In addition to his twelve disciples Jesus had a group of devoted women followers. Mary Magdalene stands out by the number of times her name is mentioned in the Gospels. She’s the first among all the disciples to acknowledge the resurrected body of Christ. Throughout history her image has been popular in art, celebrated by gnostic advocates and recently praised by the magisterium. To this day there is no theological or academic consensus on her identity. Since the turn of this millennium, tailwinds are stirring up her Spirit. Her role in spreading the Good News is at last recognized, conferring upon her a rightful status similar to Peter. The disciple who was once called Simon whom Jesus gave the metaphorical name of rock. Similarly, Mary’s surname of Magdalene has an etymology that is linked to the Hebrew word migdal, meaning tower. The literary device that the narratives apply to Simon is here applied to Mary. Both are metaphorical attributes: Simon as rock and Mary as tower. The Gospels reveal that Jesus uses parables and metaphors in his teachings. They are central to his message. As such, how essential are literary devices to revelation and the underlying dynamic of the “truth”?

Mary Magdalene is mentioned more times than any other disciple except Peter. The sum would be greater if one takes into account the number of occasions her identity has been obscured by misrepresentation. In the eight times that a list of women is cited, on every occasion Mary Magdalene is named first. Only at the crucifixion is Mary the mother of Jesus mentioned first and Mary Magdalene last. Mary whose womb gave birth to Jesus is present at his death, whereas it is Mary Magdalene who finds the empty tomb who is witness to the risen Christ.

Although these women remained in the background they nonetheless provided financial support to Jesus and his mission. All four Gospels describe a group of women that accompanied Jesus until his last week and were present at his crucifixion. They alone remained until the end, whereas the male disciples fled.

Before I get into Mary Magdalene and the significance of metaphor in establishing her identity, I would like to say a few words about the historical context of the narratives.

The setting: the Gospels
The hero: Mary Magdalene
The quest: the dynamic of “truth”
The adversary: materialism and literal sense of the Word
The mentor: metaphor
The outcome: the tower of the flock (1)

The Gospels vary in their description of an enigmatic female follower of Jesus. Three synoptic Gospels, namely Matthew, Mark and Luke, share a common perspective and chronology of Jesus’ ministry. However, Luke is a bit of a devil’s advocate in his description of a woman’s anointing of Jesus. The event in Mark and Matthew takes place in Bethany in Simon’s house before the Passover. In Luke, the scene is in a different city, in a Pharisee’s house at another time. As for the fourth Gospel of John, the text only shares a similar chronology of Jesus’ mission in these events: The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, the multiplications of loaves and fishes, the crucifixion, the anointing of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene’s presence at the empty tomb. In Luke and John, Mary anoints the Lord’s feet. In Matthew’s and Mark’s she pours the fragrant oil over his head. Although the woman at the anointing scene remains unnamed in Matthew, Marc and Luke, in John she is described as Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha from the town of Bethany.

The Gospel of Mark is the oldest text, written between ~65-75 CE. Whereas Matthew and Luke are dated approximately between ~80-90 CE. The Gospel of John was written circa ~90-100 CE. Mark relies mostly on oral tradition for his source and inspiration. Matthew and Luke have two common sources; Mark and “Q” ‒ from the German Quelle meaning source. Matthew is more descriptive than Mark whereas Luke’s version is more embellished and at times confounding. Although Matthew and Luke complement each other, they differ in many factual details. There is no academic consensus on the identity of the authors. None of the Evangelists knew or met Jesus.

The accounts were likely written in Antioch Syria, Ephesus ‒ now Turkey‒ and Rome, outside the confines of Judea, and for the most part after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. In a period where Greek culture ‒Hellenism‒ was dominant in the Greco-Roman empire. The extent of the cultural influence of Hellenism is reflected by Greek gods that were adopted by the Romans as their own. They were given Latin names and made part of their pantheon.

