New Testament Studies


The Two Angels in John 20.12: An Egyptian Icon of Resurrection

Izaak J. de Hulster

Theologische Fakultät der Georg-August-Universität, Platz der Göttinger Sieben 2, D-37073 Göttingen (Germany). email:


The scene with two angels that Mary Magdalene sees in John 20.12 could have been visualized as an icon of resurrection by the first readers of the Fourth Gospel, especially by those familiar with the iconography of the Isis cult which was spread over the Roman Empire. Using traditional exegetical, hermeneutical, historical, and iconographic methods, this article stresses the importance of the resurrection in John 20, as corroborated by the motif of Isis and Nephthys flanking Osiris while mourning his death and assisting him in his resurrection.


  • John 20.12;
  • Isis cult;
  • resurrection;
  • angels;
  • cultural context