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(Lk 2, 19.51)

The object of the present study is the interpretation of two verses in

the Lucan Infancy Gospel: "But Mary kept all these things, pondering
them in her heart" ' de Maria pania synetrei ta remata tanta symballousa
en t kardiq antes (2,19), a notice which follows the story told by the
shepherds, and "And his mother kept all these things in her heart" kai
*e meter anton dietrei pania ta remata en t kardiq antes (2,51), which
occurs at the end of the Infancy Gospel, following the scene of Jesus in
the Temple. Our immediate and principal purpose is to grasp the literary
and theological intention of these verses. But the inquiry also touches a
question relating to historiography, namely: did St. Luke intend these
notices to indicate Mary's reminiscences as a source and guarantee of
the infancy history? Our procedure will be to discuss 2,19.51 from a
literary and theological standpoint ; this discussion will prepare the ground
for a judgment on the historiographical question.
I Literary and Theological Considerations
"Literary standpoint" is here taken to include (a) a position on the
question of sources and redaction as affecting 2,19.51 ; (b) the structure
of the Infancy Gospel insofar as this is relevant to 2,19.51 ; (c) the ques-
tion of genre and of style, especially the anthological procedure that draws
on OT texts and themes; (d) the meaning of the key words syntrein,
diatrein, and symballein; and (e) indications in the text as to what it
is that Mary keeps in her heart. "Theological standpoint" refers to the
perspective in which these notices are theologically significant: this is a
Mariological perspective, which here, as always, derives its meaning and
importance from Christological themes. Our point of departure for dis-
cussion of these questions will be to review a significant recent treatment
of 2,19.51.
A Recent Treatment of 2,19.51
F. Neirynck1 has recently proposed a new2 exegesis of these verses,
the key to which he finds in an analysis of the genre of the annunciation
F. Neirynck, "'Maria bewaarde al de woorden in haar hart* (Lk. 2,19.51) in
hun context verklaard," Coll. rug et Gami. 5 (1959) 433-466. See also the brochure
L'vangile de Nol selon S. Luc (Brussels/Paris, 1960).
Neirynck credits G. Erdmann, Die Vorgeschichte des Lukas und Matthus-
Evangelium und Vergib vierte Ekloge (Gttingen, 1932) 20f., 49, with having seen
2,51 as an apocalyptic formula.

to the shepherds. The principal points of his treatment, as regards genre,

can be summarized as follows. The vocabulary of the annunciation to the
shepherds strikingly parallels that of inscriptions pertaining to the cult
of the Caesars, as many critics have pointed out.3 Doubtless, St. Luke
appreciated this terminological rapport, but it is rather a secondary color-
ing of the text, the basic Semitic character of which is seen in its multiple
contacts with OT messianism, the Qumrn literature, and other pericopes
in the Synoptic Gospels such as the Baptism and Transfiguration scenes.
The annunciation to the shepherds bears a certain resemblance, too, to
the earlier annunciation scenes to Zachary and to Mary, but is set apart
from them by a number of distinctive motifs. In 2,9 the radiance (doxa)
that shines around the shepherds is, like the apparition itself of the angel,
"characteristic of the apocalyptic thematic. ,, Again: in apocalyptic and in
the Qumrn literature "man of [God's] good will" is understood of the seer
at the outset of a vision of revelation.4 Appointment to receive God's
wonderful secrets motivates choice of the formula. Thus, en anthrpois
endokias (2,11) pertains to the apocalyptic style. Finally, the "keeping of
the word" is a stereotyped expression : the seer keeps the word, that is, the
apocalyptic vision, for the time of its accomplishment. As Daniel, for ex-
ample, at the close of the vision of the four beasts "kept the word in my
heart" (Dn [Theod] 7,28), so Mary is portrayed as the true destinatary
of the vision of the shepherds, for it is she who "kept all these words . . .
in her heart" (2,19). Thus, motifs which are typically apocalyptic (aggelos,
doxa, eudokia) provide the key to the closing notice on Mary.
None of the expressions under discussion (aggelos, doxa, endokia,
syntrein ta remata) is exclusively apocalyptic; all have theological roots
in pre-apocalyptic literature: the Pentateuch, the Deuteronomic history,
and Isaia.5 But Neirynck points out the cluster of these motifs in the

3 H. Lietzmann, Der Weltheiland (Bonn, 1909) 56ff.; E. Norden, Die Geburt

des Kindes. Geschichte einer religisen Idee (Darmstadt, 19583) 154ff. Neirynck
refers also to P. Wendland, W. Soltau, A. von Gall, C. Clemen, R. Bultmann,
M.-J. Lagrange, etc.
The address, in the form anr epithymin, is found in apocalypses; cf. Gk text
of Apoc. of Baruch, 1:3; Dn (Theod) 10,11.19; cp. Henoch 1:8; 37:4; 39:9. But,
epithymia equals eudokia : substantive forms of hmd are translated by epithymia in
Dn (LXX) 10,3; 11,37.43; Dn (Theod) 9,23; 10,3.11.19; 11,37; Jb 20,20; Prv
12,12; Ct 5,12; fimad is translated by eudokein in Ps 67(68),17. Rfn is trans-
lated by epithymia, Gn 49,6; by eudokia 7 times in the Psalms.
Aggelos, and more specifically, aggelos Kyriou: Gn 16,7; 21,17; 22,11; 31,11;
Ex 14,19; Nm 22,22; Jgs 2,1; 6,11; 13,3; 2Sm 14,16; 4Kgs 1,3; 19,35. Doxa, in
the sense of the "glory" indicating the divine presence: Ex 16,10; 24,17; 29,43;
40,34; Lv 9,23f.; Nm 14,10; 16,19; 20,6, etc. Eudokia occurs only in late works;

