Quodvultdeus Versus Rodimus
(a.k.a. Gerry Soliman)
This is the second part of my rebuttal to Gerry Soliman on the issue on the Woman Clothed with the Sun.
In my previous article “SOLUTIONS TO SOLUTIONS FINDER APOLOGETICS OF GERRY SOLIMAN,” I promised that I would respond to the points raised by Mr. Gerald John P. Soliman (an evangelical apologist who used to be known by his pseudonym Rodimus) based on the division of topics he made in his article at http://solutions-finder.blogspot.com/2011/01/woman-of-revelations-12-responding-to.html.
Mr. Gerry Soliman’s second point dealt with early ecclesiastical writers Oecumenius and Quodvultdeus. In this rebuttal of Mr. Soliman’s points, I will put his words in red while mine are in black. Quoted portions from my previous articles as well are in blue. Citations from references are in brown.
To provide my dear readers, visitors and followers with a clear perspective of the discussion, I will start with Mr. Soliman’s comments in http://solutions-finder.blogspot.com/2010/11/woman-clothed-with-sun-of-revelations.html. Here is what Mr. Soliman said in his initial article:
“Well if your head is aching already, so is mine. Here is the real score on the Roman Catholic Church on the woman of Revelations 12: They didn't have any official and infallible interpretation of it during the first 300 years of Christianity. In fact, none of the church fathers during that time ever interpreted the woman as Mary. Some of the church fathers referred the woman as Israel, the people of God but never on Mary. Mary as woman clothed with the sun is not an apostolic teaching.”
I already responded to this point in http://bromarwilnllasos.blogspot.com/2011/01/gerry-solimans-intellectual-dishonesty.html. I will restate here the arguments I made.
They didn't have any official and infallible interpretation of it during the first 300 years of Christianity.
I already pointed out that this statement from Mr. Soliman revealed his internal mental inconsistency simply because he consistently and vehemently maintained that the Roman Catholic Church did not exist for the first 300 years of Christianity. If that is so, why is he now he is asking for an official and infallible interpretation of the Roman Catholic Church which he claimed (of course falsely) did not exist for the first 300 years of the Christian era. As Rodimus, Gerry Soliman claimed that the “the Church of Rome was founded only after 300 A.D.” [http://marwil-n-llasos.blogspot.com/2009/03/bereans-are-neither-here-nor-there.html]. In his exchanges with Mr. Isahel Don Alfonso of Catholic Faith Defenders of Davao, Mr. Soliman would also make a similar claim but once pressed to name the founder of the “Roman” Catholic Church in the 300’s, he would parry the challenge and resort to all sorts of subterfuge. (Mr. Alfonso’s blog is http://catholiceternaltruth.blogspot.com).
Why is Mr. Soliman asking for an official and infallible interpretation of the “woman clothed with the sun” in Revelations 12? Only he can tell. Suffice it to state that there was no necessity to do so as no controversy over that interpretation cropped up at that time. Even now, the Catholic Church won’t bother to make a dogmatic statement on such interpretation just to indulge an evangelical blogger with only two (2) followers.
In fact, none of the church fathers during that time ever interpreted the woman as Mary.
Given Gerry Soliman’s adherence to “sola scriptura,” he suddenly became interested in the Fathers of the Church. Thus, I cited scholarly references on the patristic sources on Marian interpretation of the “woman clothed with the sun” in Revelation 12:4.
First, I cited Steve Puluka, a teacher on liturgy, church history and patristic in the on-line religious studies program at Manor College. Mr. Puluka belongs to the Byzantine Catholic Church (http://independent.academia.edu/spuluka). This is what Mr. Puluka stated in extenso:
“While the identification of Mary as the woman in Revelation 12 is well attested in the patristic tradition of the Church, there is no support for this identification in the earliest fathers. Those who dispute this identification with Mary, note that those closest in time to the composition of Revelation don't seem to see Mary in this passage.
The first extant citation is from the 4th century in Epiphanius. This passage merely mentions the association exists without really endorsing the view wholeheartedly himself. He qualifies the identification with [Mary] dare not affirm this with absolute certainty. But this silence of the early evidence is as much a reflection of the dearth of material interpreting Revelation at all from the time period. The references to any aspect of the book are few and far between in the extant literature. But the tepid mention by Epiphanius demonstrates that the existence of a Marian identification of the woman in the same time period was widespread enough that he could not pass the text without comment on it.
