Thursday, August 31, 2023

Beatus of Liebana (d. 798) the Ark of Revelation 11 and the Woman of Revelation 12

 M.S. O'Brien has provided an impressive translation of the "Commentary on the Apocalypse," by Beatus of Liebana (d. 798).  O'Brien's work is available in two sections as a Kindle book.  Maureen (if I understand her post here correctly) has also helpfully posted the translation in snippets to a blog.  

For the purpose of discussing the Woman of Revelation 12, the relevant posts are these:

Beatus identifies the Temple of God in heaven as the Church, the Ark of the Testament as the preaching of the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins, etc.  Beatus has an interesting textual variant in which the Beast comes out of the Abyss at Revelation 11:19 before Revelation 12:1, apparently. 

Beatus says that "heaven" corresponds to the Church.  The woman is likewise the church.  Even the moon is part of the Church.  As O'Brien acknowledges in the post referenced above, Beatus seems to adopt much of the same interpretation as Apringius. 

Beatus also says that the Church is the man child, made in the image and likeness of Christ.

Correcting Sam Shamoun and William Albrecht Regarding the Bodily Assumption of Mary - Part 1

Dan Chapa and I (TurretinFan) recently debated Sam Shamoun and William Albrecht on the topic of the Bodily Assumption of Mary.  You can watch that four-hour event at Standing for Truth (link to the video).  Nevertheless, I noticed that Sam posted to his own blog a number of things, in blog order (i.e. reverse chronological), the first four seem to have been posted on the same day as the debate (whether before or after the debate, I'm not sure).  The fifth is indicated as being posted on July 21, 2023.  There are also some other posts that Sam has, that might be of interest.

  • First, Sam posted "courtesy of William Albrecht" an item called "Ancient Commentaries on Revelation 12."  
  • Second, Sam posted "Reformers on Revelation 12," which seems to have the same authorship, based on its formatting.
  • Third, Sam posted "Reformers on the Assumption," which again seems to be similarly sourced.
  • Fourth, Sam posted "courtesy of William Albrecht," "Ancient Witnesses to Mary's Assumption."
  • Fifth, Sam posted "my notes for my session on Mary being the Woman of Revelation 12," which he titled, "The Woman of Revelation 12: Mary or Anther?"

This post is part 1 of a series, and deals with the blog order first (presumably chronologically last) post provided by William via Sam.  As I go to post this response, I see that there is at least one additional post by Sam that is even more recent than the one to which this responds.  There may be still more by the time you read.

I. "Ancient Commentaries on Revelation 12"

In this post, Sam/William (SW) cited about ten sources, around half of those being commentaries.  Whether they are ancient or not, I will let the reader decide.  A better title of the post would have been "Historic Interpretations of Revelation 12."  I will address each of the citations in turn. The post indicates "All emphasis is mine," meaning either William or Sam.

1. Testament of Joseph (2nd Century BC with many, many later changes)

Testament of Joseph, Chapter II

72 And hear ye, my children, also the vision which I saw.

73 There were twelve harts feeding: and the nine were first dispersed over all the earth, and likewise also the three.

74 And I saw that from Judah was born a virgin wearing a linen garment, and from her, was born a lamb, without spot; and on his left hand there was as it were a lion; and all the beasts rushed against him, and the lamb overcame them, and destroyed them and trod them under foot.

75 And because of him the angels and men rejoiced, and all the land.

76 And these things shall come to pass in their season, in the last days.

77 Do ye therefore, my children, observe the commandments of the Lord, and honour Levi and Judah; for from them shall arise unto you the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, one who saveth all the Gentiles and Israel.

78 For His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, which shall not pass away; but my kingdom among you shall come to an end as a watcher’s hammock, which after the summer disappeareth.

Here we have an allusion to Joseph’s dreams in Genesis 37:5-11 combined with imagery and language taken from Genesis 3:14-15, Isaiah 7:14, 9:7, Daniel 7:13-14, John 1:29, Revelation 5:5-6, 12:1-6, 13:1-18, and 17:12-17, just to name a few references.

There is a work, "The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs," among the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.  That work includes a book, "The Testament of Joseph, the Eleventh Son of Jacob and Rachel."  In R. H. Charles' translation, it reads as follows (can be found here): 

19 1 Hear ye, therefore, me vision which I saw. 2 I saw twelve harts feeding. And nine of them were dispersed. Now the three were preserved, but on the following day they also were dispersed. 3 And I saw that the three harts became three lambs, and they cried to the Lord, and He brought them forth into a flourishing and well watered place, yea He brought them out of darkness into light. 4 And there they cried unto the Lord until there gathered together unto them the nine harts, and they became as twelve sheep, and after a little time they increased and became many 5 flocks. And after these things I saw and behold, twelve bulls were sucking one cow, which produced a sea of milk, and there drank thereof the twelve flocks and innumerable herds. 6 And the horns of the fourth bull went up unto heaven and became as a wall for the flocks, and in the midst of the two horns there grew 7 another horn. And I saw a bull calf which surrounded them twelve times, and it became a help to the bulls wholly. 8 And I saw in the midst of the horns a virgin [wearing a many-coloured garment, and from her] went forth a lamb; and on his right (was as it were a lion; and) all the beasts and all the reptiles rushed (against him), and the lamb over 9 came them and destroyed them. And the bulls rejoiced because of him, and the cow [and the 10 harts] exulted together with them. And these 11 things must come to pass in their season. Do ye therefore, my children, observe the commandments of the Lord, and honour Levi and Judah; for from them shall arise unto you [the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world] one who saveth [all the Gentiles and] Israel. 12 For His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, which shall not pass away; but my kingdom among you shall come to an end as a watcher's hammock, which after the summer disappeareth.

