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John the Baptist and the Last Gnostics: The Secret History of the Mandaeans Paperback – August 16, 2016
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About the Author
Andrew Philip Smith is the editor of The Gnostic and the author of Lost History of the Cathars and Secret History of the Gnostics. He has also written for Fortean Times, New Dawn and The Guardian.
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Several thousand Mandaeans immigrated to the US, while others went to Canada, Australia and other countries. There are only a few thousand left in Iraq now. It boggles my mind that we have a direct link to the times of Jesus, preserved by a tiny sect of people who believe that John the Baptist was the real Messiah (that is overstating it a bit, but not by much.)
I recommend it highly for those who are interested in religions other than your own, especially truly minority ones. The book discusses Manicheans, Sabians, the Knights Templar, Essenes, Nazoreans, Elkasites, Quqites, Samaritans, Simon Magus ("Simon the sorcerer"), the Magharians, as well as Sethians and Valentinians (both gnostic sects). Essentially, the Mandaeans (followers of John) are the only surviving sect from the days of Jesus, except of course for the Christians.
As anyone who has studied the Middle East knows, there are numerous sects there, almost all of them Islamic, but most people do not realize how many versions of Islam there are. Most people know by now about the difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites, and even Sufis, but few know that all of them are fractured into (Sunnis) 4 different schools of theology/law as well as various ethnic backgrounds such as Arabs, Turks, Kurds, and (Shi'ites) into "Twelvers" and "Seveners" depending on whether they believe there were 12 Imams after Muhammad or only 7.
It is a pleasure to read something well-written by someone who really understands the twisty descent of lines of the Abrahamic religions, of which the Mandaeans are one.