Randel Helms in Gospel Fictions has surmised that the story of Jesus' appearance to Mary at the tomb is dependent upon the Raphael story in Tobit. At Tobit 5-12 the character encounters the archangel Raphael yet does not recognize him as such. When he identifies himself, the human characters (Tobias and wife) fall upon their faces. They are told to not be afraid. He also explains that this was why he did not eat or drink with them as he was only a 'vision' aka spirit with out substance. This may make sense of the comment in John that Jesus did not want to be touched by Mary. He was like Raphael in being only ethereal. This docetism (appearance of humaness tho spirit) exists in other passages dispite the later attempts to turn early resurrection stories into physical incarnations, by incorporating tales with touching by and eating in front of witneses.
Raphael and Jesus
This may make sense of the comment in John that Jesus did not want to be touched by Mary. He was like Raphael in being only ethereal.
Then why did Jesus say to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side," if he was "only ethereal?"
So how old is Tolbit, is that Greek mytholog?
Tobit is a Jewish story, from c. 300 BC.
That is interesting about Jesus telling Mary not to "touch" (haptou) him (John 20:17), when Jesus in Luke 24:39 asked his disciples to "feel" (psélaphésate) him, and in Ignatius (Smyrnaeans 3:1-2), Jesus told Peter to "handle" (psélaphésate) him. It is tempting to associate this assymetry with the docetic-corporeal dynamic running through the post-crucifixion epiphany stories. I'm not so sure about the association with Raphael, or the reason proffered by Jesus against Mary touching him, for (gar) he had not yet gone to his Father. Jesus had not yet gone to the Father either when he told Thomas to put his finger into his holes (v. 25, 27), so there appears to be a seam somewhat between the anti-docetic Thomas story (aimed at the proto-gnostic Thomas Christians?) and the prior Mary Magdalene story. The Johannine redactor has Thomas do something that Mary could not do.
Narrative patterns have a long history.
Cf. the Samson annonciation story, which is itself a complex construction of many older motives:
There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren, having borne no children. And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "Although you are barren, having borne no children, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, or to eat anything unclean, for you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines." Then the woman came and told her husband, "A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like that of an angel of God, most awe-inspiring; I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name; but he said to me, 'You shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth to the day of his death.' "
Then Manoah entreated the LORD, and said, "O, LORD, I pray, let the man of God whom you sent come to us again and teach us what we are to do concerning the boy who will be born."
God listened to Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her.
So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, "The man who came to me (nb: possible sexual connotation in Hebrew) the other day has appeared to me." Manoah got up and followed his wife, and came to the man and said to him, "Are you the man who spoke to this woman?" And he said, "I am." Then Manoah said, "Now when your words come true, what is to be the boy's rule of life; what is he to do?" The angel of the LORD said to Manoah, "Let the woman give heed to all that I said to her. She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine. She is not to drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. She is to observe everything that I commanded her."
Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, "Allow us to detain you, and prepare a kid for you."
The angel of the LORD said to Manoah, "If you detain me, I will not eat your food; but if you want to prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD." (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.) Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, "What is your name, so that we may honor you when your words come true?" But the angel of the LORD said to him, "Why do you ask my name? It is (too) wonderful." So Manoah took the kid with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the LORD, to him who works wonders. When the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD ascended (pun on the "burnt offering", lit. "ascent") in the flame of the altar while Manoah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. The angel of the LORD did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah realized that it was the angel of the LORD. And Manoah said to his wife, "We shall surely die, for we have seen God." But his wife said to him, "If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these."
The word "touch" in John 20:17 can also mean: "to fasten one's self to, adhere to, cling to"
The NASB: "Jesus said to her, 'Stop clinging to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father..."
The NRSV "Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father."
The NJB "Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, becasue I have not yet ascended to the Father."
The NKJV "Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father."
Mary's realization that her Lord was risen and standing right in front of her would not result in her simply "touching" him as Thomas was allowed to do. But rather in her emotional state of wonder and joy she most likely attempted to grasp on to him, to cling to him, to hold on to him. It was this action of holding on to him that would have prompted the admonition not to cling to him for he had not yet ascended to the Father.
Sabrina, good obeservation and this has been the general attempt to explain the words yet in Matt the story has them all do what he forbid Mary.
Matt 28:8-9 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ?Rejoice!? So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. ? The Greek word here means to use strength, i.e. seize or retain (literally or figuratively): keep, lay hand (hold) on, to restrain.
I've always wondered why it was so terrible for Mary to hug Jesus. I've never read a satisfying answer. And I admit, I've always put off doing extensive research into it.
Is there any merit to the idea that this episode is an occasion seized by the writer to obfuscate any intimate relationship that may actually have existed between Jesus and Mary Magdalene?
Hi Peacefulpete, (nice name!)
I believe in keeping the scriptures simple as Jesus himself loved simplicity. The most recognized translations use "held" or "hold" in that Matthew scripture and not "cling," as in the John scripture. Is cling different than hold or held? Yes.
If someone in a pool clings to another that is very different than if they hold them. Mary clung to the Christ. She did not want to let him go. That is very different than when one touched him or held him.
17: Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
The phrase "Touch me not" can actually be taken taken as evidence of a physical body. Implied in this phrase is that it was possible for Mary to touch him (unlike an ethereal spirit), but that it then was against his wishes.