Rev. 12:2-5 : Why Mary, if the woman, cries in pain?

I am presently reading David B Currie’s book Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic. On page 174 he talks about the book of Revelations and how Roman Catholics see the woman in Rev 12 as Mary, Mother of God. Rev. 12:1, according to David, illustrates Mary as the Queen of Heaven. He then quotes Rev. 12:2-5: “She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth…She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” Now, if Mary were truly born without sin (the Immaculate Conception), and if this woman in Revelations is her, then why would she suffer the pains of childbirth (“cired out in pain as she was about to give birth”)?

According to Genesis, Eve and her descendants are to suffer for Original Sin the punishment of pain in childbirth:

"To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children…’ " (Gen 3.16)

I’m just confused as to how Mary can be free of Original Sin and yet still suffers the punishment of Original Sin. I was thinking that maybe she cried out in pain, not because of physical pain, but a pain resulting from a foreknowledge that her son, Christ, was to die.

Related to this topic, I’m also wondering about the Assumption. Did Mary die prior to being Assumed? If so, why did she suffer the punishment of Original Sin if she never had the stain of Original Sin?

[quote=Madaglan]I am presently reading David B Currie’s book Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic. On page 174 he talks about the book of Revelations and how Roman Catholics see the woman in Rev 12 as Mary, Mother of God. Rev. 12:1, according to David, illustrates Mary as the Queen of Heaven. He then quotes Rev. 12:2-5: “She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth…She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” Now, if Mary were truly born without sin (the Immaculate Conception), and if this woman in Revelations is her, then why would she suffer the pains of childbirth (“cired out in pain as she was about to give birth”)?

According to Genesis, Eve and her descendants are to suffer for Original Sin the punishment of pain in childbirth:

"To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children…’ " (Gen 3.16)

I’m just confused as to how Mary can be free of Original Sin and yet still suffers the punishment of Original Sin.

Related to this topic, I’m also wondering about the Assumption. Did Mary die prior to being Assumed? If so, why did she suffer the punishment of Original Sin if she never had the stain of Original Sin?
[/quote]

I doubt very much it is Mary in person - I find the woman = Israel interpretation much more probable :slight_smile:

Israel often cries out like a woman in childbirth - see also John 16.33 and Romans 8.19-22, just for starters. :slight_smile:

In this context, the pangs of childbirth are very likely to mean that the purpose of God is on the brink of fulfilment - and that fulfilment, is a theme running through the book ##

[quote=Madaglan]Related to this topic, I’m also wondering about the Assumption. Did Mary die prior to being Assumed? If so, why did she suffer the punishment of Original Sin if she never had the stain of Original Sin?
[/quote]

My understanding of original sin is not so much that it is a “stain” in the sense of something we do, but it is a “hole” in that we lack the sanctifying grace of God. In other words, when Adam and Eve lost the sanctifying grace of God at the fall due to their sin, they no longer had anything to pass on to us. However, God preserved the Holy Mother of God from this by infusing her with His grace at her conception which is why she is called “full of grace.”

Because the woman isn’t just representing Mary. The woman also represent Israel, the people from whom the Messiah comes - Mary being the specific woman who does give birth - and there was a lot of pain for the Jewish people in their wait and being scattered waiting for a savior. The woman (and Mary) also later represents the Church as a whole, out in the desert being chased as were early Christians.

So the representation has many layers … and the punishment in Genesis also says something like, “your pains in labor will be increased greatly,” - so appears there might have been at least some nominal pain in child birth even if there had never been any original sin.

Marcia

[quote=Gottle of Geer]## I doubt very much it is Mary in person - I find the woman = Israel interpretation much more probable :slight_smile:

Israel often cries out like a woman in childbirth - see also John 16.33 and Romans 8.19-22, just for starters. :slight_smile:

In this context, the pangs of childbirth are very likely to mean that the purpose of God is on the brink of fulfilment - and that fulfilment, is a theme running through the book ##
[/quote]

I like what you say about the brink of fulfilment. However, my understanding is that the woman in the Apocalypse is Mary. It is also an image of the Church. But the Church has always taught that Mary is an icon of the Church, so it works either way.

