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. Chapter 1.

Dedication to Theophilus

1 THE AUTHOR TO THEOPHILUS: Many writers have undertaken to draw up an account of the events that have happened among us, 2 following the traditions handed down to us by the original eyewitnesses and servants of the Gospel. 3 And so I in my turn, your Excellency, as one who has gone over the whole course of these events in detail, have decided to write a connected narrative for you, 4 so as to give you authentic knowledge about the matters of which you have been informed.

The coming of Christ

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold (Temple, Jerusalem)

5 IN THE DAYS of Herod king of Judaea there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of the priesthood called after Abijah. His wife also was of priestly descent; her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both of them were upright and devout, blamelessly observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. 7 But they had no children, for Elizabeth was barren, and both were well on in years.

8 Once, when it was the turn of his division and he was there to take part in divine service, 9 it fell to his lot, by priestly custom, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer the incense; 10 and the whole congregation was at prayer outside. It was the hour of the incense-offering. 11 There appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. 12 At this sight, Zechariah was startled, and fear overcame him. 13 But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard: your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. 14 Your heart will thrill with joy and many will be glad that he was born; 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He shall never touch wine or strong drink. 16 From his very birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit; and he will bring back many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 [ Mal.4.5-6, Sir.48.10. ] He will go before him as forerunner, [Or: In his sight he will go forth.] possessed by the spirit and power of Elijah, to reconcile father and child, to convert the rebellious to the ways of the righteous, to prepare a people that shall be fit for the Lord.'

18 Zechariah said to the angel, 'How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well on in years.'

19 The angel replied, 'I am Gabriel; I stand in attendance upon God, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. 20 But now listen: you will lose your power of speech, and remain silent until the day when these things happen to you, because you have not believed me, though at their proper time my words will be proved true.'

21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, surprised that he was staying so long inside. 22 When he did come out he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had had a vision in the sanctuary. He stood there making signs to them, and remained dumb.

23 When his period of duty was completed Zechariah returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she lived in seclusion, thinking, 'This is the Lord's doing; 25 now at last he has deigned to take away my reproach among men.'

The Birth of Jesus Foretold (Nazareth)

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 with a message for a girl betrothed to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David; the girl's name was Mary. 28 The angel went in and said to her, 'Greetings, most favoured one! The Lord is with you.' 29 But she was deeply troubled by what he said and wondered what this greeting might mean. 30 Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for God has been gracious to you; 31 you shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great; he will bear the title "Son of the Most High"; the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David, 33 and he will be king over Israel [Literally: the house of Jacob.] for ever; his reign shall never end.' 34 'How can this be?' said Mary; 'I am still a virgin.' 35 The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy child to be born will be called "Son of God". [Or: the child to be born will be called holy, 'Son of God'.] 36 Moreover your kinswoman Elizabeth has herself conceived a son in her old age; and she who is reputed barren is now in her sixth month, 37 for God's promises can never fail.' [Some witnesses read: for with God nothing will prove impossible.] 38 'Here am I,' said Mary; 'I am the Lord's servant; as you have spoken, so be it.' Then the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 About this time Mary set out and went straight to a town in the uplands of Judah. 40 She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby stirred in her womb. Then Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried aloud, 42 'God's blessing is on you above all women, and his blessing is on the fruit of your womb. 43 Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 I tell you, when your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy. 45 How happy is she who has had faith that the Lord's promise would be fulfilled!'

Mary's Song of Praise Odes.11.46-55, 1 Sm.2.1-10

46 And Mary [So the majority of witnesses; some read Elizabeth; the original may have had no name.] said:

56 Mary stayed with her about three months and then returned home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

57 NOW THE TIME CAME for Elizabeth's child to be born, and she gave birth to a son. 58 When her neighbours and relatives heard what great favour the Lord had shown her, they were as delighted as she was. 59 Then on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother spoke up and said, 'No! he is to be called John.' 61 'But', they said, 'there is nobody in your family who has that name.' 62 They inquired of his father by signs what he would like him to be called. 63 He asked for a writing-tablet and to the astonishment of all wrote down, 'His name is John.' 64 Immediately his lips and tongue were freed and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbours were struck with awe, and everywhere in the uplands of Judaea the whole story became common talk. 66 All who heard it were deeply impressed and said, 'What will this child become?' For indeed the hand of the Lord was upon him. [Some witnesses read: 'What will this child become, for indeed the hand of the Lord is upon him?']

The Prophesy of Zechariah

67 And Zechariah his father was filled with the Holy Spirit and uttered this prophecy:

80 As the child grew up he became strong in spirit; he lived out in the wilds until the day when he appeared publicly before Israel.
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