In this section, we will examine some Protestant objections to Mary as (1) the Woman in Gen 3:15 and (2) the Queen Mother of Israel and of the Church in Apocalypse chapter 12.
Protestant Objection I:
(i) I just cannot come to accept that the Woman of Genesis 3:15 is Mary. Perhaps she is Eve, perhaps Eve crushes the head of Satan, or perhaps Abel her son did, maybe?
Not at all. The Woman of Genesis 3:15 most certainly is Mary, because the seed spoken of can only be Christ. But who is the Virgin who gave birth to Christ, such that He received His humanity only from her? Of course, the Virgin Mary. Therefore, the Woman most certainly is Mary, and the seed is Christ.
Also, Eve most certainly didn’t crush Satan’s head. She succumbed to his snares. While Abel was just and typified Christ, he was not virgin-born, nor the perfect enemy of Satan’s seed. That is the enmity between Christ and Antichrist. And the like enmity exists between Mary and Satan.
(ii) OK, but then it is Christ who will crush Satan’s head. Protestant translations, and even some modern(ist) Catholic translations render it “he will crush” (KJV: “it will crush”). So, not Mary.
First, if Christ is the seed, again, the Woman most certainly is Mary. Protestants have no way around it. Mary is the Woman whose seed is virgin-born Jesus Christ. That Gen. 3:15 is a prophecy of the Virgin Birth is admitted by many of the best Protestant scholars, yet many refuse openly to admit that the Woman is Mary.
Second, even the KJV scholars rendered “it will crush” because they were uncertain. Third, Philo, Josephus, Maimonides, and other Hebrew scholars were not wrong. There are manuscripts in Hebrew and in Greek with the “she” translation; that’s why Maimonides thought the woman was Eve. St. Jerome, in the Latin Vulgate, translated under the guidance of the Roman Church, from whom we received our 73-book Bible canon under the same Pope St. Damasus who commissioned St. Jerome, authoritatively assures us that it is she who will crush. The Council of Trent authorized the Vulgate, and it is correct.
Recall also that in Catholic Europe, the first printed book was the Holy Latin Vulgate Bible. Do you want to see more solid proofs of “she will crush”?
Saint Jerome, in writing the Latin and Greek Vulgates, took the old Testament from the Septuagint but checked the wording against the Hebrew … Saint Jerome is Right The reason St. Jerome is right, and all modern translations are WRONG is because he clearly understood the meaning of CONTEXT of the passage. The context is that there is an enmity between the WOMAN and the SERPENT — and only ONE can rightfully be permitted to CRUSH HIS HEAD. The choices are 1) the woman, or 2) all of her combined offspring designated by the term “it”. If there is anything CERTAIN, it is that the OFFSPRING is not a SINGULAR case. Only the WOMAN can be used in the singular case. Therefore, “the former” that the scripture is referring to is, as Jerome accurately translated it, is the woman. [Source]
Fr. Haydock says in his commentary:
Ver. 15. She shall crush. Ipsa, the woman: so divers of the fathers read this place, conformably to the Latin: others read it ipsum, viz. the seed. The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent’s head. … The Hebrew text, as Bellarmine observes, is ambiguous: He mentions one copy which had ipsa instead of ipsum; and so it is even printed in the Hebrew interlineary edition, 1572, by Plantin, under the inspection of Boderianus[.] … The fathers who have cited the old Italic version, taken from the Sept. agree with the Vulgate, which is followed by almost all the Latins; and hence we may argue with probability, that the Sept. and the Hebrew formerly acknowledged ipsa, which now moves the indignation of Protestants so much[.] … H. Kemnitzius certainly advanced a step too far, when he said that all the ancient fathers read ipsum. Victor, Avitus, S. Aug. S. Greg. &c. mentioned in the Douay Bible, will convict him of falsehood. Christ crushed the serpent’s head by his death, suffering himself to be wounded in the heel. His blessed mother crushed him likewise, by her co-operation in the mystery of the Incarnation; and by rejecting, with horror, the very first suggestions of the enemy, to commit even the smallest sin. S. Bern. ser. 2, on Missus est. “We crush,” says S. Greg. Mor. 1. 38, “the serpent’s head, when we extirpate from our heart the beginnings of temptation, and then he lays snares for our heel, because he opposes the end of a good action with greater craft and power.” The serpent may hiss and threaten; he cannot hurt, if we resist him. H.
