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Where was Mary Magdalene born?

To some, Mary Magdalene, also known as Mary of Magdala, was the wife of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Philip, referred to Mary Magdalene as Jesus’s companion and claimed that Jesus loved her more than the other disciples. Most controversially, the text stated that Jesus used to kiss Mary “often on her ____.” Damage to the text left the last word unreadable, though some scholars have filled in the missing word as “mouth.”
Whether or not this is true, not disputed is that she was very close to Jesus.

The question might arise where Mary was actually born. The accepted theory is that she likely came from Magdala, a village on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee that was primarily known in antiquity as a little fishing town. Its Greek name was Taricheae, meaning 'place where fish are salted'.

It was a large Jewish settlement in the Early Roman period. At the time of the destruction of the Second Temple it served as Josephus’ main military base in his war against the Romans in the Galilee.

However, the enigmatic name, Magdalene, causes bible critics considerable concern. Magdalene is thought to derive from Hebrew migdál ('tower'). Well, one can hardly imagine that a once tiny fishing village would be adorned with a considerable tower worthy of naming Maria. It is therefore quite possible that the village was named ex post facto to accommodate Mary into the Biblical landscape.

So, why would Mary be given the epithet Magdalene?

In the Gospel of Mark (Mark 8:10) Dalmanutha or Dalmanoutha is the unknown destination of Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Gallilee after he fed the four thousand, as recorded in Mark's Gospel (Mark 8:10). It is sometimes believed to be in the vicinity of Magdala, since the parallel passage in the Gospel of Matthew (15:39) refers instead to 'Magadan', which has been taken to be a variant form of 'Magdala'.

Some scholars have remarked that Dalmanutha is akin to Dalmatia, located on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. The etymology of the word Dalmatia is shrouded in mystery. Some translate Dalmatia as 'deceitful lamp' from dalos (δαλος) 'a lamp' and mataia (ματαια) 'deceitful'[1]. The reason is evident: Populations who inhabited the seashore, made fires, simulating false lighthouses to deceit sailors in order that they shipwrecked there, so that they could plunder the wreckage. And Dalmatia, with its rugged coastline, was a good place for that form of piracy.

So daloi mataioi could have been in Greek vernacular a folk etymology of Dalmatia, meaning 'deceitful lighthouses'. Which would explain why the Evangelist, or a later amanuensis, used Dalmatia, a name concerning the Ionian See crossing of Antonius to Dalmatia, for the Mediterranean Sea crossing of Caesar to Egypt.

Its supposed etymology will take us a step further to solve the mystery. Yes, dalos (δαλος) is 'a lamp', but this leads us to pharos (Φάρος), the famous lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and for many centuries one of the tallest man-made structures in the world.

The word pharos is of uncertain etymology, but is possibly related to dalos.

So, have we found here the solution of the name of Mary Magdalene? Dalmoutha may mean 'of (the city of) the lighthouse'. Magdalene can be read as megálos (μεγάλος) and dalos (δαλος), the '(from the city of) great lamp'. This leads us to Alexandria.

Can we find any corroborating evidence of that discovery? Curiously, all of Mary's epithets (migdal, Dalmanutha, Magdalene) relate to towers or lighthouses.

In the Gospel of Luke (2:39) we read 'When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth'.

However, in the Gospel of Matthew (2:14) we find 'So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt'.

Strange. But not if we accept that the chronology in the gospel of Matthew is garbled. Suppose that Matthew was not writing about Jesus' youth, but of an event after his death.

Then we understand what is actually written here: Joseph escapes with Mary Magdalene with her child to safety. Her child? Well, that would be Barabbas which is simply an Aramaic phrase (Bar Abba) meaning 'son of the father'. Can Barabbas be the son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene?

[1] Charnock: Local Etymology: A Derivative Dictionary of Geographical Names – 1859 (pp. 81)

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