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A Revelation Study special in depth feature: The women in chapters 12 and 17

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

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Special Focus Feature:
Is the "Woman clothed with the Sun" in Revelation 12, the Virgin Mary?


who, or what, is the “Other Woman” in chapter 17 of The Apocalypse

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me Speaking words of wisdom, let it be And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me Speaking words of wisdom, let it be Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be Whisper words of wisdom, let it be..."
"Let it be", written and sung by Paul McCartney, credited to Lennon/McCartney, 1970, Apple records (see below)
      We took a quick sharp swing at this one in an inline tangent when we went through chapter 12, but the answer was brief, and didn't come anywhere close to why anybody would even ask the question. Which is why we're here now.
      And from the start of it, and to state it clearly and implicitly: this is NOT a hatchet job on the Virgin Mary. No, it is not. There is nothing good that can come from attacking her as the human woman who gave birth to the Messiah. Again, that is not what we are doing here. The statements and teachings about her that came, in many cases, thousands of years after she lived in both the Eastern and Western churches, are not her fault and cannot be blamed on anything she said or did. In fact, the one thing Mary did say about her son sums it up. In John 2, she tells the servants: "Do whatever He tells you to do." We would do well to live by that.
      Incidentally, according to Sir Paul, that song we led with wasn't about the subject of this essay, and has been sung in church services by those so inclined, but, instead, he wrote about his own mother. See link below.

      There's no way around it. This subject is a powder keg. Any answer is liable to get under somebody's skin on one side or the other and invite everything from even more hate mail than usual, or even somebody stopping by with a bucket of tar and a bag of feathers, if not firewood.
      Well, the Desk is used to that. It has gotten death threats before (from a 419 'Nigerian bank transfer' scammer (see link below)) and been threatened with a 'arse kicking' before (for pointing out in sports coverage that race car driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. had been married three times and Teresa was not Dale Jr.'s mother). So why should this be different?
      Incidentally, the scammer's threat never materialized and the race fan later said he over-reacted.

      Along the winding path of this one we will look at the special status some Christian groups have given the woman we are going to call "The Virgin Mary" just to differentiate her from the other 'Mary's of note in the New Testament, including the woman called Magdalene, and the one that was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and the one that was mother of John Mark from Acts 12 (there is no evidence either way that any of these Mary's were the same Mary). When you say some form of 'the Virgin' there is no doubt as to which Mary you're talking about. Which is good enough for this outing. So to keep things clear, when we mention 'the Virgin' we are discussing the teachings the Roman Catholic church, and others, have attached to the human woman we call Mary, the wife of Joseph.

      And we're going to ignore propaganda that emphatically states that the Roman Church, and select others, do not worship the Virgin and look at actual practices including a slew of documentation otherwise, such as the anthem of the former Papal States in Italy which begins with the lyrics (in English, see link below for the original language):

"We Want God, Virgin Mary!
Hark what We have to say!
We summon You, O Pious Mother!
Fulfill the Wishes of your sons!

Prithee! Bless, O Mother, to the cry of Faith!
We Want God, Who Is Our Father!...."
National Anthem Of The State Of The Church / Papal States (751 - 1870) - "Noi Vogliam Dio!" (1790 - 1857) (English translation, see below)

      And then, after we slog though that swamp, we're going to look at something else involving the 'other woman' in Revelation, and something else in this world, and ask another question, and possibly make somebody else angry. So it goes.