The version used by SW is from The Forgotten Books of Eden, edited by Rutherford H. Platt (can be found here):

72 And hear ye, my children, also the vision which I saw.

73 There were twelve harts feeding: and the nine were first dispersed over all the earth, and likewise also the three.

74 And I saw that from Judah was born a virgin wearing a linen garment, and from her, was born a lamb, without spot; and on his left hand there was as it were a lion; and all the beasts rushed against him, and the lamb overcame them, and destroyed them and trod them under foot.

75 And because of him the angels and men rejoiced, and all the land.

76 And these things shall come to pass in their season, in the last days.

77 Do ye therefore, my children, observe the commandments of the Lord, and honour Levi and Judah; for from them shall arise unto you the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, one who saveth all the Gentiles and Israel.

78 For His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, which shall not pass away; but my kingdom among you shall come to an end as a watcher's hammock, which after the summer disappeareth.

Platt's book makes it sound as though the work is something that just didn't happen to make into the canon of Scripture, seeming to imply that it's final text is from that period.  Charles provides a more detailed explanation (for example, here).

Charles argues that the book was originally composed between 109 and 107 B.C.  Thus, the original work predates and is not in any way a "Commentary on" Revelation 12. However, Charles also notes that there numerous additions to the original, both Jewish additions from 70 - 40 B.C. and Christian additions "at different periods."

When it comes to this specific section, the cited material is identified as Christian additions (source).

The "virgin" reference clashes with the animal symbolism, as Charles notes.  Unfortunately, neither Charles (nor anyone else to my knowledge) has found it worthwhile to identify when these Christian additions were made.  

More significantly, there is no obvious connection between these Christian interpolations and Revelation 12.  The woman of Revelation 12 does not wear linen (nor a many-coloured garment), but the sun (see the note at 8, which suggests to compare Rev. 12:1 for "wearing").  The lamb does not overcome in Revelation 12, although others overcome by the blood of the lamb. No one is trodden under foot in Revelation 12, and so on.

In short, this is not at all, in any way, an "Ancient Commentary on Revelation 12."  

2. Epiphanius of Salamis (d. 403)

St. Epiphanius of Salamis (300s), Panarion

“But elsewhere, in the Apocalypse of John, we read that the dragon hurled himself at the woman who had given birth to a male child; but the wings of an eagle were given to the woman, and she flew into the desert, where the dragon could not reach her” (Rev. 12:13-14). This could have happened in Mary’s case.”

We have already dealt with Epiphanius of Salamis and his Panarion (see this thorough post).  First, a better translation of the section being cited, “Against Antidicomarians” (58, but 78 of the series) is this:

11,3 For I dare not say—though I have my suspicions, I keep silent. Perhaps, just as her death is not to be found, so I may have found some traces of the holy and blessed Virgin. (4) In one passage Simeon says of her, “And a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” And elsewhere the Revelation of John says, “And the dragon hastened after the woman who had born the man child, and she was given the wings of an eagle and was taken to the wilderness, that the dragon might not seize her.”  Perhaps this can be applied to her; I cannot decide for certain, and am not saying that she remained immortal. But neither am I affirming that she died.

As can be seen from this, Epiphanius expresses uncertainty about whether this can be applied to Mary.  However, even if it is applied to Mary, the woman is taken to the wilderness.  This is not from a commentary on Revelation, although it is a comment about a possible meaning of Revelation 12.  It does not support the Roman Catholic teaching of the Bodily Assumption.

I also note that Epiphanius was born in the 300s, but died in the first decade of the 400s.

3. Quodvultdeus (d. 454)

Quodvultdeus, De Symbolo (430 A.D.)

“None of you is ignorant of the fact that the dragon was the devil. The woman signified the Virgin Mary.”

The Woman signifies Mary, who, being spotless, brought forth our spotless Head. Who herself also showed forth in herself a figure of holy Church, so that as she in bringing forth a Son remained a Virgin, so the Church also should during the whole time be bringing forth His members, and yet not lose her virgin state.”

The Paulist Press series, "Ancient Christian Writers," has published Quodvultdeus' Creedal Homilies as volume 60 of their series, with Dr. Thomas M. Finn as the translator.

Quodvultdeus' Third Homily on the Creed begins this way (emphasis mine) (pp. 67-69):

