3

In Luke 1:55, the end of Mary's speech, she finishes with:

εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

In this context:

Lu 1:54,5 ASV 54 He hath given help to Israel his servant, That he might remember mercy 55 (As he spake unto our fathers) Toward Abraham and his seed for ever.

Is Mary focussing on that fact that God has always given aid to Israel as a chosen people, perhaps reading like this:

54 He hath given help to Israel his servant, That he might remember mercy 55 (As he spake unto our fathers Toward Abraham and his seed) for ever.

OR

Is she focussing on God's keeping his promise to bring the Messiah who will bring blessings εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα as promised to Abraham in Gen 17:19?

54 He hath given help to Israel his servant, That he might remember mercy 55 (As he spake unto our fathers) Toward Abraham and his seed for ever.

1

See if I can step through this mine-field without too much trouble.

First, the phrase εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα is literally "into the age" and does not necessarily mean "forever" as some versions have it. For example, Jude 7 discusses the "eternal" fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah which is clearly not still burning. W E Vine ("Expository Dictionary") discusses this at length and says that "ainios", "describes a duration either undefined but not endless, as in Rom 16:25, 2 Tim 1:9, Tit 1:2, …" Thus, David Bentley Hart's version, "throughout the age."

Since "aionos" is an adjective it takes some of the qualities of the noun it modifies. Rom 16:25 & 26 is a perfect example. In v25 it means "ages past", ie, since the man sinned. However, in v26 it modifies "God" and so can be translated, "forever". See NIV.

Thus, Luke is describing a promise of the coming Messiah, which Mary celebrates in song, that was made on the OT and which would last until the promise was fulfilled as it was about to be with her pregnancy with Jesus.

11
  • Jude is saying that the people of Sodom are suffering "eternal fire" in the sense that they went to Hell for their sins of impurity. – Pascal's Wager Sep 8 '18 at 22:18
  • Also, I thought Mary was already pregnant when she visited Elizabeth. I mean, Elizabeth says "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb" and "How is this that the mother of my Lord should come unto me?" – Pascal's Wager Sep 8 '18 at 22:21
  • @Pascal's Wager - your comment about the people suffering eternal fire is a stretch. Jude talks about the destruction of the cities by fire which they certainly were. – user25930 Sep 8 '18 at 22:26
  • On the contrary, I think it would be a bigger stretch to describe the fire-and-brimstone destruction of Sodom with the word αἰωνίου. Why would Jude do that? Did it really take that long for God to destroy Sodom with fire? – Pascal's Wager Sep 9 '18 at 2:38
  • The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah probably took less that 24 hours. That is the point. – user25930 Sep 9 '18 at 10:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.