This literature-related list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (June 2022)
Mandaean priests inspecting Mandaic manuscripts for photographing in Ahvaz, Iran. Tarmida Sam Zahrooni is at the right.

This article contains a list of Mandaean texts (Mandaean religious texts written in Classical Mandaic). Well-known texts include the Ginza Rabba (also known as the Sidra Rabbā) and the Qolastā. Texts for Mandaean priests include The 1012 Questions, among others. Some, like the Ginza Rabba, are codices (bound books), while others, such as the various diwan (illustrated scrolls) are scrolls.[1]

This list is by no means exhaustive. Institutional libraries and private collections contain various Mandaean religious texts that are little known or even unknown to the international scholarly community.[2]


Mandaean copyists or scribes (Mandaic: sapra[3]) may transcribe texts as a meritorious deed for one's own forgiveness of sins, or they may be hired to copy a text for another person.[4] Mandaean sacred scriptures, such as the Ginza Rabba are traditionally kept in wooden chests wrapped in layers of white cotton and silk cloth. These protected manuscripts are generally not touched by ordinary laypeople, although learned laymen (yalufa) who demonstrate proper knowledge and respect for the manuscripts are usually granted access by priests, similar to the level of respect given to the Guru Granth Sahib in Sikhism.[5] Gloves are worn while handling copies of the Ginza Rabba that are used for liturgical purposes.


Mandaean religious texts can be written in book or codex form (draša ࡃࡓࡀࡔࡀ or sidra ࡎࡉࡃࡓࡀ) or as scrolls (diwan ࡃࡉࡅࡀࡍ, šafta ࡔࡀࡐࡕࡀ, or šarḥ ࡔࡀࡓࡇ) that are often illustrated. The illustrations, usually labeled with lengthy written explanations, typically contain abstract geometric drawings of uthras that are reminiscent of cubism or prehistoric rock art.

In Mandaean texts, the end of each chapter or section is typically denoted by the Mandaean letters s—a (ࡎࡀ; also known as saka), which are separated by a long ligature.[6]

Some scrolls are talismans (zrazta ࡆࡓࡀࡆࡕࡀ), amulets (qmaha ࡒࡌࡀࡄࡀ), or exorcisms (pašar ࡐࡀࡔࡀࡓ or pišra ࡐࡉࡔࡓࡀ), all subtypes of phylacteries. Others consist of prayers such as rahmia ࡓࡀࡄࡌࡉࡀ ('devotions'), ʿniania ࡏࡍࡉࡀࡍࡉࡀ ('responses'), and rušuma ࡓࡅࡔࡅࡌࡀ (' "signing" prayers'). Many scrolls contain symbolic descriptions of rituals, such as various types of masiqta and masbuta rituals. Mandaean texts typically have colophons (tarik ࡕࡀࡓࡉࡊ) giving detailed information about the scribes who had transcribed them, as well as dates, lineages, and other historical information.[2]

Drower (1953) recognizes six main groups of Mandaean literature.[6]

  1. esoteric texts, exclusively for priests
  2. ritual texts, exclusively for priests
  3. hymns, psalms, and prayers
  4. hortatory and general texts
  5. astrological texts
  6. magical writings


Little is known about the redactors or authors of the texts. The contents date to both pre-Islamic and Islamic periods. The oldest Mandaean magical text is dated to the 4th and 5th centuries CE.[citation needed]

During the past few decades, Majid Fandi al-Mubaraki, a Mandaean living in Australia, has digitized many Mandaean texts using typesetted Mandaic script.[7]

Main scriptures

The primary three scriptures containing the most important narratives, liturgies, and doctrines of Mandaeism are the Ginza Rabba, Mandaean Book of John, and Qolasta. The Haran Gawaita is a history text, while the others are priestly esoteric texts.

Various manuscripts

Various Mandaean manuscripts are listed below. Many of them form parts of the Qolasta, while others are magical texts such as zrazta, qmaha, pašar, and the like. The majority of known Mandaean texts are currently held at libraries in Oxford, London, and Paris.

