vendredi 16 avril 2010

Mariologic Bible study

1) deretour : Mariologic Bible study, 2) New blog on the kid : Ipsa conteret, by Heinz Lothar Barth, German Book Tip, 3) Great Bishop of Geneva! : Patrick Madrid is right about kecharitomene and blessed among women

There are about three "magnificats" in the Bible that refer in some way to a woman called blessed or blessed among women. The chief one is of course in St Luke's Gospel ch. 1.

First there is Judges, ch. 5, the Canticle of Debbora and Barac, in which Iahel is praised:

24 Blessed among women be Jahel the wife of Haber the Cinite, and blessed be she in her tent.

The reason given is that she was the downfall, indeed killer of Israel's enemy Sisera:

26 She put her left hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workman's hammer, and she struck Sisara, seeking in his head a place for the wound, and strongly piercing through his temples.

Then there is the Canticle of Judith, but first - ch. 15 of her book - the greeting that provokes it:

9 And Joachim the high priest came from Jerusalem to Bethulia with all his ancients to see Judith. 10 And when she was come out to him, they all blessed her with one voice, saying: Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honour of our people:

11 For thou hast done manfully, and thy heart has been strengthened, because thou hast loved chastity, and after thy husband hast not known any other: therefore also the hand of the Lord hath strengthened thee, and therefore thou shalt be blessed for ever. 12 And all the people said: So be it, so be it.

Then she sings (ch. 16):

7 But the almighty Lord hath struck him, and hath delivered him into the hands of a woman, and hath slain him. 8 For their mighty one did not fall by young men, neither did the sons of Titan strike him, nor tall giants oppose themselves to him, but Judith the daughter of Merari weakened him with the beauty of her face.

And there is the Magnificat itself, after the second time the Blessed Virgin Mary was called "blessed art thou among women". Luke ch. 1:

28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.


41 And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

And (a few verses later) thereon the Magnificat.

Now, Jahel and Judith had each killed an enemy of Israel. Sisera and Holophernes. But why the Blessed Virgin Mary? Was she the downfall of anyone? She was too late to get down Sisera and Holophernes, she was even a bit late to get down Antiochus Epiphanes or Gorgias (whose armies were defeated and after the Temple was purified, and that was Chanukkah) - was she downfall of anyone then? Yes, of an even greater enemy, "the old worm". As was prophecied in Genesis:

14 And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. 15 I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

Here a Protestant may ask what this is. Commentator answers:

15 "She shall crush"... Ipsa, the woman; so divers of the fathers read this place, conformably to the Latin: others read it ipsum, viz., the seed. The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent's head.

Funny thing is, Hebrew would use same form, since seed also is feminine in Hebrew. Thank you, Dr. Heinz-Lothar Barth!

How? When? By believing, but also by complying obediently with what God required. By standing at the side of the Son who defeated him then later under the Cross. That is her victory over Satan. That is her victory over sin. That is what the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox say in unison. Is there anything to bear out that they are right and Protestants wrong? Indeed, the words of the Magnificat:

48 Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

All generations of what?

Normally, after what came before, all generations of Israel.

But it is not the ones normally referred to as Jews who thus honour her generation after generation.

Nor of Pagans, since they who honour Apollyon (the destroyer) as "Apollo" or "Shiva" are not the best judges of who is blessed and who is cursed.

Is there then another Israel, another people of God? We believe there is the Church. Both Catholics and Orthodox believe the Church is Israel, and both honour her, generation after generation:

Hail thee Mary,
full of Grace
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb,

Godbearing Virgin, hail thee
Mary full of Grace
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women
For thou hast brought forth
the Saviour of our souls.

Both Catholics and Orthodox know the prayer:

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and in the hour of our death.

Among Roman Catholics it was attached to the Hail Mary by Savonarola, and later it has been used that way, among Greek Orthodox it remains a separate prayer. Even in RC Church, the original separation of the two prayers shows when praying the Rosary according to "second method" of St Grignon de Montfort, inserting a relative clause after the name Jesus before this concluding prayer.

Before those prayers were usual, there were other ones. Also Marian.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bibliothèque Melville, Paris

2 commentaires:

Hans Georg Lundahl a dit…

It is very possible that I have already read a comparison between the Old Testament figures of the Blessed Virgin Mary and herself, of Esther - not cited here - I am sure, but I was at least familiar with the principle.

Hans Georg Lundahl a dit…

If I did read some comparison to Judith, it was probably in St Alfonso Maria de Liguori's The Glories of Mary - which was some while ago.