      The Roman church can say what it wants about how the Vatican has not attempted to make a deity out of the betrothed wife of Joseph, but they cannot deny the rulings of the four doctrines of the church concerning the Virgin that include the immaculate conception that was an 1854 council ruling, and not something found in the Bible. That is a decision that was made some one thousand nine hundred years after the lady was born. The reason they did that was to get around the confounding complexity that arises from the doctrine of "original sin", which also does not have a solid foundation in Scripture. There is that line from Romans, "for all Have Sinned", which is talking about adults, and there's some stuff about 'the natural man' and the weaknesses of the flesh, but to mindlessly run down that road is foolishness based on power and control (and profit), not faith. There is a page below from that tries to explain exactly what is meant by the term “immaculate conception”, and no, it is not a “virgin birth” as apparently Mary did have a human father, but it is no less mystical.
      Another teaching of the church about her is that she was assumed bodily into heaven instead of facing an Earthly death. Or in another version, after she did die she was restored after three days and then taken up. It was Pope Pius the Twelfth that signed off on that one in 1950 in “Defining the Dogma of the Assumption”. There's a link below to that on a Vatican page.
      And yes, both general teachings were floating around within various local and regional congregations for ages before they were formerly adopted by Rome. The same can be said for the Earth Centered view of the Universe that got Galileo in trouble. A point that underscores the fallacy of basing your theology on the idea of "we've always thought about it like that."
      The page from Pius the Twelfth includes this line: “...when it was solemnly proclaimed that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God...”, which is the Greek word "Theotokos", remember that, we'll come back to it. As for the 'four doctrines', there's a link below to more about them.

      The speculation of her early life before the visit by the angel that changed her life is exactly that: Speculation. The story of her 'living in the temple' from her own birth until her betrothal to Joseph is total fiction. See link below where that is talked about in another 'falsely attributed' book, "proto James".

      There is no word about her fate after the mention of her in Acts 1 although Paul does mention her linage in Galatians 4. We'll go rummaging through some other sources later, some even less reliable than the psuedographical "Gospel of Mary" which was supposedly written by Mary Magdalene, not the Virgin, and in any case was unknown to the early translators such as Jerome, and didn't appear in the early versions of the Bible and the oldest fragments date from around 300 AD. A link is below to the book as usually accepted as an interesting, but otherwise not authoritative text.

      The only information with any veracity about the woman known as the Virgin Mary is from the various verses scattered across the early parts of the four gospels, and then the beginning of Acts.
      When compared with the prophecies that 'the virgin will conceive' in Isaiah 7, the Mary described in the Gospel is spot on. But one of the fallacies of the teachings that have developed was that Mary was "ever virgin" and Joseph was the “most chaste spouse”, which gives birth to the infamous “Marian Doctrine” which we will get to. This is in direct contradiction of a number of Scriptures, including Matthew 12:46; Mark 6:3; Luke 2:7; John 7:5, and the various statements about James (the Just, etc) in Acts and Galatians 1, and in Josephes's Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, chapter 9:

“When therefore Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead; and Albinus was but upon the road. So he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James: and some others; [or, some of his companions.] And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.”
- Joesephus (see source below)

      There are those in Rome, and in the East, which we'll get to in a second, that maintain that James and the others were “Half” or “Step” siblings of Jesus, that they were Joseph's kids from a previous marriage. When you read the passages that mention Joseph, it becomes obvious that that is simply wishful thinking and ignores the verse in Matthew 1 where it says Joseph took her as his wife, and did not “eginosken” (the first century euphemism for “making whoopee”) her until she had given birth. It says “heos” (until), which means after she was back to usual after the birth, they “got a room”.
      Which brings us neatly back to Joseph, instead of solely talking about his wife, and she did indeed become his wife instead of just his 'finance'. The idea that Mary never had sex with Joseph, making her 'ever virgin' and him 'most chaste' is nonsense and is clearly not supported by scripture. In fact, the statement that they refrained forever stretches reality even further. Witness the logical contortions that accompany the following:

“Mary’s virginity keeps the physical sign of an interior reality intact. Doing that took a miracle, but no more of a miracle than it took for Jesus, after his resurrection, to enter the room where His disciples awaited Him even though the door was locked (Jn 20:19). That’s also one of the reasons why Mary and Joseph refrained from normal marital relations. Her virginity was too central to her identity to do otherwise.”
- The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology (link below)
      That entire paragraph.... No, make that, those 73 words, and especially the last two sentences, are totally and completely “sustainably organic bovine based fertilizer”, and have no basis in scripture (except for the bit from John), and, in fact, directly contradict several other verses.
      Later on the same page they maintain that Mary was like, or a 'type of' in the circles of religious scholars, the Ark of the Covenant and anybody that touched her would die instantly. Something else that is totally unsupported in Scripture, or even common sense.