I doubt very much it is Mary in person - I find the woman = Israel interpretation much more probable :slight_smile:

Israel often cries out like a woman in childbirth - see also John 16.33 and Romans 8.19-22, just for starters. :slight_smile:

In this context, the pangs of childbirth are very likely to mean that the purpose of God is on the brink of fulfilment - and that fulfilment, is a theme running through the book ##

I think that interpretation works a little better. But I’m still confused about how that would fit in with the preceding passage, which speaks of the woman: “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) I usually associate this image with Mary as Queen of Heaven. In fact, my rosary pamphlet has under the Fifth Glorious Mystery (The Coronation) the verse Rev 12:1 to describe the event. The “twelve stars” in Rev 12:1 even further associate the woman with Israel. If the woman in Revelations is just Israel, then what faith can we put in the Coronation of Mary?

(Sorry, I typed all that as everyone else was answering my last post)

This is just my opinion, but I think this is how it might work.

I believe the woman being referred to in Revelation is Mary. I believe she suffered the pains of child birth, just as any other mother would-probably for at least a couple of reasons.

  1. Even though Mary was without sin, original or otherwise, she still lived in a *fallen *world where sin was present. Having pain during childbirth was just the way the world worked after the Fall-it’s now part of the natural order. She would’ve also had to work (toil) to grow food, which was also a consequence of the Fall. This doesn’t mean that she actually sinned, but suffered the consequences of the first sin. When sin entered the world, it changed the natural laws of the earth. Mary would’ve had to live by those laws.

  2. I know theologians debate back and forth whether She felt pain during childbirth or not, but I believe she did. Why would God spare her that? She went through every experience that a mother could go through, so why would childbirth be any exception? If there were exceptions to her motherhood or womanhood, we wouldn’t be able to relate to her as we do. If she wasn’t allowed to be spared the pain of watching her Son die, why would she be spared the pain of giving birth to Him?

Plus, speaking as a mother, labor is an extremely painful event-but there is great joy when you’ve worked so hard for so long and then you get to see your child’s face for the first time. There’s almost a special grace with it-it’s like a special reward for all of your hard work. I think God would have blessed her this way. No, I’m not saying that labor is a blessing per se, but the after-effects are phenominal, which I guess makes labor a blessing in some aspect, too.

Well, I hope I’ve made some sense. It’s a lot easier for me to understand what I’m trying to say then it is for me to get other people to understand it. Sorry if it’s confusing.

Scout :tiphat:

[quote=Madaglan]I think that interpretation works a little better. But I’m still confused about how that would fit in with the preceding passage, which speaks of the woman: “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) I usually associate this image with Mary as Queen of Heaven. In fact, my rosary pamphlet has under the Fifth Glorious Mystery (The Coronation) the verse Rev 12:1 to describe the event. The “twelve stars” in Rev 12:1 even further associate the woman with Israel. If the woman in Revelations is just Israel, then what faith can we put in the Coronation of Mary?

(Sorry, I typed all that as everyone else was answering my last post)
[/quote]

This is just a thought, not sure if it’s correct or not, but perhaps the twelve stars represents the Twelve Tribes of Israel? Since Jesus, by his own heritage and lineage, should’ve been King of Israel, it would only be fitting that His Mother would be crowned as the Queen Mother. Perhaps the crown she received in heaven is symbolic of what should’ve been on earth-had proper lineage been followed.

Scout :tiphat:

regarding the Assumption and if Mary died prior to it - I don’t think there’s anything to preclude Mary from dying before being assumed into HEaven. Christ did not have original sin either, but He died. So Mary’s immaculateness wouldn’t have kept her from dying either IMO. BUt there’s no definitive doctrine on the matter - theologians have speculated about it for centuries without resulting dogma beyond that Mary was assumed at the end of her earthly life.

The pain was greatly increased, not added out of thin air. Genesis never says that childbirth wasn’t uncomfortable from the start.

if the verses are interpreted as referring to Mary as mother of the Redeemer, recall that Simeon foretold her heart would be pierced by a sword, the traditional seven sorrows, and also that Rachel, weeping for her children, is a type of Mary. I am sure there are several levels of meaning here.

