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ANNUNCIATION (from Lat. annuntiatio, an announcement). The word itself is not found in Scripture but is the name given to the announcement made by the angel Gabriel to Mary that she would conceive and give birth to a son to be called Jesus (Luke.1.26-Luke.1.38). Mary, a virgin, was betrothed but not yet married to Joseph. They lived in Nazareth, a town of Galilee. In his message Gabriel assured the frightened Mary that she was highly favored and that the Lord was with her. The young lady was overcome with surprise and fear, not only by the presence of the angel, but also by his message. Gabriel, however, assured her that she had no need to fear. God had chosen her to be the mother of a unique boy: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke.1.32). Her son would be God’s Son, and, like David, he would reign over the people of God; yet, unlike David’s kingdom, his would be an everlasting kingdom. When Mary asked how this could occur since she was not yet married, Gabriel explained that she would conceive through the direct agency of the Holy Spirit. Like her relative Elizabeth (who had conceived in her old age and was carrying John the Baptist), she would know the power of God in her life. Overwhelmed by this amazing message, Mary submitted to the will of the Lord, and the angel left her.

The word is used also of the festival held on March 25 (nine months before Chrismas Day) to celebrate the visit of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary.——PT

The account given in Luke 1:26-38 of the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah. The message is largely cast in terms of one who is to bring to true fulfillment the promises made to David. In reply to the hesitation of Mary, the angel makes clear that the conception will take place through the Holy Spirit without the agency of a human father and that the child will be the Son of God. Mary's attitude of wondering and willing submission is in contrast to that of Zechariah when the coming birth of John was announced to him (Luke 1:8-23). In Matthew's gospel there is no record of the annunciation to Mary, but Joseph is told by an angel in a dream what has happened.

The Feast of the Annunciation has been observed from early times. It is dated March 25 (sometimes known as Lady Day), as that comes nine months before the date chosen for the observance of Christmas. At one time it was observed on April 6 (nine months before the Epiphany, which celebrated the birth of Christ in the East).

ANNUNCIATION ə nun’ sĭ ā’ shən (Lat. annuntiatio, an announcing). Three people received an annunciation in the gospels: Zechariah (Luke 1:13), Joseph (Matt 1:20), and Mary (Luke 1:26-38). The term usually refers to the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Added details, undoubtedly legendary, of the Annunciation are related in the apocryphal 2nd cent. Book of James, or Protevangelium (chs. 10, 11). The words, “Blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28 Vul.; KJV) are omitted in recent VSS, since the words are not found in codices Aleph and B. They are undoubtedly an interpolation from v. 42. The Feast of the Annunciation is celebated on March 25 on the basis of December 25 for the Nativity. In the well-known prayer, Ave Maria, Gabriel’s salutation forms the scriptural section of the prayer.


E. F. Harrison, Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (1960), 44.