      Of course, this entire body of teachings didn't appear all at once. And a mythological superstructure surrounding her built up over the centuries since the beginning of the church. You don't have to look too far in Europe to find relics of the Virgin, such as what is supposed to at least some of the clothing she was wearing at the Annunciation (or the Birth of Christ, or both, the story is somewhat convoluted) in the crypt of the Chartres Cathedral in France.
      The story of the preservation of the relic during a fire is interesting, and the reconstruction of the existing edifice using the remains of the original is a remarkable achievement. But the idea that a piece of clothing that was, at the time, totally unremarkable to its owner would have been preserved for several hundred years, not only through the birth it was associated with, but then through Egypt, and later Nazareth, and then end up several thousand kilometers away, and in the possession of Emperor Charles the Bald, who was Charlemagne's grandson, who gave it to the church in 876. Supposedly, it was given to Charlemagne by the Regent of the Eastern Roman Empire, Irene, between 800 and 802 before she was deposed by her own subjects and exiled.
      It's a nice story. But that is exactly all it is, especially considering the 'dress' in the display is silk. A luxury commodity and something not usually worn by young peasant girls in Judea during Roman times. There's a link to a page below that explains that while the Romans knew about silk, that was about it.

      The idea that Mary would have had a tunic of silk is beyond acceptance. Something the Roman Church seems to realize as they have not officially declared that it has anything to do with the Virgin. Then you see that the official website for the cathedral uses an icon of a representation of the tunic, with a royal crown above it.
      But the fact that the relic is most likely a good example of official marketing by the local Catholic hierarchy and the fact that the commoners who paid for not only the cathedral, but the bishop's palace didn't have access to the information to question what they were being told did not stop thousands of people a year who stood in line to see it. And once the 'health emergency' is over, they'll be buying tickets from the Cathedral's website again. You can as well at the link below.

      Another aspect of the Virgin that has no relevance to the known life of the woman Mary but will come into play as we look at a couple of passages in the Apocalypse of John is seen in some of the artwork at Chartres but can be found elsewhere as well, even in the US, just off Interstate 4 in Orlando Florida: The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe.
      The shrine states that it has been constructed "by tourists, for tourists" to give comfort and guidance to those visiting the various parks and resorts throughout central Florida. In the facilities gift shop, yes, they have a gift shop, and it is a nice one, you can even buy holy water from the basilica's font.
      There are several works of art in the buildings that tell part of the story of the gospels, including depictions of the Crucifixion and the Risen Christ. But there are also a number of works of others, including the angel Gabriel, and several depicting the namesake of the facility. You can see them, and they are worth seeing, on the official website of the shrine, see below.
      The point of that detour off I-4 and Vineland Avenue is that the basilica is dedicated to the mother, in a role later assigned by men, not to the Son who was the Messiah and Savior of the world. There's a link below to more about the basilica.

      Besides Florida, there is no lack of images of the crowning of Mary as the “queen of heaven”, going back at least a thousand years, including being carved into the stones of various cathedrals and other churches in Europe and elsewhere. And they're not all Catholic. The teaching is mentioned in the Church of England, and in some Lutheran synods as well. Although to his credit, Martin Luther later walked back several of the comments he had made early on that border on “Mariolatry” as it is called. However the Anglican church has maintained some devotion to the virgin. There is a link below to a service in the Church of England that even recites some of the “hail Mary” prayer.

