Luke 1:34

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
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Ambrose of Milan

AD 397
Here Mary seems to have disbelieved, unless you pay close attention, for it is not right that she who was chosen to bear the onlybegotten Son of God should seem to have been without faith. And how could this be? Although the prerogative of the Mother, on whom a greater prerogative is straightway to be conferred, is intact, how could it be that Zechariah who had not believed was condemned to silence, but Mary, if she had not believed, would be exalted by the infusion of the Holy Spirit? But with a greater prerogative, also a greater faith must be reserved for her. But Mary must both believe, and not so heedlessly usurp. She must believe the angel and not usurp divine things. Nor is it easy to know “the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God,” which the higher powers could not know either. Nevertheless she did not deny the faith, she did not refuse the duty, but she conformed her will, she promised obedience. For truly when she said, “How shall this be?” she did not doubt con...

Athanasius the Apostolic

AD 373
For we confess that which then was taken up from Mary to be of the nature of man and a most real body, the very same also according to nature with our own body. For Mary isour sister, seeing we have all descended from Adam.
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Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
Indeed, her virginity was itself more beautiful and more pleasing, because Christ, in his conception, did not himself take away that which he was preserving from violation by humanity; but, before he was conceived he chose one already consecrated to God of whom he would be born.
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Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
The first sinner, the first transgressor, begot sinners liable to death. To heal them, the Savior came from the Virgin; because he didn’t come to you the way you came, seeing that he did not originate from the sexual appetite of male and female, not from that chain of lust. The Holy Spirit, it says, will come upon you. That was said to the Virgin glowing with faith, not seething with carnal lust. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Being overshadowed like that, how could she be seething with the heat of sexual desire? So, because he didn’t come to you the way you came, he sets you free.

Basil the Great

AD 379
Knowledge is spoken of in various ways. The wisdom of our Creator is called knowledge, and an acquaintance with His mighty works, the keeping also of His commandments, and the constant drawing near to Him; and besides these the marriage union is called knowledge as itis here. Hence also, St. Paul says, Godsent forth his Son, born not (by a woman) but of a woman. For the words by a woman might convey only a mere passing expression of birth, but when it is said, of a woman, there is openly declared a communion of nature between the son and the parent.


AD 735
You shall conceive then not by the seed of man whom you know not, but by the operation of the Holy Spirit with which you are filled. There shall be no flame of desire in you when the Holy Spirit shall overshadow you.
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Ephrem The Syrian

AD 373
It was fitting that the Architect of the works of creation should come and raise up the house that had fallen and that the hovering Spirit should sanctify the buildings that were unclean. Thus, if the Progenitor entrusted the judgment that is to come to his Son, it is clear that he accomplished the creation of humanity and its restoration through him as well. He was the live coal, which had come to kindle the briars and thorns. He dwelt in the womb and cleansed it and sanctified the place of the birth pangs and the curses. The flame, which Moses saw, was moistening the bush and distilling the fat lest it be inflamed. The likeness of refined gold could be seen in the bush, entering into the fire but without being consumed. This happened so that it might make known that living fire which was to come at the end, watering and moistening the womb of the Virgin and clothing it like the fire that enveloped the bush. Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron

George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
How shall this be done? She only asks about the manner. Because I know not man. This answer, as St. Augustine takes notice, would have been to no purpose, had she not made a vow to God to live always a virgin. (Witham) Listen to the words of this pure Virgin. The angel tells her she shall conceive; but she insists upon her virginity, holding her purity in higher estimation than the promised dignity. (St. Gregory of Nyssa.) She did not doubt the truth of what the angel said, (as Calvin impiously maintained) but she wished it might not happen to the prejudice of her vowed virginity. (St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, Ven. Bede, Theophylactus)

Greek Expositor

AD 1000
But mark, how the Angel solves the Virgin's doubts, and shows to her the unstained marriage and the unspeakable birth. And the Angel answered, and said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon you. But observe, how the Angel has declared the whole Trinity to the Virgin, making mention of the Holy Spirit, the Power, and the Most High, for the Trinity its indivisible. But observe, how the Angel has declared the whole Trinity to the Virgin, making mention of the Holy Spirit, the Power, and the Most High, for the Trinity its indivisible.
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Gregory The Dialogist

AD 604
How could one say that Christ was born of the seed of man by the Virgin, when the holy Gospel and the angel, in proclaiming the good tidings, testify of Mary the Virgin that she said, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? "
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Gregory The Dialogist

