The text of an essay will go here. For now, I've used the first paragraphs of our prompt: Noli me tangere—“touch me not” (or “Do not hold/grasp me” in the Greek). These words from John 20:17, spoken by Jesus to Mary Magdalene after her discovery of the empty tomb, take on curious resonances in the epoch of COVID-19, with its prohibitions on touching and imperatives around social distancing. We wish to ask how we might consider noli me tangere in this moment—this long moment being shaped by the pandemic.
The phrase and its context in John 20 prompt many questions: Why does Mary Magdalene not recognize Jesus when she sees him? Why does she mistake Jesus for the gardener? Who is the gardener? What does it mean that she recognizes him only upon hearing her name spoken by him? What does his prohibition mean? What meanings might this phrase generate—both within and beyond its biblical context? How are various senses evoked and engaged in this passage? How might we understand noli me tangere and the passage in which it appears? How might considering this question respond to our present moment or anticipate its further unfolding?