An interesting branch of comparative religious study is Mandaeism:
Appearing around the time of the first Christians, Mandaeism again diverts from its Judaical origins as Christianity does, but with a twist: It
rejects Jesus Christ as the messiah and sets up Jesus's forerunner, John the Baptist, as their most revered prophet. In some sources, he is merely a
highly revered prophet, while others claim he is considered to be the true messiah.
An excerpt from wikipedia about the key points of Mandaeism:
According to E.S. Drower, the Mandaean Gnosis is characterized by nine features, which appear in various forms in other gnostic sects:
1. A supreme formless Entity, the expression of which in time and space is creation of spiritual, etheric, and material worlds and beings. Production
of these is delegated by It to a creator or creators who originated in It. The cosmos is created by Archetypal Man, who produces it in similitude to
his own shape.
2. Dualism: a cosmic Father and Mother, Light and Darkness, Right and Left, syzygy in cosmic and microcosmic form.
3. As a feature of this dualism, counter-types, a world of ideas.
4. The soul is portrayed as an exile, a captive: home and origin being the supreme Entity to which the soul eventually returns.
5. Planets and stars influence fate and human beings, and are also places of detention after death.
6. A saviour spirit or saviour spirits which assist the soul on the journey through life and after it to 'worlds of light'.
7. A cult-language of symbol and metaphor. Ideas and qualities are personified.
8. 'Mysteries', i.e. sacraments to aid and purify the soul, to ensure rebirth into a spiritual body, and ascent from the world of matter. These are
often adaptations of existing seasonal and traditional rites to which an esoteric interpretation is attached. In the case of the Naṣoreans this
interpretation is based upon the Creation story (see 1 and 2), especially on the Divine Man, Adam, as crowned and anointed King-priest.
9. Great secrecy is enjoined upon initiates; full explanation of 1, 2, and 8 being reserved for those considered able to understand and preserve the
Mandaeans believe in marriage and procreation, and in the importance of leading an ethical and moral lifestyle in this world, placing a high priority
upon family life. Consequently, Mandaeans do not practice celibacy or asceticism. Mandaeans will, however, abstain from strong drink and red meat.
While they agree with other gnostic sects that the world is a prison governed by the planetary archons, they do not view it as a cruel and
It is interesting to note that John the Baptist is one of the two patron saints of Freemasonry, the other being John the Evangelist. Another parallel
one might notice between Mandaeism and Freemasonry is the minimization of the role of Jesus Christ. Instead, it is replaced by a dialectical right and
left dualism, presided over by a Supreme Cosmic Entity, mentioned above. One difference you may notice, though, is that the Supreme Being of Mandaeism
is not necessarily analogous to the Grand Architect of Freemasonry. Instead, the dualistic Father and Mother take the role of co-creation, and are not
necessarily oppositional forces. It would be nice if our government worked that way...
What I find fascinating about Mandaeism and John the Baptist is that it is an underdog story of sorts. The position of messiah is stripped from the
underdog, John, and instead given to Jesus, and John merely shrugs and asks Jesus “Are you sure about all of that, man?”
A great quote from the Book of John the Baptist has John questioning Jesus about his claim of being the sole representative of God on Earth:
”If the carpenter has joined together the god, who then has joined together the carpenter?”
It gives one who believes in Christ a moment to pause and reflect...
What kind of man was Jesus in relation to John? Historicity really doesn't matter at this point. What matters is the lesson one learns from the story.
Why is Jesus the most famous person in history, while John is merely relegated to the background, and all too often forgotten altogether? What does
this say about the characters of these two men? One gains historical immortality and glory by being the most famous martyr in history, while the other
basically allows it to happen.. whether he actually agreed with Jesus or not. John willingly handed a global franchise over to what may have been a
deceptive personality and then basically disappeared. The Bible states that John was imprisoned and killed by Herod for pointing out the incestuous
marriage of him and his wife... more likely this was an allegorical event, representing a man who rejects society for being grossly self-consuming and
hedonistic, while at the same time being outshined by one seeking glory and fame. He willingly allows Jesus to steal his ideas, also his disciples as
well, and use them for his own purposes... and John is content with remaining in isolation, to become merely a footnote to the greatest story ever
If Mandaeism is correct, and John represents the true incarnated representative of God on Earth, what then does this teach us about the nature of God?
In John, we see a display of ultimate humility which is rarely seen among humans on Earth today. He allows himself to be plagiarized and forgotten,
despite the conventional sense that to be here on Earth means to take what you believe you are owed. John never established a church. John never
directed his people to proselytize to anyone. He just lived as he was, and in his pure and humble being, represented god by simply existing as he felt
in his heart that he should. Perhaps not everyone listened or agreed, but someone always notices a person who lives honestly. To influence only one
person in your whole entire life is to effectively change the entire course of human history forever. To me, that is what John the Baptist represents,
and I believe he represents the ideal vision of Christ much more solidly than Jesus ever could.
edit on 21-1-2013 by PnezakYahakotima because: removed extra punctuation