Woman of the Apocalypse
1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered. 3 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. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered: that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. 5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her son was taken up to God and to his throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her, a thousand two hundred sixty days.
7 And there was a great battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels. 8 And they prevailed not: neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world. And he was cast unto the earth: and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of the testimony: and they loved not their lives unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens, and you that dwell therein. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man child. 14 And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the desert, unto her place, where she is nourished for a time and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth, after the woman, water, as it were a river: that he might cause her to be carried away by the river. 16 And the earth helped the woman: and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. 18 And he stood upon the sand of the sea.''
Commentators who adhere to Reform Theology and are Amillennial in their eschatology identify the woman as the Church, and the man-child she gives birth to are the saints.  According to this interpretation, Revelation 12:17 describes the remnant of the woman's seed as those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. The offspring of the Woman, the Woman's seed, then refers to the saints. The man child "who shall rule the nations with a rod of iron" is a symbol of the faithful members of the Church. In Revelation 2:18-29, the Church in Thyatira is promised that the faithful shall rule the nations with a rod of iron. In Revelation 19:15 the same thing is stated of Jesus. In Galatians 4:26, Paul the Apostle refers to the "New Jerusalem" as "our mother" and in Revelation 21:2 and Ephesians 5:21-32, the New Jerusalem and the Church is portrayed as the Bride of Christ.
The Catholic Church recognizes in the 'woman' primarily the Church herself. However, given the similarities to Mary's life, The Church acknowledges what it considers an invitation in the holy verses for the reader to ponder the mysteries between The Mother of God and the Church.
Dispensational Premillennialists identify the woman as the nation of Israel. There are several reasons given to support this interpretation. The woman is said to be clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and twelve stars. These symbols are drawn from Genesis 37:9–11, in which Joseph has a dream of the sun and moon symbolizing his father and mother, and stars representing his brothers, which bow down to him. The Old Testament's prophets referred to Israel as a "woman" (Isaiah 54:5-6; Jeremiah 4:31; Micah 4:9-10). The woman flees into the wilderness where she is nourished for 1260 days, the equivalent of three and a half years or forty-two months (cf. Rev. 11:1-3). According to this interpretation, these terms are used prophetically in Scripture either for the first half or the last half of the "Seventieth Week of Daniel," in Daniel 9:24-27, a prophecy specifically addressed to Daniel and his people, Israel (Dan. 9:24). In the latter part of the seventieth week, a remnant of Israel will flee into the wilderness to escape the persecution of Antichrist, who is called "the son of destruction," "the lawless one," and "whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan" (2 Thess. 2:1-12; cf. Rev. 12:4,9). Jesus, in the Olivet discourse, warned the people of this time which would occur just prior to His return to set up His earthly, Millennial kingdom (Matt. 24:15-22). Further, the archangel Michael is called the guardian over the sons of Israel in Dan. 12:1. And he will arise at that time of national Israel's tribulation (Dan. 12:1; cf. Rev. 12:7).
Catholic tradition assigns the identity of the woman to Mary after her assumption into heaven, where she is revealed in all her glory as the "Queen of Heaven" and the "Mediatrix of all graces." This view has been affirmed by Pope Pius X, Pope Pius XII, Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II. According to this view, the woman's "male child," is a reference to Jesus (Revelation 12:5), since he is destined to "rule all nations with a rod of iron" (Revelation 12:5). The dragon trying to devour the woman's child at the moment of his birth (Revelation 12:4) is a reference to Herod the Great's attempt to kill the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:16). Through his death and resurrection, Jesus "was snatched up to God and to his throne" (Revelation 12:5).
The Woman is also identified as Eve because she is part of the three-way conflict also involving her Seed and the Dragon, who is identified with the ancient serpent (the one from Eden) in Revelation 12:9 and Revelation 20:2. This mirrors the conflict in Genesis 3:15 between Eve, the serpent, and her unborn seed--which in turn is a symbol of the conflict between Mary, Satan, and Jesus.
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- ↑ http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=881
- ↑ "Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens." bampfa.berkeley.edu , accessed 2 December 2006
- ↑ Douay Rhiems http://www.newadvent.org/bible/rev012.htm
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Who's That Woman?
- ↑ Evangelium vitae (1995)
- ↑ Brading, D.A. Mexican Phoenix. Our Lady of Guadalupe: Image and Tradition Across Five Centuries. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2001.
- ↑ St. Pius X, Ad diem illum. ASS 36. 458 - 59: "No one of us does not know that that woman signifies the Virgin Mary, who brought forth our Head with her virginity intact. But the Apostle continues: 'And being with child, she cried out, laboring in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. ' Therefore John saw the Most Holy Mother of God already enjoying eternal happiness, and yet laboring from some hidden birth. With what birth? Surely ours, we who, being yet detained in exile, are still to be brought forth to the perfect love of God and eternal happiness."
- ↑ Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus. AAS 41. 762-63: "We frequently find theologians and preachers who, following the footsteps of the Holy Fathers, use words and events from sacred Scripture with some freedom to explain their belief in the Assumption... . And furthermore, the Scholastic doctors have considered the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as signified not only in the various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun, whom the Apostle John contemplated on the island of Patmos."
- ↑ Paul VI, Signum Magnum, May 13, 1967 AAS 59: "The great sign which the Apostle John saw in heaven, 'a woman clothed with the sun' is interpreted by the sacred liturgy, not without foundation, as referring to the most Blessed Mary, the Mother of all men by the grace of Christ the Redeemer."
- ↑ John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, March 15, 1987. Vatican Translation. #24: "... she who was the one 'full of grace' was brought into the mystery of Christ in order to be his Mother and thus the Holy Mother of God, through the Church remains in that mystery as 'the woman' spoken of by the Book of Genesis (3:15) at the beginning and by the Apocalypse (12:1) at the end of the history of salvation."
- ↑ The Woman of Revelation 12