Lucan text. What can be concluded from this cluster? First, we can con-
sider the connection of angel and light.
In the LXX doxa had been made to render kabod in all its senses.6
Hence, it acquired a meaning which it did not have in profane Greek:
"radiance" or "light" ; that is, the "glory" which shone through the cloud
over the tent of meeting and made known the presence of the Lord. In
Ezekiel, "the glory of the Lord" rests upon the Cherubim (Ez 9,3 ; 10,
4.18), and in the literature of late Judaism the angelic powers that sur-
round the Lord become "angels of glory" or "of light."7 The combination
of doxa and aggelos is not found merely in apocalyptic, and in the present
instance does not establish of itself that we have to do with "the apocalyptic
thematic." Doubtless, the best parallel provided by St. Luke to the ap-
pearance of the angel to the shepherds is found in Acts 12,7. Peter had
been jailed by Herod Agrippa I, but before Herod had a chance to have
him executed, "Behold, the Angel of the Lord stood by, and a light shone
in the room" (kai idou aggelos Kyriou epest kai phs elampsen en t
oikmati). As in Lk 2,9, we have here the apparition at night, the aggelos
Kyriou, the verb epest, and the light. The motifs are common to apoc-
alyptic. But is this text apocalyptic in anything more than a wide, loose,
very generic sense? The same question should be asked regarding Acts
Eudokia in the expression anthrpoi eudokias denotes divine favor.
No doubt, the phrase can be used to specify election to receive an apocalyp-
tic vision, and anr epithymin (Dn [Theod] 9,23; 10,11.19), in view of
the correspondence of epithymia and eudokia? is a very possible parallel.
In the Qumrn literature, however, God's "favor" is not restricted to this
special sense and does not clearly derive from it. 1QH 11:9f. ("And your
mercy is upon all the sons of your favor, for you have made them know
the mystery of your truth and divine your inscrutable wonders") possibly
gives the revelation itself as the explanation of the choice of the formula.
On the other hand, the ki clause, strictly speaking, explains not why "the
sons of your favor" are so called, but why the writer says God's mercy is
upon them. In any case, 1QH 4:30-33 seems to use the formula in a more
general sense, as in 1QS 8:6. In the latter text there is certainly no hint

supposing that anthrpoi eudokias translates 'anse rsn, we may note that rdsn
is found in the sense of God's favor in Ex 28,38; Dt 33,23; Is 49,8; 60,10; 61,2.
Syntrein to remata: cf. Gn 37,11, dieter sen to rma.
Cf. G. von Rad, "doxa," TWNT 2, 245f.
Cf. von Rad, art. cit., who exemplifies the development from LXX Ex 15,11;
Test. Levi 18:5; Philo, Spec. Leg. I, 45; Test. lud. 25:2.
8 Cf. footnote 4.

that "the chosen of [God's] favor", behir ras on, is anything more than a
parallel with "the sons of the eternal assembly" (2:25), "the men of the
covenant" (6:19), etc., especially in view of the tie between bhtr and
covenant in Is 43,20f.; Pss 89,4; 105,6; 106,23. The closest parallel to
the Qumrn expression is Is 42,1 where Yahweh says of the Servant
behtrt raft naps. But here the Servant is one "chosen" simply to ac-
complish a mission :
He shall not flicker or bend
Till he establish justice in the earth,
And the coast-lands wait for his teaching.9
In the Infancy Gospel (Lk 2,14), moreover, the phrase does not refer
merely to the shepherds. All to whom God sends the new-born savior
are men of his favoran interpretation that accords perfectly with the
phrase in v. 11 "for all the people."
Even on the supposition that syntrein ta remata in 2,19 derives from
the text in Dn 7,28, it does not immediately follow that Mary is portrayed
here as the keeper of an apocalyptic vision sworn to secrecy. In 1,18 the
words of Zachary, "How am I to know this? For I am an old man and
my wife is advanced in years," derive from certain passages on Abraham
and Sara in Genesis (15,8; 18,11; 17,17). Obviously, it does not follow
that Zachary is portrayed here as a "father of many nations." The idea
of Mary as the keeper of an apocalyptic vision seems somewhat removed
from the horizons of the Infancy Gospel, especially inasmuch as the so-
called apocalyptic vision is not actually seen by her but by others.
The fact remains, however, that F. Neirynck has pointed out numerous
contacts between the Lucan Infancy Gospel and apocalyptic literature.
The attempt to press these contacts to the point of establishing an identi-
fiable apocalyptic structural pattern does offer, moreover, a positive ex-
planation of the repetition of 2,19 in 2,51 and of the placement of the
latter verse outside the last scene precisely at the end of the Infancy Gospel.
Neirynck argues that just as 2,19 presents Mary as the destinatary of
an apocalyptic secret, so 2,51 corresponds to the renewed imposition of
secrecy found at the end of an apocalyptic book (as in Dn 12,4.9 ; Ap 22,
The question of genre, however, is vastly complicated in the Lucan

9 Is 42,4. Likewise, in the baptism-scene (Mk 1,11 par.) where the text of Is
42,lff. is alluded to, Jesus is not "chosen" because he is to receive a revelation; he
receives the revelation because he is chosen. The revelation designates him as one
chosen for (at least the prophetic aspect of) the role of the Servant: "He shall
bring forth justice to the nations. . . ."

