Arty-party in Fellowship Hall

Bit by Bit Biblical Poems

September 6, 2023
Mary, the mother of Jesus, poetically intuits God's ultimate reversals of unfairness into justice. Luke the implied author of the Gospel of Luke understood hearts and minds. It has even been suggested by biblical scholar, Mark Reasoner, that Luke could read minds. Therefore Luke's ability to understand Mary's thoughts and write for her anchors her poem/song, the Magnificat in history as well as in theological story telling..

Mary’s pondering in Poem and Song

Luke: 1:46-55 

46 And Mary[a] said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowly state of his servant.
Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name;
50 indeed, his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has come to the aid of his child Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary’s song foreshadows thoughtfulness that will flow throughout her life. When Jesus grew into a teenager and questioned the teachers in the temple he gave Mary many issues to consider. Mary had much to ponder and process through the sorrow of the loss of her son and revelation the love is stronger than death..

Luke’s composition is based on his understanding of Mary’s heart and mind.  Mary must have known the story of Hannah. This poem-song echoes Hannah’s song in First Samuel 2:1-10. Hannah was Mary’s historical soul sister. Jocelyn McWhirter chair of the religious studies department at Albion College said in summary that Mary the mother of Jesus reaffirms what Hannah the mother of Samuel already proclaimed. That powerful message is that God exalts the poor, the hungry, and the lowly. I conclude: Mary, the mother of Jesus, poetically intuits God’s ultimate reversals of unfairness into justice

This poem that is embedded in the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth is built with parallel lines that repeat in different ways, reversals for the lowly and oppressed. It has occurred to me that claiming reversal in biblical literature as the most important organizing concept or a meta-narrative would be an overstatement. However, it seems to me that reversals including the beatitudes found both in Matthew and Luke, albeit in somewhat different forms, are significant markers in biblical literature.

With thanksgiving for the promise of reversals,


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My goal is to present information about biblical poetry in short, readable pieces. The motto is “Bit by bit, insights lit.” Blogs will generally be 200 words or less; not counting the biblical quotation. The plan is to send 2 blogs per month for a total of 10-12 essays.