AD 604
By the term overshadowing, both natures of the Incarnate God are signified. For shadow is formed by light and matter. But the Lord by His Divine nature is light. Because then immaterial light was to be embodied in the Virgin's womb, it is well said to her, The power of the Highest shall overshadow you, that is, the human body in you shall receive an immaterial light of divinity. For this is said to Mary forthe heavenly refreshing of her soul. To distinguish His holiness from ours, Jesus is stated in an especial manner to be born holy. Forwe although indeed made holy, are not born so, for we are constrained by the very condition of our corruptible nature to cry out with the Prophet, Behold, I was conceived in iniquity. ButHe alone is in truth holy, who was not conceived by the cementing of a fleshly union, nor as the heretics rave, one person in His human nature, another in His divine; not conceived and brought forth a mere man, and afterwards by his merits, obtained that He should be G...

Gregory of Nyssa

AD 394
Hear the chaste words of the Virgin. The Angel tells her she shall bear a son, but she rests upon her virginity, deeming her inviolability a more precious thing than the Angel's declaration. Hence she says, Seeing that I know not a man. These words of Mary are a token of what she was pondering in the secrets ofher heart; for if for the sake of the marriage union she had wished to be espoused to Joseph, why was she seized with astonishment when the conception was made known to her? seeing in truth she might herself be expecting at the time to become a mother according to the law of nature. But because it was meet that her body being presented to God as an holy offering should be kept inviolate, therefore she says, Seeing that I know not a man. As if she said, Notwithstanding that you who speak are an Angel, yet that I should know a man is plainly an impossible thing. How then can I be a mother, having no husband? For Joseph I have acknowledged as my betrothed.

Gregory of Nyssa

AD 394
O blessed is that womb which because of the overflowing purity of the Virgin Mary has drawn to itself the gift of life! For in others scarcely indeed shall a pure soul obtain the presence of the Holy Spirit, but in her the flesh is made the receptacle of the Spirit. Or he says, overshadow you, because as a shadow takes its shape from the character of those bodies which go before it, so the signs of the Son's Deity will appear from the power of the Father. For as in us a certain life-giving power is seen in the material substance, by which man is formed; so in the Virgin, has the power of the Highest in like manner, by the life-giving Spirit, taken from the Virgin's body a fleshly substance inherent in the body to form a new man. Hence it follows, Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you.


AD 1000
For the tables of our nature which guilt had broken, the true Lawgiver has formed anew to Himself from our dust without cohabitation, creating a body capable of taking, His divinity, which the finger of God has carved, that is tosay, the Spirit coming upon the Virgin. Moreover, the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Christ is the power of the most high King, who by the coming of the Holy Spirit is formed in the Virgin.
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John Chrysostom

AD 407
As if he said, Look not for the order of nature in things which transcend and overpower nature. Do you say, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Nay rather, shall it happen to you for this very reason, that you have never known a husband. For if you had, you would not have been thought worthy of the mystery, not that marriage is unholy, but virginity more excellent. It became the common Lord of all both to take part with us, and to differ with us in His nativity; for the being born from the womb, He shared in common with us, but in that He was born without cohabitation, He was exalted far above us.

John of Damascus

AD 749
And through the invocation the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost becomes a rainfall for this new cultivation. For just as all things whatsoever God made he made by the operation of the Holy Ghost, so also it is by the operation of the Spirit that these things are done which surpass nature and cannot be discerned except by faith alone. “How shall this be done to me,” asked the blessed Virgin, “because I know not a man?” The archangel Gabriel answered, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you.” And now you ask how the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine and water the blood of Christ. And I tell you that the Holy Ghost comes down and works these things which are beyond description and understanding.

Leo of Rome

AD 461
Each one is a partaker of this spiritual origin in regeneration. To every one, when he is reborn, the water of baptism is like the Virgin’s womb, for the same Holy Spirit fills the font, who filled the Virgin, that the sin, which that sacred conception overthrew, may be taken away by this mystical washing.
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Leo of Rome

AD 461
But the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ exceeds all understanding and goes beyond any precedent. .
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Peter Chrysologus

AD 450
“Who was born from the Holy Spirit.” Precisely thus is Christ born for you, in such a way that he may change your own manner of birth…. Formerly, death awaited you as the setting sun of your life; he wants you to have a new birth of life. “Who was born from the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary.” Where the Spirit is begetting, and a virgin giving birth, everything carried on is divine; nothing of it is merely human.
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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