Luke 1: 26-27 – Annunciation to Mary: Introductory Verses

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The Lukan introduction to the annunciation story is found in Lk 1: 26-27. With his explicit reference to time in Lk 1: 26, Luke establishes a connection between the two annunciation episodes. The ‘sixth month’ spoken of in Lk 1: 26 is the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. The heavenly messenger in both these stories is the angle Gabriel. By relating the two annunciation stories to each other Luke seems also to imply some relationship between the future ministry of John the Baptist and that of Jesus.

There are, however, marked differences in the details of the two annunciation accounts. The annunciation of John the Baptist’s birth was made to his father Zechariah in the temple of Jerusalem (Lk 1: 8-13). The parents of John the Baptist were of priestly descent and both were advanced in years. Their child is God’s gift in answer to their prayers (Lk 1: 13) and he was conceived in the normal human manner (Lk 1: 23-24). By contrast, the annunciation of Jesus’ birth is made to his mother Mary in her home in Nazareth. Mary is a virgin betrothed to Joseph who is of the royal Davidic lineage. It is to be presumed that Mary too belonged legally to the line of David as she was betrothed to a descendant of David. The conception of Jesus is not in answer to their prayer. In this case the initiative is God’s; and Mary conceives as a result of a unique creative act of God without any human mediation. The fact that Mary is a virgin is mentioned twice in Lk 1: 27 and it will be highlighted again later in the narrative. It may be noted here that Matthew also makes use of the already existing tradition concerning Mary’s virginity (Cf. Mt 1: 18-25). Nevertheless, both Luke and Matthew mention that Mary was betrothed to Joseph (Lk 1: 27; Mt 1: 18). According to Jewish custom, the period of betrothal or engagement lasted for a year during which the girl would continue to stay in her parental home. The Lukan reference to the condition of Mary as ‘betrothed’ to Joseph implies that the marriage ceremony was not completed and that Mary has not, therefore, started to live with her husband.

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