Sacred-Texts Christianity Index

Gnostic John the Baptizer

Selections from the Mandæan John-Book


The Mandæans are a small and little-known religious community living principally in Iraq. They are the last group of traditional gnostics left in the world and as such present a facinating and edifying 'field of study.' They are not Christians,but trace their earthy heritage back to the same John known as the 'Baptist' or 'Baptizer' in Christian tradition, but they hold themselves radically aloof from both Christianity and Judaism which they regard, in true gnostic fashion, as perverted versions of the true relgion.

The author of this work, G. R. S. Mead, was a very prolific writer early in the twentieth century, and most of his work focused on gnosticism and other forms of western esoteric religion dating from the early centuries of the Christian Era. He was also very active in the Theosophical movement, serving for many years as H. P. Blavatsky's secretary. His work is rarely mentioned in scholarly works these days, and his credentials as a 'scholar' may be shaky, but given his background, he had an understanding of esoteric religion that many university people cannot approach to.

The translations contained in this book were almost all made at second-hand from German translations of the originals, but the fact remains that they are the only substantial source material on Mandæanism that is in the public domain. More texts relating to the Mandæans are available at the Gnostic Archives.


On the transcription:

This edition has been fully unicode-enabled. It utilizes the characters ĀāĒēīŌōšūḍḥḪḫṣṬṭ—√, as well as full Greek text (i.e. ἀρχή). If any of the characters in red do not display properly, you will need to install a good unicode font to see them. Arial Unicode MS Font for Publisher 2000 is probably the most complete font available now for Windows. The Code 2000 shareware font is also a very extensive Windows font.

NOTE: The Microsoft font mentioned above is no longer available. For information about Unicode fonts, and general issues related to the use of Unicode at sacred-texts, please refer to this page.--JBH

Quotations set in a smaller font in the original text have been rendered indented (i.e. inside of <BLOCKQUOTE> tags).

Biblical citations which were rendered in the forms 37-9 and iii. 7-9 in the original text have been normalized to the 3:7-9 format. Also, the abbreviation Matth. (used less than half of the time) for Matthew has been normalized to Mt.

There is extensive use made of spacing between paragraphs in the original text. Not all of this could be reproduced, and it is not always clear that it is even intentional. I have put extra spacing where it seemed that it was necessary to the meaning of the text. Also, the first and last lines of almost every selection in part III are shown as centered. This is not always the case in the original, but this is due to the fact that the printed page was too small to show it that way, and the centering helps to highlight those sections, which were sometimes shown with extra spacing.

This book was reduced to HTML by Christopher M. Weimer, March 2002, revised August 2002. All HTML content is copyright and freely distributable for noncommercial use without the expressed consent of the author.