Infancy Gospel by an important and indisputable factor, namely, the

stylistic procedure known as "anthological composition" that is at work
everywhere throughout these chapters, freely drawing from a variety of
sources without reference to their diversity of genre. It is the weakness
of Neirynck's argument that it fails to come to grips with this complicating
factor. Supposing that 2,19 is from a stylistic standpoint an apocalyptic
formula and that the recurrence of the formula in 2,51 takes its cue from
the renewed imposition of secrecy found at the end of an apocalyptic
work, does the positive specification of genre ipso facto follow? It should
be noted that this would suppose a conception of genre along merely
formal, stylistic lines. But the radical principle of apocalypse, that is, its
character as "consolation literature," is more profound. Apocalypse with
its sundry literary techniques is born of the need to sustain morale in a
time of troubles by appeal to a happy reversal of fortunes sure to take
place soon. It is not at all impossible that Neirynck's explanation of the
repetition, at the end of the Infancy Gospel, of the formula in 2,19 is
quite right, and that his identification of the annunciation to the shepherds
as belonging to the apocalyptic genre is quite wrong.
In any case, the cluster of apocalyptic motifs, if such they can be called,
has not really clinched the genre. The problem is first of all whether the
annunciation to the shepherds instances an already established, determinate
genre. The solution should take into account the integration of this peri-
cope into the structural design of the whole Infancy Gospel (Neirynck
accents the "literary isolation" of the shepherds-scene) as well as the
above-mentioned technique of "anthological composition" that is as cer-
tainly at work here as it is elsewhere in these chapters, recalling and
drawing upon OT themes quite independent of "the apocalyptic thematic."
Before dealing with these questions, however, we should at least indicate
the position we have taken on the literary origin and interrelation of
Sources and Redaction: Interrelation of 2,19.51
We are assuming as probable (a) that the evangelist is drawing on
written sources for the Infancy Gospel; (b) that the sources, originally
in Hebrew or Aramaic, were disparate, the stories of John arising independ-
ently of the stories of Jesus, which (where there are parallel scenes) are
basically modelled on those concerning John; (c) that this material came
to St. Luke in the form of a redaction already relating the stories of John
and Jesus, which the evangelist himself translated or found already trans-
lated into Greek. On these assumptions10 the work of St. Luke is clearly

10 For the question of sources and the prehistory of the text, cf. the annotated

limited. In the narrative of the shepherds, which itself provides numerous

indications that it derives from a Semitic source,11 the Lucan redaction
appears to be restricted to stylistic touches.
Despite St. Luke's distinctive interest in detailing the reactions of those
who witness the teachings, miracles, predictions, etc., of Jesus in the main
body of the Gospel,12 we may take it as most probable, especially in view
of the pattern evident elsewhere in the Infancy narratives, 13 that the
"reaction notice" in 2,18.19 was contained in the evangelist's source.
In 2,19 however, we do find one Lucanism, the verb symballousa14 which
perhaps merely recasts the phrase, substituting a participle for an original
construction with two coordinated finite verbs,15 or, more likely, is a
redactional addition.16
According to the logic of the narrative itself, the notice in 2,18 "And
all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them" is out of
place. When the shepherds arrived in Bethlehem "they found Mary and
Joseph and the child lying in the manger" (2,16). There is no mention
of any other group on the scene, nor would we expect anyone else to be
there, for the clear intention of the narrative is to designate the shepherds

bibliography of R. Laurentin, Structure et thologie de Luc I-II (Paris, 1957)

14, 191-223. For a brief but judicious treatment, cf. J. Schmid, Das Evangelium
nach Lukas (Regensburg, 19553) 84-91. Cf. also P. Gaechter, Maria im Erdenleben
(Wien, 19553) 3 2 -81.
Cf. P. Winter, "Some Observations on the Language in the Birth and Infancy
Stories of the Third Gospel," NTS I (1954) 111-121. Winter argues that agrau-
lountes (Lk 2,8) and plthos stratias ouraniou (Lk 2,13) translate Hebrew ex-
pressions against Septuagintal usage. These particular arguments are not taken up
in the reply of N. Turner, "The Relations of Luke I and II to Hebraic Sources
and to the Rest of Luke-Acts," NTS 2 (1955) 100-109.
Instances in which parallel passages are found in Mt and Mk but in which a
"reaction-notice" is added or expanded in Lk: Lk 4,15.22.29; 6,11; 8,37; 9,34.43;
Cf. l,21f. ; 1,63.65; 2,33.47f. A telling instance of a reaction-notice found in
the source is 1,63 followed by a second notice in 1,65. The passage, concerned with
the dispute over the name to be given Zachary's son, and thus focusing attention
on John independently of Jesus, indicates the probability of an originally disjoined
source on the infancy of the Baptist. But 2,18f. is a structural parallel to 1,65, de-
riving from the redaction which originally related the stories of Jesus to those of
John. As the language of this redaction was Semitic, not Greek, we conclude that
St. Luke found 2,18f. in his source.
Symballein is found in the New Testament only in the work of St. Luke: Lk
2,19; 14,31; Acts 4,15; 17,18; 18,27; 20,14; (variant, Lk 11,53).
* Compare the form of Lk 8,16; 11,33; to Mt 5,15. This kind of redactional re-
touching is pointed out by J. Dupont, Les Batitudes (Louvain, 19582) I, 84.
This is the view of Neirynck, art. cit., 464f.

as the first to learn of the child's birth. Others who heard the story heard
it later, after the shepherds had left the scene "glorifying God and praising
him" (2,20). But the reason why the notice on "all who heard it" is
inserted by anticipation in its present place is obvious from structural
analysis. There are five other exits in the Infancy narratives (1,23.38.56;
2.39.51), each of them marking the end of and neatly sealing a scene.
In line with the structural function of these exits, the exit of the shepherds
(2,20) seals this entire pericope, and the notice "And all who heard it"
is accordingly preplaced. This is the more easily done as it serves another
purpose : the juxtaposition of vv. 18 and 19 deliberately sets Mary apart
from all others in her wonder at the mystery of her child.
There are numerous reactions described elsewhere in the Infancy
narratives (e.g., l,21f.63.65; 2,33.47f.). But can we find real structural
parallels to illuminate 2,19.51? To answer this question we must look at
the structure of the Infancy Gospel as a whole.
The Structure of the Lucan Infancy Gospel
Among the many parallels in these narratives, two have clear structural
significance for the Infancy Gospel as a whole: the annunciation of the
angel Gabriel to Zachary and to Mary (1,5-25. 26-38), and the notice
"And the child grew. . . ." which closes the account of the birth and
circumcision of John and the canticle of Zachary (1,80), and which in
parallel fashion closes the account of Jesus' birth, circumcision, presenta-
tion, and the canticle of Simeon (2,40). Similarly, the Infancy Gospel is
closed in 2,52 with the notice "And Jesus grew. . . ." In each instance
this notice stands outside the individual scenes (cf. 1,80; 2,40.52), and,
as is clear from parallel placement following a series of parallel accounts,
is intended to bind a series of scenes together. The result is the paralleling
of two unequal blocks, for within the unit of scenes centering on Jesus,
some are without counterpart among the scenes centering on John.
This gives us a structure in which three parts may be distinguished, as
designated here by Roman numerals :
I Annunciation to Zachary Annunciation to Mary (1,26-38)
Visitation (1,39-56)
II Birth of John (1,57-58) Birth of Jesus (2,1-7)
Shepherds (2,8-20)
Circumcision and naming Circumcision and naming of
of John (1,59-66) Jesus (2,21)
Presentation in the Temple