Bodleian Library

Bodleian Library manuscripts (excluding the Drower Collection)

British Library

See also: British Library Syriac Manuscript Collection

British Library manuscripts

Bibliothèque nationale de France

Bibliothèque nationale de France Code Sabéen manuscripts

Much of the following information is derived from an 1874 catalogue of Syriac manuscripts compiled by Jules-Antoine Taschereau [fr], which lists descriptions for Mss. Sabéen 1–19.[18] Many of the manuscripts can be viewed online at the Bibliothèque nationale de France's Gallica digital library.

Private collections

Buckley has also found Ginza manuscripts that are privately held by Mandaeans in the United States (two in San Diego, California; one in Flushing, New York; and one in Lake Grove, New York).[2]

The Rbai Rafid Collection (RRC) is a private collection of Mandaean manuscripts held by the Mandaean priest Rbai Rafid al-Sabti in Nijmegen, Netherlands.[14] Important manuscripts in the collection include different versions of the Ginza Rabba and a copy of the Alma Rišaia Zuṭa known as Ms. RRC 3F.[20]

Drower Collection

The Drower Collection (DC), held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford University, is the most extensive collection of Mandaean manuscripts. The collection consists of 55 Mandaean manuscripts collected by E. S. Drower. Drower has published some of the smaller texts in journal articles, while other larger texts have been published as monographs. Many texts remain unpublished.[1]

Drower donated MSS. Drower 1–53 to the Bodleian Library in 1958. MS. Drower 54 (The Coronation of the Great Šišlam) was given to the library by Lady Drower in 1961, and MS. Drower 55 (Drower's personal notebook) was added in 1986.[21] DC 1–5, 22, 30, 31, 38, 45, and 53 are codices, with the rest of the DC manuscripts being scrolls.[2]

A list of manuscripts in the Drower Collection, based on primarily on Buckley (2010),[2] as well as Drower (1937)[22] and other sources, is given below. The manuscripts are abbreviated DC.


