and water / wine consumption. Mandeaens mingle water with wine and break the host as in the Catholic tradition. Both link the ceremony with forgiveness and communion with the dead and both traditions maintain the same order of Baptism, Anointing and then Eucharistic meal. Both traditions even share the concept of threefold baptism following a consecration of waters and exorcism of demons. (see Hippolytus and Cyril for details of these early Christian practices)

The Clementine literature tells us that predawn "miqvah" immersions were in vogue with Peter's habits, even as they are mandated in Qumran and Mandaean writings. Early Christian traditions also stress the use of "living", or flowing, waters in baptismal ceremonies, just like the Mandeaens.

Bishops of both Catholic and Mandaean religions use a consecrated staff and ring, and both traditions use metal medals to ward off negative influences. (St. Benedict Medallion for example)

Both traditions use a wooden cross upon which is hung holy symbols.

The Mandaean doctrine of angels over baptism and the Jordan shows up in some gnostic texts, and both these traditions emphasize the evil influence of the archons and lower heavens.

Principles of ritual defilement and purity found in the Ginza and other Mandaean writings also show up in many Essene reports and in the Dead Sea Scrolls, such as the Temple Scroll, Damascus Covenant and others. These principles must have been in common usage by early Nazarenes and some form of these ideas were no doubt also practiced by Yeshua and his disciples. (See Clementine Homilies). Reports of Essene all white clothing reminds one of this same requirement among the Mandeaens as well as ancient Pythagoreans. It is reasonable, therefore, to conjecture that all of Christ's disciples also wore only white.

The raw food and vegetarian diet mandated for Mandaean Bishops is also reminiscent of raw food doctrines found in the Essene Gospel of Peace brought forth by Szekely in the first part of the 20th century and in reports of ancient Essenes and in their Damascus Document.


The Mandaean traditions and records are a rich gold mine of information on early Nazarene practices. The many overlaps in the early Christian tradition and the modern Mandaean tradition are strongly suggestive of the common origin of each. Because the earliest "Jewish Christian" strata of the tradition was rejected by the prevailing Roman-Greek Christian culture, many original and important elements of the Way of Yeshua was, no doubt, discarded. By prudent analysis of Mandaean tradition it seems possible to recover many of these ancient principles for use by modern Nazarene Essenes. Of particular consideration are the practices of:

A few Mandaean traditions seem better left alone. Some of these might include:

Negative attitude toward Yeshu (Jesus).
Allowance of some meat consumption by the lay people.
Overly strict Priesthood requirements which severily limit the number of candidates for various offices and the failure to insist on women priestesses as allowed by their tradition.
Insistence on the use of the dead language of Mandaic Aramaic in all rituals.

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