On this day: Touch me not.

by Gerelyn Hollingsworth

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On this day, we hear a different version of the events of Easter morning.

Yesterday, in Matthew's Gospel, the women were "filled with awe and great joy", but today, in John's Gospel, 20:11-18, Mary Magdalene gets it wrong, as she did in Sunday's Gospel, John 20:1-9.

In Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, HarperOne, 2009, John Dominic Crossan demonstrates how the Beloved Disciple is exalted in John 20, and Peter, Thomas, and Mary Magdalene are denigrated.

--Search term: Magdalene. Page 210.

"Mary gets to give the wrong interpretation of the empty tomb three times: to the disciples, to the angels, and finally to Jesus himself. She does not even recognize Jesus when he appears to her, at least until he addresses her. She is told to announce not the resurrection but the ascension. And if you object that at least she gets to see Jesus, read on to see what John 20 has to say about seeing the risen Jesus rather than, like the Beloved Disciple, believing after seeing only an empty tomb and empty grave cloths."

--Pages 211-212.

In the section called "In Remembrance of Her", Crossan explains why the author of John's Gospel portrayed Mary Magdalene in an unfavorable light:

"The stories from the preceding sections tell us nothing whatsoever about the origins of Christian faith but quite a lot about the origins of Christian authority. They tell us about power and leadership in the earliest Christian communities. They tell us about the establishment of leadership groups over general communities and they tell us very clearly about competing specific leaders within and among those groups. The last story, for instance, tells us that, at least for the community of the Beloved Disciple, Mary Magdalene's authority needed to be opposed just as much as did that of Peter or Thomas. And we cannot tell whether the Beloved Disciple represents an individual person or a different mode of leadership. Maybe, for example, the title is left unspecified in order to designate a charismatic rather than an institutional primacy. But all of that presumes a community or communities that have been around for a long time--in fact, for one or two generations. Those stories were not, in other words, about events that first Easter Sunday. Or, if you prefer, Easter Sunday lasted quite a few years."

--Pages 213-314.

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