Canticle of Zachary (1,67-79) Simeon and canticle of Simeon

Simeon's words to Mary
Anna (2,36-38)
"And the child grew. . ." "And the child grew. . ." (2,40)
III Jesus in the Temple (2,41-51)
"And Jesus grew. . . ."

According to this simple, schematic structure, the Lucan Infancy Gospel

appears to be definable as "parallel stories of the Infancy of John and
Jesus," the principal emphasis admittedly being placed on Jesus, but with
considerable attention being given to John.17 However, beneath this simple
scheme, there is another series of parallels giving the Infancy Gospel a
slightly different contour and mediating a more intense concentration of
focus on the mystery of Jesus. This is a substructural pattern of "signs."
Prominent in the first annunciation scene is the sign imposed on Zachary,
namely, his deaf-muteness and its duration "until the day on which these
things [his wife's conception and the birth and naming of his son] are
accomplished" (1,20). Likewise, a sign is given Mary: "And your cousin
Elizabeth has herself conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth
month with her who was said to be barren" (1,36). This sign is "realized"
in Mary's three-month visit at the home of Zachary and Elizabeth. The sign
to Zachary is realized after the naming of John. Again, when Mary's
child is born, "the Angel of the Lord" gives a sign to the shepherds which
is realized at their arrival in Bethlehem where they find the child "lying
in the manger" (2,16). The promise to Simeon that he would live to
see the Messia is also a sign, realized in the Temple when he holds the
child in his arms. Lastly, the word of the twelve-year-old Jesus addressed
to his mother in the Temple belongs to the series of signs, although it is
not an exact parallel. In terms of these signs we have the following sub-
structural pattern :

Cf. footnote 13. The dispute over what name was to be given him is an in-
stance of attention independently focused on John. The hypothesis of literary
dependence of the stories of John on those of Jesus has not been successfully
established. For a detailed attempt to work out such a dependence, cf. M. D. Goulder
and M. L. Sanderson, "St. Luke's Genesis," JTS 8 (1957) 12-30.

I Sign to Zachary (1,20) II Sign to shepherds (2,12)

Sign to Mary (1,36) Realization of sign
to shepherds (2,16)
Realization of sign Sign to Simeon (2,26)
to Mary (1,41) Realization of sign
to Simeon (2,28)
Realization of sign Word of Jesus in
to Zachary (1,64) the Temple (2,49)
Analysis of what "sign" entails will give some point to our ranging
Jesus' appearance in the Temple and his words to Mary with the other
signs. A sign is, first of all, a pledge given to guarantee a prophetic
revelation.18 But the sign does not pertain to the "discernment of spirits" ;
its point, that is, is not to authenticate the divine origin of the revelation,
which is supposed as recognized.19 It is rather a pledge, the realization of
which previews the final fulfillment of the prophecy. The prophecy to
Zachary is that his wife is to bear him a son who "will go before the Lord
with the spirit and power of Elijah . . . to make ready a people for the
Lord" (1,17). The pledge of this prophecy is Zachary's temporally limited
affliction. To Mary it is revealed that she will give birth to the Davidic
Messiah "who will be called holy and the Son of God" (1,35), and the
pledge given her is the pregnancy of Elizabeth now six months advanced.
To the shepherds is revealed the birth in Bethlehem of a savior, the
Messiah and Lord, the pledge of which is the child "wrapped in swaddling
bands and lying in a manger" (2,12). For Simeon the promised Messiah
of the Scriptures is the revelation and the personal pledge given to him
is the promise that he will live to see the Messiah come. These signs are
realized in Zachary's muteness and release from it after the naming of his
son, in the shepherds' finding of the child, etc.
But it is clear that, in the Lucan Infancy Gospel at least, the sign or
pledge is much more than that. What its realization elicits is not simple
satisfaction that the prophecy was true and will be wholly fulfilled. It
awakens a burst of praise and joy; and the onlookers, to whom the sign
had not been given, now find in the scene a revelation awakening wonder,
for they have been brought into the presence of mystery. In the Lucan text
the sign is meant to set events in motion, to speed the approach to the
This refers to a particular genus of "sign," namely, that which is found in con-
nection with prophecy (cf. 4Kgs 20,9; 2Chr 32,24; Is 7,11; 38,7; Jer 44,29; Ez
This is not to say that in no case does a "sign" serve such a purpose; cf. Jgs