Dr. Taylor Marshall has an article reviewing some of these points:
Our three best Jewish witnesses to Gen 3:15 interpret the passage as “she shall crush.” These are Philo Judaeus, Josephus the roman historian, and Moses Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish philosopher. Philo argues that the Hebrew parallel poetry of Gen 3:15 demands the reading of “she shall crush.” Josephus, also writing in Greek, describes the passage for us as reading “she shall crush.” Then last of all, Maimonides also states that Gen 3:15 teaches that the woman shall crush the head of the serpent.
In the end, it comes down to divine authority. The Church has Heaven’s keys (Matt. XVI.15–18), and the Catholic Church, having the authority to bind and loose on Earth, has determined the Bible canon. And, by that selfsame authority, has determined that the true reading is “she will crush,” and it is.
Let Protestants research the history of Our Lady of Guadalupe and how Mary crushed serpents there. For Catholics, divine miracles worked by Almighty God, Mary herself, and 6–9 million converts (whom there was hardly time in the day to baptize, so great was the heroic victory of our invincible new Judith, Mary Immaculate!), from paganism to Christianity are most solid witnesses to the truth that the Sacred Scripture originally read, “She will crush” and is preserved in the Latin Vulgate.
(i) I simply refuse to believe that the Woman of Apocalypse 12:1 is Mary. Maybe she is Eve, or maybe she is Israel, or maybe she is just only some symbol, or maybe…?
Not at all. The other seed of the Woman, in Apoc. 12:17, comprises Christians, so the Woman is our Mother. But who is our Mother, whom God gave us when He was sacrificing His life on the cross for us? “Behold thy Mother”(Jn. 19:27). Mary. St. John, “from that hour … took her to his own.” Certainly, it was not faithless Israel, who at this time had rejected Christ and was crucifying Him, who is crowned in glory. To say that would be to crucify Christ anew, and all to evade the plain biblical fact that Mary is clearly Queen Crowned with 12 Stars and Mother of us all!
It is Mary, queen of the twelve apostles of the Church, and queen of the 12 tribes of new Israel! Since the Son of the Woman most certainly is Christ, then the Mother of the Son is Mary.
(ii) OK, how about this? The Son of the Woman is not Christ. Maybe Antichrist?
Ridiculous! The first offspring of the Woman, in Apoc. 12:5, is plainly Jesus Christ Himself. For He rules all nations from God’s throne, and to suggest this could be anyone other than Christ is an absurdity — yet another desperate evasion to hide the biblical fact of Mary’s queenship.
(iii) Perhaps the Woman is just a metaphor, or maybe the Church, or anyone else…?
No, it is the Virgin daughter of Zion, the Mother of the new Christian people, who typifies the stainless Church, the bride of God, because she is the immaculate bride of the Holy Spirit.
So the text refers principally to Mary, and secondarily to Mary as a type of Israel or the Church. St. Paul says the women Sarah and Hagar typified the two covenants. In Mary, both covenants are united. She is the virgin daughter of Israel, who became Mother of all Gentile believers.
Catholics know this, and that is why they refer both to the Church and to Mary as our Mother. At the foot of the cross, Mary didn’t only become the new Eve, Mother of St. John and us all. No, at the foot of the cross, Mary typifies the Church herself, ever faithful to her crucified Savior. St. Ambrose and St. Ephrem, for this reason, point out that Mary is the Mother and model of the Church herself, both at the cross and then later at Pentecost. St. Clement of Alexandria says, “I know of one virgin become Mother. And I should like to call her Church” [V].
Objection III: Mary may be blessed among women, but she is not to be praised or blessed by all generations, as that could be displeasing to God.
Impossible! It is necessary that Mary be praised by all generations, otherwise Psalm 44 and Luke 1 are lies! So it is certain that she will always be blessed and honored, just as the Bible tells us to bless (praise) the Lord; remember how highly St. Gabriel venerated respectfully the Blessed Mother, saluting her reverently as the Mother full of grace, who is with the Lord and is to be praised above all others. John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb because Mary is near; St. Elizabeth is thrilled and wonders aloud, inspired by the Holy Spirit, at this divine privilege that the Mother of God should come to her. The house is filled with blessings.