      Besides the absolute theological nonsense of the idea of Mary being the Queen of Heaven, it introduces some seriously weird ideas in regard to the Trinity, and brings right back into the discussion the deification of a human woman.

      Time to look at the passages in Revelation that may or may not involve her.

      The first section is chapter 12 verses 1 and 2. The woman is seen in heaven or just in the sky, 'clothed with the sun', with the moon under her feet, and a crown of 12 stars. Then it states that she is in the final stages of labor and is all but actively giving birth.
      The plot thickens with the appearance of a critter that wants to devour the baby because of who, and what, the child is and what he will do.
      When the baby is born he is immediately caught up to God.
      Meanwhile the woman flees into the wilderness where a place was prepared for her by God, where she will be taken care of for three and a half years. Later we find out that she was given the wings of an eagle to get there.
      According to various Catholic theologians including several Popes, and various writers since about 600, the woman in 12 is the Virgin. This statement is from John Paul II:

“The mutual relationship between the mystery of the Church and Mary appears clearly in the “great portent” described in the Book of Revelation: ‘A great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars’ (12:1)....”
See link to below
      Now, focus on verse 17.
      The dragon is very upset by both developments and does something particular to a very finite group of people. He makes “battle and strife” against somebody:
      In the Greek text, “loipon tou spermatos autes” (the remainder of the offspring / seed of her).

      This is a key point, there is NOTHING in the text here in Revelation that the male child that is taken up to God is HER firstborn (or only) child who was to rule, implying that the child was royalty.
      So, no, this is not a direct representation of Mary, but the woman is instead either the tribe of Judah or perhaps all of Israel. And to fair, her linage in the Gospels proves that she was of the line of David in Judah, and so on. And so, for that matter, was Joseph. Therefore, any child they had would be of double linage and, once documented, would be accepted as such.

      Let's look at the idea of Joseph's wife as "Theotokos" (God bearer (as 'birther')).
      Many of the documents you come across entitle Mary, the wife of Joseph, as "the Mother of God." We'll directly address what is reasonable about that statement in a moment. However, it would be a fair bet that a good number of those who 'pray to the Virgin', which we will get to later, that they aren't aware of the full implications of that statement. One of the definitions of GOD as Creator is "That which exists of Himself" and another is "the Uncaused First Cause". To imply that the Creator had a 'mother' introduces complications that this writer would rather not go into in this essay, perhaps we'll pursue that in a future edition of the thesis: Metaphysical Boundaries on the Desk's main website.
      There is no argument on the other side of the statement, that she was the Earthly source for the physical body of the Lord. However, everything else implied by the various interpretations of the Greek word is fair game for dispute. And we've already disputed a bunch of it, so we'll move on and slam flat on into a teaching that has taken on a life of its own under her general banner that we'll call "the Marian Doctrine in Marriage" but which is also known as a “Josephite Marriage” or even “Platonic Marriage”, which has bled like a cheaply dyed cloth into the Protestant realm and even outside world.

      The teaching revolves around the 'perpetual virginity' of the woman Mary and how that is what was, and remains, so special about her entire existence, as we saw earlier from the St Paul Center, and the idea of Joseph as “most chaste...” Within it was found the Roman church's teaching that all sex inside marriage should occur with the chance for the conception of a child, and implied that if that wasn't the goal of the exercise, then it was 'wrong' in some way.
      Believe it or not there is a line of theological reasoning that she did not even have the normal monthly menstrual cycle that other human women have. That she not only maintained her virginity, she was never ritually unclean due to her period occurring. There is a link below to an article entitled “Menstruation and Mary” in which they reason their way through it to conclude that she never had a period, and that her Son was the one and only viable ovum her body ever produced.
      The entire discussion is hilarious. Mary was a human woman, an otherwise normal human woman. If she were not there were plenty of opportunity for such to be noted either in prophecy or in the NT.

