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I.  Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration concerning the things fully believed among us,

2as they, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, delivered them to us;

3it seemed good to me also, having accurately traced all from the very first, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus;

4that thou mightest know the certainty concerning those things wherein thou wast instructed.

5There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judæa, a certain priest, Zachariah by name, of the course of Abijah; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

7And they had no child, because Elisabeth was barren; and they both were now far advanced in years.

8And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God, in the order of his course,

9it fell to his lot, according to the custom of the priest's office, to burn incense, going into the temple of the Lord.

10And the whole multitude of the people were praying without, at the hour of incense.

11And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

12And Zachariah seeing him was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachariah; for thy prayer was heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

15For he shall be great before the Lord; and he shall not drink wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.

16And many of the sons of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a prepared people for the Lord.

18And Zachariah said to the angel: Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is far advanced in years.

19And the angel answering said to him: I am Gabriel, that stands in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these glad tidings.

20And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou didst not believe thy words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

21And the people were waiting for Zachariah; and they were wondering at his long tarrying in the temple.

22And when he came out he was not able to speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he was making signs to them, and remained speechless.

23And it came to pass, when the days of his ministration were completed, that he departed to his own house.

24And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying:

25Thus has the Lord dealt with me, in the days wherein he looked on me to take away my reproach among men.

26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28And the angel coming in to her, said: Hail, highly favored! The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.

29And she was troubled at the saying; and was considering what manner of salutation this might be.

30And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary; for thou didst find favor with God.

31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

32He shall be great, and shall be called Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of David his father;

33and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34Then said Mary to the angel: How shall this be, seeing that I know not a man?

35And the angel answering said to her: The Holy Spirit will come upon thee, and the power of the Highest will overshadow thee; therefore also the Holy One that is born shall be called the Son of God.

36And, behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who is called barren.

37For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

39And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill-country with haste, into a city of Judah;

40and entered into the house of Zachariah, and saluted Elisabeth.

41And it came to pass, as Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42And she spoke out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44For, behold, as the voice of thy salutation came into my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45And happy is she, who believed that there shall be a fulfillment of the things told her from the Lord.

46And Mary said: My soul magnifies the Lord;

47and my spirit rejoiced in God my Savior.

48Because he looked upon the low estate of his handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations will call me happy.

49Because the Mighty One did great things for me; and holy is his name.

50And his mercy is from generation to generation, to those who fear him.

51He wrought might with his arm; he scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52He cast down princes from thrones, and exalted those of low degree.

53The hungry he filled with good, and the rich he sent empty away.

54He helped Israel, his servant; to remember mercy,

55as he spoke to our fathers, for Abraham and for his seed forever.

56And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

57Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

58And her neighbors and her kindred heard that the Lord showed great mercy toward her; and they rejoiced with her.

59And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zachariah, after the name of his father.

60And his mother answered and said: Nay; but he shall be called John.

61And they said to her: There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

62And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

63And asking for a writing-tablet, he wrote, saying: His name is John. And they all wondered.

64And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue was loosed; and he spoke, blessing God.

65And fear came on all that dwelt around them. And all these things were told abroad in all the hill-country of Judæa.

66And all who heard laid them up in their hearts, saying: What then will this child be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

67And Zachariah his father was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

68Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, that he visited and wrought redemption for his people;

69and raised up a horn of salvation for us, in the house of David his servant,

70(as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets of old,)

71salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

72to show mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

73the oath which he swore to Abraham our father,

74to grant to us, that without fear, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, we should serve him,

75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76And also thou, O child, shalt be called Prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare his ways,

77in order to give knowledge of salvation to his people in remission of their sins;

78through the tender mercies of our God, whereby the dayspring from on high visited us,

79to give light to those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, in order to guide our feet into the way of peace.

80And the child grew, and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

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