1.1. Holy Mother the Church, who bore your brothers and sisters with the highest spiritual joy, has conceived you in the womb through this most holy sign of the cross;'! how long will it be, new offspring of such a future mother, before she restores you, reborn through the washing, to the true light, feeds those whom she carries in her womb with proper food, and joyfully conducts you, rejoicing, to the day of birth? 2. She is not bound by the sentence of that Eve who bore children in sorrow and groaning, who themselves were weeping rather than rejoicing [Gen 3:16]. She undid what Eve has done, so that the offspring the latter brought to death through disobedience the former restored to life through obedience.’ 3. All the rites that were and are enacted among you through the ministry of God’s servants by exorcism, prayers, spiritual songs, insufflations, the goatskin, bowed necks, bare feet—this trembling endured for the gift of full peace of mind—all these things, I say, are food which nourishes you in the womb, so that your joyful mother may show you, reborn from baptism, to Christ.’ 4. You have received also the creed: protection against the poison of the serpent for those in the process of birth.* In the Apocalypse of the apostle John [12:1-4] it is written that the dragon stood in full view of the woman about to give birth, in order that when she gave birth, he would eat the child born [of her].’ 5. Let none of you ignore [the fact] that the dragon is the devil; know that the virgin signifies Mary, the chaste one, who gave birth to our chaste head. 6. She also embodied in herself a figure of the holy church: namely, how, while bearing a son, she remained a virgin, so that the church throughout time bears her members, yet she does not lose her virginity.” 7. With God’s help we are about to explain the sentences of the most holy creed, that we may impress deeply on your understanding the content of each [article]. Your hearts are prepared because your enemy has been driven from them [by exorcism]. 8. The house has been cleaned, may no vanity remain; lest he who abandoned it, when he enters, bring back with him seven worse than he, and the last state of this man, as the gospel says, will be made worse than the first [Luke 11:24-26]. 9. As soon as the worst of all attackers shall have been driven out, the best of all masters is brought in. Who is the attacker? The devil. What does he invade? Man, whom he did not make and, in fact, deceived. 10. He promised immortality and pledged him [to a life of] sin.’ You have professed to renounce him. In your profession, recorded by God and his angels, you said: “I renounce.” Renounce not only with [your] voices but also with conduct; not only with the sound of the tongue but also in living act; not only by the sounds of your lips but by the public declaration of words. 12. Know that you have enlisted in a struggle with the slippery, ancient, and begrimed enemy. Let him find none of his works in you after renunciation, lest by right, then, he draw you back into servitude. 13. Christian, may you realize and admit when you do one thing and profess another: faithful in name, showing in action something other than holding true to the commitment of your faith. You enter the church for a little to pour out prayers, yet in a short time you can be seen shouting shamelessly in the theatrical spectacles.* 14. What do the pomps of the devil, which you have renounced, mean to you? Why do you limp along as if you had a pair of swollen testicles? If God is your master, go after him; if the world, go after it [1 Kgs 18:21]. 15. If God is chosen, let him be served according to his will; if the world is chosen, why does the heart pretend accommodation to God? 16. Whoever among you chooses the world after despising God, the world itself abandons. You do not choose to fulfill the will of God as a good person, so the will of God is fulfilled in you as evil. You can follow the [diabolic] fugitive up to this point; if you can catch him, hold on to him. 17. Oh, I see, you are fooling yourself; you cannot. For he, while hurrying along in his smooth-flowing motion like a torrent, sees you clinging to and holding him; he grasps you, not to save but to ruin you. 18. What do the pomps of the devil mean to you, lover of Christ? Do not fool yourself: for God hates such people, nor does he count for his own those whom he sifts out as deserters from his way [see Luke 22:31]. 19. Behold, how the world is in ruins; behold, how God has filled the world with such great misfortunes; behold, how bitter the world is, and yet it is loved! What would we do if it were sweet? 20. O wicked world, perjuring yourself before the weak; what would you do were you to last? If you were sweet, whom would you not deceive? If you were bitter, what food would you not spoil? 21. Beloved, do you choose to reject [such] a world? Choose to love the Creator of the world, and believe, renouncing worldly pomps, whose leader is the devil with his angels.

It is true that Quodvultdeus does see the woman of Rev. 12 as signifying Mary, but as a figure of the Church.  There is no hint that Mary is the focal point, quite the opposite.  The Church as Mother, as new Eve, and so on, is Quodvultdeus' focus.  The bodily assumption is not in view, and in the context of his imagery, the man child would seem to be the new members of the church, which the church gives birth to.  In short, this citation does not support the Bodily Assumption position.

This homily, while it is Ancient and does comment on Revelation 12:1, is not a "Commentary on Revelation."  

4. Andreas of Caesarea (d. 614)

Andrew of Caesarea, Commentary on Revelation (500s)

12:1. And a great sign was seen in heaven, a woman who had been wrapped in the sun, and [the] moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Some, on the one hand, had understood this woman entirely to be the Theotokos before her divine birth-giving was made known to her, <before she> experienced the things to happen. But the great Methodios took <her> to be the holy Church,

I placed this in this place because of the order provided by SW.  While Andreas aka Andrew was born around 563, he died in 614, and is better thought of a "600s" than "500s" in terms of when he was active.

I previously quoted Andreas and Oecumenius (link to post).  As can be seen from the longer quotation there, Andreas explicitly rejects Oecumenius' view that the woman is Mary.  Andreas in no way connects the woman of Revelation 12 to the Bodily Assumption. 

This is, in fact, a commentary on Revelation, and it is from the patristic period.

5. Oecumenius (6th or 7th century)

Oecumenius, Commentary on Revelation (500s)

“… The incarnation of the Lord, by which the world was subjected and made his own, became the occasion for the raising [of the Antichrist] and the endeavors of Satan. For this is why the Antichrist will be raised up: so that he may again cause the world to revolt against Christ, and persuade it to turn around and desert to Satan. Since again the Lord’s physical conception and birth marked the beginning of his incarnation, the vision has brought into some order and sequence the events which it is going to explain, by starting its explanation from the physical conception of Christ, and by depicting for us the Mother of God. For why does he say, And a portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet? He is speaking of the mother of our Savior, as I have said. Naturally the vision describes her as being in heaven and not on earth, as pure in soul and body, as equal to an angel, as a citizen of heaven, as one who came to effect the incarnation of God who dwells in heaven (“for,” he says, “heaven is my throne” [Isa 66:1]), and as one who has nothing in common with the world and the evils in it, but wholly sublime, wholly worthy of heaven, even through she sprang from our mortal nature and being. For the Virgin is of the same substance as we are. The unholy doctrine of Eutyches, that the Virgin is of a miraculously different substance from us, together with his other docetic doctrines, must be banished from the divine courts.

