Kecharitomene--Does the Greek Perfect Tense imply "fullness"


#1

Hey all,

In Gabriel’s greeting to Mary, “Hail, full of grace,” does the Greek “kecharitomene” imply “fullness” of grace? It’s a passive, perfect, vocative, so the closest I’m getting is “Hail, having been graced in the past and continuing in the present” (obviously not a poetic translation, nor does it exactly express the title given to Mary expressed by the vocative tense).

But I’m still having trouble understanding how to bring fullness into the translation–where fullness, as I understand it, would mean the maximum amount of grace for a human being.

Thank you for your thoughtful response!


#2

No, it doesn’t.

The perfect simply means that an action took place in the past whose effects continue into the present. In Luke 1:28, it does not tell us in any way how far back in the past this action was performed. It could have been from the first moment of her existence, or it could have been a millisecond prior to the angel’s visit.

What lends support to her fullness of grace (i.e. Immaculate Conception) is not merely the perfect (which tells us nothing about the time in the past), but also the vocative case, which makes “kecharitomene” a title, and the fact that it’s used to address our Lady in place of her name.

This is the strongest support of her fullness of grace. It’s not a proof; it is a support. It does not even lead us to the conclusion that she was “preserved from the stain of original sin from the first moment of her conception.” That is a theological conclusion that is drawn from the thought of the Church that considers this verse and other passages in Scripture and tradition. That is how the Western church has chosen to express our Lady’s exalted state. The Eastern churches have their own, equally valid and beautiful expressions.


#3

I don’t know Greek but I read somewhere that the “ke” in kecharitomene implies not only that Mary had been graced but that she had been highly graced.


#4

Hi, B!

…I’m pure pedestrian… so how would it seem better if translated to “favored one?”

…here’s my understanding of the “Full of Grace” translation… the Virgin having been Blessed by God where His Grace abounds from her Conception to her death, does not simply receives a temporary portion of God’s Grace but she is immersed in God’s Grace… she is not simply being touched by Grace… so the only “close to correct” explanation is that she is “Full of Grace.”

…the problem people seem to have is that, from their perception, they seem to think that this means that the Virgin is somehow divinized and that it would mean that she would share in God’s Omnipotence (as with the Mother of God title).

…here’s a visual: throw a bucket of water on someone and he/she will get drenched (God’s Grace given to all); throw a person into a pool of water and that person will be fully wet (God’s Grace given to the Virgin Mary: Full of Grace!).

…as I understand it (Father Mitch Pacwa, EWTN) the term Kecharitomene appears in Scriptures only twice: once referring to the Virgin Mary and once referring to Jesus… so it is evidentiary that the term is very important and that it must reach beyond the desired rendering: “favored one.”

[FONT=“Palatino Linotype”][size=]Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!

Angel

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#5

According to Dr. David Anders (EWTN’s “Call to Communion”), the word appears exactly once in the entire Greek language, and only in the context of Gabriel delivering God’s exact wording to Mary. The term was so sublime that Mary pondered - was even troubled by - what it could mean. Dr. Anders describes the full linguistic ramifications of the term routinely in his show and his capabilities are exponentially above my own. It was “having been” fully graced as describing a state which would exist in perpetuity.

Our problem appears because we look back on it, attempting to reverse-engineer it and extract meaning from it. God looked forward to it from all eternity, and His choice of wording reflects that by infusing meaning into it.


#6

What is “grace” in this context but God’s favor? It is not a tangible possession like water but a relationship with God. I think we often think of grace as an object, like energy or something when it is actually not that at all. Rather it is a quality of relationship.


#7

Thanks for the responses, all!

And yes, no disagreement here about this term referring to God’s grace. Neither am I arguing that “Highly Favored” is a more appropriate translation–its certainly not! :slight_smile:

porthos11’s response comes closest to what I believe is accurate. If you take kecharitomene in and of itself (with no reference to other passages or outside sources), it seems to indicate a possession of grace, but not necessarily fullness of grace (although the vocative, as porthos11 suggests, does help to support this concept).

po18guy had an interesting comment about how Mary was trouble by the title. The Greek, as I translate it, says “But she was perplexed by his words and wondered what sort of greeting this was.” The is a second clue that “fullness” is being implied. For if the angel meant something to the effect of, “Mary, who has some grace,” it doesn’t seem that Mary would have been perplexed by that. “Full of grace,” however, is certainly a more perplexing concept!

I do agree that coupled with other passages about Mary, “full of grace” is an appropriate translation for kecharitomene, although isolating the context to that word alone doesn’t necessary require “fullness.”

Again, thank you for the insight, everyone!


#8

Hi, Michael!

…that falls to interpretation…

…why would Stephen’s being full of Grace (given the ability to speak and withstand the pending death) mean more than favor because of the event that was being described?

…why would any “filling” of the Holy Spirit mean anything more than being found/seen in God’s favor…

…for that matter, what would “God’s favor” mean?

Interpretation is the crux that many seem to embrace even when syphoning out the Divine from the Revealed experience.

…quality or relationship… how does that change the fact?

Enoch was said to have walked with God… was that a tangible Grace/favor?

