Was Mary full of grace or highly favored?


#1

"491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin."

As I understand it, St. Jerome was translating from the greek and “Full of Grace” is ‘plaras karitos’ which only occurs 2 times in the New Testament greek. John 1:14 referring to Jesus and Acts 6:8 referring to Stephen. The greek of Luke 1:28 has the word, ‘charitoō’, which according to Strong’s means:

  1. to make graceful
    a) charming, lovely, agreeable
  2. to peruse with grace, compass with favour
  3. to honour with blessings

#2

Actually, it’s charitomene, a participial form.

True, it’s not literally ‘full’ ‘of grace’, but that was the translation chosen for the Latin. Although this doesn’t translate the grammar of the Greek expression, it does characterize Mary’s state in an accurate way.

I think that “highly favored” does a worse job of expressing the meaning of charitomene than “full of grace” does, but that’s just my personal opinion… :wink:


#3

[quote="2co105, post:1, topic:323068"]

As I understand it, St. Jerome was translating from the greek and "Full of Grace" is 'plaras karitos' which only occurs 2 times in the New Testament greek. John 1:14 referring to Jesus and Acts 6:8 referring to Stephen. The greek of Luke 1:28 has the word, 'charitoō', which according to Strong's means:
1) to make graceful
a) charming, lovely, agreeable
2) to peruse with grace, compass with favour
3) to honour with blessings

[/quote]

Gabriel's word to Mary, translated into Greek by Luke, is in the passive voice, and means "to have grace bestowed upon". So, he is literally shown by Luke to be saying, "Hail, (you whom) grace has been bestowed upon". But he adds a second line, qualifying this first greeting, "The Lord is with you". He approaches her as approaching the Lord.

Gabriel treats her with respect given to royalty. Normally men kneel at the presence of Gabriel, but here he is the one showing honor. Notice Daniel's actions on seeing him: "And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face" (Dan. 8)

Jerome faces the struggle of a translator and theologian, trying to make it clear what is really happening, but in the Latin language. You have Mary, who has had grace bestowed upon her, and the Lord is with her, literally. You have Gabriel, who is approaching with reverence to his superior. What is happening? He is "blessing her" by stating a "name" for her and speaking a (the) truth of her being. What is her "name"? and what is the truth of her being? As native americans give descriptives as names for people, that is sort of how Gabriel is speaking here. Mary's "name" is "one upon whom Grace has been bestowed", and her condition, her "blessing" is "the Lord is with you".

So, Jerome is also naming Mary with a like meaning phrase that is less clumsy: "Full of Grace" is the "name" that Gabriel called Mary when seen through Latin eyes. And if there is justification for using the word "full", it would be in the fact that the Lord is with her, which is a fullness, and which is grace because it is beyond anyone's capability to themselves make the Lord be with them.

John Martin


#4

Again, this is not an either/or situation. She was and is both.

"You have found favor with God" - we must ponder just how that came to be. Nothing prior was written about this humble, anonymous Jewish girl. What could she have possibly accomplished in an anonymous teenage life to "find favor" with God, unless it was from the beginning, knowing that she was created for the specific purpose of carrying the Incarnation? If you think about it, this was the first mother ever to be nourished by her child. What is not known is Gabriel's words to Mary in Aramaic. That would tell the true story - but the true story actually is told by the events themselves. Among all women, she is blessed. Since those Aramaic words are not available, we must allow the Church to teach definitively on this, and the other points.


#5

[quote="2co105, post:1, topic:323068"]
Was Mary full of grace or highly favored?

[/quote]

Read the Canticle of Canticles and the Revelation.

What else but full of grace could be she who was acknowledged as the mother of the Lord? Could there be any stain, any imperfection, any sinfulness in Her from whom Life itself was to be generated in human form, that Life who was eternally generated from the Father and from whom all things were made? Could she be any less perfect than the golden Ark, or the majestic Temple? Could she be worthy of any less honor, or be tributed any less glory? Such material things contained symbols of God's presence, and were overshadowed only temporarily by His glory, but she was to contain the living God, she was to give life to Life, and the glory of God would overshadow her forever because of He whom she was bringing to the world and the salvation that was coming forth through Him. Her lowliness would be inspiring to all mankind, the most visible evidence that the power of God is made perfect in weakness. And on that day when all mankind will witness the return of Christ in glory, all will praise Him in awe as they witness the humble, lowly handmaid of the Lord crushing forever the most powerful adversary of mankind under her gentle feet, a work that not even the most mighty archangels of the heavenly realms could accomplish.


#6

The best way to word it is that Mary is kecharitomene.

“Full of grace” or “highly favoured” just doesn’t really cut it as well as that one Greek word.


#7

Yes!


#8

And yes again!


#9

Just to echo the above, the Greek of Lk 1:28 has the ROOT “charitoo”…but the actual word in the text is “kecharitomene” which is the perfect passive participle of the root word.

κεχαριτωμένη
(kecharitomene)

χαριτόω
(charitoo)

Here’s the official source that a Protestant provided me:
blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Luk&c=1&v=28&t=KJV#conc/28 (look at the 9th word of the Greek text). Click on “tense” in the word-by-word break down.

Also, even if you prefer “highly favored” as a translation, what does it mean to be “favored” by God, except to have recieved His Grace?