What is the meaning of the saying that she is clothed with the sun, and has the moon under her feet?… [I]n order to show in the vision that even when the Lord was conceived, he was the protector of his own mother and of all creation, the vision said that he clothed the woman. In the same way the divine angel said to the holy Virgin, “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). Overshadowing, protecting, and clothing all have the same meaning.

He says, And on her head, a crown of twelve stars. For the Virgin is crowned with the twelve apostles who proclaim the Christ while she is proclaimed together with him. He says, She was with child, and she cried out in her birth-pangs, in anguish for delivery. Yet Isaiah says about her, “before the woman in labor gives birth, and before the toil of labor begins, she fled and brought forth a male child” (Isa 66:7). Gregory [of Nyssa], also, in the thirteenth chapter of his Interpretation of the Song of Songs talks of the Lord, “whose conception is without intercourse, and whose birth is undefiled.” So the birth was free from pain. Therefore, if, according to such a great prophet and the teacher of the church, the Virgin has escaped the pain of childbirth, how does she here cry out in her birth-pangs, in anguish for delivery? Does this not contradict what was said? Certainly not. For nothing could be contradictory in the mouth of the one and the same Spirit, who spoke through both. But in the present passage you should understand the crying out and being in anguish in this way: until the divine angel told Joseph about her, that the conception was from the Holy Spirit, the Virgin was naturally despondent, blushing before her betrothed, and thinking that he might somehow suspect that she was in labor from a furtive marriage. Her despondency and grief he called, according to the principles of metaphor, crying and anguish; and this is not surprising. For even when blessed Moses spiritually met God and was losing heart–for he saw Israel in the desert being encircled by the sea and by enemies–God said to him, “Why do you cry to me?” (Ex 14:15). So also now the vision calls the sorrowful disposition of the Virgin’s mind and heart, “crying out.” But you, who took away the despondency of the undefiled handmaid and your human mother, my lady mistress, the holy Mother of God, by your ineffable birth, do away with my sins, too, for to you is due glory for ever. Amen.” Oecumenius, Commentary on the Apocalypse, trans. John H. Suggit (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2006), pp. 107-109)

Finally, we have a proper citation in the material.  However, note that scholars question when this work was written, with dates ranging from the early 500s to 600.  We think that Oecumenius wrote his commentary before Andreas, because Andreas responds to and rebuts Oecumenius.

I previously quoted Andreas and Oecumenius (link to post).  As can be seen from the longer quotation there and from the discuss above, Andreas explicitly rejects Oecumenius' view that the woman is Mary.  Like Andreas, Oecumenius in no way connects the woman of Revelation 12 to the Bodily Assumption. 

This is, in fact, a commentary on Revelation, and it is from the patristic period.

6. Cassiodorus (d. 585)

Cassiodorus; Commentary on Revelation (500s)

“And so the devil falls, the one who always envied the good who were faithful, but the earth and the sea are greatly pitied, when they received the malice of such a great weight. There is also the commemoration of the mother and of the Lord Christ; that the devil, desiring to injure his Mother, brought from his mouth a very deep river, which was supposed to swallow her up, but she was taken to a very safe place and escaped the diabolical poison.”

Once again, the order of the documents is what SW provided.  Cassiodorus is before Andreas, but perhaps after Oecumenius (as noted above, there is a huge uncertainty as to when Oecumenius' commentary was composed.

Cassiodorus is a Western, Latin commentator.  I've provided a more full quotation of his comments in an earlier post (link to post).  Cassiodorus does identify the woman as Mary, and acknowledges that this requires somehow mixing the past and the future.  Cassiodorus in no way connects the woman of Revelation 12 to the Bodily Assumption.  Additionally, Cassiodorus endorses Tyconius' typology, in which the woman represents the Church (see my quotation from Tyconius here).

This is, in fact, a commentary on Revelation, and it is from the patristic period.

7. Pseudo-Augustine aka Quodvultdeus Revisited 

6th or 7th Century Syriac Document

“That great woman represents the Virgin Mary who, intact, begot our Head intact, becoming model for Holy Church.”

This quotation appears to originate from Manelli's "Biblical Mariology." Manelli ascribes this quotation to pseudo-Augustine and adds a footnote: "Quoted in Testa, Maria terra vergine, vol. 1, p. 444, with quotations in nn. 52-55."

Unfortunately, Testa's work is a bit hard to track down.  If any helpful reader is able to provide me with the relevant pages, I would love to update this work.

Nevertheless, back translating this to Latin, it's relatively straightforward to see where it came from.

A work by Carlo Passaglia, a 19th century Jesuit, contains this reference in a footnote:

1) Apoc. XII. 1., ad quem locum respiciens Augustinus de symb. ad catech. lib. IV. cap. I. ait: "Draconem diabolum esse, nullus vestrum ignorat; mulierem illam virginem Mariam significasse, quae caput nostrum integrum peperit." 

The same text, with the remainder thereof, can be found in the "Catholic Library," under De Symbolo Ad Catechumenos Sermo Alius II (link). 

