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Marie appelée la Magdaléenne (Marie, Marie-Madeleine)

Site historique consacré à Marie, surnommée "la Magdaléenne" (alias Marie de Magdala, alias Marie-Madeleine)

The Johannine chiasmus: John's Source

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Mary Magdalene The Unsuspected Truth (Part XXV)

The Johannine chiasmus: John's Source
The Johannine chiasmus: John's Source
The Johannine chiasmus: John's Source

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Benjamin West, Jacob Blessing Ephraim and Manasseh (1768)

The Source of John


  • All this is fascinating. But how did this ingenious idea of chiasmus come to the evangelist?
    • Located at the heart of a macro-chiasm, this micro-chiasm, which superimposes two crosses, at the same time provides us with the master key that reveals the true link uniting Mary of Magdala and Jesus. In John 19, 25, the author literally juggles with the characters, first without naming them, and then by giving their names in reverse order, which creates the illusion – due to the “mirror effect” – that they are twice as numerous.
  • I must admit that the illusion is total!
    • Such an arrangement is not only particularly successful, but singularly original. On the one hand, this arrangement is theoretically noticeable only for those who are already in the know. On the other hand, once identified, it immediately imprints on the mind of the reader to such an extent that it is no longer possible to ignore it. It is now obvious to him ...
  • And do we know of other examples of similar chiasms?
    • No, precisely. If so, it would not have taken too long to understand the mechanism. In fact, John 19, 25-27 presents itself as the fulfillment of a series of prophecies. In this passage the atmosphere is “testamentary”: the dying Jesus makes arrangements for the loved ones he leaves behind. This scene reminds of another one ...
  • Which one?
    • The account of the death of Jacob reported in the Book of Genesis. Before he died, Jacob insisted on blessing his two grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim, Joseph’s two sons. The two boys are placed on either side of Jacob: the first – the elder – on his right, the second – the younger – on his left. But Jacob upsets the established order. Against all odds, he decides to bless them by crossing his arms. In doing so, the patriarch then draws an X with his arms, literally, a “chiasmus”.
  • But there are four characters in Jacob’s story ...
    • In the Gospel of John too: Jesus is in the centre. His mother and aunt are placed on both sides and the “beloved disciple” John the evangelist according to tradition is located slightly off-screen, just like Joseph in the account of the death of Jacob.
  • Can’t it be just a, hm ... coincidence?
    • Again! Let’s see ... John necessarily finds inspiration in this scene. In both cases, we have an adoption scene and the central character is in agony. Just as Ephraim and Manasseh became sons of Jacob, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” becomes son of Mary and Mary therefore becomes his mother:


“Woman (A),

Behold your son (B)”.

Then he said to the disciple (B):

“Behold your mother (A)”.


  • And in both cases, this adoption goes through an X ...
    • Exactly. Note that the Hebrew verb sikel found in Jacob’s story whose precise meaning is “to cross” is not found anywhere else in the Old Testament. This verb is an absolute hapax legomenon. We can therefore understand why Christian authors of the first centuries also saw this so particular gesture of Jacob as a foreshadowing of the Cross of Christ, namely a Tav and / or a Chi ...

Mary Magdalene

The Unsuspected Truth


Mary Magdalene

The Unsuspected Truth

Part I

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