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According to the Haran Gawaita, John the Baptist was baptized, initiated, and educated by the patron of the Nasirutha ("secret knowledge"), Anuš (אנושׁ) or Anuš-ʼuthra, the hierophant of the sect. This research was conducted by the Oxford scholar and specialist on the Nasoraeans, E. S. Drower, who concedes that John’s name may have been inserted at a later date (it appears as Yahia, which is Arabic, not Aramaic). Drower also asserts that the Church Fathers Hippolytus and Eusebius describe Simon Magus, the Samaritan sorcerer of biblical fame (Acts 8:9ff), as a Nasoraean and a disciple of John the Baptist. The author of the pseudo-Clementine Homilies (Bk. II, xxiii-xxiv), also describes Simon Magus as a disciple of John the Baptist and a Nasoraean. The Homilies also state that the immediate successor to John was another Samaritan named Dositheus, elected as leader because Simon happened to be in Egypt at the time of the martyrdom of John the Baptist. Homily (Bk II, xxiv) recounts that when Simon returned from Egypt, the two quarreled. Simon’s authority was proved by miracles and Dositheus ceded his position as head of the sect and became Simon’s pupil.
As a result of efforts to bring the sect back into the folds of Judaism they[who?] also disparaged the Christian books as fiction, regarding Jesus as the literary invention (mšiha kdaba "false prophet") of Paul of Tarsus, but eventually they emerged towards the end of the 1st century as the Mandaeans although others actually managed to shape the anti-Torah development of Pauline Christianities like Marcionism.
The term mandai is an Aramaic equivalent of the Greek gnosis ("knowledge"). Besides the Mandaeans, they have been frequently been connected with groups known as Naaseni, Naasenians, Naassenes.
According to Drower, the Mandaeans were one of the earliest key Gnostic sects. Drower surmises that the Nasoraean "hatred for Jews" originated during a period in which they were in close contact with orthodox Jewry, and when the latter was able to exercise authority over them.
Many preeminent specialists in Mandaean studies, including Rudolf Macúch, Lady Drower, Kurt Rudolph, and Edmondo Lupieri, argue for an origin of Mandaeanism in Palestine or environs, but pre-Christian origins are now generally rejected.
- "And sixty thousand Nasoreans abandoned the Sign of the Seven and entered the Median Hills, a place where we were free from domination by all other races." Karen L. King, What is Gnosticism?, 2005, Page 140
- Les textes de Nag Hammadi: - Page 111 Jacques E. Ménard, Université des sciences humaines de Strasbourg. Centre de recherches d'histoire des religions - 1975 "This part of the theory is based on a sort of « History of the Mandaean Movement », called Diwan of the Great Revelation, called Harran Gawaita (the Inner Harran) published in 1953 by Lady ES Drower s». It begins, after a preamble and a .."
- Drower, p. 37
- Drower, p. 101
- Drower, p. 89
- The Clementine Homilies, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, p. 233
- Ajae (2000). "The Pre-Christian Nasoraeans". Mandaean World. Archived from the original on 2009-08-10. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
- Drower, p. xv
- Karen L. King What Is Gnosticism? (9780674017627) : "Many specialists in Mandaean studies still argue for an early Western origin for Mandaeanism, preeminent among them Rudolf Macuch, Lady Drower, Kurt Rudolph, and Lupieri, but they generally reject a pre-Christian date and argue for great circumspection in using Mandaean texts to explain the genesis of New Testament literature.91 "
- The Haran Gawaita and the Baptism of Hibil-Ziwa: the Mandaic text, E. S. Drower
- Diwan Maṣbuta Hibil Ziwa, 1953