[quote=Minerva]regarding the Assumption and if Mary died prior to it - I don’t think there’s anything to preclude Mary from dying before being assumed into HEaven. Christ did not have original sin either, but He died. So Mary’s immaculateness wouldn’t have kept her from dying either IMO.
[/quote]

Likewise, not having original sin would not prevent Mary from experiencing pain in child birth.

Could be referring to a spirtual pain for Mary . Remember a sword will pierce your soul. Will that happened to Mary in a spirtual sense at Calvary but no Roman soldeir threw a sord at Mary. But her soul was pierced by the sword of pain. Maybe the same thing is going on here. Also the interprettion while it could be partially literal in regards to Mary as the Mother could have a polyvalent meaning as Mary is the mother of the church and at times represents the church and during this time the church was being birthed and suffering it shares of pains by means of Martydom and persecution.

Pain doesn’t exist because of original sin, and people don’t experience pain solely because they sin. Even in the pre-Fall Garden, there would’ve been pain. It is intrinsic to the type of creatures God created. See C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain for a wonderful explanation.

– Mark L. Chance.

[quote=Madaglan]I think that interpretation works a little better. But I’m still confused about how that would fit in with the preceding passage, which speaks of the woman: “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) I usually associate this image with Mary as Queen of Heaven. In fact, my rosary pamphlet has under the Fifth Glorious Mystery (The Coronation) the verse Rev 12:1 to describe the event. The “twelve stars” in Rev 12:1 even further associate the woman with Israel. If the woman in Revelations is just Israel, then what faith can we put in the Coronation of Mary?

(Sorry, I typed all that as everyone else was answering my last post)
[/quote]

The 12 stars are probably an echo of Genesis 37.9:

Gen 37:6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

Gen 37:7 For, behold, we [were] binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

Gen 37:8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

Gen 37:9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

Gen 37:10 And he told [it] to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What [is] this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

Gen 37:11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying. [compare Luke 2.51] -

and

Song of Songs 6:10 Who [is] she [that] looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, [and] terrible as [an army] with banners? (Anyone in the Legion of Mary will be familiar with this :D)

Mary may be hinted at - it’s interesting that both the woman in John 19 and that in Rev. 12 are unnamed - a hint at association, perhaps ? But I don’t think there is more than a hint - after all, Mary was not given wings, as the woman in Rev. 12 is. Neither was Israel, true; but, the OT writers would have been familiar with Canaanite messenger-gods, who were winged; I’m guessing that they are the ultimate literary source of the wings of the woman. My guess is that the book was written during the siege of Jerusalem, and that the wings are those of Roman legionary eagles. Images of the godesses Fortuna, Tyche, and similar divinities were also winged.

The flight of the woman may be the flight of the Jerusalem Church from Jerusalem to Pella, as mentioned in Eusebius. Which would put the book no later than 70 AD; and would explain the references to the Temple being “trodden underfoot” and “measured” - which are both OT echoes.

The whole book is made up of the OT - fairly studded with quotations and allusions; this chapter not least. So the OT texts will often give us a clue to the meaning of the NT text.

I’ve heard only very recently that Mary’s coronation is a doctrine - I’m not convinced that it can be; after all, how would the Church know of it ? ##

[quote=Madaglan]I think that interpretation works a little better. But I’m still confused about how that would fit in with the preceding passage, which speaks of the woman: “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) I usually associate this image with Mary as Queen of Heaven. In fact, my rosary pamphlet has under the Fifth Glorious Mystery (The Coronation) the verse Rev 12:1 to describe the event. The “twelve stars” in Rev 12:1 even further associate the woman with Israel. If the woman in Revelations is just Israel, then what faith can we put in the Coronation of Mary?

(Sorry, I typed all that as everyone else was answering my last post)
[/quote]

Rev 12:5 "She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne."
This is a clear allusion to Jesus. If the child born of the woman is Jesus, it is logical to assert that the woman is Mary. That is not to say that the woman cannot also represent Israel, but it certainly means that she must also be Mary.

