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Mary’s Hymn of Praise

46 And Mary[a] said,[b]

“My soul exalts[c] the Lord,[d]
47 and my spirit has begun to rejoice[e] in God my Savior,
48 because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant.[f]
For[g] from now on[h] all generations will call me blessed,[i]
49 because he who is mighty[j] has done great things for me, and holy is his name;

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  1. Luke 1:46 tc A few witnesses, especially Latin mss, (a b l* Irarm Orlat mss Nic) read “Elizabeth” here, since she was just speaking, but the ms evidence overwhelmingly supports “Mary” as the speaker.
  2. Luke 1:46 sn The following passage has been typeset as poetry because many scholars regard this passage as poetic or hymnic. These terms are used broadly to refer to the genre of writing, not to the content. There are two broad criteria for determining if a passage is poetic or hymnic: “(a) stylistic: a certain rhythmical lilt when the passages are read aloud, the presence of parallelismus membrorum (i.e., an arrangement into couplets), the semblance of some metre, and the presence of rhetorical devices such as alliteration, chiasmus, and antithesis; and (b) linguistic: an unusual vocabulary, particularly the presence of theological terms, which is different from the surrounding context” (P. T. O’Brien, Philippians [NIGTC], 188-89). Classifying a passage as hymnic or poetic is important because understanding this genre can provide keys to interpretation. However, not all scholars agree that the above criteria are present in this passage, so the decision to typeset it as poetry should be viewed as a tentative decision about its genre.
  3. Luke 1:46 tn Or “lifts up the Lord in praise.”
  4. Luke 1:46 sn This psalm (vv. 46-55) is one of the few praise psalms in the NT. Mary praises God and then tells why both in terms of his care for her (vv. 46-49) and for others, including Israel (vv. 50-55). Its traditional name, the “Magnificat,” comes from the Latin for the phrase My soul magnifies the Lord at the hymn’s start.
  5. Luke 1:47 tn Or “rejoices.” The translation renders this aorist, which stands in contrast to the previous line’s present tense, as ingressive, which highlights Mary’s joyous reaction to the announcement. A comprehensive aorist is also possible here.
  6. Luke 1:48 tn See the note on the word “servant” in v. 38.
  7. Luke 1:48 tn Grk “for behold.”
  8. Luke 1:48 sn From now on is a favorite phrase of Luke’s, showing how God’s acts change things from this point on (5:10; 12:52; 22:18, 69; Acts 18:6).
  9. Luke 1:48 sn Mary is seen here as an example of an object of God’s grace (blessed) for all generations.
  10. Luke 1:49 tn Traditionally, “the Mighty One.”