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