mystery,20 to fix the eye of faith on a scene portending salvation. It is this

characteristic and principal aspect, present in each instance of the realized
sign, that dominates the scene of Jesus in the Temple. Here the secondary
elements, the sign and its realization, vanish altogether ; but their terminus
ad quern, the essential mystery, is there, focused by the question : "Did you
not know that I must be at my Father's house?" (2,49).
In the Infancy Gospel the beneficiary of the sign is endowed with a
special charism of joy at its realization. We see this in the vibrant canticles
of Mary, Zachary, and Simeon, and in the shepherds, too, who "went
back glorifying God and praising him for all they had heard and seen in
fulfillment of the words spoken to them" (2,20). This represents the posi-
tive aspect of wonder. But wonder, as the poet observes, is "beautiful
but bleak/' and in four parallel instances, all having to do with the reaction
of the onlookers, we have an expression of the bleak aspect, the incompre-
hension, or that slight comprehension that longs to grow:
(1) At Zachary's recovery of speech and his blessing (following the
naming of John) "all their neighbors were overcome with awe, and
all over the hill-country of Judaea these things were told, and all
who heard them put them in their hearts, saying 'What is this
child to be?' for the hand of the Lord was with him" (l,65f.).
(2) At the shepherds' finding the infant in the manger "they related
what had been said to them about this child, and all who heard it
wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all
these things, pondering them in her heart" (2,17-19).
(3) At the canticle of Simeon, "the child's father and mother wondered
at the things that were said of him" (2,33).
(4) At the answer of Jesus to Mary in the Temple, "they did not
understand what he told them" (2,50).
Thus, verse 2,19 is situated in the context of structural parallels. It
should be insisted that these are structural parallels, not merely similar
descriptions of wonder. The wonder of the people awaiting Zachary's
exit from the sanctuary (l,21f.), the wonder of the relatives at Zachary's
insistence on the name John, just prior to his recovery of speech (1,63),
the astonishment of those who heard Jesus' questions and answers in the
Temple, and the wonder of his parents at finding him there (2,47f.) do
not have the same structural, that is, climactic placement, immediately

Cf. the parallel expressions meta spouds (1,39) describing Mary's journey
to Judaea, and speusantes (2,16) describing the shepherds' journey to Bethlehem.
This is not taken into consideration by B. Hospodar, "Meta Spouds in Lk 1,39,"
CBQ 18 (1956) 14-18.

following realization of the sign. Secondly, it is clear that the immediate

basis for the paralleling of the four notices listed above is not the scheme
of "stories about John and stories about Jesus" for the narrative of the
shepherds and the two Temple scenes are without parallel in the stories
of John; but these four notices are paralleled according to the sub-
structural pattern of signs. The point of these observations is that we can
legitimately draw on these parallels in interpreting 2,19 and its repetition in
2,51. These two notices are, it is true, specially-weighted. But something
can be said of the four structurally-paralleled notices listed above: each
follows a messianic disclosure (the canticles of Zachary21 and Simeon,
the story told by the shepherds, the question of the twelve year-old Jesus)
and each attests the coming of messianic salvation as a divine work trans-
cending human understanding.

Anthological Composition
Besides the over-all structure into which the narrative of the shepherds
has been carefully integrated, there is another important characteristic
which it has in common with the rest of the Infancy Gospel; that is, a
stylistic procedure aptly designated "anthological composition"22 by which
the narrative is given a density and rich allusiveness to OT texts and
In the annunciation to the shepherds we can see this stylistic procedure
at work in such details as "the Angel of the Lord" (v.9) whose appearance
in OT narrative testifies to the covenantal bonds between Yahweh and
his people23 (Gn 16,7; 21,17; 22,11; Ex 14,19; Nm 22,22; Jgs 2,1; 6,11;
13,3; 2 Sm 14,16; 4 Kgs 1,3; 19,35). The "glory" that shines around the
shepherds (v.9) has a rich background in the OT, where it signifies the
presence of God (Ex 16,10; 24,17; 29,43; 40,34; Lv 9,23f.; Nm 14,10;
16,19; 20,6; etc.). Ephobthsan phobon megan (v.9) is the usual reaction
to the appearance of God or his ministers in the OT tradition (Gn 18,15 ;
28,17; Dt 5,5; Jos 4,14; Jgs 6,23; etc.). So, too, the angel's opening
words "Fear not" are an OT stereotype (Gn 15,1; 21,17; 26,24; 46,3;
etc.). Chara megal (v.lO) echoes the chaire of Gabriel in the annunciation
to Mary, which itself is textured with the joyous "Daughter of Zion"
prophecies (So 3,14-17; Jl 2,21-27; Za 2,9f.). Smeron ( v . l l ) draws
on and modifies a rich OT theme: the hayym of Deuteronomy24 speci-
The notice in 1,65 follows "the blessing" referred to in 1,64, namely the Bene-
dicts which has been post-placed (1,68-79).
22 Cf. A. Robert, "Les genres littraires," DBS 5, 41 Iff.
23 Cf. G. von Rad, "aggelos" TWNT I, 75f.
Although hayym is significant elsewhere (Gn 50,20; Ex 14,13; etc.), it is

fying fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Dt 9,1 ;
20,3; 26,3). Here, as in the scene of Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth
(Lk 4,21), semer on solemnly proclaims the fulfillment of messianic
prophecy. What prophecy? The "shepherds" (v.8), "the town of David"
( v . l l ) , the birth of the Messiah ( v . l l ) , and the motif of peace (v.14) point
to the prophecy of Micah :
And you, O tower of the flock
Height of the daughter of Zion,
To you shall come the former dominion,
The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem. (Mi 4,8)
Micah refers to "the tower of the flock" at Bethlehem (Gn 35,21), which,
as the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan confirms, was specially related to mes-
sianic expectation: "And Jacob proceeded and spread his tent beyond
the tower of flocks, the place from whence it is to be that the king Meshiha
will be revealed at the end of the days." 25 David had tended sheep here
at Bethlehem (ISm 16,4.11.18f.), the town from which, in the words of
Micah, the Davidic Messiah would come :
And you, O Bethlehem Ephratha . . .
From you shall one come forth for me
Who shall be ruler over Israel . . .
Therefore he will give them up
Until the time when she who is with child shall have borne. . . .
But he shall stand fast and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord
In the majesty [kbod, doxa'] of the name of the Lord. . . .
And this shall be the peace [slm, eirn], . . . (Mi 5,Iff.)
The smeron of the angel also proclaims fulfillment of the Isaian prophecy
( [ M T ] 9 , l - 6 ) , which, like the annunciation to the shepherds, combines
the motifs of light (Is 9,1; Lk 2,9; cp. Lk 1,79), joy (Is 9,2; Lk 2,10),
the birth of a child (Is 9,5; Lk 2,11) who is the Davidic Messiah (Is 9,6;
Lk 2,11; cp. Lk l,32b.33), and of the era of peace (Is 9,5b.6; Lk 2,14).
The sign given to the shepherds, that is, the child wrapped in swaddling
bands and lying en phatn (2,12) connotes the rejection of the Messiah
(cf. Lk 2,7b), phatn being a Stichwort calculated to recall the text of
Is 1,3-4:
The ox knows its owner
And the ass its master's crib [phatn] ;