#10

Absoluetlt:thumbsup:


#11

Whoops! Thanks for the correction, porthos and ahs – I forgot about the re-duplication in the verbal form!


#12

Correction: it only occurs once in John 1:14.


#13

Agreed, porthos.

Also, the term, when used in the New Testament, is in reference to divine grace. (Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, by Friberg et al.)

Scott Hahn, in his book / DVD, Hail Holy Queen comments to this effect:

The angel Gabriel addressed Our Lady, not by her name (Mary), but by a title (full of grace). This is the only time in the Old and New Testament where an angel addresses a person by a title instead of the person’s name.

In his study of the term kecharitomene, (verb, participle, perfect, passive), he comments: Our Lady is filled with grace - is now, and **has been **- filled with God’s grace. The term means more than merely being favored. ‘Favor’ connotes a subjective attitude, connotes how a person feels. But God has given Mary more than this; He has bestowed on her nothing less than His Divine Life, His Divine Grace, in its fullness.

Grace is a participation in the very life of God.


#14

"Scott Hahn, in his book / DVD, Hail Holy Queen comments to this effect:

The angel Gabriel addressed Our Lady, not by her name (Mary), but by a title (full of grace). This is the only time in the Old and New Testament where an angel addresses a person by a title instead of the person’s name."

This is not correct. Gabriel says kecharitōmenē not plērēs charitos as in John 1:14 and Gabriel mentions Mary by name in Luke 1:30.

Scott Hahn is using eisegesis. He cannot make kecharitōmenē be the same as plērēs charitos which he is trying to do.


#15

Some manuscripts show Stephen as πλήρης χάριτος in Acts 6:8, while others πλήρης πίστεως.


#16

“even if you prefer “highly favored” as a translation, what does it mean to be “favored” by God, except to have recieved His Grace”

Gabriel says kecharitōmenē not plērēs charitos as in John 1:14. So I do not see it as a preference in terms with the same meaning, but different meanings as may be inferred from their uses in the referenced scripture. To be favored by God means that He has made us accepted in the beloved, In Whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

Eph 1.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.


#17

“So, Jerome is also naming Mary with a like meaning phrase that is less clumsy: “Full of Grace” is the “name” that Gabriel called Mary when seen through Latin eyes. And if there is justification for using the word “full”, it would be in the fact that the Lord is with her, which is a fullness, and which is grace because it is beyond anyone’s capability to themselves make the Lord be with them.”

Hello, John. I appreciate your comments. God is not the author of confusion and I understand the difficult task of translating from one language to another. Gabriel said something that meant kecharitōmenē. The same meaning is used in Ephesians 1:6 by the transliteration echaritōsen. “Full of Grace” is plērēs charitos, which is used in John 1:14. When saint Jerome saw kecharitōmenē (κεχαριτωμένη) he translated it plērēs charitos (πλήρης χάριτος).

To have been able to see through Latin eyes saint Jerome must first have seen through greek eyes. As far as Luke 1:28 is concerned, the greek manuscripts are the source and to speculate that this source used a clumsy meaning for what was really intended is as far as my understanding goes, eisegesis. What is the source to change the translation of the greek into another meaning? And why is this change necessary for Christianity?


#18

No, the same root word is used in Eph 1:6. Your recourse to this verse is useful, however. We see in Luke 1:30 that Jerome takes a participle (κεχαριτωμένη) and translates it in a way that eliminates the verbal aspect (plena gratia). You have a problem with this (although I’m not certain of the nature of your problem). In Eph 1:6, Jerome takes another participle (ἠγαπημένῳ) and likewise translates it without the verbal aspect (dilecto).

Yet, you don’t have a problem with this translation, only the instance in Luke. Why is this? Is there something about that passage that bothers you?

In fact, it’s not uncommon for a translator to use phrase to translate a difficult word, even when that phrase’s literal meaning can be expressed differently in the source language! Do you have any problem with translators calling Jesus the ‘firstborn’? After all, the source phrase for ‘firstborn’ is the-one-who-opens-the-womb. Are we mistranslating when we take that and choose a rendering which is understandable and not clumsy?

Your concern seems misplaced. Yes, κεχαριτωμένη is not πλήρης χάριτος. Yet, Jerome did not translate it as πλήρης χάριτος, he translated it as ‘plena gratia’. It’s a subtle, yet critical point.

as far as my understanding goes, eisegesis. What is the source to change the translation of the greek into another meaning? And why is this change necessary for Christianity?

No, eisegesis deals with interpretation, not translation. Yet, it has to do with inserting one’s own idea into a text. Does the notion of Mary as being a person filled with God’s grace not exist in the Greek text? Does κεχαριτωμένη not carry the meaning of ‘grace’ and having been bestowed with it?


#19

That makes “grace” look then like a substance (noun) rather than a passive verbal expression.

That “participation” is a favored privilege not an energy that enables. Right?


#20

I am finding in the Catholic Church that Grace is a noun, an object, which can be / is “infused” into us. κεχαριτωμένη can be transliterated a “graced” Thus, “Hail, Graced One, the Lord is with you”, and if, as in the Catholic understanding, grace can be regarded substantially, then “graced one” means one in whom grace has been infused. And since the grace of God is greater than the container (Mary) she would be full of grace.

John Martin


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