The work is Pseudo-Augustine, Sermo IV de symbolo (ed. Migne).  However, as it turns out, this Pseudo-Augustine material has actually found its author.  Oddly enough, this is simply Quodvultdeus again, as quoted above.  Considering that Quodvultdeus died in the fifth century, even if we assume it was also present in a "6th or 7th century Syriac document," it does not add anything to the list.  The full section in translation follows (as an alternative for the translation already provided above):

1. The catechumens are prepared for Baptism by the sign of the cross and various sacraments. Profession of Renunciation. When the most sacred sign of the cross accepted you in the womb of holy mother Church, who, like your brothers, with great joy spiritually gives birth, you, the new offspring of such a great mother, until she restores the regenerated through the holy washing to the true light, may she feed with suitable nourishment those whom she carries in her womb, and happily lead them to her day of birth: for she is not bound by this sentence of Eve, who gives birth to children in sorrow and groaning (Gen. III, 16), nor by them rejoicing, but rather weeping. This [Church] unbinds what that [Eve] had bound, so that the offspring which she gave over to death through her disobedience, this [Church] may restore through obedience to life. All the sacraments which have been and are being performed in you through the ministry of God's servants, exorcisms, prayers, spiritual songs, breathings, sackcloth, bowing of the neck, humility of feet, fear itself to be desired over all security; all these, as I said, are the food that nourishes you in the womb, so that the mother might present you, reborn from Baptism, joyfully to Christ. You have also received the Creed, a protection for the birthing against the poisons of the serpent. In the Apocalypse of the apostle John, it is written that the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth, he might devour her child (Rev. XII, 4). No one of you is ignorant that the dragon is the devil. That woman signified the virgin Mary, who gave birth whole to our head, who also herself showed the figure of the holy Church in her: so that just as giving birth she remained a virgin, so also this [Church] always gives birth to her members, and does not lose her virginity. We have undertaken, with the Lord's help, to explain the very sentences of the most holy Creed, so that we might impress on your senses what each one contains. Your hearts are prepared, because the enemy has been driven out of your hearts. The house is cleansed, let it not remain empty; lest when the deserter finds it empty, he brings with him seven others more wicked than himself, and the latter state of that man becomes, as the Gospel speaks, worse than the former (Luke XI, 26). As soon as the worst invader is driven out, let the best possessor be introduced. Who is the invader? The Devil. What has he invaded? Man whom he did not make, and furthermore, deceived. He promised him immortality and offered wickedness. You have professed to renounce him: in this profession, not written down by men, but by God and His angels, you said, "I renounce." Renounce not only in words, but also in deeds; not only with the sound of the tongue, but also with the act of life; not only with sounding lips, but with proclaiming deeds. Know that you have undertaken a struggle with a cunning, ancient, and long-standing enemy: let him not find his works in you after the renunciation, lest he rightfully drag you into servitude. For you are caught and exposed, Christian, when you do one thing and profess another: faithful in name, showing something different in deed, not keeping the faith of your promise; now entering the Church to pour out prayers, soon after shouting shamelessly in the theaters. What do you have to do with the displays of the devil, which you have renounced? Why are you limping on both sides? If God is chosen, follow Him: if the world is chosen, follow it. If God is chosen, serve Him according to His will: if the world is chosen, why is the feigned heart adapted to God as if to God? Whoever, despising God, follows the world, the world itself also deserts you. You do not want to carry out the good will of God, and about you, the evil will of God is fulfilled. Continue to follow as much as you can the fugitive, and if you can seize him, hold him: but I see, you can't, you deceive yourself. For he, rushing along with the slippery movements of his current, while he sees you clinging to and holding him, snatches you for this, not to save, but to destroy you. What do you have to do with the displays of the devil, lover of Christ? Do not deceive yourself: for God hates such, and does not count among His own those whom He sees to be deserters of their own life. Behold, the world is in ruins, behold, God has filled the world with such calamities, behold, the world is bitter, and so it is loved! What would we do if it were sweet? O unclean world, you wish to be held while perishing; what would you do if you remained? Whom would you not deceive, sweet, if bitter you lie about the food? Do you want, beloved, not to cling to the world? Choose to love the Creator of the world; and renounce worldly displays, whose prince is the devil with his angels.
1. Catechumeni signo crucis et sacramentis variis ad Baptismum praeparantur. Renuntiationis professio. Dum per sacratissimum crucis signum vos suscepit in utero sancta mater Ecclesia, quae sicut et fratres vestros cum summa laetitia spiritualiter pariet, nova proles futura tantae matris, quousque per lavacrum sanctum regeneratos verae luci restituat, congruis alimentis eos quos portat pascat in utero, et ad diem partus sui laetos laeta perducat: quoniam non tenetur hac sententia Evae, quae in tristitia et gemitu parit filios (Gen. III, 16) , nec ipsos gaudentes, sed potius flentes. Haec solvit quod illa ligaverat, ut prolem quam per inobedientiam sui morti donavit, haec per obedientiam restituat vitae. Omnia sacramenta quae acta sunt et aguntur in vobis per ministerium servorum Dei, exexorcismis, orationibus, canticis spiritualibus, insufflationibus, cilicio, inclinatione cervicum, humilitate pedum, pavor ipse omni securitate appetendus; haec omnia, ut dixi, escae sunt, quae vos reficiunt in utero, ut renatos ex Baptismo hilares vos mater exhibeat Christo. Accepistis et Symbolum, protectionem parturientis contra venena serpentis. In Apocalypsi Joannis apostoli scriptum est hoc, quod staret draco in conspectu mulieris quae paritura erat, ut cum peperisset, natum ejus comederet (Apoc. XII, 4) . Draconem diabolum esse, nullus vestrum ignorat. Mulierem illam virginem Mariam significasse, quae caput nostrum integra integrum peperit, quae etiam ipsa figuram in se sanctae Ecclesiae demonstravit: ut quomodo filium pariens virgo permansit, ita et haec omni tempore membra ejus pariat, virginitatem non amittat. Ipsas sententias sacratissimi Symboli adjuvante Domino exponendas suscepimus, ut quid singulae contineant, vestris sensibus intimemus. Parata sunt corda vestra, quia exclusus est inimicus de cordibus vestris. Mundata est domus, non remaneat inanis; ne cum vacuam desertor invenerit, adducat secum alios septem nequiores se, et efficiantur hominis illius posteriora, ut Evangelium loquitur, pejora prioribus (Luc. XI, 26) . Mox ut exclusus fuerit pessimus invasor, introducatur optimus possessor. Quis est invasor? Diabolus. Quid invasit? Hominem quem non fecit, insuper et decepit. Promisit ei immortalitatem, et propinavit iniquitatem. Huic vos renuntiare professi estis: in qua professione, non hominibus, sed Deo et Angelis ejus conscribentibus, dixistis, Renuntio. Renuntiate non solum vocibus, sed etiam moribus; non tantum sono linguae, sed et actu vitae; nec tantum labiis sonantibus, sed operibus pronuntiantibus. Scitote vos cum callido, antiquo et veternoso inimico suscepisse certamen: non in vobis post renuntiationem inveniat opera sua, ne jure vos attrahat in servitutem. Deprehenderis enim et detegeris, christiane, quando aliud agis et aliud profiteris: fidelis in nomine, aliud demonstrans in opere, non tenens promissionis tuae fidem; modo ingrediens Ecclesiam orationes fundere, post modicum in spectaculis histrionibus impudice clamare. Quid tibi cum pompis diaboli, quibus renuntiasti? Utquid claudicatis ambobus inguinibus? Si Deus est, ite post illum: si mundus est, ite post illum. Si Deus eligitur, serviatur illi secundum ipsius voluntatem: si mundus eligitur, utquid fictum cor quasi Deo accommodatur? Quisquis contempto Deo sequeris mundum, et ipse te deserit mundus. Non vis bonus implere voluntatem Dei, et de te malo impletur voluntas Dei. Sequere adhuc quantum potes fugitivum, et si potes apprehende eum, tene eum: sed video, non potes, fallis te. Ille enim labiles motus suos torrentis ictu percurrens, dum te videt inhaerentem sibi et tenentem se, ad hoc te rapit, non ut salvet, sed ut perdat te. Quid tibi cum pompis diaboli, amator Christi? Noli te fallere: odit enim Deus tales, nec inter suos deputat professores, quos cernit vitae suae desertores. Ecce ruinosus est mundus, ecce tantis calamitatibus replevit Deus mundum, ecce amarus est mundus, et sic amatur! Quid faceremus, si dulcis esset? O munde immunde, teneri vis periens; quid faceres si maneres? Quem non deciperes dulcis, si amarus alimenta mentiris? Vultis, dilectissimi, non inhaerere mundo? Eligite amare Creatorem mundi; et renuntiate pompis mundanis, quibus princeps est diabolus cum angelis suis.