Enoch was said to have been taken by God… was it his doing or was it God’s?

It was God’s Grace that filled Enoch with the knowledge and power to remain faithful to God; then by Divine Determination Enoch was taken up to God–was God granting a “favor?”

David was a man called by God: ‘a man after my own heart.’ (Acts 13:22) Yet, David did not enjoy the same relationship with God as did the Virgin… unless you are suggesting that though David was full of grace he still managed to sin greatly!

Yes, it is good to get into the trenches and discover the meanings of things, including the etymology of words; but we must allow the Holy Spirit to expand on our finite understanding of what is being Revealed.

[FONT=“Palatino Linotype”][size=]Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!

Angel
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#9

Of course “we must allow the Holy Spirit to expan on our finite understanding of what is being revealed”. i dont understand your need to state that in the context of my statements. And I dont understand the import of your questions or what Enoch and David have to do with Mary. We are all human. We all depend on God for everything. Let us recall the Catechism on Grace:

1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.46

1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an “adopted son” he can henceforth call God “Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God’s gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:

It seems to me that grace is clearly something relational.


#10

Hi, Michael!

…maybe I misread your post; it seemed to me that you were equating Grace (“favor”) as a dispensation of “goodwill” (‘can you do me a favor?’); it would be almost an empty gesture (‘Enoch was granted favor so God allowed him to walk with Him’) rather than a bond and relationship with God (‘Enoch received God’s Grace and he Walked with God’); from my perspective you seemed to be intimating that there would be no real difference between “Kecharitomene” and “favor;” it is as though you were equating the choosing of the Twelve with the Call to all men. Yes, the two are similar in the sense that God Calls humanity to Salvation, but the election of the Twelve forever separates the Call of the Twelve from the Call to be His disciples.

When you insisted in defining the term to “favor,” and you seemed to be emphasizing that there’s nothing major occurring, I could not help but come to the conclusions that I did.

…people get so caught up in the definition and narrowing down of things that they neglect the *source *and the purpose.

I apologize if you feel maligned in any way… it was not my intention.

[FONT=“Palatino Linotype”][size=]Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!

Angel
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#11

No, not maligned. Just puzzled. We just dont seem to be on the same page.

How would you define “grace”?


#12

Hi, Michael!

…it is not Grace that is the problem but the term “favor.”

…it seems to imply that it was nothing but a gratuitous moment of recognition that the Virgin would be visited by God and that’s it.

…it falls to the interpretation of “Kecharitomene” as “highly favored;” an unremarkable rendering explained through the reasoning that the Greek term is so complex that it cannot be truly translated/transliterated but through “highly favored.”

…but when taken away from the Catholic definition of Grace favor or highly favored means practically nothing, specially in today’s American usage.

[FONT=“Palatino Linotype”][size=]Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!

Angel
[/size][/FONT]


#13

Just working my way through some of the assertions in this thread…

No, not really. It’s just part of the grammar. Some verbs (including the perfect tense) are characterized by ‘reduplication’. In the case of this verb, it means that it takes the initial sound (the “kh” consonant in “charitoo”) and adds it as a prefix to the verb, along with a vowel. So, instead of “char”, we get “kechar”. It’s just a prefix of a kind that all perfect verbs have.

[quote=jcrichton]as I understand it (Father Mitch Pacwa, EWTN) the term Kecharitomene appears in Scriptures only twice: once referring to the Virgin Mary and once referring to Jesus
[/quote]

Hmm. No, I don’t think that’s right. The form “kecharitomene” only appears once in the Bible. There’s one other place, in the OT, in which a similar form appears. I’m guessing that the statement that you’re thinking about is a theological one – only one other person has the kind of all-encompassing grace that Mary has… and that’s Jesus. :wink:

[quote=po18guy]According to Dr. David Anders (EWTN’s “Call to Communion”), the word appears exactly once in the entire Greek language,
[/quote]

Actually, it appears exactly once in the entire Greek Bible. Big difference. :wink:

[quote=porthos11]The perfect simply means that an action took place in the past whose effects continue into the present.
[/quote]

I’d agree, with one caveat: it’s not an understanding that’s terminal. In other words, it’s “past action; present effects” with no assertion that the effects terminate in the present – that is, it’s that the effects continue onward, past the present moment.


#14

“Nothing but”? “Unremarkable”? “Practically nothing”? What such impoverished interpretations? What would you rather see than “highly favored”? “Full of grace” then demands the question, “what is grace?”


#15

#16

Hi, Michael!

…Grace…

Does grace mean favor? …as in granting someone something… or is there a deeper understanding?

, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.46

1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an “adopted son” he can henceforth call God “Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God’s gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:

…understanding Grace from the Catholic perspective must entail a free Gift from God, to enable man to Know Him, Grow in the Faith, and be open to His Commandments… the key being God’s enabling man…

We have experienced this throughout our lives… God more than meets us half way in our sojourn; He gives us the thirst for seeking Him (Grace); He gives us the ability to understand Him (Grace); He gives us the Power to Stand for Him (Grace).