      But hang on a second while we circle back on 'marital relations'. One of the ancestors of King David, which is the linage of Mary and Joseph, there was a woman named Rahab who was something more than an "innkeeper" as some sanitized histories paint her. Which was more important to her identity and to the Bible Story? The history of Rahab's former 'day job' or her belief in the God of Israel, and her later life within that nation?
      Should we talk about Solomon and his own mother's somewhat questionable history with Solomon's father? Perhaps we'll mention it in a moment as it is in the genealogy in Matthew and get back to the current examination of the conduct of a 'proper wife' who is an adult 'good girl' under the topic we're discussing.

      One more jaunt around that topic, then we'll move on.
      Years and years ago TheMediaDesk looked at a floating piece of nonsense called "Instruction And Advice For The Young Bride", which although it goes part of the way down this alley, the 'instructions' never mention or even hinted at the idea that it was a sin for a married couple to engage in sexual activity for any reason other than to produce children, only that a 'proper marriage' shouldn't include such behavior. The core idea being that any “pleasure of the body”, even inside a marriage which has been ordained by God, and was mentioned by Abraham's wife Sarah as pleasure (Genesis 17: 12) as well as the entire Song of Solomon, is somehow wrong. And we could look at all the trouble the King went to with Esther before their 'date night'. Of course we could think of it as what got Uriah in trouble with the king that had gotten busy with his wife in 2 Samuel 11 : 11. And in the NT there's always that bit from Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, especially verses 5, “me apostereite allelous” (not to deprive one another)' except for a special reason, and then verse 9 which discusses 'passion', but not sin, inside of the marriage.

      This idea is a form of aestheticism that reached its logical extreme in the self-flagellation cults of the Middle Ages where the mortification of the body was thought to make one holier (this is not the venue to discuss those with a taste for Masochism who really and truly enjoyed said activity). In the case of Francis of Assisi, denying his body everything except what it absolutely needed in total service to others may have made him holier, however, it also wore "brother donkey" completely out and he died a fairly young man in his mid forties. There's links below to both those who tortured themselves as well as the Patron Saint of Italy.
      While the “Instruction and Advice” article is at best a modern hoax pretending to be from 1894, and there is the Desk link below where it is posted in its entirety, and debunked, it is a good bad example of how marital sexuality was thought of by a certain segment of society and in some ways continues today.

"Heterosexual intercourse is the pure, formalized expression of contempt for women's bodies.”
- Andrea Dworkin (1946 - 2005)

      One of the things missing from the entire discussion we just waded through, and is set aflame in the quote is a sense of love and affection expressed between the two individuals. Perhaps those who wrote the “Instruction” essay, as well as those who are still actively attempting to convince women to become celibate within their marriage. The reasons include everything from political views involving feminism and female empowerment, as well as a good bit of resentment of heterosexual marriage, especially when the couple so connected is religious.
      To subscribe to this point of view is bad enough, to attach it in any way to Mary is atrocious, to put it forth as an official position of the church is asinine. There are several links below that discuss the idea of chastity in marriage as a goal to work toward, once you've bred a new generation of Catholics that is.

      Time to swing back around to The Apocalypse and bring this one home.

      Again we're going to state the obvious. The young woman who was engaged to Joseph and bore the child named Jesus had no part in the innumerable practices and teachings that have evolved over the last two thousand years and have become associated with her name. Including the naming and dedicating various buildings and facilities after her, or a part of her body, for an example, we need look no further than those dedicated to the Sacred Heart or the Immaculate Heart (there apparently is a difference) of Mary. In fact, some of the statuary depicting this is somewhat gruesome and looks as though she has suffered a catastrophic chest wound.
      Other aspects of the devotion to her include part of the Rosary prayers, in this case in the five Glorious Mysteries (link below):
        ... 4. The Assumption of Mary into Heaven 5. The Coronation of Our Lady in Heaven.

      Then there is those that pray to not only Mary, but to the various saints, asking them to intercede with God on their behalf. An idea totally against the instructions in scripture.