This homily, while it is Ancient and does comment on Revelation 12:1, is not a "Commentary on Revelation."  

 8. Ildefonsus (d. 667)

Ildefonsus of Toledo, Second Sermon on the Apocalypse (600 A.D.)

“The temple of God was open and the Ark of the Covenant was seen. This certainly was not the Ark made by Moses, but is the Blessed Virgin who had been transferred from here, as blessed John the evangelist, a witness of the truth to whom it was entrusted, may perhaps recognize it reverently. It was seen in heaven. The blessed Mary was seen in the temple of God, that is, in the church of God.”

Once again, the order follows SW's.  

Ildefonsus Toletanus is found in Migne's PL vol. 96.  The sermons are designated as doubtfully ascribed (i.e. not designated as authentic).  The first sermon is "De Assumptione Beatissimae et Gloriosae Virginis Mariae."  The second sermon is "De Eadem Assumptione Beatae Mariae Secundus", and so on.  There is, however, no "Second Sermon on the Apocalypse":

The cited material seems to be from Sermon 1  (this section updated from an early version to improve the image quality of the page and also to improve the Latin transcription and associated translation, which was based on an inferior transcription):

Here is the relevant section from Migne, PL 96, 249D-250C (with an English translation):

And therefore, expand yourselves, and lift your mind to the lofty things, so that you might understand those things in which Christ, your spouse, sits at the right hand of the Father and is glorified; so that there you may adore him on the throne where he himself is, because he is now outside of the world, where around his throne twenty-four elders are read to sit before the sight of God in their seats and they adore Christ, the living king, forever and ever, placing their crowns before his feet, which they received from him, saying: "We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were, who have taken your great power and have begun to reign" (Revelation 4:4). Therefore, where and how they adore, as much as it is permitted to mortals, even now it is necessary to adore him; because Christ in the Father is truth, and the truthful Father in the true Son is wholly there, who is one and true God, who is adored in the Holy Spirit, because God is Trinity. And this God the Trinity is in his temple, and not in man-made things (Acts 17:24). But the temple of God is the Church, as John attests in his Apocalypse: "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament" (Revelation 11:19). Which ark is certainly not the one made by Moses, but is the blessed Virgin Mary, who had already been transferred here, whom blessed John the evangelist, a witness of the truth to whom it was entrusted, perhaps recognizing her, addresses venerably. Because she was seen in heaven, a kind is shown in a species, just as a species is also explained through a kind. Because the blessed Mary was seen in the temple of God, namely in the Church of God, and the Church truly is dedicated to the Lord in the fruit of her virginity; and therefore, the ark of the testament of God, that is, the mother of God herself, was not undeservedly seen in his temple, because the Church, and she herself, is a Virgin. Hence the Apostle: "For I have espoused you to one husband," he says, "to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:2). And therefore, beloved, direct your mind there, where your spouse entered for us, and the blessed Virgin was seen; because there her feast is rightly honored, where Christ is the spouse, and the joys of eternal life are celebrated. Hence I ask, depart in faith, in morals, in mind and with every desire of eternal vision, and do not touch the defiled. Ascend upwards, through contemplation and through the conversation of a good life, until "the temple of God was opened in heaven," so that you may enter all things where the promised goods are kept for you, and the Holy Virgin is now clothed in heavenly immortality. "In heavenly places" indeed, let your hearts be raised where your treasure is (Matthew 6:20). Indeed, let the same treasure of eternal inheritance be in your heart, so that what is in heaven may be in you through faith. Therefore, let no one take your crown, until the spouse comes (Revelation 3:11); but rather, may you be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, through his grace (Isaiah 62:3), who called you to eternal joys. Jesus Christ, the son of the Virgin, our Lord, who with the eternal Father, along with the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns God through endless ages of ages. Amen.

