Luke 1v46-55

The Magnificat, as it is traditionally known, is a song of praise which Mary sings when she visits her cousin Elizabeth in Judah (Luke 1:39).

Here’s my first question about the song: what is its structure?

Bock suggests that there are three sections: vv47-49, 50-53 and 54-54 focussing in Mary, all people and Israel in turn.

The problem with Bock’s structure is that it disagrees with the UBS4 punctuation. UBS4 only punctuates a new sentence at v51, thus linking vv47-50 together and vv51-55 together. Note that v50 begins with καί suggesting it is more closely linked with what precedes than with what follows. The ESV as v50 standing alone as a sentence (sitting on the fence!).

I would probably agree with Bock that vv54-55 are connected since they focus in God’s actions with Israel, remembering his servant/Abraham etc.

But I think Bock is wrong, and UBS4 is right about the split at 51 not 50. vv47-50 mentions God’s acts in terms of his mercy and compassion and uses fairly gentle language (“looked on my humble estate…done great things…his mercy….”) whereas vv51-53 uses much stronger, more aggressive language: “scattered…brought down…exalted…sent away empty…”.

One thought on “Luke 1v46-55

  1. On further reading, it seems that most people, Bock included, see v50 as ‘transitional’ sitting somewhere in between the mercy language of vv46-49 and the active language of vv51-53.

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