Short Novena Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal:
“Immaculate Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus and my mother, I come to you with confidence in your powerful intercession, manifested through your Miraculous Medal. As your loving, trustful child I ask this favor... Obtain for me as well, a pure heart, that my entire life may give glory to God. Amen.”
(See source links below)
      NOTE: a “novena” ('novem' is Latin for 'nine') is a devotional prayer or ritual done every day for nine days, or, in some cases, nine times a day.

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17

      Ahh, a question, yes, there, off to the left.

“Is being this devoted to the Virgin a form of idolatry?”

      One of the terms for that is "Mariolatry" which means "excess devotion to, or worship of, the Virgin Mary."
      In same ways, yes, and in other ways you are dancing along the line between here and there.
      But the Roman church is probably used to that sort of statement. For an example we'll head back into the chapel and join those staring at a cracker during a ritual called “the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament” or “Eucharist Worship”.
      And yes, that is exactly what it is called, there are links below where you can read about it for yourself from Catholic sources.
      It began somewhere on the order of about a thousand years ago. And. Yes, what we regard as the Middle Ages were a tough time on everybody. But why would the common people accept a teaching that, while perhaps not totally contradictory to Scripture was well seasoned with what can only be called idolatry. And we are not speaking of just the Virgin now, let's change gears and look in some depth at what is called "the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament" or "Eucharist Worship" which became a doctrine within the church only in the last couple of hundred years. See link below to the history of the practice.
      While the church maintains that they are not adoring a cracker, but what the cracker represents, they also say they are not praying to a statue, but to whom the statue represents. How can they be sure that the common person in the pew understands that? When you watch a video of people very nearly swooning when the statue of a saint, or a reliquary that contains a piece of a bone from the body of the saint in procession, one begins to wonder what the actual object of their devotion is. Is it the icon that represent another human being? Is it the person that the church has elevated to a special status in the kingdom? Or is it Christ and His Father in Heaven and the Spirit that indwells in the believer?

      Theologically, they believe that the cracker, during the Mass, becomes the physical body of the Lord, and the wine (the Catholics use fermented juice, which was not allowed during Passover) becomes His blood, which in the trade is called "transubstantiation", the emblems only look like flesh and blood, in reality, they are the actual body and blood of Jesus. Never mind that in every passage in the New Testament, Matthew 26, 1 Corinthians 11, and etc, the tokens taken are representations of the Lord's body and blood, because cannibalism is cursed in Judaism, see Leviticus 26, and Deuteronomy 28. And comes to pass in 2 Kings 6. And also, humans do not 'chew the cud' and so they are unclean to eat, see Leviticus 11. While the consumption of blood is forbidden in Genesis 9 and Leviticus chapters 3 and 17 and elsewhere, and the ban continues in Acts 15.

      So where does that leave those sitting in a darkened chapel which has been dedicated to the Virgin who are staring in adoration at a cracker?
      Well. You can decide that one for yourself.

      The individual in the chapel clutching their Rosary while gazing in reverence for a perpetual adoration of a cracker has taken the Magisterium of the Roman church, that is, the Teaching Authority of the Roman See to heart. There's a link below to a New Advent article that discusses the Living Magisterium. In the below section, it uses one of the examples of where the church has taken a myth and turned it into an object of faith:

'More than one among the faithful may be unconscious of personal belief in it, but if he is in union of thought with the Church he believes implicitly that which perhaps he declines to recognize explicitly as an object of his faith. It was thus with regard to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception before it was inserted in the explicit faith of the Church.' (link below)

Galatians 1 in the 1611 KJV
“Which is not another; but there bee some that trouble you, and would peruert the Gospel of Christ. But though we, or an Angel from heauen, preach any other Gospel vnto you, then that which wee haue preached vnto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now againe, If any man preach any other Gospel vnto you, then that yee haue receiued, let him be accursed.”

