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A King is Bound in the Tresses

Allusions to the Song of Songs in the Fourth Gospel

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Ann Winsor Roberts

The Fourth Gospel is among the most beloved and enigmatic pieces of early Christian literature. Although this Gospel has been exhaustively analyzed, portions of it remain baffling. Among its more elusive texts are the narratives describing the anointing of Jesus' feet by Mary of Bethany (Jn 12:1-8) and Jesus' resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:11-18). By demonstrating that the Song of Songs is the matrix for these narratives, this study not only resolves several puzzling details, but also opens a fresh dimension in Fourth Gospel research. The investigation largely relies on literary critical techniques and breaks important new ground in Johannine studies.