22 July 2017

Noli me tangere

In the 9th Reading at Mattins on this feast of S Mary Magdalene, we find S Augustine writing about the Woman Who Was A Sinner: "If such a woman had approached the feet of that pharisee, he would have been about to say what Isaias says about such people "Go away from me, do not touch me, for I am clean" [Recede a me, noli me tangere, quoniam mundus sum".

This seems eerily similar to what the Lord says to Mary of Magdala in the Garden; in a passage of which the commentators make heavy weather (no, this is not an invitation for everybody to write in with their own favourite explanation of that crux interpretum).

Is this just the wildest of strange coincidences, or could there just possibly be something worth sorting out here?

What is the reference in Isaias?


prince Matecki said...

Dear father Hunwicke,

the text in Isaiah is 52, 11, in the lines of the Douay-Rheims Edition:
11] Recedite, recedite; exite inde, pollutum nolite tangere; exite de medio ejus; mundamini, qui fertis vasa Domini.

Which would have made clear the allusion to everybody in the times of JC, of course most probably in the holy land not in latin but in hebrew or in the greek of septuaginta fame.

Best regards from the baltic coast and
pax et bonum

Michael Storck

Kamil M. said...

It must be an allusion to Is 52:11 recedite recedite exite inde pollutum nolite tangere exite de medio eius mundamini qui fertis vasa Domini.

Ben of the Bayou said...

My dear Fr Hunwicke,

I too was struck by what is perhaps quite a providential, and indeed not coincidental, connection in the text of the sacred liturgy today. However, I was rather struck by the connection with the lesson at Mass from the book of Wisdom to the meeting of Mary Magdalene and our divine Savior in the garden after the Resurrection. May I suggest taking a look at those texts as a component to your investigation of this matter.

Yours most sincerely,


Jesse said...

My guess is that Augustine has (inadvertently?) conflated either Isa. 52:11 ("nolite tangere," pointed out by other commentators) or, perhaps more likely, John 20:17 ("noli me tangere") with Isa. 65:5:

Vulgate: Quia dicunt, Recede a me, non appropinques mihi, quia immundus es.

Vetus Latina: Quia dicunt, Abi longe a me, ne appropinques mihi, quoniam mundus sum.

[See Bibliorum sacrorum Latinae versiones antiquae; seu, Vetus Italica, ed. P. Sabatier (Reims: Florentain, 1743) II, 631. Available online here. Unfortunately there is no reference to Augustine (or anyone else) for these verses in the patchy Brepols "Vetus Latina Database."]

It certainly seems that there is something worth sorting out here, Father! Was Augustine really (at least unconsciously) equating Mary Magdalene with the "woman who was a sinner" who washed his feet with her tears? We are usually told that it was Gregory the Great who first said "Mary Magdalene = Mary of Bethany = the woman who was a sinner" (e.g., PL 76:854C, 1040C, 1189B).

E sapelion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E sapelion said...

t does not look like coincidence in the context of the surrounding anticipations of the triumph of the cross in Isaiah 52 & 53.