- To see how Mary’s visit to Elizabeth parallels David’s bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.
- To understand how the book of Revelation uses the startling image of the rediscovered Ark of the Covenant to introduce a vision of the Mother of Christ.
- To understand why the New Testament writers see Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.
I. The Annunciation
A. How can this be?
Of all the Gospel writers, Luke gives us by far the most information about Mary. Most of that information is simple and literal: the stories of the Annunciation, the Nativity, and so on. But some of what Luke has to tell us is conveyed in a less obvious way, by means of parallels in words and images.
In the first lesson, we looked at the story of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would conceive a child who would inherit the throne of David.
Naturally, Mary was surprised. She asked the obvious question: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (see Luke 1:34).
Gabriel replied that it would happen by the power of God: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (see Luke 1:35).
B. The power of the Most High will overshadow you
The word translated “overshadow” is used nowhere else in the New Testament. In fact, it occurs only one other place in Scripture, if we refer to the Greek translation of the Old Testament that Luke was familiar with.
The book of Exodus tells us how Moses had the Ark of the Covenant placed in the Dwelling, the holy place in great tent that was to serve as the dwelling-place of God among His people. (The word translated “Dwelling” is often translated “Tabernacle.”)
“Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling” (see Exodus 40:34-35).
In the Greek version of the Old Testament, the word translated “settled down upon” (“the cloud settled down upon it”) is the same as Luke’s word “overshadow” (“the power of the Most High will overshadow you”).
Luke is telling us that the power of God will overshadow Mary just as the power of God overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant in the tent.
- The Annunciation
- A History of the Ark
- The Visitation
- The Ark in Heaven
- Study Questions
- Lesson One: A Biblical Introduction to Mary
- To understand the basic outlines of the New Testament’s witness to Mary.
- To appreciate how the Old Testament forms the essential background for what the New Testament teaches about Mary.
- To understand “typology” and its importance for reading the New Testament texts concerning Mary.
- Lesson Two: Wedding at Cana, Garden in Eden
- To appreciate the Old Testament symbolism that forms the deep background to the Gospel account of the wedding feast at Cana.
- To understand how Mary is depicted as a “New Eve” in this account.
- To appreciate the importance of the Old Testament marriage symbolism for John’s recounting of the “sign” at Cana.
- Lesson Four: Mother Crowned in Glory
- To see the importance of the Queen Mother in the Davidic kingdom of the Old Testament.
- To understand the duties and privileges that came with the position of Queen Mother.
- To see how Mary fills the position of Queen Mother in the kingdom of Christ.
- Lesson Five: The All-Holy Mother of God
- To understand the relationship between Catholic teaching about Mary and the Scriptural portrayal of Mary.
- To understand the biblical foundations of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
- To appreciate how Catholic belief in the Immaculate Conception flows from the New Testament portrait of Mary as the “New Eve”
- Lesson Six: The Queen Assumed into Heaven
- To understand the biblical foundations of the Dogma of the Assumption.
- To understand the deep Old Testament symbolism and imagery in Revelation 12, and its relation to Catholic beliefs about Mary.
- To appreciate how the biblical portrait of Mary is reflected and interpreted in the Church’s liturgy.