The Gospels were likely written by Jewish men who were knowledgeable of holy scriptures. This is evidenced by their extensive references to the Septuagint ‒ a Greek translation of Hebrew texts, known as the Old Testament in its canonical compilation. The texts use a wide range of literary devices to convey their view of events. The authors were likely spiritual leaders in their respective communities. They shared their lives and celebrated religious practices with Jews and Gentiles alike. They lived by Jesus’ all-embracing commandment of love your neighbor like yourself and obeyed the instruction to teach the Good News to all nations.

The texts were written in Koine, a Greek dialect that became the dominant language in the Mediterranean and the Middle-East after the conquests of Alexander the Great. It is assumed that Greek rather than Hebrew was chosen because it was the lingua franca of its time. And because the Evangelists lived in a cultural environment populated by Greek speaking Jews and Gentiles. Perhaps, these texts were written in Koine as a way to avoid Roman suspicion in the aftermath of the Jewish rebellion and the destruction of Jerusalem. Another reason might be that reading and writing were closely guarded skills and privileges held by Jewish priestly dynasties and scribes.

In the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem the political environment changed. Jewish people who were not imprisoned, enslaved or executed fled the city to varied communities of the Diaspora. Those who remained in Judea were under tighter Roman control and monitored for any sign of insurrection. In general, Jewish religious practices were tolerated by the authorities as long as it did not cause any public disturbance. The priestly orders that were affiliated with the Temple were dispersed and dwindled in importance. Surveillance of the Jewish population in the empire increased. Any text or letters addressed to varied churches carried by messengers were likely confiscated by Roman patrols and checked for any sign of rebellion. The irony is that parables and metaphors were used to deflect any misapprehension that the message of the Good News was politically motivated. Jesus chides and explains to his disciples that only enlightened few understand the meaning of his words.

After the crucifixion of their beloved teacher and the destruction of Jerusalem, worshipers could no longer rely on the priesthood of the Temple for religious guidance. Political circumstances shifted the worship to a theology connected to the Jewish experience of exile. Centered on the principle that God does not only reside in the Holy of Holies located in the Temple but is symbolized by the chariot of God. The movable presence of Yahweh, accessible to whom he chooses for his mission.

The Jewish people of the Diaspora more than ever required spiritual direction and hope. To many, Jesus the Nazarene was considered an outsider chastised by the priestly orders of Jerusalem. As such he represented a spiritual model in a post Second Temple era for many Jewish people who heard his message. During his mission, Jesus directed his attention to people who suffered as outcasts, who yearned for hope, integration and salvation. Jesus healed people who suffered a loss: He cured the blind, the deaf and the paralyzed. He brought back to life the dead. He praises the alien like the Samaritan and the occupier like the Roman centurion on their faith. And Jesus welcomed women as his followers. He praised Mary Magdalene for anointing him, foretelling she would play a key role in the aftermath of his death.

Magdalene, Migdal

There is no scholarly consensus as to the origin of the surname Magdalene. The magisterium’s position is that the name refers to a place named Magdala. A word derived from the Hebrew word migdal. As a result certain versions of the New Testament translate Mary’s surname of Magdala, implying that her name is connected to the city of her origin located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

The assumption inspired a deep-seated conviction about a connection between the city of Magdala and Mary. However, this relation may not be entirely factual as it does not reflect historical data and the geography of Palestine of the time. Such a place on the banks of the Sea of Galilee no longer existed at the time of Jesus. Writings by Flavius Josephus (~37-100 CE), an historian and author of the The Jewish War, who lived during that era, does not mention a city known as Magdala/Migdal. Instead the site is referred as Taricheae, a prosperous city known for its production of salted fish. In addition the Greek geographer Strabo (64 BCE – 24 CE) in his Geography of Palestine describes the city of Taricheae without any mention of a town named Madgala. Nonetheless, the city later became known as Magdala and led to the support for the popular conviction about Mary’s surname.

Confounding as it may be, recent archaeological findings at the location of Magdala revealed the existence of an ancient city called Migdal Nunia, meaning tower of the fish. A structure that consists of a lower basin built out of rocks. The vessel was filled with water where fish were kept after an abundant fishing expedition.

