Vol. 17, No. 2 (2021): “A Fresh Reading of John 20:17: ‘Do not Touch Me’” – Anne Aalbers, University of Auckland (pp. 33-50)
In this article I discuss the language of John 20:17 and its possible interpretations. The narrative context of the verse is an encounter and ensuing conversation between Mary Magdalene and Jesus following his resurrection. Once Mary recognises Jesus, he says to her, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” As well as exploring a selection of the verse’s various readings over the last two millennia, I examine the language used by the writer of John’s gospel, whom I refer to throughout as “John,” and conclude by suggesting my own reading of the verse that I believe best captures its intended meaning: that Jesus’ command to Mary in John 20:17 can be read as a sexual euphemism, which implicitly attests to the celibacy of the resurrected Jesus.
John 20:17; celibacy; haptomai; Mary Magdalene; Jesus