[quote=Gottle of Geer]## The 12 stars are probably an echo of Genesis 37.9:

Gen 37:6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

Gen 37:7 For, behold, we [were] binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

Gen 37:8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

Gen 37:9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

[/quote]

The Sun, moon and stars may indeed be signs of Israel but they are not the Woman. They are only associated with the Woman.

So the 12 stars can represent the 12 tribes of Israel, or the 12 apostles, however they just show that the Woman is associated with Israel and the Church, not that she is either.

In fact none of the symbols in Revelation 12 is a collective entity like Israel. Each represents an individual. The Child is Jesus, the Dragon is Satan. The stars that fall from the sky are individual angels. Therefore the Woman, the Mother of Jesus is also an individual. Mary.

Mary may be hinted at - it’s interesting that both the woman in John 19 and that in Rev. 12 are unnamed - a hint at association, perhaps ? But I don’t think there is more than a hint -

It is more than a hint. Who was Jesus’s Mother?

Similarly the same sign of a Woman and Child appears in Isaiah 7, and no-one has any trouble recognizing that as Jesus and Mary.

Mary was not given wings, as the woman in Rev. 12 is. Neither was Israel, true; but, the OT writers would have been familiar with Canaanite messenger-gods, who were winged; I’m guessing that they are the ultimate literary source of the wings of the woman. My guess is that the book was written during the siege of Jerusalem, and that the wings are those of Roman legionary eagles. Images of the godesses Fortuna, Tyche, and similar divinities were also winged.

The Woman given wings was being persecuted by the Dragon, and she was helped to flee. Again, the simplest explanation is the persecution by Herod that caused the flight into Egypt, or one of the later persecution episodes.

I’ve heard only very recently that Mary’s coronation is a doctrine

Its a doctrine but not a dogma

  • I’m not convinced that it can be; after all, how would the Church know of it ? ##

The Holy Spirit.

[quote=WBB]My understanding of original sin is not so much that it is a “stain” in the sense of something we do, but it is a “hole” in that we lack the sanctifying grace of God. In other words, when Adam and Eve lost the sanctifying grace of God at the fall due to their sin, they no longer had anything to pass on to us. However, God preserved the Holy Mother of God from this by infusing her with His grace at her conception which is why she is called “full of grace.”
[/quote]

The great Catholic contemplative known only as the Theologia Germanica wrote correctly and beautifully of what caused Adam to fall ,hence what fell and died in Adam rose and lived in Christ.

ccel.org/t/theo_ger/theologia09.htm

Is it not a wonderful expression of our Judaeo-Christian faith that we know that the obstacles to a true life in Christ are the prejudices we inherited through geographic,cultural and historical circumstances and these can be removed through experience.

[quote=Maccabees]Could be referring to a spirtual pain for Mary . Remember a sword will pierce your soul. Will that happened to Mary in a spirtual sense at Calvary but no Roman soldeir threw a sord at Mary. But her soul was pierced by the sword of pain. Maybe the same thing is going on here. Also the interprettion while it could be partially literal in regards to Mary as the Mother could have a polyvalent meaning as Mary is the mother of the church and at times represents the church and during this time the church was being birthed and suffering it shares of pains by means of Martydom and persecution.
[/quote]

Speaking of spiritual pain and Calvary… wouldn’t it also be fitting to say that in her pain in witnessing the Crucifixion, she also “gave birth” to all of us as her spiritual sons and daughters?

The woman in Rev 12 in my understanding is a figure of Holy Israel, Holy Mary, and Holy Mother Church.

Mary is the icon of Holy Judaism, being a devout and pious Jew, while also an icon of Holy Mother Church, in her piety and devotion toward our Lord Jesus Christ. She is the hinge of the Old Covenant and the New with regard to most pious creatures of God. She is the most perfect example of the olive branch of David, being ceaselessly devout before and after the New Covenant.

Since she literally gave birth to the savior, that the figure points to her is readily appearant.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.