[1Forsooth for many men enforced or endeavoured to ordain the telling of things, which be filled in us,
2as they that saw at the beginning, and were ministers of the word, betaken,
3it is seen also to me, having from the beginning all things diligently by order, to write to thee, thou best Theophilus,
4that thou know the truth of those words, of which thou art learned.]#1:4 These four prefatory verses are only found in two copies of the “Early Version”.
5In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest, Zechariah by name, of the sort of Abia, and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6And both were just before God, going in all the commandments and justifyings of the Lord, without complaint.
7And they had no child, for Elisabeth was barren, and both were of great age [or had gone far] in their days.
8And it befell, that when Zechariah should do the office of priesthood, in the order of his course before God,
9after the custom of the priesthood, he went forth by lot, and entered into the temple [of the Lord], to incense.
10And all the multitude of the people was withoutforth, and prayed in the hour of incensing.
11And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and stood on the right half of the altar of incense.
12And Zechariah seeing was afraid [or distroubled], and dread fell upon him.
13And the angel said to him, Zechariah, dread thou not; for thy prayer is heard, and Elisabeth, thy wife, shall bear to thee a son, and his name shall be called John.
14And joy and gladding shall be to thee; and many shall have joy in his nativity, or birth.
15For he shall be great before the Lord, and he shall not drink wine nor cider, and he shall be full-filled [or filled] with the Holy Ghost, yet from his mother’s womb.
16And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to their Lord God;
17and he shall go before him in the spirit and virtue of Elijah; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers into the sons, and men out of belief, [or that believe not], to the prudence of just men, to make ready a perfect people to the Lord.
18And Zechariah said to the angel, Whereof shall I know this? for I am old, and my wife hath gone far in her days.
19And the angel answered, and said to him, For I am Gabriel, that stand nigh before God; and I am sent to thee to speak, and to evangelize [or to tell] to thee these things.
20And lo! thou shalt be dumb, and thou shalt not be able to speak till into the day, in which these things shall be done; for thou hast not believed to my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time.
21And the people was abiding Zechariah, and they wondered, that he tarried in the temple.
22And he went out, and might not speak to them, and they knew that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he beckoned to them, and dwelled still dumb.
23And it was done, when the days of his office were fulfilled, he went into his house.
24And after these days Elisabeth, his wife, conceived, and hid her five months, and said,
25For so the Lord did to me in the days, in which he beheld, to take away my reproof [or my shame] among men.
26But in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, whose name was Nazareth,
27to a maiden [or a virgin], wedded to a man, whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the name of the maiden was Mary.
28And the angel entered to her, and said, Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed be thou among women.
29And when she had heard, she was troubled in his word, and thought what manner salutation this was.
30And the angel said to her, Dread thou not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
31Lo! thou shalt conceive in [the] womb, and shalt bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus.
32This [or He] shall be great, and he shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give to him the seat of David, his father,
33and he shall reign in the house of Jacob [into] without end, and of his realm shall be none end.
34And Mary said to the angel, On what manner shall this thing be done, for I know not man? or I know no man?
35And the angel answered, and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come from above into thee, and the virtue of the Highest shall overshadow thee; and therefore that holy thing that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.
36And lo! Elisabeth, thy cousin, and she also hath conceived a son in her old age, and this month is the sixth to her that is called barren;
37for every word shall not be impossible with God.
38And Mary said, Lo! the handmaid/ the handmaiden of the Lord; be it done to me after thy word. And the angel departed from her.
39And Mary rose up in those days, and went with haste into the mountains [or the hilly places], into a city of Judea.
40And she entered into the house of Zechariah, and greeted Elisabeth.
41And it was done, as Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the young child in her womb gladded. And Elisabeth was full-filled [or filled] with the Holy Ghost,
42and cried with a great voice, and said, Blessed be thou among women, and blessed be the fruit of thy womb.
43And whereof is this thing to me, that the mother of my Lord come to me?
44For lo! as the voice of thy salutation was made in mine ears, the young child gladded in joy [or with joy] in my womb.
45And blessed be thou, that hast believed, for those things that be said of [or from] the Lord to thee, shall be perfectly done.
46And Mary said, My soul magnifieth the Lord,
47and my spirit hath gladded in God, mine health [or mine health-giver].
48For he hath beheld the meekness of his handmaid/his handmaiden. For lo! of this all generations shall say that I am blessed.
49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things, and his name is holy.
50And his mercy is from kindred into kindreds, to men that dread him.
51He made might in his arm, he scattered proud men with the thought of his heart.
52He put down mighty men from their seats, and enhanced meek men.
53He hath full-filled hungry men with goods [or He hath filled hungry men with good things], and he hath left rich men void.
54He, having mind of his mercy, took Israel, his child;
55as he hath spoken to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed, into worlds.
56And Mary dwelled with her, as it were three months, and turned again in to her house.
57But the time of bearing child was fulfilled to Elisabeth, and she bare a son.
58And the neighbours and the cousins of her heard, that the Lord had magnified his mercy with her; and they thanked him [or they together joyed to her].
59And it was done in the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zechariah, by the name of his father.
60And his mother answered, and said, Nay, but he shall be called John.
61And they said to her, For no man is in thy kindred, that is called [by] this name.
62And they beckoned to his father, what he would that he were called.
63And he asking a pointel, wrote, saying, John is his name. And all men wondered.
64And anon his mouth was opened, and his tongue, and he spake, and blessed God.
65And dread was made on all their neighbours, and all these words were published on all the mountains [or all the hilly places] of Judea.
66And all men that heard putted in their heart, and said, What manner child shall this be? For the hand of the Lord was with him.
67And Zechariah, his father, was full-filled [or filled] with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, and said,
68Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited, and made redemption of his people.
69And he hath raised to us an horn of health, in the house of David, his child.
70As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, that were from the world.
71Health from our enemies, and from the hand of all men that hated us.
72To do mercy with our fathers, and to have mind of his holy testament.
73The great oath that he swore to Abraham, our father,
74to give himself to us. That we without dread, delivered from the hand of our enemies, serve to him, [or That we delivered from the hand of our enemies, serve to him without dread],
75in holiness and rightwiseness before him in all our days.
76And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to make ready his ways.
77To give science of health to his people, into remission of their sins;
78by the inwardness of the mercy of our God, in the which he springing up from on high hath visited us.
79To give light to them that sit in darknesses, and in the shadow of death; to address our feet into the way of peace.
80And the child waxed, and was comforted in spirit, and was in desert places unto the day of his showing to Israel.