Biblical Notes -- By: Horatio B. Hackett

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 025:100 (Oct 1868)
Article: Biblical Notes
Author: Horatio B. Hackett

Biblical Notes

Horatio B. Hackett

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father “(Λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ ᾿Λησοῦς: μὴ μου ἅπτου: οὔπω γὰρ ἀναβέβηκα πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου) John 20:17.

These words form part of the Saviour’s address to Mary the Magdalene (the article always inserted in the Greek) at the sepulchre, on the morning of the resurrection. The meaning, it is well known, is very obscure, and has given rise to various explanations. It is impossible within our limits here to enumerate the different interpretations, and still less the grounds On which they have been maintained or opposed by commentators. The reader will find ample information of this nature in the writings of Lampe, Lücke, Stier, Luthardt, and others.

The view perhaps which has found most currency among general readers is, that Mary at that moment was on the point of embracing the knees or feet of the risen Saviour, as a mark of affection or an act of divine homage. But our Lord, anxious that the fact of the resurrection should be known to his disciples as soon as possible, refused the proffered demonstration, and instead of allowing Mary to consume time in this way, bid her depart at once, and inform the others that he had risen and had appeared to her.

But here the main difficulty of the passage presents itself; namely, how we are to regard our Lord’s saying, “For I am not yet ascended,” etc., as a reason (γάρ) for his forbidding Mary to touch him. He was standing in person before her, and how, with that evidence of her senses, could she need the assurance that he was not in heaven? The reply to this question has usually been, that he wished to console her for her present disappointment. Although, it is true, he was about to ascend to the Father, as she well understood, he had not yet ascended; and hence, in the interval, she would have other opportunities for testifying her love and devotion to him in the manner now denied to her. But in this case we certainly read into the words much more than they directly or naturally express. It appears singular too that the Saviour should refuse to allow Mary on this occasion to do that which he permitted the other women to do, to whom he showed himself on their return to the city (Matt, 28:9). He gave a similar command to them to go and report his resurrection, and yet did not on that account forbid them to worship or detain him. Further, the language which he addressed to Mary is not μὴ κράτει or μὴ προ...

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