Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Is Mary the woman in Revelation?

Many commentators identify the woman in Rev 12 as a feminine personification of Israel, and they cite OT passages to bolster that identification. Catholic apologists counter that if two of the three figures in Rev 12 are individuals, then it creates the presumption that the women is an individual, too:

1. The Serpent = The Devil                            Individual (Satan) 

2. The Child = The Messiah                           Individual (Christ) 

3. The Woman = Mother of the Messiah        Individual (Mary)

But there are some problems with that argument:

i) Jews thought not merely in terms of parentage but ancestry. Family trees. Indeed, the NT contains two genealogies of Jesus (Matthew, Luke). So while the mother of Jesus is an individual (Mary), the symbolic maternal figure in Rev 12 can easily be a corporate emblem. 

ii) While the Devil is an individual, it doesn't follow that the Satanic figure in Rev 12 only represents the Devil. After all, Revelation also depicts demons. So the Satanic figure in Rev 12 can function as a synecdoche, not only standing for the Devil but his entourage of fallen angels. It's not just Satan who is defeated in Revelation, but the dark side generally. 


  1. Revelation 12:6 describes the woman fleeing into the wilderness. Surely this is a metaphor for the long exile of Israel.

    It doesn't make sense applied to Mary.

  2. Some see the child not as Christ alone, but the church. In the past I would have rejected that idea, but it makes some sense now. The woman could represent both Mary and Israel, the Dragon represent Satan and his minions and the child Christ and His body the church.

  3. I think Eric Svendsen also once pointed out that in 12:17, the "virgin" Mary has multiple offspring.