Re: Question on Luke 1:45 cf Heb. 4:3

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Apr 08 1998 - 10:10:58 EDT

At 8:55 AM -0500 4/8/98, Robert W. Meyers wrote:
>My question is about the aorist participle in both verses for "believed."
>Doesn't each verse refer to "snapshot" occurrence of belief at some
>point in the past?
>That is, could Luke 1:45, in itself, be a subtle hint that Mary exercised
>at the annunciation, but she certainly might NOT appear as a woman of faith
>at later points, as Luke 2:48 and Mark 3:21-35 certainly subsequently showed?

Personally I would not even endeavor to draw this verse into a relation to
those other passages; its phrasing gives it a kind of universality:
although the participle is feminine, what it says seems to transcend gender:

        "Blessed is the one (lit. she) who believed the things said to her by
        the Lord"

This really seems closer to me in spirit to Jesus' words to Thomas in John 20:

        "Blessed are they who believed without seeing."

>And that the aorist participle in Heb. 4:3 can be taken as saying the
>entry of any man into the Rest is guaranteed by the occurrence of
>faith being exhibited at that crucial "snapshot" point somewhere back
>in the past? Even though points of unbelief might later occur, as with
>Mary, above?

Hebrews 4:3 seems to me different in that it is in the 1st plural, "we who

In my opinion, it would be wrong to draw on either of these verses in
support of any particular alternative view of coming to faith at one point
and faltering at faith at another; I think personally that's reading into
them more than they say. These are attributive participles both, meaning
that they readily translate as relative clauses: "the one(s) who believed."
I don't see anything implied here about the quality of the faith or
subsequent failure of faith: they point simply to the fact of believing in
the past on the part of the subjects--the FACT--without any indication here
of when the belief did or didn't occur or any comment on the quality of the

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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