According to the American Bible Society, there are some 900 translations of the Holy Scriptures.
And, that number in English, alone.
Our esteemed and Oxford-emeritus vicar, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Girard Rev. Charles Brock, made this known on Orthodox Easter.
I sat in attendance from a physical distance of some 14.5 miles, virtually, via remote online viewing. This being my social mode for over two years, I’d become inured to the limits of two dimensions – the restricted frame; the often glitching, inferior audio; and, the perimeters of the space chosen for broadcast. Like the playpen into which I’d been plunked as a developing infant, its bounds were long familiar.
The subject was Mary Magdalene. She’d be the first on record – every record, in fact, including that of the Gnostic Gospels (finally also bound, but many centuries since the Holy Canon decreed around the table at Nice) – to see the risen Christ. Not actually recognizing him, at first, the prevailing mystery (“thinking him to be the gardener”); her eyes were opened, by way of her ears. Jesus spoke, and called her… “Mary.”
But, upon her realization, Jesus gave Mary an immediate directive. He told her not to touch him.
The love between this woman and her Christ has been contemplated by every scholar and pious, from the secular apostate to the devout. Perhaps there are several reasons why.
One considers the power of both magnetism, and its reverse; how she could keep from wrapping him in embrace, at the very moment when he spoke her name, defies common comprehension. But, enter those pesky 900 translations; one interpretation of his declaration reads: “Don’t cling to me.”
The school of that thought sees his instruction in a broader context. Christ could not be held – held on earth, held back from his destination, held by any force. He was on a path which would take his resurrected body away from the present space and time, the very moment of that encounter.
Well outside of the realm of codependent theory, “clinging” in this case was rejected not because of the nature of the relationship between Jesus and Mary but because, as Christ said, he had “not yet ascended” unto his “Father.”
Speaking of theory, there are many with regard to the intent behind this statement. Would the ascension be required, in order for Christ to be “touched” again by his beloved? Or, was the idea that being touched at all giving cause to defile him? Would human contact with his as yet unglorified body perhaps contaminate it?
There is momentary relevance, here.
The human touch. We’ve missed it, so. Any number of substitutions have had to suffice, from “virtual” hugs to gestures made in the air across a wide swath of grass or concrete.
What would Christ say? This writer clings to a yearning for human embrace. Humanity’s need for physical nearness is part of what makes us vitally healthy, and not just physically.
This is universally true……in any translation.
© 4/26/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part (including translation) permitted without written permission of the author and/or unless shared by blog link exclusively. Thank you for your trustworthiness.