Not to be confused with the Arabic term for Christians (Arabic: نَصَارَى naṣārā)

Those few who are initiated into the secrets of the Mandaean religion are called Nasoraeans (Nasaraeans) (Classical Mandaic: ࡍࡀࡑࡅࡓࡀࡉࡉࡀ Naṣuraiia) (Arabic: الناصورائيون al-Nāṣurā'iyūn) meaning guardians or possessors of secret rites and knowledge.[1] According to the Haran Gawaita, Nasoraean Mandaeans fled Jerusalem before its fall in 70 CE due to persecution.[2][3]: xv [4]: 159  Although Nasoraean Mandaeans reject the Mosaic Law, they consider themselves to be keepers of Gnosis.


The word Naṣuraiia comes from the root n-ṣ-r meaning "to keep secret".[5]: 335  The core doctrine of the Mandaean faith is known as Nāṣerutā, also spelled Naṣirutha and meaning Nasoraean gnosis or divine wisdom and enlightenment;[3]: xvi [6]: 31 [5]: 306  (Nasoraeanism or Nazorenism) with the adherents called Nāṣorāyi or Naṣuraiia (Nasoraeans or Nazorenes).[7]: ix [3]

Brikha Nasoraia explains:

The Mandaean term Nașoraia (Nașoraean) is derived from the same root of Nașiruta. It contains various meanings, such as 'the guardians, the enlightened people who received the Divine Knowledge and Wisdom of Life', and is usually used in reference to those who are devoted to their faith; those who guard Ginza d-Hiia (the Treasures of Life); and those who are skilled in esoteric Knowledge. In addition, it refers to the Mandaean people who have attained Nașiruta the True Enlightenment or the Enlightenment of the Truth, i.e. Kušța, who become Kšiția Nașoraeans. Furthermore, it refers to the highest (religious) class in the Mandaean nation (or society).[5]: 335 

In the Ginza Rabba

In the Ginza Rabba, the term Nasoraean is used to refer to righteous Mandaeans, i.e., Mandaean priests (comparable to the concept of pneumatikoi in Gnosticism).[8][9][10] As Nasoraeans, Mandaeans believe that they constitute the true congregation of bnai nhura meaning 'Sons of Light'.[6]: 50 

In Epiphanius' Panarion

Epiphanius of Salamis mentions a group called Nasaraeans (Νασαραίοι, Part 18 of the Panarion), distinguished from the "Nazoraioi" (Part 29). According to Joseph Lightfoot, Epiphanius also makes a distinction between the Ossaeans and the Nasaraeans,[11] the two main groups within the Essenes:[12]

The Nasaraeans ‐ they were Jews by nationality ‐ originally from Gileaditis, Bashanitis and the Transjordan ... They acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received laws ‐ not this law, however, but some other. And so, they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, but they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat. They considered it unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with it. They claim that these Books [Torah] are fictions, and that none of these customs were instituted by the fathers. This was the difference between the Nasaraeans and the others.
— Epiphanius' Panarion 1:18

The Nasaraeans may be the same as the Mandaeans of today. Epiphanius says (29:6) that they existed before Jesus.[3]: xiv [13]

See also


  1. Rudolph, Kurt (7 April 2008). "MANDAEANS ii. THE MANDAEAN RELIGION". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 3 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen(2010). Turning the Tables on Jesus: The Mandaean View. In Horsley, Richard (March 2010). Christian Origins. ISBN 9781451416640.(pp94-11). Minneapolis: Fortress Press
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Drower, Ethel Stephana (1960). The secret Adam, a study of Nasoraean gnosis (PDF). London UK: Clarendon Press. xvi. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 6, 2014.
  4. Hanish, Shak (2019). The Mandaeans In Iraq. In Rowe, Paul S. (2019). Routledge Handbook of Minorities in the Middle East. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781317233794.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Saed, Nasoraia Hathem (2008). Nasiruta: Deep Knowledge and Extraordinary Priestcraft in Mandaean Religion. In Crangle, Edward F. (May 2008). "Esotericism and the Control of Knowledge". Dept. of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney: 306-360. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Brikhah S. Nasoraia (2012). "Sacred Text and Esoteric Praxis in Sabian Mandaean Religion" (PDF).
  7. Häberl, Charles G.; McGrath, James F. (2019). The Mandaean Book of John. Critical Edition, Translation, and Commentary. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9783110487862.
  8. Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515385-5. OCLC 65198443.
  9. Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2010). The great stem of souls: reconstructing Mandaean history. Piscataway, N.J: Gorgias Press. ISBN 978-1-59333-621-9.
  10. Gelbert, Carlos (2011). Ginza Rba. Sydney: Living Water Books. ISBN 9780958034630.
  11. Epiphanius of Salamis (c. 378). "Panarion". Retrieved 26 December 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. Lightfoot, Joseph Barber. "On Some Points Connected with the Essenes". St. Paul's epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon: a revised text with introductions, notes, and dissertations. London: Macmillan Publishers. OCLC 6150927.
  13. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Book I (Sects 1–46) Frank Williams, translator, 1987 (E.J. Brill, Leiden) ISBN 90-04-07926-2

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