MANDAEANS, also known as Sabians, Nasoraeans, or St John's Christians,' an Oriental sect of great antiquity, interesting to the theologian as almost the only surviving example of a ' The first of these names (not Mendaeans or Mandaites) is that given by themselves, and means yvcvvTucot, followers of Gnosis (m, , 111e2, from ml.lxn, Hebr.
The inappropriate designation of St John's Christians arises from the early and imperfect acquaintance of Christian missionaries, who had regard merely to the reverence in which the name of the Baptist is held among them, and their frequent baptisms. In their dealings with members of other communions the designation they take is Sabians, in Arabic Sabi'una, from qs= y 25, to baptize, thus claiming the toleration extended by the Koran (Sur.
The Sabians (ac-Sabi'un) who are first mentioned in the Koran (ii.
Term "Sabians" is uncertain, but he mentions them together with the Jews and Christians.
From these true Sabians the pseudo-Sabians of IIarran (Carrhae) in Mesopotamia must be carefully distinguished.
Consequently, acting on the advice of a Mahommedan jurist, the IIarranians declared themselves to be "Sabians," a name which shielded them from persecution in virtue of its Koranic authority and was so vague that it enabled them to maintain their ancient beliefs undisturbed.
Accounts of these false Sabians reached the West through Maimonides, and then through Arabic sources, long before it was understood that the name in this application was only a disguise.