I’ve been studying the Greek 101 course on The Great Courses, off and on. (Not very diligently. Basically, whenever I’ve got enough brainpower.)
Not long after the bit where you realize you can understand the first five lines of the Iliad, the second episode about dactylic hexameter includes a portion of Luke’s Gospel, where Gabriel speaks to the Virgin Mary. And yesterday, thinking about it, I noticed something that connects to the Magnificat.
St. Gabriel says about the son that Mary is being asked to bear, “He will be great.” (Literally, “Houtos estai megas,” He will be big/great/important.)
Some people say that Mary couldn’t have known Who her son was. But St. Elizabeth knew right away. The Spirit of the Lord came upon her, and she cried out in a loud voice (“krauge megale“) that Mary was “the mother of my Lord.”
Well, obviously the Holy Spirit had done a lot more quality time with Mary, by overshadowing her, and God Himself was right there inside! Prophecy might occur!
So what does Mary say about her unborn son?
“Megalynei he psyche mou ton Kyrion.” (Literally, My soul makes the Lord big, or My soul displays/proclaims that the Lord is big.)
Mary is clearly alluding to her promised son being the Lord Himself! And then she underlines it, saying as a pregnant woman:
“Hoti epoiesen moi megala ho Dynatos.” (The Mighty One has done big things to/at me.) Like in her womb. Getting big.
But wait, there’s more! In Luke 1:58, after Mary had gone home and Elizabeth had given birth, the neighbors and relatives of Elizabeth heard that: “…hoti emegalynen Kyrios to eleos autou met autes, kai synechairon aute.” (“….that the Lord was magnifying His Mercy with her, and they rejoiced with her.” And notice Gabriel’s greeting being echoed with “chaire.”) So literally, the double meaning was that the Lord had been staying at her house, working on getting big!
Probably this is old news to a lot of you, but I’ve never heard it pointed out before. (And this allusion pattern is probably why some scholars are super-anxious to deny Mary’s composition of the Magnificat — because it shows that she understood what was going on, and was a Bible-contemplating poet as well as a prophetess.)
It would make sense for Luke to back up Mary’s allusions with at least one of his own, because that would show his audience that he also understood what was going on. It also rounds out the story, by alluding to elements of the Annunciation at the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth and name.
This will probably be a better-sounding Marian argument if you say “great” instead of “big.”
UPDATE: The Greek word “megas” is used in the Septuagint to translate Hebrew “gadol,” great (or big!). The Greek word “dynatos” is used to translate Hebrew “gibbor,” which can mean “mighty,” “the Mighty One” (as in Zephaniah 3:17), or “warrior.”