Et ideo, dilatamini vos, et erigite mentem ad sublimia, ut possitis comprehendere ea in quibus Christus, sponsus vester, in dextera Patris sedet et glorificatur; quatenus ibi adoretis eum in throno ubi est ipse, quia jam extra mundum est, ubi in circuitu throni ejus viginti quatuor seniores sedere leguntur ante conspectum Dei in sedibus suis et adorant Christum regem viventem in sæcula sæculorum, mittentes coronas suas ante pedes ejus, quas ab ipso acceperunt, dicentes: "Gratias tibi agimus, Domine Deus omnipotens, qui es et qui eras, qui accepisti virtutem et regnasti in sæcula sæculorum" (Apoc. iv. 4). Ergo, ubi adorant hi et quomodo adorant, quantum fas est mortalibus, etiam in præsentiarum adorare eum oportet; quoniam Christus in Patre veritas est, et verax Pater in Christo vero Filio totus est, qui unus et verus Deus est, qui in Spiritu sancto adoratur, quia Deus Trinitas est. Et ipse Deus Trinitas in templo suo, et non in manufactis hominum est (Act. XVII. 24). Templum autem Dei Ecclesia est, sicut Joannes testatur in sua Apocalypsi: "Et apertum est," inquit, "templum Dei in cœlo, et arca testamenti ejus visa est" (Apoc. xi. 19). Quæ profecto arca non illa Moysi fabricata, sed beata virgo Maria est, quæ hinc jam transposita erat, quam beatus Joannes evangelista, testis veritatis cui commissa est, forte recognoscens venerabiliter affatur. Quia in cœlo visa est, monstratur species in genere, sicuti et genus per speciem declaratur. Quoniam beata Maria in templo Dei visa est, scilicet in Ecclesia Dei, Ecclesia vero in ejus virginitatis fructu Domino dedicatur; ac per hoc, arca testamenti Dei, ipsa videlicet Dei genitrix, in templo ejus non immerito visa est, quia Ecclesia, et ipsa Virgo, est. Unde Apostolus: "Despondi enim vos uni viro," inquit, "virginem castam exhibere Christo" (I Cor. xi. 2). Et ideo, dilectissimæ, illuc mentem dirigite, ubi sponsus vester pro nobis introiit, et beata Virgo visa est; quoniam ibi ejus festivitas recte colitur, ubi Christus est sponsus, et æternæ vitæ gaudia celebrantur. Unde quæso, egredimini fide, moribus, mente atque omni desiderio æternæ, visionis actibus, et pollutum nolite tangere. Ascendite sursum, per contemplationem et per conversationem bonæ vitæ, donec "apertum est templum Dei in cœlo", quatenus ingredi possitis omnia ubi vobis repromissa bona servantur, et Virgo sancta cœlesti jam immortalitate vestitur. "In cœlestibus" namque, sint corda vestra erecta ubi est et thesaurus vester (Matth. vi. 20). Imo, idem et thesaurus æternæ hæreditatis sit in corde vestro, quatenus quod est in cœlo in vobis sit per fidem. Coronam itaque vestram nemo accipiat, alter donec veniat sponsus (Apoc. 3. 11); quin imo, vos corona decoris esse possitis in manu Domini, per gratiam ejus (Isa. LXII. 3), qui vos ad æterna vocavit gaudia. Jesus Christus, filius Virginis, Dominus noster, qui cum æterno Patre, una cum Spiritu sancto, vivit et regnat Deus per infinita sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

This material does not come from the age of Ildefonsus, as Migne's "admonition to the reader" acknowledges.  More could be said, but the bottom line is that the attribution to Ildefonsus is not correct, the cited material is not from a "Sermon on the Apocalypse," and while it represents a comment on Revelation 11:19, it is not from a "Commentary," nor does it appear to be "Ancient."

Several sources that I found say that this sermon is probably from Paschasius Radbertus.  Radbertus was one of the notable obstacles to the Bodily Assumption in the West.  For example, according to noted Mariologist, Michael O'Carroll, "Paschasius Radbert, author of Cogita me, had more substance in his text. He rejected the apocryphal story, admitted the empty tomb, but declared that nothing was certain about the end of the Virgin's life, save that she left the body." (Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary, p. 57)  

This homily, while it is Ancient and does comment on Revelation 12:1, is not a "Commentary on Revelation."  

