This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Schrader and Taylor on the name "Magdalene"

I recommend Elizabeth Schrader and Joan Taylor, "The meaning of "Magdalene": a Review of Literary Evidence", JBL 140 (2021) 751-773. Available for free here.

They show that Mary the Magdalene did not come from an identifiable place called "Magdala", and they conclude: "the term ἡ Μαγδαληνή may be based on an underlying Aramaic word meaning “the magnified one” or “tower-ess,”". The word "Magdalene", should be seen as an honorific title similar to "Peter" and may not refer to a place at all. We are therefore free to equate Mary the Magdalene with Mary of Bethany.

A symbolic interpretation of "Magdalene" is confirmed by the observation that Jesus and his followers often gave leadership names to those who, like Mary, had the commitment and courage to provide them with material support. See here.

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