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The Mandaeans : The Last Gnostics
From The Publisher:
This fascinating book presents for the first time a complete introduction to Mandaeanism, a branch of Gnosticism that has survived to the present day.
In an engaging style that mirrors the interesting nature of his subject, Edmondo Lupieri portrays the traditional way of life of the Mandaeans, still found living today in Iraq and Iran, and introduces readers to the world of Mandaean ideas — including the view that they are the only ones on earth who possess the true and oldest faith. Lupieri reconstructs the history of the interaction between Mandaeanism and the Western world, beginning with Ricoldo da Montecroce, a thirteenth-century Italian monk who is the first known European to write about the Mandaeans, and continuing on to present scholarship. He also offers a critical analysis of the Mandaean written and oral traditions concerning their origin, history, and self-understanding.
The book is made even more valuable by the inclusion of an extensive anthology of translated Mandaean texts, complete with notes. This collection of writings presents the spiritual world of Mandaeanism with fragments of mythical-theological texts and pages of ethical and historical meditations.
Edmondo Lupieri’s excellent introduction to the Mandaeans both fills an important gap in contemporary historical scholarship on religion and offers an opportunity for a broad audience to become acquainted with this fascinating people and their tradition. Among the most ancient of the world’s living religions, the Mandaeans have preserved their tradition through periods of persecution and plenty. Lupieri’s well-researched book tells this story and introduces the texts of this tradition in a finely written style.
—Karen L. King
This book makes an important contribution to the study of a religion whose modern adherents are largely unknown and whose ancient sources are not accessible to students of religion with access to a scholarly library. For the scholar, Lupieri’s careful analysis of the historical information about Mandaeanism provides a new look at how this movement was shaped by the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The annotated anthology of selections from Mandaean texts provides a readable guide for the novice. Its attention to texts that refer to the religion of others will be particularly valuable to students of comparative religion.
Lupieri’s eminently readable and highly informative introduction to the Mandaeans fills a large gap in academic treatments of this still understudied tradition, whose origins and history are both fascinating and shrouded in considerable mystery. His engaging style of analysis offers an insightful framework for understanding the nature and evolution of Mandaean culture and its relation to other religious cultures — Jewish, Christian, and Islamic — among which and over against which it has shaped its own identity. This book should be very useful in helping students to see Mandaean religion as not merely an obscure curiosity but as one case study with some remarkable relevance for exploring the dynamics of religion and ethnicity in our world at large.
—Michael A. Williams
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About the Author
Edmondo Lupieri is Professor of the history of Christianity at the University of Udine, Italy. He is the author of seven books in Italian on such subjects as John the Baptist, Jesus, and early Christian history, and he has written numerous journal articles and essays.
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