Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Gospel of Mary - Chapter 6

The first verse of Chapter 6 is set when Mary is six months old. Anna sets her down on the ground to test if she can stand. Mary takes seven steps and comes back to her mother. Anna picks her up, declaring that Mary will not walk on the ground again until she has been brought into the temple.

Anna makes a sanctuary in her bedroom and allows nothing common or unclean to be brought into it. I'm going to assume 'her bedroom' is Mary's, and not Anna's. :) The last line is interesting: 'And she called the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and they played with her.' The note is what I find interesting, 'The Greek verb here is ambivalent; it might be translated "diverted." It could also mean that the girls "led her aside," a euphemism indicating that they took care of her toilet training. Elijah uses it when he mocks the priests of Baal, whose god is ignoring their supplications: "Cry aloud...; either he is musing, or he has gone aside" (1 Kings 18:27).' So either the neighborhood girls were allowed to come and play with Mary or they were tasked with her toilet training. It's a bit of a difference... :)

The second and third verses of this chapter take place on Mary's first birthday. Joachim throws a huge feast, inviting all the priests, scribes, elders and people of Israel. Surely not *all* the people. Probably just a large number of people that he knew. The priests and the people all bless little Mary and then Anna takes her back to her sanctuary-bedroom. So in that respect it's just like every other first birthday party. The kid's too little to really care and gets tired and goes down for a nap while the adults have fun. Nice to know nothing has really changed.

One last thing, while Anna is breast feeding Mary, putting her down for the night, she sings a song to God: 'I will sing a hymn unto the Lord my God, for he has looked upon me and taken away from me the reproach of my enemies. He has given me the fruit of his righteousness, unique and yet abundant. Who will announce to the children of Reuben that Anna is nursing a baby? Hear, hear, you twelve tribes of Israel: Anna is nursing a baby!'


  1. Love that song from Anna! Her joy is so sweet!

    And I'm glad to read about a birthday party for Mary! I know some Muslims believe birthday parties are not allowed and they barely acknowledge the day. I think they believe it's imitating pagans or maybe Christians. Ha! I don't know really. They just don't seem to have them like we do. So anyway, it's good to see it here. For me. I like that.

  2. Susanne,

    I'm guessing it has something to do with the only 'party' days being the two Eids. But then I've seen plenty of blog posts about Muslim families having birthday parties. So maybe it's one of those cultural things where only the 'salafi' don't do birthdays. I don't makes no sense to me. I'm not for the huge parties with clowns and stuff but something quiet with family and friends doesn't seem bad. Why would it be bad to celebrate life?

  3. Yes, I've seen some Muslims mention birthday parties like they are no big deal, but then I have read some converts' talking about acknowledging their babies' days, but "since parties are not allowed in Islam, I won't say it's for baby's birthday" stuff like this. I just get the impression it's frowned upon by most who are not imitating the West.

    I think some believe ONLY religious holidays can be celebrated. ONLY if they are specifically spelled out as OK by God. Anything else is innovation. Yes, this varies since all 1 billion Muslims are not the same. As you said maybe it's more of the salafi types.

  4. Susanne,

    See, that falls in line with what I was thinking. I see so many coverts' blogs and they go very heavily into haram/halal/biddah. They are the ones who tend to wear niqab and abaya and be very, very careful and legalistic about what is allowed and what is not. It's like a rejection of everything they used to be - they are trying to be super-Muslims and miss out on some things that born Muslims are okay with. They also seem to burn out on that eventually and either leave Islam all together or relax into a less strict form of practice. Covertitis is what I've seen it called.

  5. Cute! I like that there's a chapter on baby Mary and her birthday party. It's such a cute, mundane thing that we don't really get for Jesus in the Gospels. I also like the symbolism of putting her steps on hold once she is ready, so even though they apparently had to wait, it has a sense of immediacy and set-apart-ness.

  6. sanil,

    I like that we get little bits of Mary's childhood as well. It helps make the people more real because I can look at these things and relate them. :)


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