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Can someone tell me about the translation of the word κεχαριτωμένη as it appears in the context of Luke 1:28 (where Gabriel greets Mary)? Specifically, is it a special word perhaps reserved to denote a very high status? Or a more common word? As a loose example, in English we might commonly say "yes, sir" to show respect to a customer or police officer but we would reserve "yes, your honor" for a judge. In the two English translations I have it says "favored one" and "favored woman" respectively. It seems a little weak considering the message that was about to be delivered. (In English 'favored' does not really denote unusually high status. My favored beverages are coffee and Newcastle.)

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Looking at Luke 1:28 only in English Bibles, I'm noticing some considerable differences due to adverbs used (or not used). While some Bibles show only "favored" (NASB, YLT), others have "highly favored" (KJV, ASV); I've also read wording such as "truly blessed" (CEV). While the Bible you're referencing shows only "κεχαριτωμενη", others will show "χαιρε κεχαριτωμενη", and I think just that wording difference will have quite an effect on interpretations here. I'll see what else I'm able to find. –  John Martin Jul 6 at 19:16
    
Thanks John. In fact the Greek I am looking (UBS 4th Ed., in McReynold's book) at does say "χαιρε κεχαριτωμενη" translated literally in the McReynolds book as "rejoice, one having been favored". –  Pete Jul 6 at 23:37

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In order to explain how Gabriel addressed Mary, it seems a few words along with “κεχαριτωμένη” need to be considered. Seriously, regarding this being “very high status”, “more common word”, etc.; it’s hard to believe two people could give you the same answer to that specific question.

Christians of various beliefs and Bibles have considerably different interpretations. For example, the following shows Jesus’ mother addressed mostly with “Favored”, often with “highly favored”, but also with "full of grace". http://biblehub.com/m/luke/1-28.htm

Catholics and Orthodox Christians, for example, show “traditional prayer” in their explanations, then ”Hail, Mary, full of grace” and “Rejoice, Mary full of grace”, respectively.
http://traditionalcatholic.net/Tradition/Holy_Mary/Immaculate_Conception,_Scripture_and_Tradition.html http://orthodoxwiki.org/Hail_Mary

Next, some web sites might show Gabriel’s statement as “Hail, thou that art highly favoured” at one point yet “Be joyful” (with) “full of Grace” at another. That's because more than one person is answering the question. http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/new-testament/luke/1.asp

http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/koinonia/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=113

Likewise, another web site shows both “Hail, full of grace” and “Greetings, you who are highly favored!” http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Hail_Mary

Partial Explanation: One reason for some of the differences is the Latin Vulgate. Another includes what the word “kecharitomene” is comprised of, along with the tense. http://themichigancatholic.com/2014/05/is-mary-full-of-grace-or-just-highly-favored/

Vulgate: “At the end of the fourth century, Pope St. Damasus commissioned St. Jerome to make a fresh Latin translation of the Bible. When St. Jerome came upon Luke 1:28, he translated the angel’s title for Mary, the Greek word kecharitomene, into the Latin “gratia plena” (“full of grace”). Centuries later, Jerome’s became the official translation of the Catholic Church, and English translations, such the Douay-Rheims Bible and the Knox, rendered it as “full of grace.” “

3 parts of the word: "The word is comprised of three parts: a root, a suffix, and a prefix. Each tells us something important.

The root of kecharitomene is charitoo, which is commonly translated “grace,” a supernatural endowment gratuitously given by God (CCC 1997-1998). Scripture sometimes emphasizes what God gives — a supernatural gift (Luke 2:40, Acts 6:8) — and sometimes why God gives it — His favor or kindness (Acts 13:43, Gal. 1:15). Both are always present, because God’s gift of divine help comes from his beneficence and God’s beneficence is manifested by his divine help — which accounts for the different translations of “grace” or “favor.”

The suffix -mene indicates a passive participle, meaning Mary (the subject) is being acted upon. This is important because it shows Mary did not bring herself into this graced state, but rather it was the action of God — it describes Mary as “she who has been graced [by God].”

The prefix ke- indicates the perfect tense — meaning the action (Mary’s being graced) has been completed in the past with its results continuing in full effect. cripture sometimes emphasizes what God gives — a supernatural gift (Luke 2:40, Acts 6:8) — and sometimes why God gives it — His favor or kindness (Acts 13:43, Gal. 1:15). Both are always present, because God’s gift of divine help comes from his beneficence and God’s beneficence is manifested by his divine help — which accounts for the different translations of “grace” or “favor.” >The suffix -mene indicates a passive participle, meaning Mary (the subject) is being acted upon. This is important because it shows Mary did not bring herself into this graced state, but rather it was the action of God — it describes Mary as “she who has been graced [by God].” > The prefix ke- indicates the perfect tense — meaning the action (Mary’s being graced) has been completed in the past with its results continuing in full effect.

Greek perfect tense (additional): Another article focuses on the use of the Greek tense and shows notes of specialists from different Christian beliefs. http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a116.htm

For example…

" 'Highly favoured' (kecharitomene). Perfect passive participle of charitoo and means endowed with grace (charis), enriched with grace as in Ephesians 1:6 . . . The Vulgate gratiae plena [full of grace] "is right, if it means 'full of grace which thou hast received'; wrong, if it means 'full of grace which thou hast to bestow' " (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 14)

"It is permissible, on Greek grammatical and linguistic grounds, to paraphrase kecharitomene as completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace." (Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament).

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@Pete It’s too bad Gabriel can’t answer this for you, and that we’re not able to obtain Jesus’ view/choice. –  John Martin Jul 8 at 14:07
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So what's the inherent problem; the word doesn't appear in any other ancient Greek writings? Why is there so much freedom in translation here? –  Pete Jul 8 at 14:15
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@Pete I think the "full of grace" translation shows up because of the Vulgate, but I'm not sure it can be defended based on the Greek. As for other uses of the word, check out Ephesians 1:6 for the active form, "he bestowed favor upon." Compare the (perfect) passive participle in our text, "the one upon whom favor has been bestowed." –  Susan Jul 8 at 14:50
    
I see that these are the only two places it appears in the NT; Gabriel greeting Mary, and Paul explaining what favor God has bestowed on us in granting us his grace. If that's all we know about this word, to me the facts argue for a much more intense translation than "favored one" and I would tend to agree with the "fancier" translations. –  Pete Jul 8 at 16:07
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@Pete Here's one mentioning a bit about what happened in the 4th century and subsequently, and the Catholic Church reaching its official translation. themichigancatholic.com/2014/05/… –  John Martin Jul 8 at 17:49

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