John the Baptist and the Last Gnostics
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Amid the dangers of the modern Middle East, adherents of the obscure Mandaean religion still practise weekly river baptisms, following the example of their most important prophet, John the Baptist. Smith investigates the history of the Mandaeans, asking whether their mysterious sect could be the last survival of ancient Gnosticism, as they claim. He also considers their links to other ancient religions, their possible influence on the Knights Templar and their belief that Jesus himself was an apostate Mandaean.