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515385-5. OCLC 65198443.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2010). The great stem of souls: reconstructing Mandaean history. Piscataway, N.J: Gorgias Press. ISBN 978-1-59333-621-9.
  3. ^ Häberl, Charles (2022). The Book of Kings and the Explanations of This World: A Universal History from the Late Sasanian Empire. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-80085-627-1.
  4. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (1999). "Glimpses of A Life: Yahia Bihram, Mandaean priest". History of Religions. 39: 32–49. doi:10.1086/463572. S2CID 162137462.
  5. ^ Nasoraia, Brikha H.S. (2021). The Mandaean gnostic religion: worship practice and deep thought. New Delhi: Sterling. ISBN 978-81-950824-1-4. OCLC 1272858968.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Drower, E. S. (1953). "A Mandæan Bibliography". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1/2): 34–39. ISSN 0035-869X. JSTOR 25222608. Retrieved 2021-10-16.
  7. ^ Mandaean Network Archived 2016-03-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ a b Drower, E. S. 1950. Šarḥ ḏ qabin ḏ šišlam rba (D. C. 38). Explanatory Commentary on the Marriage Ceremony of the great Šišlam. Rome: Ponteficio Istituto Biblico. (text transliterated and translated)
  9. ^ Burtea, Bogdan (2012). Die Geheimnisse Der Vorvater Edition, Ubersetzung Und Kommentierung Einer Esoterischen Mandaischen Handschrift Aus Der Bodleian Library Oxford (in German). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-06466-8. OCLC 940934456.
  10. ^ a b Burtea, Bogdan (2005). Das mandäische Fest der Schalttage: Edition, Übersetzung und Kommentierung der Handschrift (DC 24, Šarh ḏ-paruanaiia) (in German). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-05179-8. OCLC 62273841.
  11. ^ a b Burtea, Bogdan (2008). Zihrun, das verborgene Geheimnis (in German). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-05644-1. OCLC 221130512.
  12. ^ Van Rompay, Sandi (2010). "The Tree Šatrin and its Place in Mandaean Art". ARAM Periodical. 22: 183–207. doi:10.2143/ARAM.22.0.2131037.
  13. ^ van Bladel, Kevin (2017). From Sasanian Mandaeans to Ṣābians of the Marshes. Leiden: Brill. doi:10.1163/9789004339460. ISBN 978-90-04-33943-9.
  14. ^ a b Aldihisi, Sabah (2008). The story of creation in the Mandaean holy book in the Ginza Rba (PhD). University College London.
  15. ^ Vinklát, Marek (2020-07-06). "Two Unidentified Fragments of Mandaean Ritual Scrolls in the British Museum". Coptica, Gnostica und Mandaica. De Gruyter. pp. 188–195. doi:10.1515/9783110619904-010. ISBN 9783110619904. S2CID 241365971.
  16. ^ Wright, William. Catalogue of Syriac manuscripts in the British museum acquired since the year 1838. London: British Museum, 1872.
  17. ^ a b Drower, E. S. 1960. The Secret Adam: A Study of Nasoraean Gnosis. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  18. ^ Taschereau, Jules-Antoine. 1874. Catalogues des manuscrits syriaques et sabéens (mandaïtes) de la Bibliothèque nationale / Manuscrits orientaux.
  19. ^ a b Häberl, Charles G. (2007). Introduction to the New Edition, in The Great Treasure of the Mandaeans, a new edition of J. Heinrich Petermann's Thesaurus s. Liber Magni, with a new introduction and a translation of the original preface by Charles G. Häberl. Gorgias Press, LLC. doi:10.7282/T3C53J6P
  20. ^ Morgenstern, Matthew (2018). "New readings and interpretations in the Mandaic priestly commentary Alma Rišaia Zuṭa (The Lesser 'First World')". Le Muséon. 131 (1–2): 1–19. doi:10.2143/MUS.131.1.3284833.
  21. ^ Mandaean manuscripts given by Lady Ethel May Stefana Drower Archived 2021-10-16 at the Wayback Machine. Archives Hub.
  22. ^ a b Drower, Ethel Stefana. 1937. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. Oxford At The Clarendon Press.
  23. ^ Mutzafi, Hezy; Morgenstern, Matthew (2012). "Sheikh Nejm's Mandaic Glossary (DC 4) – An Unrecognised Source of Neo-Mandaic". ARAM Periodical. Leuven: Peeters. 24 (Neo-Aramaic dialects and astrology in the ancient Near East: Neo-Aramaic dialects, 6-8 July 2009, The Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom): 157–174. ISBN 978-90-429-2957-9. OCLC 879617957.
  24. ^ Rudolph, Kurt. Der Mandäische ‘Diwan der Flüsse.’ Berlin: Abhandlungen der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, philosophisch-historische Klasse, vol. 70, no. 1, 1982.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i Yamauchi, Edwin M. (1967). Mandaic Incantation Texts. New Haven: American Oriental Society.
  26. ^ Gelbert, Carlos (2017). The Teachings of the Mandaean John the Baptist. Fairfield, NSW, Australia: Living Water Books. ISBN 9780958034678. OCLC 1000148487.
