December 16, 2009

have you ever read the Magnifcat (pt 2)

I have not.

But fortunately there are people who have degrees and get paid to do so. Three of those people work at Luther Seminary in Minnesota and record a weekly podcast called "Sermon Brainwave." This week they discussed the Magnificat at length and one of the professors noted that it is probably in the gnomic aorist tense.


Gnomic aorist probably means nothing to you. It meant nothing to me, until they explained it and then I began to do some research. The Gnomic tense is also called the universal tense and it is used so infrequently that most languages don't even have it. But Biblical Greek does, and what it does is speak universal truths or aphorisms. "Water boils at 212 degrees," would be stated in gnomic aorist if English had such a tense.

Anyway, what this means for the preacher is that Mary's radical worldview and amazing statements about God are stated matter-of-factly as if she were saying "water boils at 212 degrees."

Mary's song is a character sketch of the God of all creation; a list of habitual behaviors of the past that, as impossible as it seems to her and her people, God is doing now what happened then. And as impossible as it sounds to us, God continues to be about the lowly and those who fear him. He still scatters the proud and brings down the powerful. He will always help his servants who remember his mercy.

Mary sings a song that the early Church continued to sing that we too should keep on our lips and in our hearts that says, "you want to know the Lord, look and see what he does."

My soul praises the Lord because he had done and is doing great things.

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