|previous article in this issue|
Document Details :
Title: Mary Magdalene's Turn
Subtitle: Text Criticism and Reception History of John 20,16
Author(s): PEPPARD, Michael
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 96 Issue: 3 Date: 2020
A peculiar feature of some early manuscripts of John has rarely been interpreted. At the climax of Mary Magdalene’s recognition scene, her name changes from Maria to Mariam. The immediate narrative context includes Mary’s double turning – she 'turns' to Jesus in 20,16 after having already turned toward him in 20,14 – which has been a crux interpretum as far back as fourth-century homilies. How should we understand this pivotal moment? This article first charts the naming conventions of the various Marys, arguing for the significance of the change from Maria to Mariam in John 20,16. Next it evaluates several interpretive options for the name change that relate to ethnic identities, genres of romance, signifiers of authoritative status, and narratives of salvation. Some Christian interpreters from late antiquity use these narrative details to dramatize Mary’s salvation or emphasize her authoritative status. In the end, the ancient evidence for Mary’s name change further sharpens the climactic significance of her double turning, and it does so in ways that resonated with both biblical traditions and early Christian interpreters.