Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Guest Post by Richard Bauckham - Addenda and Corrigenda on Marian Names

(1) To understand why and how Hebrew names acquired Greek forms, it helps to know that Greek nouns never end in consonants other than n, r and s. So ‘Mariam’ in Greek looks barbaric (hence Josephus, e.g., never uses it). Maria and Mariamme are obvious ways of adapting the name to a more Greek-looking form.

(2) I made a mistake about the NT’s use of Mariam and Maria (that’s the danger of doing this sort of work in a hurry). The NT in fact uses both quite often. It’s virtually impossible to be sure of the figures because for most occurrences of one there are variant readings giving the other. For the same reason it is difficult to discern any rationale for the choice of one rather than the other. But a couple of points are interesting. First, it is clear that Luke calls the mother of Jesus Mariam throughout chapters 1-2. This suits very well the ‘Hebraic’ atmosphere that Luke is evoking in those chapters. Second, in the UBS text Mary Magdalene is always Maria except in Matt 27:61; John 20:16, 18. The former, if correct, is just anomalous. But in John 20:16 it is Jesus who addresses Mary as ‘Mariam,’ to which she replies ‘Rabbouni’. For Jesus to use her Hebrew name here is obviously appropriate, and that usage in then continued in v 18 (whereas in vv 1, 11 she is Maria). Incidentally, my mistake about NT usage in my original post makes no difference to the rest of my argument there.

(3) I should have mentioned the inscriptions on the ossuary that Rahmani numbers 108. Across the lid of the ossuary, the name Mariame is written twice (in Greek), while on the underside of the lid is written (in Greek) first Mariamnou (but the last letter is not certain), then, under it, Mariame. Rahmani takes Mariamnou to the genitive of Mariamne, and so finds an early instance of this form of the name. However, the correct genitive would, of course, be Mariamnes. It seems easier to suppose that the nominative would be Mariamnon, which would be another instance of the diminutive that appears as Mariamenon on ossuary 701 (the alleged Mary Magdalene ossuary). Rahmani himself takes Mariamenon on that ossuary to be a diminutive of Mariamene. Mariamnon would be a contracted form.

(4) Apparently some manuscripts of the Acts of Philip (sometimes?) have Mariamme rather than Mariamne. Bovon makes this point, but I have not found it in the apparatus of his edition. If accurate, it strengthens my case.

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At 3/06/2007 4:29 PM, Blogger peter lumpkins said...


Many thanks for the posts by Professor Bauckham. His scholarship stands obvious and has been a real help to me.

Grace to you and Dr. Bauckham. With that, I am...


At 3/06/2007 7:21 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

Should we really expect a "standard orthography" of names in the first century? After all, in Europe there was no standardization of the way names and words in general were spelled well into the 17th century (or maybe even the 18th). Why, then, are we surprised if folk in Palestine spelt names differently from time to time?

At 3/07/2007 2:30 PM, Anonymous James Mendelsohn said...

Does Professor B know how "Jacob" became "James"?

Jim: "Israel" not "Palestine" - the area wasn't known as "Palestine" until the Romans forcibly depopulated the area of Jews in 135 AD. Sorry, bugbear of mine!

At 3/08/2007 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's probably a given for you biblical scholars, but what place familiar names in Biblical hebrew / greek?

By familiar names I mean altered forms to show friendship / family association. Like Barbara -> Babs, Jakob -> Jake ... Mariam -> Maria?? (or vice-versa).


At 3/08/2007 9:10 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hi Paul,
Well they certainly existed and were used every now and then in the bible. Most famously is Delila's name for Samson: 'Smootchy woosy cudle bear' which tends to get lost in some translations.

OK, that last bit was a lie, but not teh first bit ;-)

At 3/10/2007 1:37 AM, Anonymous Jeff Young said...

Thank you Professor Bauckham. I have enjoyed your book on Jesus and the Eyewitnesses - how timely that you address onomastics and out comes this "documentary." Of course, I've long appreciated your work in several other areas.
Grace & Peace,


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