Monday, March 28, 2022

John 12.1-8 Translation and Notes (Fifth Sunday in Lent RCL C)

Bethany (late 19th century; used w/ permission

John 12.1-8 is the designate RCL Year C text for the Fifth Sunday in Lent. It's the familiar story of the anointing of Jesus at Bethany by Mary. The familiarity is due to the presence of an anointing story in all four gospels, but the problem is how they have been conflated over the centuries. Most notably, Pope Gregory the Great in 591 was the earliest to equate Mary of Bethany (John 12) with the 'sinful' woman of Luke 7 with Mary Magdalene. How the events relate is unclear, but it is best to treat John independently. For comparison:

The John story is explicit in identifying Judas as the one who questions Mary actions but notes that it's only because he is a thief. In matters of translation, John 12.7 is obscure. See my notes and my suggested translation. The other challenge in this passage is verse 8. I understand more as a statement of reality than as as a resignation to poverty that allows Christians to ignore.

A collection of translations and my notes and translation: