The Ginza Rba is divided into two parts – the Right Ginza, containing 18 books, and the Left Ginza, containing 3 books.
The Ginza Rba is divided into two parts – the Right Ginza, containing 18 books, and the Left Ginza, containing 3 books. The book, still mainly hand written, traditionally contains the Right Ginza on one side, and, when turned upside-down and back to front, contains the Left Ginza, this latter also called “The Book of the Dead.” The Right Ginza part of the Ginza Rba contains sections dealing with theology, creation, ethics, historical, and mythical narratives; its six colophons reveal that it was last redacted in the early Islamic Era.
The Left Ginza section of Ginza Rba deals with man’s soul in the afterlife; its colophon reveals that it was redacted for the last time hundreds of years before the Islamic Era.
The language used is classical Mandaic, a dialect of Eastern Aramaic written in Mandaic script (Parthian chancellory script), similar to Syriac script. The authorship is unknown, and dating is a matter of debate. Some scholars place it in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD, while others such as S. F. Dunlap place it in the 1st century.
Important sources for scholars today who cannot read Mandaean Aramaic are still the German translations, notably that by Mark Lidzbarski (1869–1928): “Der Ginza oder das grosse Buch der Mandaer” published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1925. He translated an edition of the Ginza by Petermann (1860s) which in turn relied upon four different Ginzas; Lidzbarski was also able to include some material from a fifth Ginza, that at Leiden, Holland.