9. "On the Mysteries of the Apocalypse of John" (8th Century Anonymous Irish Author)

On the Mysteries of the Apocalypse of John (700s Ancient Commentary on Scripture)

And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, and so that when she had given birth to a son he might devour him who will rule with an iron rod. This was fulfilled in Herod, who wanted to kill Christ, after he had been born from Mary. And the son was caught up into heaven. And the woman fled into the wilderness where they nourish her for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. That is, the son [was] caught up, Christ ascended into heaven. The woman who was Mary fled into Egypt. Or the church will flee into the desert of Arabia in the time of Antichrist.

This selective quotation omits the main interpretation provided in this work (as can be seen in my earlier post).

In the main interpretation, such as Revelation 12:1, the author says that the woman represents the church.  Moreover, of course, the author does not make any connection the to the Bodily Assumption of Mary.

This is, in fact, a commentary on Revelation, and it is from the late patristic or early medieval period.

10. Autpert Ambrose (d. 784) 

Ambrosius Autpertus (700s), Commentary on the Apocalypse

“Whether we say that it was the Mother and Virgin Mary who gave birth to Christ, or bears Christ, or say the same about the Mother and Virgin Church, in neither case do we stray from the truth of the matter. The former gave birth to the Head; the latter gave birth to the members of the Head…”

This is a commentary I had missed in my previous survey of Latin commentaries on the Apocalypse.  I have, however, posted the relevant material (in a separate post).  As can be seen in that post, Ambrosius Autpert not only decries the apocryphal basis of the claims of the bodily assumption (in a sermon for the feast day of the assumption), but he specifically criticizes taking Revelation 12 literally.  Thus, while he recognizes that Mary literally gave birth to Christ, and he takes the literal sense as reflecting that, he understands the text as speaking of the Church.

This is, in fact, a commentary on Revelation, and it is from the late patristic or early medieval period.

11. Alcuin of York (d. 804)

Alcuin (735-804), Commentary on Revelation 12

“The woman clothed with the sun is the Virgin Mary, overshadowed by the power of the Most High; and this is to be understood more generally as also applying also to the Church, which is not called a woman because it would have the quality of effeminacy, softness, but rather, because she (the Church) gives birth, day after day, to new multitudes, from whom the body of Christ is fashioned.”

I should have provided this commentary, but I had noticed it was incomplete and somehow set it aside.  Thankfully, it does include chapter 11 and 12.  Here is Sarah van der Pas' translation (emphasis is hers, I believe):


And the temple was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple. This saying goes back to the beginning of faith, and describes the battles of the Church with new symbols. What indeed does God's temple signify but Christ, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells corporeally?1 It is said to be open because Christ has already been born, suffered, been resurrected, and been elevated, and since it is in the Church that Christ is proclaimed to have done all this, consequently he is said to open the temple in heavenThe ark of the testament, in which the power of the two Testaments was written by God's finger, means the Church; according to Exodus, this ark has four golden rings with bars through them to be carried on,2 that is the four Gospels through which the Church is governed by the holy preachers. In it there is a golden pot with manna inside, that is the wisdom of the divine Word with the food of life; and also Aaron's rod,3 that is the proof of kingly priesthood. And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hailLightnings are miraculous signs, by which the minds of the unfaithful were struck so that they submitted to humility; whence the Psalmist: Thou wilt multiply lightnings, and trouble them.4 It is appropriate for the voices, that is the preachers, to come after the lightnings, because, in order to bring the incredulous to faith by speaking, the preachers first displayed new miracles. After words there follow thunders in order for those who despise voices to be shaken by terror of the judgment. Then an earthquake, that is persecution, which is also indicated by hail; for just as hail gets crushed as it crushes the fruits of the earth, and the earth bears fruit again, when the furious multitude of the Gentiles tried to take the name of God away from the earth, it was itself reduced to naught, either by force or by being changed for the better — for quite many of them came to Christ's faith.

(1) Col. 2:9.

(2) Ex. 25:12-14.

(3) Heb. 9:4.

(4) Probably a variant of Ps. 143:6, but also reminiscent of Ps. 17:15.




And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet. The woman clothed with the sun is blessed Virgin Mary, covered with the power of the Most High. A genus, namely the Church, is also understood in her. The Church is not called a woman by reason of weakness, but because it gives birth every day to new people, with whom the general body of Christ is being formed. So the Church is clothed with the sun according to this: As many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.1 Indeed Christ is the Sun of justice,2 and the brightness of eternal light.3 The moon, which wanes as time passes, represents the mutability of time; and since the Church despises it, it is as if it pressed it down under its feet. Note also that there are some things in the following that do not correspond to the species, but to the genus. And on her head a crown of twelve starsThe twelve stars the crown is fitted with are the twelve apostles, through whom the Head of the Church, that is Christ, first won victory. They are called stars because the reason of truth illuminates the darkness of ignorance.



And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. This cannot refer specifically to blessed Mary, but it refers to the Church, which suffers here a certain difficulty in childbirth when it tries to give birth once again to people it had already given birth to, until, according to the apostle's saying, we all meet unto a perfect man.4



And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his heads seven diadems. The Devil is called a dragon because of his evilness, great because of the manifoldness of his snares, and red because of his murders. He is seen in heaven, that is in the Church, not because he possesses it, but because he opposes it. By his heads and horns is indicated his entire kingdom, as if seven heads were coming against the seven churches, seven wicked spirits against the sevenfold Spirit of God, and ten horns against the ten commandments of the law — but we shall speak about all this more at length in the following.

(1) Gal. 3:27.

(2) Mal. 4:2.

(3) Wis. 7:26.

(4) Eph. 4:13.

Like some other authors, while Alcuin sees glimmers of Mary, he ultimately refers the text to being the church.  He does not link this text to the bodily assumption. 

This is indeed from a Commentary on Revelation, and it is from the early Medieval period.