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April 21 , 2009

Gnostic John the Baptizer


George Robert Stowe Mead (Nuneaton, 22 March 1863–28 September 1933) was an author, editor, translator, and an influential member of the Theosophical Society as well as the founder of the Quest Society.

THE main materials contained in these pages will certainly be new for the vast majority of readers. Moreover the Mandæan narratives, legends and discourses are not only interesting because of their own distinctive matter and manner, but they are also arresting; for they raise a number of problems, some of which are far-reaching and one is fraught with implications of immense importance. The definite solutions of these problems, however, lie in the future, and the most important of them will perhaps never be reached; for, in the absence of straightforward historical information, general agreement on any subject that concerns Christian origins immediately or even indirectly is now well-nigh a psychological impossibility.
The writer's intention in publishing these selections is not to speculate about the problems, for we are not yet in a position to state them with sufficient accuracy, but the very modest undertaking of making accessible for English readers some specimens of narrative and doctrine from one collection only of the traditional gnostic material which the Mandæan scribes have preserved to our own day through centuries of copying, and which hands on an early literature purporting at least in part to go back to times contemporaneous with Christian origins. For I think it will be of service for them, as a beginning, to read for themselves what the Mandæans have conserved from the past of the now legendary story of their great prophet, John the Baptizer, and some of the most characteristic notions and doctrines ascribed directly to him,—and that too in their full native setting and not in the form of brief summaries or isolated sentences, which is practically all they will meet with in the very few articles on the subject which have yet appeared in English,—and in articles only, for of books there are none.
- G.R.S. Mead

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