Mandaean cosmogony in Gnostic Christianity

Mandaean Cosmogony
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Despite its unbroken existence since Biblical times, the Mandaean theology and creation myth is difficult to relate. Because there is no authoritative text describing the Mandaean cosmogony, there have been varying accounts related over the years. These accounts typically draw their myths from the Ginza and other Mandaean writings. Described here is one such myth, but there are naturally many variations.

Beyond all worlds and matter exists a Supreme Being. This is the being of Light, referred to in the Ginza as the “great alien Life”. True to its Gnostic tradition, the Supreme Being does not create anything. Rather, the Supreme Being emanates the celestial beings and spheres forth from Himself. Each realm emanated from the Supreme Being becomes more dark and corrupt in descending order. In other words, the emanations closest to the Supreme Being are made more in His nature; the emanations farther away tend to be more iniquitous.

The creation of the material world is accredited to Ptahil, the demiurge in Mandaean theology. Ptahil is emanated from Ruha, a female being that was emanated from, but opposed to the Supreme Being. Ptahil created the material world and filled it with dark and demonic beings, and he has created the physical portion of the human being.

There are three worlds in Mandaean cosmogony. The lowest world is the World of Darkness. The highest world is the Kingdom of Light. Naturally, the material world is found in the middle of these two. The material world is Tilbil in Mandaean texts. Naturally, human beings reside here in the material world and are subject to influences from the Light and Dark worlds.

From this point on, the Mandaean creation myths begin to differ. There are no less than seven Mandaean creation myths.

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