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Mandaean priests, representatives of a religious heritage that can be traced back to Late Antique Mesopotamia, still copy their ancient literature by hand. The Great Stem of Souls is a study of the colophons – postscripts at the end of each text – that are appended to most Mandaean documents. A study of the contents of the colophons provides a framework for reconstructing Mandaean history.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-59333-621-9
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Apr 8,2010
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 382
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-59333-621-9
$204.00
$122.40
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Mandaeans are the last living Near Eastern Gnostics in the world and they are also possessors of the largest Gnostic literature. Mandaean priests still copy this literature by hand, and the colophons—postscripts at the end of each text—offer the scribal lineage of the copyist. These colophons provide not only scribal “family trees” sometimes stretching back to the third century AD, but they also give historically exact information on named Muslim rulers, on the geographical spread of the Mandaean religion (in present-day Iraq and Iran), on political climates, religious persecutions, and natural disasters. The Mandaean colophons offer information that has not previously been placed in a framework for gaining a view of Mandaean history. After an Introduction, the first part of The Great Stem of Souls, deals with the Mandaean “holy scripture,” the Ginza. The second part, “Priests and Scholars,” presents portraits of two specific Mandaean priests and their relationships to two western scholars (Lady E. S. Drower and Heinrich Petermann). Part II also includes a chapter on Mandaean women priests. Mandaean texts, such as the liturgies and The Book of John, are treated in part III; the last part, IV, addresses the earliest colophons and concludes by presenting a new argument regarding Mandaean early history and origins. Several appendices include lists of the Mandaean astrological names and of about eighty Mandaean clan names, and a description of the documents belonging in the Drower Collection at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.

Mandaeans are the last living Near Eastern Gnostics in the world and they are also possessors of the largest Gnostic literature. Mandaean priests still copy this literature by hand, and the colophons—postscripts at the end of each text—offer the scribal lineage of the copyist. These colophons provide not only scribal “family trees” sometimes stretching back to the third century AD, but they also give historically exact information on named Muslim rulers, on the geographical spread of the Mandaean religion (in present-day Iraq and Iran), on political climates, religious persecutions, and natural disasters. The Mandaean colophons offer information that has not previously been placed in a framework for gaining a view of Mandaean history. After an Introduction, the first part of The Great Stem of Souls, deals with the Mandaean “holy scripture,” the Ginza. The second part, “Priests and Scholars,” presents portraits of two specific Mandaean priests and their relationships to two western scholars (Lady E. S. Drower and Heinrich Petermann). Part II also includes a chapter on Mandaean women priests. Mandaean texts, such as the liturgies and The Book of John, are treated in part III; the last part, IV, addresses the earliest colophons and concludes by presenting a new argument regarding Mandaean early history and origins. Several appendices include lists of the Mandaean astrological names and of about eighty Mandaean clan names, and a description of the documents belonging in the Drower Collection at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.