Typical of later interpretation of the fathers is Oecumenius; indeed he is likely the source for many later fathers. Oecumenius clearly takes the woman as Mary. She is robed in the Sun of Justice, the moon at her feet is Moses and the Law which becomes the lesser light on the coming of Christ.” (See: http://puluka.com/home/index.php?id=51#_ftn41) (emphasis added)
I also cited Bible scholar Hilda Graef who mentioned that Quodvultdeus, a disciple of Augustine, writing in the mid- to late- fifth century, made the first overtly Marian identification of the woman of Revelation 12. Graef added that it is not until the first half of the sixth century that Oecumenius, in his commentary on Revelation (the earliest extant commentary on the whole book), read the woman exclusively as Mary [Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, Vol. 1: From the Beginnings to the Eve of the Reformation (London: Sheed and Ward, 1963) pp. 131-132; see also: footnote 61, Tim Perry, Mary for Evangelicals (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2006) p. 113].
Gerry Soliman would not have any of these. He said:
“For someone who states "Father knows best" in some of his articles to note that Church Fathers believe the Marian doctrines and for someone who believes that, “a single quote from a Church Father is never sufficient or decisive in itself,” Atty. Llasos obviously had a hard time proving that the Woman of Revelations 12 as Mary is known to the early Church Fathers.”
Let’s chop this big claim to its proper size.
For someone who states "Father knows best" in some of his articles to note that Church Fathers believe the Marian doctrines and for someone who believes that, “a single quote from a Church Father is never sufficient or decisive in itsel…”
As a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Internal Auditor, I would expect Mr. Soliman to be good in numbers. But his innumeracy shows. He just doesn’t know how to count correctly! If he has read my references carefully and counted the patristic quotes properly, he would have easily known that I was not dealing with “a single quote from a Church Father”!
Was it just a single quote I gave? My references mentioned three (3), namely (1) Epiphanius, (2) Oecumenius, and (3) Quodvultdeus. What happened to Mr. Soliman’s arithmetic? Single quote, Mr. Soliman?
The most that he can do is to quote Oecumenius and Quodvultdeus of the 5th to 6th century to prove that it is "well attested in the patristic tradition of the Church.”
The quotation "well attested in the patristic tradition of the Church” is not mine. Had Mr. Soliman bothered to check the references I cited, as any scholar should, he would have known that it is from Mr. Steve Puluka, the patristics teacher that I used as reference.
At any rate, what’s wrong with citing Oecumenius and Quodvultdeus from the fifth and sixth century? These centuries are part of the patristic era and the views of these Church Fathers are certainly included in the patristic patrimony of the Church.
Let’s introduce Mr. Gerry Soliman to these Church Fathers.
The Wikipedia mentions the following about Quodvultdeus:
Saint Quodvultdeus (died c. 450) was a fifth century church father and bishop of Carthage who was exiled to Naples. He was known to have been living in Carthage around 407 and became a deacon in 421 AD. He corresponded with Saint Augustine of Hippo, who served as Quodvultdeus' spiritual teacher. Augustine also dedicated some of his writings to Quodvultdeus.
Quodvultdeus was exiled when Carthage was captured by the Genseric, who followed Arianism. Tradition states that he, along with other Catholic churchmen (such as Gaudiosus of Naples) were loaded onto leaky ships. The ships landed at Naples around 439 AD and Quodvultus established himself in Italy.
His name means ‘What God wants.’
One of the mosaic burial portraits in the Galleria dei Vescovi in the Catacombs of San Gennaro depicts Quodvultus.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quodvultdeus).
In 430 AD, Quodvultdeus wrote: “None of you is ignorant of the fact that the dragon was the devil. The woman signified the Virgin Mary” [Quodvultdeus, De Symbolo 3, PL 40, 661 (430AD)].
On the other hand, Oecumenius was a sixth 6th century Greek Father and one of the earliest witnesses to the Marian interpretation of Revelation 12. In his Commentary on the Apocalypse, Oecumenius wrote:
“The incarnation of the Lord, by which the world was subjected and made his own, became the occasion for the raising [of the Antichrist] and the endeavors of Satan. For this is why the Antichrist will be raised up: so that he may again cause the world to revolt against Christ, and persuade it to turn around and desert to Satan. Since again the Lord's physical conception and birth marked the beginning of his incarnation, the vision has brought into some order and sequence the events which it is going to explain, by starting its explanation from the physical conception of Christ, and by depicting for us the Mother of God. For why does he say, And a portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet? He is speaking of the mother of our Savior, as I have said. Naturally the vision describes her as being in heaven and not on earth, as pure in soul and body, as equal to an angel, as a citizen of heaven, as one who came to effect the incarnation of God who dwells in heaven ("for," he says, "heaven is my throne" [Isa 66:1]), and as one who has nothing in common with the world and the evils in it, but wholly sublime, wholly worthy of heaven, even through she sprang from our mortal nature and being. For the Virgin is of the same substance as we are. The unholy doctrine of Eutyches, that the Virgin is of a miraculously different substance from us, together with his other docetic doctrines, must be banished from the divine courts.