  27. ^ Burtea, Bogdan (2005). "Ein mandäischer magischer Text aus der Drower Collection". Studia Semitica et Semitohamitica. Festschrift für Rainer Voigt anläßlich seines 60. Geburtstages am 17. Januar 2004. Harrassowitz: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-934628-73-1.
  28. ^ a b Müller-Kessler, Christa (2010). "A Mandaic Incantation Against an Anonymous Dew Causing Fright: Drower Collection 20 and Its Variant 43 E". ARAM. Peeters (22): 453–476. ISBN 9789042929579.
  29. ^ Drower, E. S. (1937). "S̲h̲afta d̲ Pis̲h̲ra d̲ Ainia". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (4): 589–611. ISSN 0035-869X. JSTOR 25201592.
  30. ^ Müller-Kessler, Christa (1999). "Aramäische Beschwörungen und astronomische Omina in nachbabylonischer Zeit". Babylon: Focus Mesopotamischer Geschichte, Wiege früher Gelehrsamkei (in German). Berlin: SDV Saarbrücker Druckerei und Verlag. ISBN 3-930843-54-4. ISSN 1433-7401.
  31. ^ Hunter, Erica C. D. (2013). "Comparative Perspectives on Šapta ḏ-pišra ḏ-ainia". Durch Dein Wort ward jegliches Ding! (in German). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-06973-1. OCLC 856902570.
  32. ^ a b Drower, E. S. (1938). "A Mandaean Phylactery (Qmaha ḏ Bit mišqal ainia)". Iraq. British Institute for the Study of Iraq. 5: 31–54. doi:10.2307/4241620. ISSN 0021-0889. JSTOR 4241620. S2CID 191396332.
  33. ^ Rebrik, Victor (2008). "Mandäische Taufriten (nach der Handschrift DC 27)". Und das Leben ist siegreich!: mandäische und samaritanische Literatur: im Gedenken an Rudolf Macuch (1919-1993) = And life is victorious: Mandaean and Samaritan literatures: in memory of Rudolf Macuch (in German). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-05178-1. OCLC 310616930.
  34. ^ Drower, E. S. (1939). "Three Mandaean Phylacteries". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (3): 397–406. ISSN 0035-869X. JSTOR 25201939.
  35. ^ Drower, Ethel S. (1953). The Haran Gawaita and The Baptism of Hibil-Ziwa: The Mandaic text reproduced together with translation, notes and commentary. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
  36. ^ Morgenstern, Matthew (2019-05-24). "Yahia Bihram's Narrative Colophons Part 1: DC 35". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Cambridge University Press. 29 (3): 381–392. doi:10.1017/s135618631800072x. ISSN 1356-1863. S2CID 182352112.
  37. ^ Tarelko, Michael (2008). "Preliminary Remarks on the Unpublished Manuscript DC 40 from the Drower Collection of Mandaean Manuscripts". Und das Leben ist siegreich!: mandäische und samaritanische Literatur: im Gedenken an Rudolf Macuch (1919-1993) = And life is victorious: Mandaean and Samaritan literatures: in memory of Rudolf Macuch (in German). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-05178-1. OCLC 310616930.
  38. ^ a b Drower, E. S. 1963. A Pair of Naṣoraean Commentaries: Two Priestly Documents, the Great First World and the Lesser First World. Leiden: Brill.
  39. ^ Notarius, Tania (2016). "The Mandaic Magic Scroll Zarazta ḏ-Hibil Ziua: A Possible Scenario of Literary Evolution". Journal of the American Oriental Society. American Oriental Society. 136 (4): 745–762. doi:10.7817/jameroriesoci.136.4.0745. ISSN 0003-0279. JSTOR 10.7817/jameroriesoci.136.4.0745.
  40. ^ de Morgan, J. 1905. Mission scientifique en Perse, vol. 5. Paris: E. Leroux.
  41. ^ a b Drower, E. S. (1943). "A Mandæan Book of Black Magic". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (2): 149–181. ISSN 0035-869X. JSTOR 25221916.
  42. ^ Drower, E. S. (1946). "A Phylactery for Rue (An Invocation of the Personified Herb)". Orientalia. Gregorian Biblical Press. 15: 324–346. ISSN 0030-5367. JSTOR 43073269.
  43. ^ Müller-Kessler, Christa (1999). "Dämon + YTB 'L — Ein Krankheitsdämon. Eine Studie zu aramäischen Beschwörungen medizinischen Inhalts". Munuscula Mesopotamica. Festschrift für Johannes Renger (in German). Münster: Ugarit-Verlag. ISBN 3-927120-81-2.
  44. ^ Güterbock, Michael (2008). "Vorläufige Bemerkungen zu einer Ausgabe der mandäischen Rituale in der Drower Collection 50". Und das Leben ist siegreich!: mandäische und samaritanische Literatur: im Gedenken an Rudolf Macuch (1919-1993) = And life is victorious: Mandaean and Samaritan literatures: in memory of Rudolf Macuch (in German). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-05178-1. OCLC 310616930.
  45. ^ Drower, E. S. 1962. The Coronation of the Great Šišlam: Being a Description of the Rite of the Coronation of a Mandaean Priest according to the ancient Canon Archived 2021-10-16 at the Wayback Machine. Leiden: Brill.

Online texts

Mandaean Network texts