NIV Luke 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

NIV Genesis 1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Is there a parallel here? If yes, what is its significance?

  • Could you explain the parallel, please. I don't see it. I see only the mentions of the person of the Holy Spirit, but acting in different ways : hovering and coming upon - one being a reluctance to alight and the other being a willing anointing. And I see the Most High overshadowing in oversight, compared to, again, an unwillingness to descend. The whole point in Genesis is the reluctance of the Spirit to descend upon an obscurity of darkness.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 16:29
  • Yes, quite different verbs are used as well for what the Holy Spirit was doing. I would not go too far here as you will end up dealing with some very awkward language.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 20:42
  • 1
    Spirit means breath of life (hence respiration). Indeed, after its hovering over the primordial waters, it is there that the first forms of life are said to have appeared, within the Genesis narrative. Similarly, in the complete and utter absence of any male seed, something or someone has to give life to the child that is about to form within Mary's womb.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 21:54
  • Tony, please identify the translation you are quoting as required by this site. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 0:16

3 Answers 3


God's Breath is God. Hovering or brooding upon the flooded earth like a hen over her eggs. God is Breath, the Son of God, the embodiment of God, tells us in the New Testament (Jn 4:24). The word "Spirit" maybe better translates this Person.

The Holy Spirit is God. The same Spirit who started touching our lifeless buried planet in Gen 1:2. Mary is in need of saving too. Just like her people (Mt 1:21. Like all humanity, Rm 3:23). There's an A.D. 200s Christian hymn (author unknown to me) that states:

Though Christ a thousand times

In Bethlehem be born,

If He's not born in thee

Thy soul is still forlorn.

In keeping with this: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, had written the sojourners of the dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father in the sanctification of the Spirit unto the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied (1 Pet 1:1-2).

Now Mary was already a believer into the living God, in Lk 1:35. Certainly not total darkness. Indeed the direct word to her concerned her coming son's kingdom of David His father. Not salvation from sins. Which is why 1 Pet 1:2 is the parallel; the allegorization of Gen 1:2.

Other details to caption Gen 1:2 are Paul's Eph 2:1-4: And you, though dead in your offenses and sins, in which you once walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit which is now operating in the sons of disobedience; among whom we also all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest; but God, being rich in mercy...

Gen 1, accurate, nuanced, and true about our God's wonderful work of the old creation, still hasn't the physical realm as its purpose. But rather us. You. Your soul. Your response, if you want to begin this wonderful and only experience of salvation, from our alienation from God, even our hatred of God which we're born into, is to say "Yes" to His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, amen, come into me Lord Jesus. Save me from my sin and death. Come and start Your life in me


Excellent question (+1) and thank you for posing it. The similarity is striking as is but much clearer if we focus on the original languages. The word translated "Spirit" in both "testaments" is more accurately rendered "breath". So the creative force that hovered over the face of the waters (if indeed it is not referring to physical wind) is seen "overshadowing" Mary in the generation of the Messiah.

Of late I have been struck by the lesson of Genesis 1, that God wants us to understand that he has placed the governance of the earth to other entities such as the sun and moon so that the cycle of life is not a constant string of miracles but rather a well ordered, self-sustaining system controlled by physical agents. And in that light, the initial creation is more unique and special in that it is accomplished directly by miraculous action.

So the overshadowing of Mary is likewise a special and miraculous intervention by God, not a natural procreation. As John says:

[Jhn 1:13 NLT] (13) They are reborn--not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

[Eph 5:14 RSV] (14) Therefore it is said, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light."


Yes, there is a parallel.

In Genesis, the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters.

In Luke, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary.

In Genesis the Holy Spirit impregnated the waters to produce the visible universe.

In Luke, the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary to give birth to baby Jesus.

In both cases, it went from the spiritual dimension to the physical dimension. They were miracles.

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