The name Migdal or Migdol in Hebrew means tower. Other translations render it as fortress, stronghold or watchtower. The word is derived from the root gaddal meaning growing up, and to become great or important; figuratively implying pride and authority. In Exodus (14:2), Migdol is the location of an encampment near where Moses crossed the Sea of Reeds. In Jeremiah it refers to a chastised Jewish colony in Egypt. In many other instances Migdal indicates a tower in conjunction with a geographical location: Midgal-Gad the tower of Gad and Midgal-Eder to tower of Eder. In Joshua (19:38) Migdal-El signifies the Tower of God. And in Micah the term is associated with flock:

Mc 4: 8 And you, O tower of the flock,
hill of the daughter of Zion,
to you shall it come,
the former dominion shall come,
kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.

Seven Evils Spirits

In 1969, shortly after the conclusion of Vatican II, the Catholic Church officially disclosed that the long held view that identified Mary Magdalene as a prostitute was not based on any factual or scriptural evidence. Cleared of being a prostitute she is nonetheless mostly remembered as a sinner and the woman whom Jesus cast out seven evil spirits, even though the cure’s description consist of two phrases. Mark (16:9) simply states from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons. Whereas Luke (8:2) mentions briefly that; Mary surnamed Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out. This event and the mischaracterization of her as a prostitute overshadowed her more important role in the spreading of the Good News.

Luke describes Mary Magdalene as a sinner. This description likely led to her being depicted in the West as a prostitute. However, sin in the Old Testament does not necessarily convey moral or carnal debauchery. Sin originally meant to miss the mark, to do evil against somebody, especially Yahweh. Sin above all is related to revolt, offense and contempt, especially in violation of the covenant: It is mostly related to idolatry.

The cure of evil spirits is often referred to as exorcism. The term is misleading as it conjures up images of wild and harmful possessions portrayed by the media. This idea of possession does not convey what the original meaning of casting out evil spirits may have been about. It consisted in a process to cleanse a person of unclean spirits in order to allow he or she to be accepted in a community or an inner circle of followers. Evil spirits are also described by the Greek word demons. The term refers to spirits that hover between terrestrial world and the realm of the gods and are not necessarily harmful. Demons in those days did not represent cinematographic images of horrific and dreadful possessions.

Possession of evil spirits was a condition perceived by most devout Jews of the time, including Jesus and his disciples, as unclean and impure. A condition that must be kept out of reach in order to avoid contagion. It conforms to the practice of an orthodox believer in setting himself apart from Gentiles and non-compliant Jews by a strict application of holy instructions, separating what is clean vs unclean, pure vs impure. The instructions dictate how one eats, who he shares meals or who he associates with, who he could touch or who can touch him: the woman he could marry, when to have sex, and what type of sex; how to farm; what type of animals he could eat, and how to kill them, etc.

Back then a wife was man’s property. A woman was typically identified as a sister, a wife or as a mother of some man. Because of Mary’s status and her behavior, she breaks established religious customs of her time. Being unmarried at a late age was viewed with distrust. And her single status might have been at the origin of the suspicion of her evil possession. She is wealthy as noted by the very expensive perfume she uses on Jesus. She throws herself at Jesus’ feet, she touched him, violating religious practices, displaying a wild nature and strong minded character. And most daring of all, she anoints Jesus: An act full of significance and daring.

Jesus’ message of love your neighbor like yourself supersedes all commandments and instructions. It is applied to everybody, including women. Was Jesus’ casting out Mary’s evil spirits a process of removing all restrictions and biases regarding a woman becoming a close follower in an observant Jewish context? Luke (10:39) describes Mary of Bethany listening to Jesus’s teachings instead of helping her sister Martha preparing the meal for the guests. This indicates that she is more interested in absorbing Jesus’ words and becoming a disciple than behaving according to prescribed rules of her time. During the first century of Judaism it was unusual for a woman to sit down and listen to a Rabbuni, meaning teacher in Aramaic. More so for a teacher to accept a woman as a disciple.

The Anointing

The anointing of Jesus is described in all four Gospels. This in itself is a significant event. Nonetheless, each version recounts what happened in varied details. Overall the scene depicts a woman holding in her arms an alabaster vial containing very expensive perfume walking in a room filled with dinner guests. She moves toward Jesus and kneels in front of him. She pours the costly nard over Jesus’ feet and then rubs them. By some accounts the value of the perfume is estimated to be worth as much as one year’s wages. She then wipes his feet with her long lush hair. She does this in full view of Jesus’ disciples and guests in a show of utter submission and love. She deliberately chooses to make the anointing an act of public display.

