The Mandaean Rivers Scroll (Diwan Nahrawatha) : An Analysis book cover
1st Edition

The Mandaean Rivers Scroll (Diwan Nahrawatha)
An Analysis

ISBN 9780367335441
Published September 30, 2022 by Routledge
204 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book features detailed analysis of an ancient secret scroll from the Middle East known as the Rivers Scroll or Diwan Nahrawatha, providing valuable insight into the Gnostic Mandaean religion. This important scroll offers a window of understanding into the Mandaean tradition, with its intricate worldview, ritual life, mysticism and esoteric qualities, as well as intriguing art. The text of the Rivers Scroll and its artistic symbolism have never before been properly analyzed and interpreted, and the significance of the document has been lost in scholarship. This study includes key segments translated into English for the first time and gives the scroll the worthy place it deserves in the history of the Mandaean tradition. It will be of interest to scholars of Gnosticism, religious studies, archaeology and Semitic languages.

Table of Contents

Introducing the Rivers Scroll

1 The Mandaeans: Their Writings and Art

2 Prolegomena to the Study of The Rivers Scroll

3 Negotiating the Text and Illustrations of DN

4 The Special Characteristics of DN in Perspective

5 Conclusion

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Brikha H. S. Nasoraia is Professor of Comparative Semitics, Literature and Studies in Religion. He holds professorial positions in Artuklu University, Turkey, and at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is an archaeologist (with more than 17 years of fieldwork experience) and a philosopher of religion, mind, art and language. He is also the President of the International Mandaean Na?oraean Supreme Council and Na?oraean Mandaean Association.


This detailed critical analysis of the fascinating Mandaean Diwan Nahrawatha or Rivers Scroll is a most welcome contribution to the research of Mandaeism. It sheds much light on Mandaean cosmogony, cosmology and other important aspects of the religion, and it offers insights on how the religion compares and connects with other religions. Anyone interested in Mandaean teachings, texts and their ‘stick-figure’ art should want to read this book.

Dr Gunner Mikkelsen

Senior Lecturer of Ancient History

Macquarie University, Australia

The study of Mandaeism, and in particular the Mandaean-Nasoraean esoteric scriptures, has been significantly advanced in the past decade by the scholarly researches of Brikha Nasoraia. This volume, a new part-translation and analysis of Diwan Nahrawatha (The Rivers Scroll), contributes to the understanding of Mandaean mythology, cosmology and creation theology in particular, and offers important insights into Mandaean sacred art through consideration of the illustrations that accompany the text. Mandaeanism is a rich, complex and multi-layered tradition, and recent scholarship confirms its relationship to, and place among, other great religious traditions, especially those of the Ancient Near East, Judaism, and Christianity, although there are also important connections with Buddhism, Hinduism and Sufism.

Carole M. Cusack

Professor of Religious Studies

University of Sydney, Australia


The Mandaean-Naṣoraean community of Iraq and Iran possesses religious texts of utmost importance to the study of the history of the origins of Judaeo-Christianity and of Gnosticism and Manichaeism. The texts themselves, for centuries handled and interpreted only by the priests of this long-lasting tradition, are fascinating to read and study and these are being systematically translated into Western languages. This well researched and well written book contains invaluable translated material and a fine critical study of the Mandaean Rivers Scroll, an important and beautifully composed text. This book will satisfy the needs of scholars and delight the general reader.


Professor Emeritus Samuel N.C. Lieu

President, International Union of Academies

Bye Fellow, Robinson College, University of Cambridge