The Hail Mary greeting (Lk 1:28-1:28)

“The angel Gabriel

Came to her.

He said.

‘Hail!

Full of grace!

The Lord is

With you!’”

 

καὶ εἰσελθὼν πρὸς αὐτὴν εἶπεν Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ.

 

Luke said that this angel Gabriel came to Mary (καὶ εἰσελθὼν πρὸς αὐτὴν).  He greeted her with the traditional Greek salutation “Hail” or “I am happy to see you” (Χαῖρε).  She was the favored one or the one full of grace (κεχαριτωμένη).  The “Lord is with you” (ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ) is an ancient Hebrew greeting found in Ruth, chapter 2:4, 2 Chronicles, chapter 15:2, Numbers, chapter 14:42, and 1 Samuel, chapter 17:37.  The impact of this angelic greeting has had a profound effect on Christian prayer life.  The famous simple popular prayer to Mary is often called the “Hail Mary” based on this passage.  “Hail Mary!  Full of grace!  the Lord is with you!”  This medieval 11th century Marian Latin prayer “Ave Maria” is the Latin translation of these Greek verses as found in the Latin Vulgate.  The second line was “full of grace” or “gratia plena” and the third line was “Dominus vobiscum,” or the “Lord be with you.”  This later phrase “Dominus vobiscum,” was and is also part of the ancient and contemporary Roman Catholic Eucharistic Mass service, as a priestly greeting to the congregation.  These verses serve as the foundational biblical statements for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, not Jesus.

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Jesus rewards Peter for his response (Mt 16:18-16:19)

“I tell you!

You are Peter!

On this rock

I will build my church.

The gates of Hades

Shall not prevail against it.

I will give you

The keys

To the kingdom of heaven.

Whatever you bind

On earth

Shall be bound

In heaven.

Whatever you loose

On earth

Shall be loosed

In heaven.”

 

κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, καὶ πύλαι Ἅιδου οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς.

δώσω σοι τὰς κλεῖδας τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν δήσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, καὶ ὃ ἐὰν λύσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

 

This reward bestowal of power on Peter is unique to Matthew.  Jesus, via Matthew, asserted the authority of Peter in a very formal way with a solemn pronouncement (κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω).  Peter (ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος) was going to be the rock of Jesus’ new church community (καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν).  Notice the play on words of Peter “Πέτρος” and rock “πέτρᾳ.”  The gates of hell (καὶ πύλαι Ἅιδου) would not prevail (οὐ κατισχύσουσιν αὐτῆς) against this rock of a church, congregation, or assembly “ἐκκλησία.”  Matthew is the only biblical writer to use the phrase “gates of hell or Hades” (πύλαι Ἅιδου).”  Peter would receive the keys to the kingdom of heaven (δώσω σοι τὰς κλεῖδας τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν), as the gatekeeper of heaven.  Whatever he did on earth would be bound (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν δήσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται δεδεμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς) or loosed in heaven (καὶ ὃ ἐὰν λύσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἔσται λελυμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς).  Peter was no longer a mere informal leader, but the true man in charge here on earth with heavenly consequences, much like the Israelite high priests.  This of course has led to the so-called Petrine privilege, the power of Peter as handed down via the bishop of Rome.  As the first bishop of Rome, the power of Peter passed on to the bishop successors of Peter in Rome.  Thus, the bishop of Rome became known as the Pope or papa of the Christian Church in later centuries.

The reprimands (Sir 1:28-1:30)

“Do not disobey the fear of the Lord!

Do not approach him with a divided mind!

Do not be a hypocrite before others!

Keep watch over your lips!

Do not exalt yourself!

Otherwise you may fall.

You may bring dishonor upon yourself.

The Lord will reveal your secrets.

He will overthrow you

Before the whole congregation.

You did not come

In the fear of the Lord.

Your heart was full of deceit.”