Lk 7:36 One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house and place at the table, suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with ointment.

By her actions she recognized Jesus as her Lord and teacher. The scene has a significant symbolic reference in terms of the anointing of Jesus as Messiah. The disciples are scandalized by such an act of devotion and symbolism. They question why so much money should be spent frivolously instead of feeding the poor. Plus, it is considered a violation of religious practice for a woman to touch an unmarried man. Nonetheless, Jesus tells them to leave her alone, because she has done a good work.

In the Old Testament the ritual of anointing relates to pouring scented oil over a person’s head as a sign of divine election to a position of power. Biblical examples depict the ritual being performed on high priests or kings. The Hebrew word for “the anointed one” is Mashiaẖ. It is translated in Greek into Christ and the term was rendered as Messiah in English. King David is a befitting example of Mashiaẖ. As a young man he killed Goliath and grew to become a successful military leader who united the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. He was a poet, a good orator and a musician. As a result of his military skills and political maneuvering he rose in ranks and was anointed king by prophet Samuel. Hebrew prophets regard Kind David as the ancestor of a future Mashiaẖ.

The translation of Hebrew texts into Greek represents a cultural departure from the original religious experiences lived by the Jewish people; especially for Gentiles who were introduced to the Holy scriptures and who did not share the historical background as a people. This also applies to the translation of the Bible in numerous other languages. The term Mashiaẖ does not convey the same meaning for Jewish people as its translation into Christ/Messiah does for Christians. For the Jewish people the term has a religious, historical and geopolitical meaning. For Christians, the word Christ relates more to Savior. And is connected to the commandment of love your neighbor with the mission to teach the Good News to all nations, underlying a universal manner of being as the core of its message.

Mary’s anointing has a symbolic reference to Jesus as a spiritual Messiah and Savior. In retrospect, Mary’s actions show a sign of prophetic insight. Christians a few centuries later would, with the conversion of Emperor Constantine, take over Rome and spread their message to the whole empire and beyond reaching all nations without the help of an army, tax collection or central government.


In Matthew, Mark and Luke the identity of the woman at the anointing scene is unnamed. This is a mystery, especially considering that the event is reported in all four Gospels, all of which describe the behavior of a person filled with symbolic significance. There is one exemption. John does reveal her identity: She is Mary from the town of Bethany, a woman he describes as Mary Magdalene who is present at the tomb.

Jesus says this about his anointing: Let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of My burial. He is giving us a clue by revealing a connection between the woman at his anointing and Mary Magdalene with fragrant oil kept in preparation for his burial. Hence, the unnamed woman in Matthew, Mark and Luke and referred to as Mary of Bethany in John, is hypothetically the same person. (2) She is Mary from the town of Bethany also known as Mary with the metaphorical attribute of Migdal.

Jesus’ fate unraveled shortly after his last supper. He was betrayed by one of his followers, abandoned by his disciples, and arrested by the Roman occupying forces. He was denounced by the priests and judged and condemned by the mob under the supervision of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect. He was tortured, humiliated and forced to carry the instrument of his death. He was finally nailed to a cross as a violent display of the sanctioning power of the Empire. Finally, he was left to die between common criminals. Throughout his ordeal the only people that stood by his side were Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joset and Salome.

In John’s version, Mary Magdalene finds an empty tomb and witnesses the appearance of Jesus whom she does not recognize and mistakes for a gardener. Mary asks the gardener if he took the body away? And if so, to tell her where he put it. Suddenly, Jesus calls out; “Mary”. And at the sound of her name she cries out “Rabbuni” in Aramaic. Mary Magdalene, a novice of Jesus’ teachings, has a revelation. She did not recognize Jesus at first because the risen Lord after his death is a different body.