What is the meaning of the saying that she is clothed with the sun, and has the moon under her feet? ...[I]n order to show in the vision that even when the Lord was conceived, he was the protector of his own mother and of all creation, the vision said that he clothed the woman. In the same way the divine angel said to the holy Virgin, "The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Luke 1:35). Overshadowing, protecting, and clothing all have the same meaning.
He says, And on her head, a crown of twelve stars. For the Virgin is crowned with the twelve apostles who proclaim the Christ while she is proclaimed together with him. He says, She was with child, and she cried out in her birth-pangs, in anguish for delivery. Yet Isaiah says about her, "before the woman in labor gives birth, and before the toil of labor begins, she fled and brought forth a male child" (Isa 66:7). Gregory [of Nyssa], also, in the thirteenth chapter of his Interpretation of the Song of Songs talks of the Lord "whose conception is without intercourse, and whose birth is undefiled." So the birth was free from pain. Therefore, if, according to such a great prophet and the teacher of the church, the Virgin has escaped the pain of childbirth, how does she here cry out in her birth-pangs, in anguish for delivery? Does this not contradict what was said? Certainly not. For nothing could be contradictory in the mouth of the one and the same Spirit, who spoke through both. But in the present passage you should understand the crying out and being in anguish in this way: until the divine angel told Joseph about her, that the conception was from the Holy Spirit, the Virgin was naturally despondent, blushing before her betrothed, and thinking that he might somehow suspect that she was in labor from a furtive marriage. Her despondency and grief he called, according to the principles of metaphor, crying and anguish; and this is not surprising. For even when blessed Moses spiritually met God and was losing heart--for he saw Israel in the desert being encircled by the sea and by enemies--God said to him, "Why do you cry to me?" (Ex 14:15) So also now the vision calls the sorrowful disposition of the Virgin's mind and heart "crying out." But you, who took away the despondency of the undefiled handmaid and your human mother, my lady mistress, the holy Mother of God, by your ineffable birth, do away with my sins, too, for to you is due glory for ever. Amen.” (Oecumenius, Commentary on the Apocalypse, trans. John H. Suggit [Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2006] pp. 107-109.) (It may be found online in Fr. Abraham Arganiosa’s blog at http://thesplendorofthechurch.blogspot.com/2009/03/oecumenius-on-woman-clothed-with-sun.html]
Mr. Soliman asked incredulously:
“Do these two men represent the unanimous consent of the church fathers?”
Notice how Gerry Soliman conveniently downgraded Quodvultdeus and Oecumenius. These two men are no ordinary men. They are Church Fathers! Precisely the patristic sources that Gerry Soliman is now interested in and looking for! Do they represent the unanimous consent of the Church Fathers? Why not?
Let's not forget the principle that Atty. Llasos quoted from his comrade, Mr. Carlos Antonio Palad:
“Thus, the reason why the Fathers are always read not in isolation, but always in the context of the testimony of all the other Church Fathers. Where sufficient Church Fathers from the very first century of the Church down to the sunset of the Patristic age (c. 8th century) testify to the truthfulness of a certain teaching, then we may be certain that it is the authentic tradition handed down from the Apostles. To repeat: a single quote from a Church Father is never sufficient or decisive in itself, but an unbroken chain of testimonies from one Father to the next is not to be contradicted.”
We are not forgetting that principle and we are applying it.
So where are the unanimous quotations from the 1st to 4th (if you prefer up to 8th) century church fathers, Atty. Llasos?
The first to the eighth century of the Church is the patristic era or the Age of the Fathers of the Church. Is there a unanimous view as regards a Marian interpretation of the “woman clothed with the sun” of Revelations 12 during that period? As there is no dissenting view, my answer is most certainly yes.
I already cited Quodvultdeus and Oecumenius, Church Fathers from the fifth to the sixth century whose existence fell under the patristic era (first to eighth century). Since Quodvultdeus was a disciple of St. Augustine of Hippo (354 to 430 AD), it can be safely assumed that Quodvultdeus learned his teachings from his master in basically the same way as Mark learned from Peter and Luke and Timothy from Paul.