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Jorunn Buckley

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • List of Plates (page 9)
  • Acknowledgments (page 11)
  • Introduction (page 13)
    • Background (page 13)
    • What is a Colophon (page 14)
    • Names (page 15)
    • Places (page 18)
    • A Few Testimonies (page 20)
  • Part 1: Ginza Matters (page 25)
    • 1 The Ginza and Its Contents (page 27)
    • 2 The Colophons In Four Paris Ginzas (page 35)
      • Ms. A (page 36)
      • Ms. B (page 46)
      • Ms. C (page 48)
      • Ms. D (page 52)
      • Concluding Remarks (page 56)
      • GR Colophon 1, Paris Ginza Ms. A (page 57)
      • GL Colophon, Paris Ginza Ms. A (page 59)
    • 3 Seven Other Ginzas (page 63)
      • Introductory Remarks (page 63)
      • DC 22 (page 64)
      • Two Ginzas in California (page 72)
      • The Ginza in Flushing, New York (page 77)
      • The Ginza in Lake Grove, New York (page 82)
      • The Australian Ginza (page 84)
      • Hunt. 6 (page 90)
    • 4 Mandaic Adventures in the British Library (page 103)
      • Introduction (page 103)
      • The First Ginza (page 105)
      • The Second Ginza (page 106)
      • The Third Ginza (page 108)
      • The Scrapbook (page 110)
  • Part 2: Priests and Scholars (page 115)
    • 5 Lady Drower and Sheikh Negm (page 117)
      • Lady Drowers Relationship With Sheikh Negm (page 118)
      • Sheikh Negm (page 127)
    • 6 Visiting the Natives: Heinrich Petermann in Suq E-uyuk,1854 (page 133)
    • 7 the Life of Yahia Bihram (page 145)
      • Dc 35: Mabuta of Hibil Ziwa (page 146)
      • Dc 24 : —arh D-parwanaiia and Dc 47 : a Phylactery for Rue (page 152)
      • Other Texts (page 156)
    • 8 Women Priests (page 161)
      • Introductory Remarks (page 161)
      • Womens Names in Cp 170, in Cp Colophons, in Other Liturgies, and in JB (page 163)
      • Women in the Ginza Colophons (page 170)
      • Other Sources (page 175)
  • Part 3: More Texts (page 181)
    • 9 Liturgy Colophons (page 183)
      • Beginnings (page 183)
      • The Canonical Prayerbook (page 185)
      • DC 3, Ms. Syr. E 15, and Other Small Collections of Prayers (page 194)
      • Appendix A: CP Colophon 1 (to CP 1…74) (page 197)
      • Appendix B: CP Colophon 2 (to CP 75…77) (page 201)
    • 10 CP 170: Good is the Good for the GoodŽ (page 205)
      • Abahatan in the Canonical Prayerbook (page 206)
      • The Evidence from Mabuta D-hibil Ziwa (page 213)
      • De Morgans 'Niania Version (page 213)
      • Šarh D-?abahata: DC 42 (page 215)
      • The British Library Ginza Add. 23,601 (page 216)
      • Concluding Remarks (page 217)
      • Correlation of the Ethnarch Lists in Cp 170 and Mhz (page 219)
    • 11 The Book of John (page 221)
      • Preliminary Remarks (page 221)
      • About the Colophons (page 222)
      • Paris Ms. B and DC 30 (page 223)
      • Paris Ms. A and Hunt. 71 (page 225)
      • Three Copies of the Book of John in America (page 229)
      • Concluding Remarks (page 238)
      • Appendix (page 240)
    • 12 Tracking the Obscure Centuries: between 1450 and 700 (page 243)
      • The Tarik in DC 12 (page 244)
      • CPs Colophon 4 and Marsh. 691 (page 247)
      • Zihrun Raza Kasia, Alma Riaia Rba, and Alma Riaia Zuta (page 250)
      • Alf Trisar —uialia (page 255)
      • Concluding Remarks (page 262)
  • Part 4: Discerning History (page 265)
    • 13 Comparing the Earliest Colophons (page 267)
      • Initial Remarks (page 267)
      • Canonical Prayerbook (page 270)
      • Left Ginza (page 272)
      • Alf Trisar —uialia (page 273)
      • Diwan Malkuta 'Laita (page 275)
      • Alma Riaia Rba and Alma Riaia Zuta (page 276)
      • Zihrun Raza Kasia (page 277)
      • —arh D-qabin (page 278)
      • Mabuta D-hibil Ziwa (page 279)
      • Marsh. 691 (page 280)
      • Ms. Asiat. Misc. C 12 (Dmut Ku?a) (page 282)
    • 14 On the Age of Mandaean Traditions and Texts (page 287)
      • Kurt Rudolph (page 287)
      • Rudolf Macuch (page 294)
      • Others (page 297)
      • Conclusions (page 300)
    • 15 Matters of History (page 303)
      • Haran Gawaita and Ardban (page 303)
      • Edmondo Lupieri (page 313)
      • A Christian Connection (page 316)
      • A Jewish Christian Possibility (page 320)
      • Possible Scenarios (page 324)
    • Afterword (page 327)
      • Memory (page 327)
      • Plates (page 331)
    • Appendix A (page 343)
    • Appendix B (page 345)
    • Appendix C (page 347)
    • Abbreviations and Editions (page 359)
    • Glossary (page 361)
    • Bibliography (page 363)
    • Index of Priests (page 373)
    • Index of Authors (page 381)
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