Magdalene was the first to proclaim that Jesus has risen from the dead. She is the chosen messenger to spread the Good News. As it happens, the root word apostle in Greek means messenger. As a result on June 3rd 2016, by the express wish of Pope Francis, the Church gave Saint Mary Magdalene the same rank of Feast celebration that was given to the Apostles in the General Roman Calendar. Stating; the special mission of this woman should be underlined, she who is an example and model for all women in the Church. The Church also acknowledges the opinion of Rabanus Maurus and Saint Thomas Aquinas who called Mary Magdalene apostolorum apostola or the Apostle to the Apostles. Although Mary

Magdalene is considered a Saint by several Christian denominations, her status is pre-Congregational, meaning, she is a saint whose beatification or canonization occurred before the institution of the modern investigations performed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

In mythology, the first to inaugurate a new reality is elevated in status and consecrated as a supernatural being, a deity or a saint. Myth is essentially a story that describes the events that are at the origin of a new reality created by civilizing people in the beginning of time. The Gospels recount the events that ushered a new era of Christianity, inaugurating a new time with the separation between Before Christ (BC) and After Death (AD). A secularized version of these acronyms are rendered as Before the Common Era (BCE) and Common Era (CE). To sum it up, myth records meaningful events of the world. These events evolve in a time beyond history, in a fuzzy boundary between the supernatural and the ordinary world, between mythology and history. In this respect Mary Magdalene being the first to witness the risen Christ plays a preeminent role in Christianity.

The Metaphor as Code

In order to be able to write in Koine the Evangelists must have been educated in Greek. Among the more noteworthy teachers of Classical Greek schools of thought is Aristotle, who’s writings cover a wide array of subjects including Rhetoric and Poetics. Rhetoric is the art of speaking or writing in an eloquent manner in order to convince and influence an audience. One essential component of both treatises is metaphor: A figure of speech that is as old as Greek literature and can be traced back to the writings of Homer. Metaphor consists in giving the thing a name that belongs to something else.

Metaphor is not the exclusivity of Greek literature, it is extensively used in Hebrew holy scriptures. The following are only a few samples:

Pr 18:10 The name of Yahweh is a strong tower;
the upright runs to it and is secure
The wealth of the rich forms a stronghold
a high wall, as the rich supposes

Ps 18: 2 Yahweh is my rock and my fortress,
my deliverer is my God
I take refuge in him, my rock,
my shield, my saving strength,
my stronghold, my place of refuge

Literary critic Northrop Frye is a guiding source when he states that: Within the Bible itself, all the values connected with the term “truth” can be reached only by passing through myth and metaphor. He is not alone in making the assessment. Literary theorist Kenneth Burke explains that literary devices like the metaphor have their role in the discovery and description of “the truth”. While mythologist Joseph Campbell sees the metaphor as a dynamic way of looking at narrative. During an interview Campbell asked an interviewer this question: What is a metaphor? Bemused he answered: My friend John runs very fast. People say he runs like a deer. There’s a metaphor. Campbell replied; That’s not a metaphor. A metaphor is: John is a deer.

This is what Jesus says:

Jn 10:9 I am the door/gate
Jn 14:6 I am the way

Jesus’ tells Simon that he is rock. He will be known as the foundation on which Jesus will build his community.

Mt 16:18 So now I say to you: You are Peter ‒ rock‒, and on this rock I will build my community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it.

During the Last Supper Jesus shares his last meal with his disciples. Jesus picks and holds a loaf of bread, cuts it into twelve pieces and shares it with his followers. He pours wine in a cup and shares it with his disciples and says.

Mk 14: 22 Take it, he said, this is my body…this is my blood

Jesus words are symbolic actions: The bread is his body, the wine is his blood. By taking the bread in his hands, cutting it into pieces and sharing it with his Disciples, Jesus’ biological body becomes a different body and signifies the group of Disciples holding the symbolic pieces of bread formerly made of one loaf. Each individual member makes up the assembly known as the Church, defined by a papal encyclical as the Mystical Body of Christ. The cup of wine is Jesus’ blood, sacrificed for the life of the community after his death. The cup holds an additional symbolic attribute in terms of being a container: A physical object that holds a beverage for consumption. In this sense the mythical Holy Grail is only one material component in the metaphorical equation. The other, is the content of wine turned into blood as a symbol of Jesus’ sacrificial death to give life to his Mystical Body.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that consists in using a word~image to convey~embody something else. It is a break in the normal use of language that modifies habitual social conventions and religious practices. In the case of the Gospels, it is a shift in meaning and in being: A transport from a literal, material and visible level into a metaphorical, intangible and invisible level. The process involves a carrying-over of a material condition into a spiritual state to inspire revelation ‒ to unveil what is hidden. Unraveling a dynamic interaction between the material and the spiritual state of understanding the Word.

