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ON MARY BEING FULL OF GRACE

Courtery of William Albrecht.

The Greek Fathers

Here are a number of ancient experts and what they say it means; each of them is a Greek-speaker from a culture basically identical to that of St. Luke; there are a couple repeats from the previous thread, but from them I give new material, too; the passages are expositions by the authors of the meaning of Luke 1:28, generally centered on chaire, Kecharitomene:

Gregory Thaumaturgus (205-270 AD):

O purest one
O purest virgin
where the Holy Spirit is, there are all things readily ordered.
Where divine grace is present
the soil that, all untilled, bears bounteous fruit
in the life of the flesh, was in possession of the incorruptible citizenship,
and walked as such in all manner of virtues, and lived a life more excellent than man’s common standard
thou hast put on the vesture of purity
has selected thee as the holy one and the wholly fair;
and through thy holy, and chaste, and pure, and undefiled womb
since of all the race of man thou art by birth the holy one,
and the more honourable, and the purer, and the more pious than any other:
and thou hast a mind whiter than the snow, and a body made purer than any gold

Akathist hymn (5th or 6th century AD):

Hail, O you, through whom Joy will shine forth!
Hail, O you, through whom the curse will disappear!
Hail, O Restoration of the Fallen Adam!
Hail, O Redemption of the Tears of Eve!
Hail, O Peak above the reach of human thought!
Hail, O Depth even beyond the sight of angels!
Hail, O you who have become a Kingly Throne!
Hail, O you who carry Him Who Carries All!
Hail, O Star who manifest the Sun!
Hail, O Womb of the Divine Incarnation!
Hail, O you through whom creation is renewed!
Hail, O you through whom the Creator becomes a Babe!
Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!

Theodotus of Ancyra (early 5th century AD):

Hail, our desirable gladness;
Hail, O rejoicing of the churches;
Hail, O name that breathes out sweetness;
Hail, face that radiates divinity and grace;
Hail, most venerable memory;
Hail, O spiritual and saving fleece;
Hail, O Mother of unsetting splendor, filled with light;
Hail, unstained Mother of holiness;
Hail, most limpid font of the lifegiving wave;
Hail, new Mother, workshop of the birth.
Hail, ineffable mother of a mystery beyond understanding;
Hail, new book of a new Scripture, of which, as Isaiah tells, angels and men are faithful witnesses;
Hail, alabaster jar of sanctifying ointment;
Hail, best trader of the coin of virginity;
Hail, creature embracing your Creator;
Hail, little container containing the Uncontainable. 
(Homily 4:3; PG 77:1391B-C; Gambero, page 267-8)

“In the place of Eve, an instrument of death, is chosen a Virgin, most pleasing to God and full of His grace, as an instrument of life. A Virgin included in woman’s sex, but without a share in woman’s fault. A Virgin innocent; immaculate; free from all guilt; spotless; undefiled; holy in spirit and body; a lily among thorns.” (Theodotus, Hom 6 in S. Deiparam, No 11; PG 77:1427A)

Or another translation:

Innocent virgin, spotless, without defect, untouched, unstained, holy in body and in soul, like a lily flower sprung among thorns, unschooled in the wickedness of Eve, unclouded by womanly vanity…Even before the Nativity, she was consecrated to the Creator… Holy apprentice, guest in the Temple, disciple of the law, anointed by the Holy Spirit, clothed with divine grace as with a cloak, divinely wise in your mind; united to God in your heart… Praiseworthy in your speech, even more praiseworthy in your action… God in the eyes of men, better in the sight of God.” (Theodotus, Hom 6:11; Gambero, page 268)

“What did the divine messenger do then? Perceiving the Virgin’s interior dispositions and perspicacity in her outward appearance and admiring her just prudence, he began to weave her a kind of floral crown with two peaks: one of joy and one of blessing; then he addressed her in a thrilling speech of praise, lifting up his hand and crying out: ‘Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you, you are blessed’ (Lk 1:28), O most beautiful and most noble among women. The Lord is with you, O all-holy one, glorious and good. The Lord is with you, O worthy of praise, O incomparable, O more than glorious, all splendor, worthy of God, worthy of all blessedness… Through you, Eve’s odious condition is ended; through you, abjection has been destroyed; through you, error is dissolved; through you, sorrow is abolished; through you, condemnation has been erased. Through you, Eve has been redeemed. He who is born of the holy [Virgin] is holy, holy and Lord of all the saints, holy and Giver of holiness. Wondrous is he who generated the Woman of wonder; Ineffable is he who precedes the Woman beyond words; Son of the Most High is he who springs from this highest creature, he who appears, not by man’s willing it, but by the power of the Holy Spirit; he who is born is not a mere man, but God, the incarnate Word.” (Theodotus, On the Mother of God and on the NativityPatrologia orientalis 19:330-1; Gambero, page 271)

According to Fr. Luigi Gambero, author of Mary and the Fathers of the Church, “This kind of apostrophe addressed to the Virgin occurs frequently in Greek homilies of the fifth century onward; it constitutes a literary form called chairetismoi, from the Greek word chaire, which translates as ‘hail’ or ‘rejoice’ (cf. Luke 1:28).”

Romanos the Melodist (d. c. 560 AD):

Hail, untouched Virgin!
Hail, chosen spouse of God!
Hail holy one!
Hail, delightful and beautiful!
Hail, joyful sight!
Hail, unseeded earth!
Hail, uncontaminate!
Hail, Mother who knows not man!
Hail, Virgin Bride!

John the Theologian (c. 400 AD):

“[T]he Lord said to his Mother, ‘Let your heart rejoice and be glad, for every favor and every gift has been given to you from my Father in heaven and from me and from the Holy Spirit. Every soul that calls upon your name shall not be ashamed, but shall find mercy and comfort and support and confidence, both in the world that now is and in that which is to come, in the presence of my Father in the heavens’” (The Falling Asleep of Mary).

BIBLICAL SCHOLARS ON FULL OF GRACE

“‘Highly favoured’ (kecharitomene). Perfect passive participle of charitoo and means endowed with grace (charis), enriched with grace as in Ephesians 1:6… The Vulgate gratiae plena [full of grace] “is right, if it means ‘full of grace which thou hast received’; wrong, if it means ‘full of grace which thou hast to bestow’ “(A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 14)

“It is permissible, on Greek grammatical and linguistic grounds, to paraphrase kecharitomene as completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace.” (Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament).

However, Luke 1:28 uses a special conjugated form of “charitoo.” It uses “kecharitomene,” while Ephesians 1:6 uses “echaritosen,” which is a different form of the verb “charitoo.” Echaritosen means “he graced” (or bestowed grace). Echaritosen signifies a momentary action, an action brought to pass (Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament, p. 166). Whereas, Kecharitomene, the perfect passive participle, shows a completeness with a permanent resultKecharitomene denotes continuance of a completed action (H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar [Harvard Univ Press, 1968], p. 108-109, sec 1852:b; also Blass and DeBrunner, p. 175).

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