clearly enough a Deuteronomic theme. Smeron of 3Kgs 1,48; 3,6; 8,15 focuses on
the moment of fulfillment of prophecy. This we find in Lk (2,11; 4,21) together
with a wider but equally significant eschatological sense in 19,5.9; 23,43.
25 Cf. J. W. Etheridge, Targums on the Pentateuch (London, 1862) 281.
1964] " B U T MARY KEPT A L L THESE THINGS . . ." 43

But Israel does not know,

My people does not show understanding.
Ah, sinful nation . . . who have spurned the Holy One of Israel.
The throng of the heavenly army (Lk 2,13; cf. 3Kgs 22,19; 2 Chr 18,18;
Neh 9,6; Dn 7,10; 8,10) acclaims the Messiah's coming with a doxology
which makes explicit the messianic theme of peace (cf. Lk 1,79; 19,38.42).
This rapid survey of texts and themes drawn on in the annunciation to
the shepherds indicates the difficulties of attempting to define the scene
as a single, determinate genre. It is composed of an annunciation by the
Angel of the Lord (cp. Jgs 2,1-5), a proclamation of a birth, a sign per-
taining to prophetic oracle, and a doxology. Secondly, this survey demon-
strates the heightened probability that the notices on Mary similarly draw
on the OT for their model(s).
For both notices two OT models come to mind : Dn [Theod] 7,28 "And
I kept the matter in my heart" kai to rma en t kardiq mou synetrsa ; and
Gn 37,11 "But his father kept this matter in mind" fo de pater anton die-
trsen to rema. In 2,18.19 Mary is contrasted with the others who heard
the shepherds' story exactly as Jacob (Gn 37,11) is contrasted with the
others who heard Joseph's dream. In 2,51 also, the Lucan text suggests,
through choice of diatrein and through mtr anton that Gn 37,11
( de pater autou dietrsen . . .) is its model or source. Neirynck points
out, furthermore, that the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan adds to the text the
phrase "in his heart." Probably, the notices on Mary draw both from
Daniel and from Genesis, but neither OT text can, in our opinion, be
pressed to the point where it is made to define the situation of Mary as
the destinatary of an apocalyptic secret. This view would regard the
allusion to the Genesis text as significant only in a sense that corresponds
to apocalypse. But Joseph, for all his dreams, is not an apocalyptic seer,
and Jacob could hardly be called the destinatary of an apocalyptic secret.
Still, the word itself dietrsen in Gn 37, l l 2 e is practically synonymous
with synetrsa in Dn 7,28. So, too, in Lk 2,51 dietrei has the same
meaning as synetrei in Lk 2,19. Can we define this meaning with pre-
cision ?
Vocabulary of 2,19.51
Of the variety of senses attached to syntrein in the LXX, most are
irrelevant to our purposes. However, there are a few passages in which
the object of the verb is logos or an equivalent and where there is not
so much question of "observation" (of ordinances, etc.) as there is of
This is the only text in the Greek OT in which diatrein, here translating
smar, has this sense.

"retention," the "keeping (of something) in mind" with the connotation

of "keeping (it) to oneself" or of "keeping (it) to ponder."
In a context of dicta on social relations (e.g., on not aiming to talk with
"the great" as an equal, and on the wisdom of not believing all they say)
we read in Sir 13,12.13:
He who does not keep (to himself) the words (spoken to him)
\_'o m syntrn logons] is merciless
And will not hesitate to hurt and to bind.
Keep them (to yourself) [syntrson] and take great care,
For you are walking with your own downfall.
Flavius Josephus provides a quasi-parallel for this aspect of the verb in
a passage in the Essenian oath (Jewish War II, 142) : the Essenes swore
"to keep (to themselves)" or "to keep secret [syntrein] the books of the
sect." In Sir 39,1-3 we read
It is not so with the man who applies himself
And studies the Law of the Most High,
He searches out the wisdom of all the ancients
And busies himself with prophecies.
He keeps [syntrsei] the discourse of noted men
And penetrates the intricacies of figures ;
He searches out the hidden meaning of proverbs
And acquaints himself with the obscurities of figures.
Whatever may be the exact denotation of syntrein in this text (to observe
closely? to retain?), the general sense is clear from the parallel verbs,
"to study," "to search out," "to penetrate," and from the context: the
effort to plumb the meaning of Law, wisdom, prophecy, discourse, prov-
erb, enigma.
This aspect of pondering, of seeking to fathom, is made explicit in Lk
2,19 by symballousa, a word found elsewhere in the N T only in the work
of St. Luke. Where its sense is at all analogous to that of 2,19, it means
"to confer" or "to discuss" (Acts 4,15) and "to debate" (Acts 17,18).
Here, of course, in the notice on Mary, it cannot have these meanings,
and the commentaries proliferate conjectures on the sense of the term.
Some propose "to put (or) bring together," "to connect," "to relate,"
this being understood in the text in a conative sense, or in the sense that
Mary succeeds in resolving an enigma by bringing into harmony its ap-
parently contradictory extremes. However, the interpretation of the word
in the text is limited to what can be ascertained from its best parallel,
which, as many have pointed out,27 is found in Flavius Josephus' para-
Cf. A. Schlatter, Das Evangelium des Lukas aus seinen Quellen erklrt (Stutt-

