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Updated: 2013.09.20

Mirᵊyâm (Aramaic, same spelling; cf. Shᵊm•ot 15.23), anglicized to "Miriam."

In the NT, it is transliterated into Greek as Μαριαμ, Hellenized to Μαρια, then anglicized to "Marian" – and "Mary".

The Aramaic name so often associated with her, , may well derive from the adverb , in this same verse (15.23).

The etymology of her name is unclear. Some mistakenly connect her name with the incident of , interpreting her name as some form of "bitter." However, Moshëh is in excess of 80 years old at this point and Mirᵊyâm 12 years older than him. She had her name more than 90 years before this incident. More likely, her name derives from the root verb , the same root from which Yi•rᵊmᵊyâhu derived. Thus, Mirᵊyâm more likely has the connotation of lifting-up or exalting.

Four times—in Papyrus 45 (ca. 255 C.E.), Papyrus 66 (ca. 200 C.E.) and Codex Sinaiticus mss. of "John" 11 (v. 19, 28, 31, 45), as well as in the Codex Vaticanus ms. of "Romans" (16.6), Μαριαμ (Mariam) is corrupted to Μαριαν (Marian). The confluence of Μαριαμ (Mariam) and Μαριαν (Marian), led to yet another variant, Μαριαμη (Mariamæ), a sui generis, mainly associated with translations of Josephus' accounts (apparently not found in the original Greek) of the Herod family, being corrupted to "Mariamne." (Neither Mariamæ nor "Mariamne" is found in the NT.)

At the request of Prof. James Tabor (UNC Charlotte), the University of California at Irvine executed a search of their Thesaurus Linguae Graecae for the various variants of these names containing a ν (nu; "n"). Prof. Tabor reports (2008.06.01) the results as somewhat astonishing, finding that, contrary to what appear to be countless post-4th-century corruptions, these "popped up in only two works—the [4th-century C.E.] Acts of Philip and [3rd-century C.E.] Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies, and in both works the reference was to the woman named Mary Magdalene in our Gospels."

Thus, there appear no other instances outside of the 1st-century Nᵊtzâr•im community. At the very least, it would appear that the variant spelling with a ν (nu; "n") tracks back uniquely to the 1st-century Nᵊtzâr•im community.

Μαριαμ (Mariam) is identified as Μαγδαληνη (Magdalænæ [corrupted to "Magdalene"]; "of Mi•gᵊdâl," on the westernmost shore of Yâm Ki•nërët) in The Nᵊtzârim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matitᵊyâhu (NHM, in English) 27.61 & 28.1 (both later redacted to Μαρια, Maria). The reverse is also true. Μαρια (Maria) is identified as Μαγδαληνη (Magdalænæ; "of Mi•gᵊdâl") in NHM 27.56 (later redacted to Μαριαμ, Mariam). Both names are applied to the Mirᵊyâm from Mi•gᵊdâl. Therefore, the controversy over the reading of the "Mariamne" ossuary of the Talpiot tomb, whether Μαριαμ (Mariam) or Μαρια (Maria), is a pedantic straw man that cannot rule out Μαγδαληνη—whichever variant becomes the eventual reading!

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