Of New Testament origin. In the New Testament it is a place name, that of the village just outside Jerusalem where Jesus stayed during Holy Week, before going on to Jerusalem and crucifixion (Matthew 21:17; Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29; John 12:1). Its Hebrew name may mean ‘house of figs’ (beth te'ena or beth te'enim). Until recently the given name was favoured mainly by Roman Catholics, being bestowed in honour of Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus. She is sometimes identified with Mary Magdalene (see Madeleine), although the grounds for this identification are very poor.