phrase of the story of Joseph (Gn 40) and his interpretation of dreams.28
The baker, having seen that Joseph gave a favorable interpretation to the
dream of the cup-bearer, asks for an interpretation of his own dream. But
Joseph, "grasping, on reflection, the import of the dream" [symbaln t
logism to onar] unhappily predicted the baker's execution. It does not
seem possible to give symballein a more specific meaning than "to inter-
pret," "to grasp the import." In Lk 2,19 syntactical considerations (the
present participle as opposed to the aorist participle in Josephus, the
imperfect tense of the main verb) as well as the parallels in 1,65; 2,33;
and 2,50 establish the conative sense of symballousa. Hence, the old trans-
lation "pondering" is perfectly accurate.
For the sake of completeness: kardia here has the same extension as
the Hebrew lb, the seat of thought, memory, affectivity. Remata, here
rendered "things," has the ambiguity of dbr; that is, it could as well
be translated "words."
But the interpretation of these notices really turns on what it is that
Mary keeps in her heart and ponders. This brings us to a discussion of
one line of development in the Marian theology of these chapters.
The Object of Mary's Reflection
At the angel Gabriel's words Chaire kecharitmen (1,28) Mary "was
startled at what he said, and wondered [dielogizeto : weighed, considered]
what kind of greeting this might be" (1,29). From the moment that Mary
is introduced in the Infancy Gospel she is portrayed as seeking to fathom
the mysteries in which she now lives and moves. But the development
of this theme, "Virgin most reflective," is reserved for the sequence from
2,19 to 2,51.
In the story of the shepherds there is much that might be pondered;
for example, the very fact of an angelic proclamation of the birth, or the
fact that news of the birth is brought not to the wise and mighty but to
the unpretentious poor. This, however, is not what Mary keeps in her
heart. Like the others who heard the shepherds' tale, she wonders not
at the shepherds, but "at what the shepherds told them" (peri ton
lalthentn cypo ton poimenon 2,18). The text, moreover, defines what
this is : "They made known what had been said to them about this child"
(egnrisan peri tou rmatos tou lalthentos autois peri ton paidiou toutou
2,17). When we restudy the annunciation to the shepherds, we find that
"what had been said to them about this child" is given in 2,11 : "for today,

gart, 1931) ad loc; M.-J. Lagrange, vangile selon saint Luc (Paris, 1921) ad loc;
F. Neirynck, art. cit., 465, etc.
Antiquities, II, 72.

in the town of David, a savior has been born to you who is the Messiah-
Lord!" Probably, by reason of its apparently pregnant sense, we should
also include the sign given in the next verse under "what had been said
to them about this child" : "you will find the child wrapped in swaddling
bands and lying in a manger." While the fulfillment of prophecy (Micah
and Isaiah) and the doxology of the heavenly throng cannot be excluded
with certainty, the text itself (2,17) appears to specify that what Mary
ponders in her heart is the titles given to her son, so ter and christos Kyrios,
and the sign of the manger.
No doubt, the title str would have special resonances for hearers of
the Gospel in the Hellenistic world. But the primary effect of the title is
to place the child in the OT tradition of heroes chosen to deliver Israel
from the yoke of oppressors. As the canticle of Zachary shows, this tradi-
tion in its messianic application is radicalized, for those who hold Israel
in bondage are no mere political enemies, and stria for the people can
consist in nothing less than "the taking away of their sins" (cf. 1,69.71.74.
77). The earliest Christian preaching exactly confirms this interpretation
of str (cf. Acts 13,23; cp. Jgs 3,9.15; 4 Kgs 13,5) while further in-
dicating that the full scope of the title distinctively supposes the glorifica-
tion of Jesus (cf. Acts 5,31).
But christos Kyrios, as the form of the angel's proclamation makes
plain, is a still more significant title than str: "a savior has been born
to you," but this savior "is the Messiah-Lord !" Christos Kyrios is a delib-
erate variation on the stereotype christos Kyriou, "the Messiah of the
Lord." The cryptic modification charges the title with a content rich in
potentiality which early Christian hearers of the Gospel grasped im-
mediately: christos Kyrios evokes the messianic Lord enthroned in glory
at the right hand of his Father, and is one of the earliest formulations of
faith in Jesus as sharing the very status of God. From 2,19 (as from the
whole Gospel record) it appears that Mary's grasp of these titles is virtual
and questing.
The sign as given to the shepherds (2,12) is paradoxical in form: the
child is wrapped in swaddling bands (that is, has been cared for) and
lies in a manger (that is, abandoned). Is not this, at least, how the sign
would strike the shepherds? They hurry to Bethlehem. The long-awaited
messianic king is born! And they findwhat? ". . . Mary and Joseph, and
the child lying in the manger" (2,16). The significant aspect is the manger
(cf. Is 1,3-4), which frames the simple pastoral scene in darkness: the
nation rejects the Messiah. This reading of the text highlights an observa-
tion often made on v. 10, namely, that both for the evangelist and his
audience the phrase "for all the people" goes beyond its surface-sense

and designates the Church of Christ. If we are correct in thus including

2,12 under the heading of "what had been said to them about this child,"
the dolorous destiny of Jesus is even here glimpsed by Mary, who ponders
it in silence. This is certainly not foreign to the perspectives of the Infancy
Gospel. The overtone of rejection in "there was no room for them . . ."
(2,7b) is unmistakable. And later Simeon would say to Mary "This child
is destined . . . to be a sign calling forth contradiction," adding "you
yourself will be pierced to the heart" (2,34f.).
The meaning of the notice in 2,19, then, is in the same line as that of
its structural parallel in l,65f. : "what is this child to be?" But in the
present instance the question goes deeper : he is to be a savior, the Messiah-
Lordmystery enough; and yet, taking the angel's remarkable sign as
weighted with more meaning than that of a simple device by which the
shepherds identify the child, the reader senses with Mary the coming
tragedy of rejection.
The repetition of the notice in 2,51 is not related to the Temple scene
which precedes it as 2,19 is related to the shepherds-narrative. This is
perfectly clear from the fact that an exit closing the Temple scene is in-
serted before the repeated "And his mother kept all these things in her
heart" (2,51). Hence, there is no point in discussing here the Temple
scene itself. Verse 51, while focusing again on the child's mother, silent
and set apart, epitomizes in a single stroke the whole meaning of the In-
fancy Gospel, a meaning singularly free of sentimental attachment to the
infancy events for their own sake. These chapters certainly constitute a
confession of Jesus as Son of God. But it is the salvific mission to be
accomplishedthe total absorption in "my Father's business," the re-
jection of Jesus, his glorificationthat specially charges the infancy events
with mystery.

