Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine
The annunciation or announcement of Jesus in Luke is one of the most powerful stories in the whole of the tradition. Annunciation means“announcement” and the telling of this story is then an announcement of Jesus’ birth.
There are two announcement stories in the traditions of Abraham that are precedents for this story. The announcement of the birth of Ishmael to Hagar has the most direct connections. Hagar, Sarai’s slave, has gotten pregnant when Sarai gave her to Abraham as a wife because she was barren. When Hagar knew that she had conceived, she treated Sarai with contempt and Sarai was harsh with her and Hagar ran away. The angel of the Lord finds her and tells her to go back and says: “Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for the Lord has given heed to your affliction. He shall be a wild ass of a man, with his hand against everyone,and everyone’s hand against him; and he shall live at odds with all his kin.”(Gen. 16:11-12) The other is the announcement of the birth of Isaac by the three men who come to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre (Gen. 18.1-15) This is a delightful story in part because of Sarah’s laughter. But both are earlier stories in the storytelling traditions of Israel that provide the framework for this announcement to Mary. Either would be an interesting story to tell prior to the Luke story.
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