Now we have a series of reprimands. You were not to disobey the fear of the Lord. You should not have a divided mind. You should not be hypocrites. You should watch your lips. You should not exalt yourself. If you fall, you bring dishonor to yourself. The Lord would reveal your secrets. He would overthrow you before the whole congregation. If your heart is deceitful, you did not come with the fear of the Lord.

Qoheleth (Eccl 1:1-1:1)

“The words of Qoheleth,

The son of David,

King in Jerusalem.”

Who is Qoheleth? At the heart of his biblical book is the question of authorship. This author says that these are the words of Qoheleth, the son of David, who is a King in Jerusalem. The automatic response is, of course, that this is another name for King Solomon, the Jerusalem King who was the son of King David. However, here is the problem. The authorship and themes represent a 3rd century BCE time as probably one of the last books of the Hebrew Bible. Qoheleth, the term that I will use, is a Hebrew word qahal that means something to do with an assembly or congregation. Thus the Greek translation title of έκκλασία was translated into Latin and English Ecclesiastes, refers to one pertaining to a congregation. In this association with an assembly, was this person a preacher or teacher? Many have translated Qoheleth as a teacher. I prefer to use the original Hebrew title as in the Bible of Jerusalem, just as I have done with the term “Yahweh.” Thus we have a 3rd century Jewish individual presenting what he believes to be the words of King Solomon of the 10th century BCE. This book fits in the Bible right behind the Proverbs of Solomon.

Yahweh has been good to me (Ps 116:1-116:4)

“I love Yahweh

Because he has heard my voice.

He has heard my supplications.

Therefore I will call on him

As long as I live,

Because he inclined his ear to me.

The snares of death encompassed me.

The pangs of Sheol laid hold of me.

I suffered distress.

I suffered anguish.

Then I called on the name of Yahweh.

‘Yahweh!’

I pray!

Save my life!’”

Psalm 116 is a thanksgiving psalm without any titles. This psalm begins with the psalmist talking about how he loves Yahweh because Yahweh has heard his voice. Unlike the psalms that ask God to listen, this psalmist has already had his prayers answered. Yahweh heard his voice and supplications because he inclined his ear to him. The result is that he will always call upon Yahweh as long as he lives. He apparently was near his death in great distress and anguish almost near Sheol. Then he called out the name of Yahweh and he was saved. This is like a call to prayer for the others in the congregation.

Yahweh brings a good result (Ps 22:25-22:28)

“From you comes my praise

In the great congregation.

My vows I will pay before those who fear him.

The poor shall eat.

They shall be satisfied.

Those who seek him,

They shall praise Yahweh!

May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember.

They will turn to Yahweh.

All the families of the nations

Shall worship before him.

Dominion belongs to Yahweh.

He rules over the nations.”

Due to the good results, Yahweh is to be praised both in the great congregation and in his personal vows. The poor have been satisfied with food. All who seek Yahweh praise him. The whole world will soon remember and turn to Yahweh. All the nations of the world will worship him since he has dominion over all the nations.

Praise to Yahweh (Ps 22:21-22:24)

“You have rescued me

From the horns of the wild oxen.

I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters.

In the midst of the congregation

I will praise you.

You who fear Yahweh!

Praise him!

All you offspring of Jacob!

Glorify him!

Stand in awe of him!

All you offspring of Israel!

He did not despise me.

He did not abhor me.

He did not forget the affliction of the afflicted.

He did not hide his face from me.

But he heard,

When I cried to him.”

Apparently things turned out okay because Yahweh rescued David or the psalmist. He now wanted to give praise and thanksgiving. He was rescued from the horns of the wild oxen. Now he wanted to profess the name of Yahweh before his brothers, his sisters, and the whole congregation. He wanted to praise Yahweh, but he also wanted all the offspring of Jacob and Israel to do the same.  It is interesting to note that both names are here and they mean the same thing. Yahweh did not despise or abhor him in his affliction. Yahweh never hid his face but in fact heard his call when he cried out to Yahweh.