Mk 8:18 Have you eyes and do not see, ears and do not hear?

The name Mary Magdalene, depending on the translation, is used at least twelve times in the Gospels. Similarly, the name of Simon Peter, used with a metaphorical attribute, is used fifteen times in the Gospel of John. The narratives show that Jesus privileges the use of literary devices to reveal his message. Simply put, the metaphor is the door to the Good News. It enable us to see Mary as a metaphorical tower. In the same way we see Peter as metaphorical rock. Furthermore, Simon’s surname represents a single element as opposed to a more elaborate structure defined by tower. The distinction suggests a more complex character of Mary Migdal.

Luke, who at times is confounding, is nonetheless helpful when he describes Mary as surnamed the Magdalene, adding support to the idea that Migdal is a metaphorical attribute of tower. Similar to one that is given to Peter, or John the Baptist, or James and John as the Sons of Thunder.

Lk 8:2 With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evils spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out…

Furthermore, it is surmised that the term Migdal might also allude to tower of the fish, and is made in connection to the ancient city of Midgal Nunia. Even though this city was known as Taricheae at the time of Jesus. It is presumed that Jewish people, as an act of defiance against the Roman occupier, did not call the city by its Latin name but continued to referred to it as Migdal. This type of rock basin holding fish were likely found in many other fishing towns around the sea of Galilee.

In another metaphorical example in Matthew (4:8) Jesus says he will make his disciples fishers of men. As it happens the Greek word for fish is ichthys. The word was converted into an acronym during the first century CE meaning; Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Savior, and was depicted by the symbol of a fish. Second-century theologian Tertulian explains: we, little fishes, after the image of our ichthys, Jesus Christ, are born in the water.

Christians were not the only ones using the image of a fish as a religious symbol. It was a common pagan symbol as well. As a result, Christians used the image in times of persecution in order to avoid attracting suspicion from the Roman authorities. It was customary for a believer to mark meeting places and tombs with the icon to differentiate followers from unbelievers. It was also used as a secret meeting code between Christians. One faithful would draw an upper arc and the other would complete the image by drawing the lower arc forming an image of a fish.

To conclude, Simon was named Peter to signify he was the foundation of the Church. Whereas, Mary surnamed Magdalene, is the first to recognize the resurrected body of Christ. According to a literary interpretation of the narratives she is Migdal, a symbolic tower, implying strength and vision. Perhaps alluding to tower of the fish, and as such she embodies the sacred vessel symbolized by the tower of the flock.

Mary Magdalene’s portrait can only be made with a patchwork of evidence found in varied Gospels. Her identity will be subject to continued scholarly scrutiny and debate. Nonetheless, literary devices are essential tools that provide clues in finding the truth about Mary’s metaphorical identity.

Mk 14: 9 In truth I tell you, whenever throughout all the world the Good News is proclaimed, what she has done will be told as well, in remembrance of her.

(1) The original idea of the thematic sequence is taken from A.L. Greimas, Structural Semantics: An Attempt at a Method, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1983. I have introduced my own sequence which may not be endorsed or approved by the author.
(2) The Church’s position about Mary Magdalene’s identity is split between an old tradition dating back to Pope Gregory I (540-604 CE), who identified Mary Magdalene, the sister of Lazarus and Martha of the town of Bethany, and the woman who anointed Jesus as the same person. According to the Church this interpretation continued to influence western ecclesiastical authors, Christian art and liturgical texts relative to this Saint. However, the magisterium’s current position is that Mary Magdalene should not be confused with Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha, from the town of Bethany

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