      Let's leave all that right there and move on:

The “OTHER WOMAN” in the Apocalypse. Chapter 17:

“(and I saw) the woman was arayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold, and precious stone & pearles ...”

      Part of the problem with ascertaining who the figure chapter 12, and who reappears for a moment later, is is that she is NOT clearly identified other than her role in the present drama. We have the exact opposite problem with the woman in chapter 17.

“And vpon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots, And Abominations Of The Earth.”
17: 4 and 5 in the 1611

      But there is a problem with her name tag. The earthly city of Babylon was sacked by the Persians in Daniel 5, and then all but obliterated as it was used as a quarry by the new rulers of the Seleucid Empire in around 200 BC.
     In the years since, while it has never been uninhabited, the small scattered villages in the area can in no way be called “the great city”.
     Now, the Babylon that was, perhaps, the largest city on Earth in 1700 BC, is a collection of decaying ruins, a rebuilt section that looks like a movie set, and tourist boutiques that sell Ishtar Gate coffee mugs.
     Even in the time of John, Babylon was a legend of foreign power and excess and not a place. And now, unless you're managing a group bus tour and the schedule says “Wednesday: Babylon restoration, lunch at Taco Pete's, photo op at gate” it still isn't a real place.
     So, the woman who is dressed all fancy and riding a somewhat unusual steed is a symbol for something, but what?
     It would be natural to assume that when John wrote it down that he had Rome as the capital city of a huge empire, that was up to its eves with pagan gods, where there were more slaves in Rome than Romans, and one of the working definitions of a Roman was somebody that “kills other Romans and builds straight roads”.
     The Emperor Domitian kicked off a major persecution of Christians in about 93, which is about when John was sent to the island, probably a year or so after his Gospel had been written. It is also worth considering that Domitian banished all Stoic philosophers from the capital the following year. It would seem he didn't like anybody.

     Others have stood for comparison including, at various times, the Emperor Napoleon, the USSR, the United Nations and / or New York City, various international corporations, and just about everybody and everything else has been cast as that particular bad guy as needed.

     As we saw when we examined the Greek text in the chapter 17 study, the primary word used implies all sorts of sins on the part of the woman, and with the 'kings of the earth' and others with money and power. The list includes everything ranging from the pursuit of wealth, to sexual activity, debauchery, and includes all of the above to the point of idolatry, letting something get in the way of God, which is the primary thing that gets her in trouble.

     As we just saw, there is an organization that has intentionally allowed endless layers of other objects and persons become objects of worship, and by their own admission it happened incrementally and over a period of centuries. And immediately following this article is a prayer TO the Virgin, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Which is a direct contradiction of Scripture.
     As to why, one doesn't have to go to far into it to see that it could be influence from 'the main bad guy' from Revelation that once it got started just ran on and on until they were saying that a human was 'infallible' and the teaching authority of the church superseded the Bible.
     And then, eventually, it gets to the point where the University of Dayton talks about how it is a Catholic, Marianist University that is building a community of faith, and never mentions God or Jesus on its information page. See link below.

     The final answer as to who the “women in Revelation” are, one isn't who was asked about, but there seems to be some standing as to who the other one is.

End Feature.

For the resource links for this one, when the topic was somewhere under the body of the Roman church, we used websites owned or operated by some entity within the church, when possible. For example,'s encyclopedia (“Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary”), and other sources from the church. Such as:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Catechism of the Catholic Church

This was done to give more of the flavor of the diversity and differences within the larger church, when instead, we could have based the majority of the links on a single archdiocese or other depository of documents. The way we've done it we have pages from smaller parishes as well as historical cathedrals such as Chartres, and the Vatican itself.

That being said, all outside links were working as of day of posting, all links will open in a new tab or window. But first a prayer:

Catholic Prayers. Prayers for those who practice the faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

Hail Holy Queen:
Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The anthem of the Papal states

Other Resource Links, in no real order.

We'll begin the links with the basilica in Orlando, then go from there: