Our Lady standing on the snake


#1

I remember from my youth statues of Our Lady standing on the snake. I know there is a Biblical reference for this “view” of Our Mother Mary, but I cannot locate it. It is something like “She who crushes the head of the serpent with her heel”? Could someone help me locate the Scriptural passage or passages I think I mean?

thank you!


#2

Genesis 3:15


#3

…i believe you will find it in revelation as well… not sure:confused:


#4

I can’t find that exact one, but how about these two?

“I will put emnity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:15

“And a great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Rev. 12:1


#5

As has been mentioned, that image was based on a mistranslation of Gen 3:15.

In the original Hebrew, the verse says “it will crush your head” meaning Eve’s offspring.

The later Greek version of the old testament translated it to “he will crush your head” supporting the Christological view that the prophesied offspring was to be the Messiah who was to be a “he”.

Still later, Jerome took a Mariological view when he wrote the Vulgate and translated it “she will crush your head” inferring that Mary is doing the crushing.

Jerome really has no support for his interpretation and this is admitted by most Catholic theologians, though many Marian theologians still maintain this mistranslation as being accurate.

David


#6

As to the scripture translations that **DavidB **referenced, you may also want to check out the article “WHO WILL CRUSH THE SERPENT’S HEAD?” catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9709chap.asp But I would also like to add this one: ROMANS 16:17-20

17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them. 18 For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent. 19 For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; 20 then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet.

It seems that Paul is pointing out that obedient (and humble) followers of Christ will crush satan under their feet (with God’s grace). Mary certainly qualifies as both obedient and humble. In fact, she is full of grace, and preeminently obedient – the ultimate serpent crusher. She is humanity’s “solitary boast”.


DISCLAIMER:
The above take on scripture is just something that occured to me. I haven’t checked this out with any commentaries on scripture, nor investigated if this interpretation conflicts in any way with magisterial teaching. So, take it with a grain of salt! :thumbsup:


#7

[quote=DavidB]As has been mentioned, that image was based on a mistranslation of Gen 3:15.

In the original Hebrew, the verse says “it will crush your head” meaning Eve’s offspring.

The later Greek version of the old testament translated it to “he will crush your head” supporting the Christological view that the prophesied offspring was to be the Messiah who was to be a “he”.

Still later, Jerome took a Mariological view when he wrote the Vulgate and translated it “she will crush your head” inferring that Mary is doing the crushing.

Jerome really has no support for his interpretation and this is admitted by most Catholic theologians, though many Marian theologians still maintain this mistranslation as being accurate.

David
[/quote]

My understanding is that the original Hebrew translation is “they will crush your head.”

The image of Our Lady trampling the head of a serpent if still a theologically sound image, even if there is n oexplicit Biblical warrant for it. Anything that is said of Jesus can be said, analogously, of his fellowers, of whom Mary is the exemplar.


#8

[quote=DavidB]As has been mentioned, that image was based on a mistranslation of Gen 3:15.

In the original Hebrew, the verse says “it will crush your head” meaning Eve’s offspring.

The later Greek version of the old testament translated it to “he will crush your head” supporting the Christological view that the prophesied offspring was to be the Messiah who was to be a “he”.

Still later, Jerome took a Mariological view when he wrote the Vulgate and translated it “she will crush your head” inferring that Mary is doing the crushing.

Jerome really has no support for his interpretation and this is admitted by most Catholic theologians, though many Marian theologians still maintain this mistranslation as being accurate.

David
[/quote]

DavidB,

To clarify a bit, Hebrew (like French and Spanish) has masculine and feminine genders but no separate neuter. So I’m pretty sure the Hebrew in Genesis 3:15 says “he will crush your head.” Latin, on the other hand, does not have separate verb/pronoun forms for the genders, although it does have all three (masculine, feminine, and neuter) genders. So St. Jerome’s translation into Latin would be “he/she/it will crush your head.” With that ambiguity, it is natural that people reading that passage with an eye to Marian devotion would take the “she” option and apply it to Mary.

  • Liberian

#9

[quote=Verbum Caro]As to the scripture translations that **DavidB **referenced, you may also want to check out the article “WHO WILL CRUSH THE SERPENT’S HEAD?” catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9709chap.asp But I would also like to add this one: ROMANS 16:17-20

It seems that Paul is pointing out that obedient (and humble) followers of Christ will crush satan under their feet (with God’s grace). Mary certainly qualifies as both obedient and humble. In fact, she is full of grace, and preeminently obedient – the ultimate serpent crusher. She is humanity’s “solitary boast”.


DISCLAIMER:
The above take on scripture is just something that occured to me. I haven’t checked this out with any commentaries on scripture, nor investigated if this interpretation conflicts in any way with magisterial teaching. So, take it with a grain of salt! :thumbsup:
[/quote]

That interpretation has the great advantage of not separating Mary from other Christians. Conversely - if that can be said of other Christians, it seems very odd indeed to leave her out.

The passage also seems to echo this:
[list]
*]You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked
*]Psa 91:9 Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your habitation,
[/list]## Since Jesus is the habitation of the Glory of God, this is striking.

[list]
*]
Psa 91:10 no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.
*]
Psa 91:11 For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways.
*]
Psa 91:12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
*]
Psa 91:13 You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
*]
Psa 91:14 Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
*]
Psa 91:15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him.
*]
Psa 91:16 With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
[/list]See the whole Psalm here

IOW Christians, including Mary, share in the Temptations of Christ.

Some such idea seems to be a legitimate inference from the fact that the psalm is quoted in the account of the Temptations. ##


#10

http://www.kensmen.com/catholic/medfront.gifOur Lady would not have had the Miraculous Medal struck like this if the Vulgate was a not a good translation.:thumbsup:


#11

There are two old testament “types” of Mary that also support the “she” interpretation. These are two old Testament women who defeated the enemies of Isreal…

Judges 5:24-26 24 "Most blessed of women be Ja’el, the wife of Heber the Ken’ite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed. 25 He asked water and she gave him milk, she brought him curds in a lordly bowl. 26 She put her hand to the tent peg and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet; she struck Sis’era a blow, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple.

The “crushed his head” links this verse back to Genesis… and potentially the “women most blessed” could like this verse forward to Luke and the visitation. Interesting to say the least…

I am sorry, but I cannot find the other reference, but there is another old testament “type” of Mary that fits the description of a woman “crushing” an enemy of Isreal… I thought it was Judith, but apparently not. I’ll have to listen to my Tim Staples tapes again. I wish that guy would quit making tape sets - I can’t stop buying the things!!!


#12

Thank you all so much for your responses. I have, as usual, learned and re-learned a great deal. From what I can gather, Mary - in her role as the perfect follower of Our Lord Jesus Christ - will lead the way in defeating Satan, as symbolized by the crushing of the serpent’s head. The translation of the Vulgate, if refering to Eve’s offspring, would then refer to Mary and to all of us who follow The Way. Being reminded of the Miraculous Medal seems to bolster this in that as a follower of Christ and obedient daughter of the Church, I am doing my part in crushing the serpent.

Would this be considered "on the right track’?


#13

[quote=Sacramentalist]Anything that is said of Jesus can be said, analogously, of his fellowers, of whom Mary is the exemplar.
[/quote]

WHAT?!?!

“Jesus died for the Sin of the World.”

Can that be also taken that you died for the Sin of the World?

Or that Mary died for the Sin of the World?

No.


#14

[quote=LSK]Thank you all so much for your responses. I have, as usual, learned and re-learned a great deal. From what I can gather, Mary - in her role as the perfect follower of Our Lord Jesus Christ - will lead the way in defeating Satan, as symbolized by the crushing of the serpent’s head. The translation of the Vulgate, if refering to Eve’s offspring, would then refer to Mary and to all of us who follow The Way. Being reminded of the Miraculous Medal seems to bolster this in that as a follower of Christ and obedient daughter of the Church, I am doing my part in crushing the serpent.

Would this be considered "on the right track’?
[/quote]

Not really. Some folks have taken a tangent here. First of all, the pronoun is singular and refers to Eve’s seed that actually does the crushing. It can only be referring to Jesus Himself. He’s the only one who crushed Satan. The interpretations that allow for the pronoun to refer to Mary or the Church are inaccurate and thus should be avoided. That is just not proper scriptural interpretation. Stick to what we know as fact, Jesus crushed Satan, not Mary, and not us. That the Miracuous Medal shows otherwise is just another reason to doubt the validity of that . . . but that’s another topic.

David


#15

[quote=Liberian]DavidB,

To clarify a bit, Hebrew (like French and Spanish) has masculine and feminine genders but no separate neuter. So I’m pretty sure the Hebrew in Genesis 3:15 says “he will crush your head.” Latin, on the other hand, does not have separate verb/pronoun forms for the genders, although it does have all three (masculine, feminine, and neuter) genders. So St. Jerome’s translation into Latin would be “he/she/it will crush your head.” With that ambiguity, it is natural that people reading that passage with an eye to Marian devotion would take the “she” option and apply it to Mary.

  • Liberian
    [/quote]

The masculine noun is attached to the word seed and in Hebrew is zera. That’s why the “it” could only be rendered “he”, because the seed that it refers to is masculine.

David


#16

[quote=DavidB]Not really. Some folks have taken a tangent here. First of all, the pronoun is singular and refers to Eve’s seed that actually does the crushing. It can only be referring to Jesus Himself. He’s the only one who crushed Satan. The interpretations that allow for the pronoun to refer to Mary or the Church are inaccurate and thus should be avoided. That is just not proper scriptural interpretation. Stick to what we know as fact, Jesus crushed Satan, not Mary, and not us. That the Miracuous Medal shows otherwise is just another reason to doubt the validity of that . . . but that’s another topic.

David
[/quote]

DavidB, when you say that "this is not proper scriptural interpretation" do you mean *translation? *I understand your concerns about the translation, but I beg to differ with you that the interpretation is incorrect. It seems to me that we must take all of scripture into account in order to interpret it correctly. The meaning of this passage is what we are after, and the question (that I take LSK to be asking) is whether or not the image of Our Lady crushing the head of a serpent is scripturally based. After all, the first part of Genesis 3:15 is “I will put enmity between you [serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. . .”

The Catholic Church is aware of the various translations, but the translations admit a meaning that is consistent with an image of Mary crushing the head of a serpent.

  1. In the doctrinal reflection of the Eastern Church, the expression “full of grace”, as we saw in the preceding catecheses, has been interpreted since the sixth century as a unique holiness which Mary enjoys throughout her existence. She thus initiates the new creation.

Along with Luke’s account of the Annunciation, Tradition and the Magisterium have seen in the so-called Protoevangelium (Gn 3:15) a scriptural source for the truth of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. On the basis of the ancient Latin version: “She will crush your head”, this text inspired many depictions of the Immaculata crushing the serpent under her feet.

On an earlier occasion we recalled that this version does not agree with the Hebrew text, in which it is not the woman but her offspring, her descendant, who will bruise the serpent’s head. This text then does not attribute the victory over Satan to Mary but to her Son. Nevertheless, since the biblical concept establishes a profound solidarity between the parent and the offspring, the depiction of the Immaculata crushing the serpent, not by her own power but through the grace of her Son, is consistent with the original meaning of the passage.

(From John Paul II’s audience on Wednesday, May 29th, 1996, published in English in L’Osservatore Romano, June 5th, 1996)

So, it seems to me that Leslie’s (LSK) summary was quite beautiful, consistent with scripture, and faithful to the Tradition of the Church.


#17

[quote=Verbum Caro]The Catholic Church is aware of the various translations, but the translations admit a meaning that is consistent with an image of Mary crushing the head of a serpent.

(From John Paul II’s audience on Wednesday, May 29th, 1996, published in English in L’Osservatore Romano, June 5th, 1996)

So, it seems to me that Leslie’s (LSK) summary was quite beautiful, consistent with scripture, and faithful to the Tradition of the Church.
[/quote]

The “woman” of Genesis 3:15 is interpreted to be both Israel and Mary. Originally, it was always assumed to be “Israel” only, even in the early days of the Church. Later, when Jerome mistranslated the “he” to “she”, he was interjecting his own interpretation into the translation, a “no-no” in academia, for it changes the meaning of the text. One can’t refer to a masculine noun, “seed”, with a feminine pronoun, “she” and call that accurate translation.

And ‘yes’, the scripture supports the emnity between them and the serpent, but who does the crushing is another matter entirely . . . that, scripture is clear, is reserved for the seed, who is Jesus. To infer anything more into it is just poor interpretation - and ‘yes’, I mean interpretation.

David


#18

quote=Verbum Carohe first part of Genesis 3:15 is “I will put enmity between you [serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. . .”

[/quote]

One must employ a Marian typology to arrive at the conclusion that this refers to Mary. It assumes a Marian reference in order to prove that it refers to Mary.

There you go, JPII is saying that this is referring to Jesus. Then he equivocates;

There’s the “but”. All this does is provide a rationalization to superimpose a Catholic view onto scripture. Scripture also establishes a profound solidarity between husband and wife: the two become one flesh.

Based on JPII’s reasoning, any of the ancestors of Jesus make the grade as well - why not a medal showing Ruth crushing the serpent?