II. The Historiographical Question

Our problem is limited. It consists in trying to determine whether or
not verses 2,19.51 are intended to indicate Mary as a source and guaran-
tee of the Infancy history. What would a "no" to this question mean?
It would mean that these verses do not have a special historiographical
function. It would not mean: "therefore Mary was not a source for the
Infancy accounts." If these accounts are to have historical validity, the
testimony of Mary, however indirect, is inescapably inferred. But we are
not taking up this larger topic, namely, historicity. Our problem is lim-
ited strictly to the question of whether or not it is precisely an intention
and function of 2,19.51 to indicate Mary as a witness.
Can we find elsewhere in the NT, and especially in the work of St.

Luke, notices which are clearly meant to guarantee an account by refer-

ence to a witness or witnesses, and which are comparable in form to
2,19.51? We do not find any such satisfactory parallels in the work of
St. Luke. Fr. Burrows, 29 however, suggests parallels from St. John:
Compare the references to the Mother of Christ in L 2,19.51 with references
to the Disciple in John (also Jn.1,14: lJn.1,1-4). Both L and John take care,
at certain solemn moments of the history, to show that the authority for what
is written is one who took part in the events and one who contemplated the
truth of the mystery.
In Jn 1,14 and l j n 1,1-4, we find, "We saw his glory . . ." and "we
proclaim what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes . . .
we have seen it and do testify and proclaim. . . ." These passages have
the explicit character of a claim to eye-witness testimony. Apart from
Jn 21,24, in which others invoke the guarantee of the evangelist's wit-
ness, there are similarities between the Beloved Disciple passages and
Lk 2,19.51. But the dissimilarities are also impressive. In Jn, the man-
ner of reference to "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (Jn 13,24; 19,26;
20,2; 21,7; cp. 18,15f.; 20,4; 21,23) invites the reader to identify this
figure with the narrator even without such explicit texts as 19,35 and
21,24. This immediately invests all these Disciple passages with a special
historiographical status. By way of contrast, the notices in Lk 2,19.51 (a)
do not thus identify the narrator and witness; (b) do not have the sup-
port of supplementary texts explicitly invoking the testimony of the
witness; (c) do not derive from the redaction of the evangelist but from
his source.
In Jn the narrator is the witness; in Lk we have no solid indications
that the narrator (meaning the author of the final redaction) has any ac-
cess to the testimony of the "witness" beyond written sources at his
disposal. If this is true, does it seem likely that St. Luke attaches an his-
toriographical significance to the notices on Mary? We might give a hypo-
thetical "yes" to this question, the hypothesis being that 2,19 had an his-
toriographical function in the source, which St. Luke recognized and
reaffirmed. However, in thus re-posing the question we should admit the
diminished likelihood of this "yes." In the prologue to his Gospel St. Luke
intimates what he intends to bring as a distinctive characteristic to his
telling of the Gospel story is the viewpoint and rigor of an historian.
Once our question is posed from a pre-Lucan standpoint, specifically
Lucan preoccupations become irrelevant. Needless to say, an interest in
history is not an exclusively Lucan concern. But the special care to in-

2 E. Burrows, The Gospel of the Infancy (London, 1940) 54.


dicate an historical guarantee for a narrative by allusion to an eye-wit-

ness appears to add something (namely, a critical mentality) to the
natural interest in the events which may be supposed on the part of the
limited circles among whom the Infancy narratives circulated prior to
their inclusion in the Gospel. If the notice in 2,19 had derived from the
evangelist's redaction, we might have more reason to attach a special
historiographical significance to it. However, as it is more likely to have
originated in a pre-Lucan source, we conclude that the notice has no
more historiographical significance than its parallel in 1,65 ; that is, it has
no historiographical significance at all.
Our conclusions may be summarily expressed as follows:
(1) F. Neirynck has made a significant contribution to study of the
Lucan Infancy Gospel, but without proving, in our opinion, the validity
of his insistence on apocalyptic genre, the annunciation of the shepherds
being interpreted as an apocalyptic vision, and the notice on Mary as
designating her "keeper of the vision"; nevertheless, her "keeping these
things in her heart" does have a future reference (probably to the re-
jection of Jesus, certainly to his glorification as savior and Messiah-Lord)
just as Dn 7,28 and Gn 37,11 have a future reference.
(2) The notice in 2,19 does not derive from the Lucan redaction but
from the evangelist's Palestinian source. 2,51 is dependent on 2,19.
(3) 2,19 has structural parallels in 1,65; 2,33; 2,50. All four notices
underscore the coming of messianic salvation as a divine work surpassing
human understanding.
(4) In function of the technique of anthological composition at work
throughout the Infancy Gospel, both notices are modelled on OT texts:
Dn 7,28 and Gn 37,11.
(5) In the Lucan text syntrein and diatrein have the same mean-
ing: to keep (something) to oneself (so as to ponder it). Symballein
makes explicit the "pondering."
(6) The object of Mary's reflection in 2,19 is the titles given her
child by the angel: str and christos Kyrios; and probably also the sign
of the manger. In 2,51 it is the whole Infancy story as pregnant with
salvine mysteries to be accomplished.
(7) The notices in 2,19.51 probably do not have the special historio-
graphical function of alluding to Mary as a source and guarantee of the
Infancy history. B E N R MEYERJ S J

Alma College
Los Gatos, Calif.
^ s
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