Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 20 December 2021

Did Mary Magdalene worship here?

The Mail Online recently had a report about the excavation of a first century synagogue in Magdala on the west side of the Sea of Galilee.  Not only does this add to our knowledge of Jewish devotional life in the countryside, away from the Temple cult in Jerusalem, but it has the added interest that it may well have been visited on a regular basis by St Mary Magdalene and her family. Your view on that may - or may not - be influenced by whether you see her as one individual - the traditional view - or that the figure of Mary Magdalene is a fusion of three separate individuals, which is historiographically a relatively new concept. Whether the authors are right to say Magdala is her birthplace is itself, I imagine, debatable as she may have acquired the designation by living there rather than actually being born in the village. In the traditional narrative her brother and sister are described as being of Bethany, which is, of course, close to Jerusalem.

The account of the excavation, illustrated with photographs, can be read at 2,000-year-old synagogue 'found in the birthplace of Mary Magdalene'

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