#19

[quote=DavidB]…Jerome really has no support for his interpretation and this is admitted by most Catholic theologians, though many Marian theologians still maintain this mistranslation as being accurate.
[/quote]

I think you are going too far in removing Mary completely from the crushing of the head of the serpent. As Jimmy Akin explains so well:
…Christians have recognized (all the way back to the first century) that the woman and her seed mentioned in Genesis 3:15 …prophetically foreshadow Mary and Jesus. Thus, just as the first half of the verse, speaking of the enmity between the serpent and the woman, has been applied to Mary, the second half, speaking of the head crushing and heel striking, has also been applied to Mary due to the manuscript variant, though it properly applies to Jesus, given the original Hebrew.

This does not mean that the idea cannot be validly applied to Mary as well. Through her cooperation in the incarnation of Christ, so that the Son of God (who, from the cross, directly crushed the head of the serpent) became her seed, Mary did crush the head of the serpent. In the same way, the serpent struck at Christ on the cross, and indirectly struck at Mary’s heart as well, who had to witness the death of her own Son (cf. John 19:25-27). As the holy priest Simeon had told her years before:

[indent]“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against – and a sword will pierce through your own soul also – that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34b-35).

Thus Jesus crushed the serpent directly and was directly struck by the serpent; Mary, through her cooperation in the incarnation and her witnessing the sufferings and death of her Son, indirectly crushed the serpent and was indirectly struck by the serpent.
(see cin.org/users/james/questions/q105.htm)
[/indent]I don’t quite understand the rejection of Mary’s role in smashing the serpent’s head, since all followers of Christ also play a role here, albeit much smaller than Mary’s - and infinitely less that Our Lord. But he does let us participate in some way:
For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I would have you wise as to what is good and guileless as to what is evil; then the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
(Romans 16:19-20)
Then of course there’s quite a few OT “types” of Mary who slay the enemies of Israel through various methods of cutting off or striking the head. Tim Staples brought these out in some of his Marian apologetic talks. I don’t have the references with me right now, but you can probably find 'em online.

That is all,

-Peace in Christ-

DustinsDad


#20

[quote=DustinsDad]I think you are going too far in removing Mary completely from the crushing of the head of the serpent. As Jimmy Akin explains so well:…Christians have recognized (all the way back to the first century) that the woman and her seed mentioned in Genesis 3:15 …prophetically foreshadow Mary and Jesus. Thus, just as the first half of the verse, speaking of the enmity between the serpent and the woman, has been applied to Mary, the second half, speaking of the head crushing and heel striking, has also been applied to Mary due to the manuscript variant, though it properly applies to Jesus, given the original Hebrew.

This does not mean that the idea cannot be validly applied to Mary as well. Through her cooperation in the incarnation of Christ, so that the Son of God (who, from the cross, directly crushed the head of the serpent) became her seed, Mary did crush the head of the serpent. In the same way, the serpent struck at Christ on the cross, and indirectly struck at Mary’s heart as well, who had to witness the death of her own Son (cf. John 19:25-27). As the holy priest Simeon had told her years before:

[indent]“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against – and a sword will pierce through your own soul also – that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34b-35).

Thus Jesus crushed the serpent directly and was directly struck by the serpent; Mary, through her cooperation in the incarnation and her witnessing the sufferings and death of her Son, indirectly crushed the serpent and was indirectly struck by the serpent.

(see cin.org/users/james/questions/q105.htm)

[/indent]I don’t quite understand the rejection of Mary’s role in smashing the serpent’s head, since all followers of Christ also play a role here, albeit much smaller than Mary’s - and infinitely less that Our Lord. But he does let us participate in some way:For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I would have you wise as to what is good and guileless as to what is evil; then the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

(Romans 16:19-20)

Then of course there’s quite a few OT “types” of Mary who slay the enemies of Israel through various methods of cutting off or striking the head. Tim Staples brought these out in some of his Marian apologetic talks. I don’t have the references with me right now, but you can probably find 'em online.

That is all,

-Peace in Christ-

DustinsDad
[/quote]

Thank you, Dustin’s Dad and all the other faithful Catholics. I do, of course, prescribe to a Catholic interpretation of scripture (after all, it was the Church that first gathered and studied the writings that became scripture so why would I not be obedient to the Church Fathers’) and so it gives my heart peace to know I am on the right track in my understanding of Our Blessed Lady’s role in defeating satan and pointing the world towards her Son. I appreciate the help.

I found my Miraculous Medal given to me as a baby by my Grandmother. It was given to me when I was baptized - so it is almost 50 years old! To have a more profound, Scriptural understanding of the Lady’s place in Heaven helps me grow in my Catholic faith.

Again, thank you!


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