Objection IV: Even if the angel, John the Baptist, and St. Elizabeth honored Mary, why should we do the same? Where is it written that the Church should honor Mary ceaselessly? Where has God honored Her? Where is her intercession spoken of?
God has honored Her by Crowning Her with twelve stars in Heaven, with the sun clothing her in glory, signifying her sinless perfection that gives light to all things, with the moon under her feet, signifying her supreme dominion over all other created things, and over Satan. If we refuse to honor her, we are openly opposing the manifest will of God, which is gravely wrong.
God promised to reward openly those who always prayed in secret for all. Mother Mary did that all her life; that’s why God Almighty made it known and honored Her openly in Heaven. Solomon promised to grant his mother Bathsheba’s requests, for she was the gebirah, or queen mother. Mary is the new gebirah, not only of Israel and the Church, but of Heaven, and all her requests are granted.
The power of her intercession is made manifest at Cana. The Lord at first said His time had not come. But thanks to Mother Mary’s intercession, the hour was brought forward, and a miracle was granted. What a wonderful biblical demonstration of the power of the Immaculata’s petition!
Do you desire to see similar miracles in your life? Take up the rosary and scapular, and pray!
Objection V: Are there Church Fathers who teach that Mary is all-immaculate and without sin?
Certainly, Bishop St. Ambrose of Milan has handed down that Mother Mary is “a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace has made Immaculate, free of every stain of sin” [V].
Bishop St. Augustine of Hippo states:
We must except the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honor to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin (1 Jn. 3:5). Well, then, if, with this exception of the Virgin, we could only assemble together all the forementioned holy men and women, and ask them whether they lived without sin while they were in this life, what can we suppose would be their answer? … [W]ould they not have exclaimed with one voice: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:8)? [VI]
In addition to these two great pillars of the Latin Church, are there testimonies from the Christian East to Mary’s sinless perfection? Yes, certainly, consider these two from St. John Damascene and St. Sophronius.
St. John of Damascus: “O most blessed loins of Joachim from which came forth a spotless seed! Oh glorious womb of Anne in which a most holy offspring grew” [VII].
Patriarch St. Sophronius of Jerusalem: “Many saints appeared before you. But none was filled with grace as you. No one has been purified in advance as you have been” [VIII].
Dearly beloved Evangelical Christians, the Mother of God, the Immaculate Virgin Mary, who is your Mother, too, loves you, and she wants you back in the Catholic Church. It is good that you believe in the Holy Trinity, which the Catholic Church has ever believed, solemnly defined, and had taught the whole world, before Protestantism was founded. It is good that you believe that Christ is true God and true Man, and hopefully some of you believe that Mary is truly the Mother of God. But it is high time you embraced the fullness of the Christian faith, found only in the Catholic Church, which is necessary to obtain perseverance in grace and full and final salvation by theosis. The mystery of the Immaculate Conception tells us that we too, one day, will be like Mary, creatures almost entirely divinized and indwelt by the Holy Spirit’s grace, in Heaven, living only to do His adorable divine will, and do it perfectly, just as Mary Immaculate did on Earth. Mother Mary calls you to return to regular sacramental life that alone confers perfect union with Christ through His Spirit and through the grace of God. You will experience Her Maternal care.
Footnotes and References for Further Reading:
[V] St. Ambrose, Comm. on Psalm 118, Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 2, pg. 166
[VI] St. Augustine, De natura et gratia, Migne, PL 44:267
[VII] St. John of Damascus, Homily 1 on the Dormition of Mary
[VIII] St. Sophronius of Jerusalem, Oratio II, 25; PG 87:3248 A
Nishant Xavier is a traditional Catholic from India due to begin seminary studies soon in Palyamkottai’s Priory of the Sacred Heart. He completed an MBA in finance from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Lucknow and worked in the Bank of New York Mellon for a couple of years, but his passion has always been sacred theology and Jesus and Mary. You can reach out of to him any time for comments or questions on the articles at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.