To embrace or to cling?
Sir, – Archbishop Richard Clarke (Rite & Reason, April 22nd), in translating Jesus’s instruction to Mary noli me tangere as “do not cling to me” is guilty of an ellipsis of understanding.
Tangere cannot mean cling; it means touch. The translators of the Vulgate thought, in their wisdom, that this was the fairest translation of the Greek original me mou haptou ; and haptomai can indeed mean cling as well as touch.
But many have doubted whether cling is correct at John 20.17.
The redoubtable and distinguished Revd ST Bloomfield, in his 1843 commentary on the Greek text, wrote: “The general sense may be thus expressed: ‘Embrace me not; waste not these precious moments in demonstrations of affection.’”
Bloomfield was right; and “embrace” is much nearer to the real sense than “cling”. Yours, etc,
DR MARTIN PULBROOK,