…the counter-Church philosophy that’s out there claims that secular powers took over the Church Founded by Christ and introduced such themes as Triune God, and Christ Divinity; that Christmas and Sunday Observations were part of secular encroachment upon the Believers…

They fail to understand that God’s Grace could not have abandoned the Church; that Christ Promised that the other Paraclete would come to the Church, live with and in the Church… the Grace the Church receives through the Holy Spirit is not a mere “favor” found in God’s eyes or an invitation to walk (fellowship) with God.

The Grace that the Holy Spirit Brings to the Church goes to the very existence of the Believer… But the Grace abounds only in God’s Determinant need… the Incarnation of the Word would happen only once; the Grace given the Virgin Mary did not require a repletion since it would happen only once… the Grace given to the Apostles to propagate the Faith would change according to the need of the Church…

At her infancy the Grace was strong–granting Powers and Abilities to allow the mind and spirit of man to recognize the Event that was unfolding… as the Church matured (grew), the Grace remained but the need to physically demonstrate God’s Power and Presence diminished (as it happened in the Old Testament with the Hebrew sojourn).

Such is God’s Grace. It both conforms to God’s needs and to the individual Believer… God did not need hundreds of Moses; Moses was given God’s Grace abundantly… yet, Moses did not enjoy the Fullness of Grace as the Virgin did. Cephas was given great Power (valor) to Stand for Christ… but the Grace given him did not completely engulf his life, otherwise he would not have failed and would have unerringly Claimed Christ at every junction.

Likewise the Grace given Stephan allowed him to Stand for Christ, Profess his Faith, receive a Vision of Christ’s Reign, and Powerfully submit to death for Christ… not all martyrs are Blessed with Stephan’s Grace.

…Christians in the East enjoy some of Stephan’s Grace as they face persecution, torture, and all sorts of atrocities as they Stand for Christ… we in the West fail even to ask God for the Grace to receive Christ’s Body and Blood every Sunday…

Fullness of Grace must mean something more encompassing than the mechanical demonstration of man’s will to Stand for Christ at a particular encounter. Gabriel alludes to it by stating that:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

(St. Luke 1:28b)
The angel Gabriel does not greet the Virgin with: ‘you will be in God’s favor’ or ‘the Lord will be with thee’ or ‘you will be blessed among women.’ The angel addresses the Virgin with a definite: ‘you are’ as in, ‘have been before the Conception of the Word and will continue to be.’

Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!

Angel
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#17

Isn’t the literal translation more akin to you have been graced, you have been favored. Nothing mechanical about favor. It is personal. It is all God’s gift. Whatever she needs to fulfill her purpose has been given to her. “Full” of what she needs by God’s favor. And I am thinking favor in the sense of fondness rather than “doing a favor” though they are related.


#18

:thumbsup:
This all day long.
Grace is not a quantity of stuff to be earned.

It is the gift of God himself, or himself, to us.
Yes, it is a quality of relationship.
Fullness means personal knowledge, in the biblical relationship sense, not our modern intellectual sense.
Jesus himself is the source of all grace, and he is a person. He is the full communication of God’s person to humanity, and each of us as unique persons.

Consider, Mary is so united to God that she is literally fruitful in the Spirit.


#19

[quote=jcrichton]The angel Gabriel does not greet the Virgin with: ‘you will be in God’s favor’ or ‘the Lord will be with thee’ or ‘you will be blessed among women.’ The angel addresses the Virgin with a definite: ‘you are’ as in, ‘have been before the Conception of the Word and will continue to be.’

[/quote]

Exactly! In fact the Ignatius Study Bible NT on this verse says that the Greek word means “having been and even now” filled with Grace. St Luke is the most erudite of our Evangelists, and wrote in Greek. He chose this word very deliberately because of its depth of meaning. Even in his choice of wording in Acts for St. Stephen, he uses another Greek form. In fact even St. Jerome’s gratia plena does not have the subtle depth of meaning that the Greek conveys (Ignatius Study Bible NT.) However the typical translations of “highly favored” or “favored one” or even “most favored” are dismissed as inadequate to the Greek wording.


#20

Hi!

…exactly my point!

…I’m quite pedestrian… if you take me past 2 + 2, I might not make it back… yet,it seems to me that the event is quite demonstrative… the Virgin is not taken back by the fact that the angel Gabriel came to her… she does not even question the issue of the Holy Spirit (to my pedestrian mind this means that she, as Joseph, were part of that Remnant which Yahweh God Separated from the people of Israel as He Promised to Himself that this Remnant would not reject Him and become adulterous as the rest of Israel had and would–it is to this Remnant that the Fullness is Revealed so the Virgin has no problem understanding and accepting a visit from one of God’s emissaries… nor is she concerned about hearing that the Holy Spirit, God Himself, will be the source of her Conception); the Virgin is troubled by the greeting… more precisely the wording (and perhaps even the delivery, as Gabriel’s body language and speech could have been giving away the Virgin’s significance to God); it is this that makes her question the Visit!

…a term that would equate to: ‘hi, to you, one of many…’ just does not quite make me want to wonder about a salutation… why would it?

[FONT=“Palatino Linotype”][size=]Merry Christmas!
Maran atha!

Angel
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