1Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have reached theirfulfilment among us, 2as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of theword, 3I in my turn, after careful y going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write anordered account for you, Theophilus, 4so that your Excel ency may learn how wel founded the teaching is that you have received. 5In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest cal ed Zechariah who belonged to the Abijahsection of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. 6Both were upright in the sight of God and impeccably carried out al the commandments andobservances of the Lord. 7But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both advanced in years. 8Now it happened that it was the turn of his section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly officebefore God 9when it fell to him by lot, as the priestly custom was, to enter the Lord's sanctuary and burn incensethere. 10And at the hour of incense all the people were outside, praying. 11Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. 12The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. 13But the angel said to him, 'Zechariah, do not be afraid, for your prayer has been heard. Your wifeElizabeth is to bear you a son and you shal name him John. 14He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he wil be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink; even from hismother's womb he wil be filled with the Holy Spirit, 16and he wil bring back many of the Israelites to the Lord their God. 17With the spirit and power of Elijah, he wil go before him to reconcile fathers to their children and thedisobedient to the good sense of the upright, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.' 18Zechariah said to the angel, 'How can I know this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.' 19The angel replied, 'I am Gabriel, who stand in God's presence, and I have been sent to speak to youand bring you this good news. 20Look! Since you did not believe my words, which wil come true at their appointed time, you will besilenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.' 21Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuaryso long. 22When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had seen a vision in thesanctuary. But he could only make signs to them and remained dumb. 23When his time of service came to an end he returned home. 24Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived and for five months she kept to herself, saying, 25'The Lord has done this for me, now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered inpublic.' 26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee cal ed Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28He went in and said to her, 'Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.' 29She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, 30but the angel said to her, 'Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour. 31Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. 32He will be great and wil be cal ed Son of the Most High. The Lord God wil give him the throne of hisancestor David; 33he wil rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign wil have no end.' 34Mary said to the angel, 'But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?' 35The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit wil come upon you, and the power of the Most High wil coveryou with its shadow. And so the child wil be holy and will be cal ed Son of God. 36And I tel you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whompeople cal ed barren is now in her sixth month, 37for nothing is impossible to God.' 38Mary said, 'You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.' And the angelleft her. 39Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hil country to a town in Judah. 40She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. 41Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb andElizabeth was fil ed with the Holy Spirit. 42She gave a loud cry and said, 'Of al women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of yourwomb. 43Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? 44Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.' 46And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; 48because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations willcal me blessed, 49for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, 50and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him. 51He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart. 52He has pul ed down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly. 53He has fil ed the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty. 54He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love 55-according to the promise he made to our ancestors -- of his mercy to Abraham and to hisdescendants for ever. 56Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home. 57The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; 58and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had lavished on her his faithful love, theyshared her joy. 59Now it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call himZechariah after his father, 60but his mother spoke up. 'No,' she said, 'he is to be called John.' 61They said to her, 'But no one in your family has that name,' 62and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him cal ed. 63The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, 'His name is John.' And they were al astonished. 64At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. 65Al their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hilcountry of Judaea. 66Al those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. 'What will this child turn out to be?' they wondered.And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him. 67His father Zechariah was fil ed with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: 68Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited his people, he has set them free, 69and he has established for us a saving power in the House of his servant David, 70just as he proclaimed, by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient times, 71that he would save us from our enemies and from the hands of al those who hate us, 72and show faithful love to our ancestors, and so keep in mind his holy covenant. 73This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, 74that he would grant us, free from fear, to be delivered from the hands of our enemies, 75to serve him in holiness and uprightness in his presence, al our days. 76And you, little child, you shall be cal ed Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord toprepare a way for him, 77to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78because of the faithful love of our God in which the rising Sun has come from on high to visit us, 79to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow dark as death, and to guide our feet into theway of peace. 80Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit grew strong. And he lived in the desert until the day heappeared openly to Israel.