Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mary Crowned in Revelation? - Part 2

In response to a first post on the idolatry involved in the Roman Catholic crowning of Mary (link), a commenter had countered that Mary is crowned in Revelation, to which I responded in a second post (link). Now, the commenter has provided some more comments, to which I'll respond, perhaps closing this matter.

"John" wrote:
There is no doubt that the woman represents the church. But the woman representing the church is the mother of Jesus. The mother of Jesus is Mary. It's not an either/or scenario. If church can be depicted with the prototype of Mary, then we can depict Mary thus. If Mary can be verbally depicted with a crown, then putting a verbal depiction into visual is no great step.
This argument hinges on the conflation/equivocation between "the woman representing the church is the mother of Jesus" and "The mother of Jesus is Mary." Perhaps an illustration here would be easier to understand than a formal demonstration. Suppose we say that the Jews rebuilt the temple and that Jesus was born of the Jews. Then we said that Jesus was born of Mary. Finally we conclude that Mary rebuilt the temple. Hopefully, in that illustration one can see that there has been a conflation between Mary and the Jews over the fact that there is a sense in which each bore Jesus. The same kind of thing is happening in "John"'s argument. The woman (who is the church) is described as bearing a man child (which points to Jesus). Mary is the woman who bore Jesus. Therefore, "John"" conflates the two and ascribes to Mary what belongs to the church.

"John" wrote:
Even if you think Rev 12 is symbolic, depictions of Mary are also symbolic. Mary is also depicted with a sword piercing her (Luke 2:35), not because anyone thinks that is literally true, but because that is the biblical imagery.
Crowns frequently are symbolic - no doubt about that. The popes' crowns, for example, are also symbolic. Nevertheless, both the popes' crowns and the crowns that are placed on idols of Mary are literal crowns.

"John" wrote:
Concerning Exodus 39:28, just because the crown doesn't fit your image of something like you would find in the royal jewels in the tower of London, doesn't mean much. The Greek word for crown is most aptly referring to a wreath made of foliage. Perhaps you can explain to all of us why a wreath of foliage is a crown, and a mitre of fine linen is not.
Exodus 39:28 (as well as Exodus 28:39 and Leviticus 16:4) refers to a linen mitre, which is more or less a fabric hat. If you don't see the difference between a hat and a crown, I'm not sure any amount of explanation from me will help prove that to you.

"John" wrote:
Concerning Isaiah 61:10, the garments are described in v3, "a garland", which is a wreath, which as we have seen is encompassed in the Greek word for crown.
This is simply not correct:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

There is a reference to garlands in Scripture, though:

Acts 14:13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.

That's not a favorable reference.

"John" wrote:
Re Kings of Israel, the point is Tertullian got it wrong, so why quote someone you acknowledge as wrong?
Tertullian did not get it wrong. He did not deny that kings of Israel wore crowns. He didn't even discuss the topic. The closest he comes is when he says, "In short, what patriarch, what prophet, what Levite, or priest, or ruler, or at a later period what apostle, or preacher of the gospel, or bishop, do you ever find the wearer of a crown?" (Tertullian, Of the Crown, Chapter 9) That term "ruler" is (in the Latin) not the term for kings. Here is the Latin: "Quis denique patriarches, quis prophetes, quis leuites aut sacerdos aut archon, quis uel postea apostolus aut euangelizator
aut episcopus inuenitur coronatus?" The word translated "ruler" there is a borrow word from the Greek word αρχων (archon). It is typically used in the New Testament to refer to the Sanhedrin (e.g. Luke 24:20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.). In any event, in context, it refers to the religious leaders - not to secular authorities.

"John" wrote:
Re Rev 4:11, they had to have the crowns before they could cast it down. They have various regal trappings, including thrones. They may symbolically bow these to the great throne, but that doesn't alter that they sit in heaven with these trappings, or at least they symbolically do, and that's the important bit.
The important bit is that they cast them down. We know that's the important bit because that's the bit that the text focuses on.

"John" wrote:
All you've proven is that you too have an interpretation, not that your interpretation is better than anyone else's.
Arguments in support of an interpretation are a way that one shows that one's interpretation is better than someone else's interpretation. I've provided such arguments.


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