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New International Version Luke 1:28

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

New American Standard Bible

And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Which version is more accurate?

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  • Depends on whether one regards the verb to favor as augmenting the verb to prefer, or simply as a synonym of the latter.
    – Lucian
    Aug 1 at 3:46
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The operative word in Luke 1:28 is χαριτόω (charitoó) which only occurs here and in Eph 1:6. According to BDAG, this verb means:

to cause to be the the recipient of a benefit, bestow favor on, favor highly, bless.

The "problem" here is with the translation of the KJV that (as was overly common) showed an excessive dependence on the Clementine Latin rather than the Greek. In this instance, the Latin (Clementine) rads, "gratia plena", about which Ellicott observes:

(28) Highly favoured.—The verb is the same as that which is translated, “hath made us accepted “in Ephesians 1:6; and, on the whole, this, which is expressed in one of the marginal readings, seems the truest. The plena gratiâ of the Vulgate has no warrant in the meaning of the word.

In v30, the angel repeats himself by using the cognate noun, χάρις (charis) with almost the same meaning but is correctly translated, "gratiam". The BLB correctly gives this translation of both verses:

  • V28: And having come to her, he said, "Greetings, you favored with grace! The Lord is with you."
  • V30 - And the angel said to her, "Fear not, Mary; for you have found favor with God.

I agree.

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This is an occasion when merely analysing the ‘Greek Structure’ can not explain the choice of translation. You need to take into account the historical settings. And that is, it was every Jewish women’s ambition to be the ‘mother’ of the Messiah.

Torah clearly prophesied that the coming Messiah would be born into the world, and all observant Jews were eagerly anticipating this coming. And every Jewish women was hoping that it would be them. When the angel appeared to Mary, with that news, it would have meet with some inner witness within Mary.

So yes, She was highly favoured, so highly favoured is an appropriate translation. But then so is ‘favoured one’. Therefore either translation is justified. But It is only an understanding of the historical background that will reflect this.

Mary was surely blessed among women to be chosen to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:28, 42, 45, and 48).

However, she was a sinner herself and needed a Savior (Romans 3:23). Jesus was deity, even though He was born of a woman who was not deity, because God Himself was the father (see note 1 at Luke 1:27).

When a woman stood among the multitude and began to bless Mary, Jesus said, “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:27-28), thereby placing a greater blessing on the followers of Christ than on the mother of the Christ. Compare this with the blessing placed on Jael in Judges 5:24.

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There are a few things to be understood here before concluding anything.

(1) Luke wrote his Gospel in Greek, conveying the original Hebrew or Aramaic by means of equivalent Greek — linguistically or doctrinally. He did not write in Hebrew or Aramaic, but he did invoke Old Testament imagery and parallels throughout his Gospel in order to connect in the readers mind the dots between Old Testament types and their New Testament fulfillments.

(2) There exists no single one-word parallel to the word "Kecharitomene" in Hebrew or Aramaic. As such, this word must be considered to approximate a Hebrew or Aramaic original. St. Jerome seems to suggest that the original Semitic was "full of grace." Indeed, the Semtiic New Testaments, including the Syriac, thus convey this verse. (In a Semitic culture and language, "full" of grace would simpy confess the perfection of the favor of God, not a fullness as in a liquid absolutely filling a vessel, although this metaphor is quite apt.) See Luke 1:30: "Thou hast found favor with God" (i.e. clearly this is meant in a greater way than others, since Mary was favored enough to bear "God With us").

(3) The closest possible equivalent in Hebrew of the name κεχαριτωμενη is the Hebrew name Hannah (Graced/Favored), which would directly translate to κεχαριτομενη in Greek. I find this particularly significant, since Luke attempts to draw parallels between Mary and Old Testament figures elsehwere in his Gospel,a nd quite overtly (the most obvious example being between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant; cf. 2 Samuel 6; Luke 1). Hannah, of course, was the woman who begged God to concieve a son despite being barren — an obvious parallel to Mary who would loved to have conceived the Messiah, as a daughter of David, but asked, "How shall this be, since I know not man?" Their Canticles are also very similar and comparable.

(4) To use κεχαριτωμενη in the way Luke did (or rather whatever equivalent used by the angel Gabriel was used), implies that it was used as a kind of appelation or title, replacing Mary's name with what God viewed her as — her fundamental identity in the eyes of God. In other words, when you use 'blessed among women' as a superlative, you aren't just saying 'you, like countlesss thousands of others of your sex, are blessed,' but rather (since Hebrew has no 'superlative' forms of words, 'the most blessed of all women,' similarly, when you give Mary the appelation or 'name' or 'title' 'κεχαριτωμενη' you are calling her the most graced of all women, 'the markedly graced one.'

With these facts in mind, both translations are correct.

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Luke 1:28 favored vs highly favored

The original Greek word used in this scripture is κεχαριτωμένη - charitoò (Strong's G5487) defined as to make graceful, endow with grace.

HELPS Word-studies brings this out:

Cognate: 5487 xaritóō (from 5486 /xárisma, "grace," see there) – properly, highly-favored because receptive to God's grace. 5487 (xaritóō) is used twice in the NT (Lk 1:28 and Eph 1:6), both times of God extending Himself to freely bestow grace (favor).

Of course, charitoò is from charis (G5485) meaning grace, kindness.

Again, HELPS Word-studies show:

Cognate: 5485 xáris (another feminine noun from xar-, "favor, disposed to, inclined, favorable towards, leaning towards to share benefit") – properly, grace. 5485 (xáris) is preeminently used of the Lord's favor – freely extended to give Himself away to people (because He is "always leaning toward them").

5485 /xáris ("grace") answers directly to the Hebrew (OT) term 2580 /Kaná ("grace, extension-toward"). Both refer to God freely extending Himself (His favor, grace), reaching (inclining) to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them.

[5485 (xáris) is sometimes rendered "thanks" but the core-idea is "favor, grace" ("extension towards").]

So, while charis is grace, or loving-kindness, shown to others is often used when Jehovah God shows it towards mankind. While charitoò is only used as an expression from Jehovah God towards us.

In the case of Luke 1:28, this is especially evident in the special privilege of Mary being the fleshly being to carry and give birth to the Messiah, God's own son.

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