Mary’s need for a Savior continued: “Full of grace”

“And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed [lit. happy, fortunate, to be envied] art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace [lit. favor, kindness] with God. Luke 1:26-30 Douay-Rheims (1899)

The highlighted phrase–I think we can legitimately call it a mantra–used most often by Roman Catholics to extol the virgin Mary is attributed to the angelic pronouncement in Luke 1:27. So far in this study, the Douay-Rheims has been right on. But it is a translation of the Latin Vulgate, which itself is a translation of the original Greek, and in this case, it does not capture the meaning of the original.

In the Jerusalem Bible (1966) this inaccurate reading of verse 28 in the Douay-Rheims version has been corrected to: “Rejoice, so highly favored! The Lord is with you.” And in the New Jerusalem Bible (1985)  it reads: ‘Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you.’ Luke 1:26-30 NJB (Scroll down)

In each of the more recent and accurate translations the emphasis is on a kindness, a gift extended to Mary from God, of which she is the passive (though grateful) recipient, not on some merit inherent in her.

In Latin, verse 28 reads “ave gratia plena” (full of grace). But in the original Greek, Gabriel’s greeting to Mary, χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ, is literally “Greetings, highly favored (one), the Lord is with you!” This word κεχαριτωμένη (highly “graced” or favored) is from the root word χαριτω, which means (a) grace, as a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, (b) favor, (c) gratitude, thanks, (d) a favor, kindness.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

“Full of grace” is not one of the six words or phrases in Scripture which I believe disproves Catholic dogma. Instead, it is a phrase on which Catholic dogma is based which does not appear in Scripture at all.

The phrase “full of grace” does exist in Greek. It is “plaras karitos” and if that was the meaning intended, it could have been used in this passage. In fact it is used in the New Testament–twice–but not of Mary. Once it is ascribed to Jesus Christ John 1:14 and once to the martyr Stephen in Acts 6:8. (Yet no one has claimed that Stephen is without original sin.)

For Mary, it was all about Who God is and what He had done for her. She was amazed that God chose her. For Catholics it has become about who Mary is and what she can do for them. She has not just received grace (unmerited favor) from God but is “full of grace” which she can dispense. This is a position unsupported by Scripture.


About Jessica Renshaw
This entry was posted in Bible study, faith, Reconcilable and Irreconcilable Differences and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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