Early on, St. Epiphanius of Salamis (d. 403) may be the first to give a Marian interpretation to the scriptural text of Revelation 12. He wrote:
“But elsewhere, in the Apocalypse of John, we read that the dragon hurled himself at the woman who had given birth to a male child; but the wings of an eagle were given to the woman, and she flew into the desert, where the dragon could not reach her” (Rev. 12:13-14). This could have happened in Mary’s case” [Haer., 78, 11, PG 42, 716 B-C; cited in Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991) p. 126].
We have proof that during the age of the Church Fathers (1st to 8th century) there is patristic support to a Marian interpretation of the woman in Revelation 12. It is unanimous as there is no Church Father that denies this. An unbroken chain from one father to the next is clearly established.
Has it occur to Atty. Llasos that there is at least one writer during the 2nd and 3rd century, Hippolytus, who identified the woman as the church:
Now, concerning the tribulation of the persecution which is to fall upon the Church from the adversary, John also speaks thus: “And I saw a great and wondrous sign in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun ...By the woman then clothed with the sun, he meant most manifestly the Church, endued with the Father’s word, whose brightness is above the sun. And by the “moon under her feet” he referred to her being adorned” (Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist).
Yes it occurred to me. And it likewise occurred to me that Mr. Soliman’s research is inadequate and incomplete. To help him, I will add two more fathers in addition to Hippolytus (c. 170 – c. 236 AD) who identified the woman as the Church: (1) Methodius (d. 311 AD) and (2) Victorinus (d. 303 or 304 AD) [see: Robert A. Sungenis, The Apocalypse of St. John (Goleta, CA: Queenship Publication, 2007) p. 238-239].
Would the fact that these Church Fathers identify the Church as the woman in Revelations 12 mean that they deny or oppose a Marian interpretation in the passage? No, as there is no indication in their writings that their identification of the Church as the woman is exclusive – to the exclusion of other interpretations. To argue otherwise is to commit the fallacy of false dichotomy which Gerry Soliman defines in his blog as “restricting the opponent to a few alternatives when there are more alternatives.” Hence, to identify the Church does not necessarily mean that it Mary is altogether excluded. The Fathers of the Church didn’t see it that way.
Patristics and Mariology scholar Luigi Gambero noted that “under the influence of Western theology, the Mary-Eve parallel took on considerable importance, which would influence future developments in Mariology and ecclesiology [Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991) p. 19.] For instance, St. Ambrose of Milan (d. 397 AD) “is the first Christian author to call Mary the type and image of the Church (ibid, p. 198). His famous student, St. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430 AD) “states categorically that Mary’s place is within the Church, with which she is indissolubly linked” (ibid, p. 222). St. Augustine said, “Nevertheless it is true, the Church is the mother of Christ. Mary preceded the Church as its type” (ibid. p. 223, citing Sermo Denis 25, Miscellanea Agostiniana, 164).
To Clement of Alexandria (d. 215 AD), the “mystery of Virgin Mother reminds him of the mystery of the Church, which is also mother and virgin” (ibid., p. 71). Gambero commented that for Clement of Alexandria, “[T]he mystery of Mary, virgin and mother, quickly begins to become the archetypal model of the mystery of the Church. For the Church, too, by preaching the word, gives birth to her own children like a mother, while keeping intact the virginity of her faith in the Lord” (ibid).
St. Ephrem the Syrian (c. 306-373) perceived the analogy that exists between Mary and the Church. He declares explicitly that Mary is a figure of the Church:
“The Virgin Mary is a symbol of the Church, when she receives the first announcement of the gospel. And, it is in the name of the Church that Mary sees the risen Jesus. Blessed be God, who filled Mary and the Church with joy. We call the Church by the name of Mary, for she deserves a double name” (Sermo ad noct. Resurr., ed. Lamy, I:534, quoted in Gambero, ibid, p. 115.).
I can add more names and multiply examples (Epiphanius, Gregory the Great, Gregory Nazianzen, Isidore, and Sedulius) but that would be superfluity already, a clear belaboring of obvious.
This patrimony of the Fathers of the Church is with the Catholic Church of today. Ours is the faith of our fathers. We still hold the same views as the Church Fathers in this regard:
“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 Mother of the Church” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_of_the_Apocalypse).
In the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II sums up the faith of the Fathers of the Church with respect to the “woman clothed with the sun” – the same faith we hold today:
“The mutual relationship between the mystery of the Church and Mary appears clearly in the "great portent" described in the Book of Rev- elation: "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). In this sign the Church recognizes an image of her own mystery: present in history, she knows that she transcends history, inasmuch as she constitutes on earth the "seed and beginning" of the Kingdom of God. The Church sees this mystery fulfilled in complete and exemplary fashion in Mary. She is the woman of glory in whom God's plan could be carried out with supreme perfection” (par. 103) (http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0141/__P13.HTM)