Nov 012012
 
This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture by Dr. Scott Hahn

In Part 2 of this series we were introduced to the concept of the new Eve which Dr. Hahn holds as being fulfilled by Mary.  As I have noted, that pattern cannot be true since Eve came from Adam, not Adam from Eve and that Adam and Eve had a spousal relationship, a type of relationship that Jesus and Mary certainly did not share.  In Part 3 we saw that John presents Mary with a title, specifically, the woman, in both of the only two appearances she makes in the Gospel.  Dr. Hahn correctly notes that John’s title as the beloved disciple makes him a model for the believer but incorrectly suggests that this gives credence to the idea of Mary as the Queen Mother and Queen of Heaven due to the beloved disciple taking her to his home that same hour.

So who is the Queen of Heaven?  What does Scripture have to say about it?  And how does this title get applied to Mary?  While Dr. Hahn’s presentation will answer the last of these questions, the other two are simply not addressed but are perhaps most important since they have the greatest impact on how the Christian should respond.

The Queen Mother

Turning from the woman in John’s Gospel, Dr. Hahn goes to the Old Testament.  He starts in Genesis 3:15 which reads:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.1

Often called the protoevangelium or the first gospel, Genesis 3:15 is the first major hint of the coming Messiah and what should be noted here is that the word offspring comes from the Hebrew זֶרַע (zerah) and Greek σπέρμα (sperma) which hint at a virgin birth.  While Dr. Hahn mentions this, he takes a peculiar position on track 7 at the 3:10 mark.  He states:

…And it goes on to describe how he shall crush the head, and you shall bruise the heel.  Once again, another foreshadowing of how God will use, not a man in this case, but a woman, to bring the humiliating defeat, the crushing humiliation upon the serpent.

Dr. Hahn is incorrectly focusing on the woman in place of the offspring.  Granted, the woman here is a title, similar to what we see in John’s Gospel, which I’ll discuss in Part 5, but the woman does not bring about the humiliating defeat, the offspring does.  Dr. Hahn specifically says that God will use, ‘not a man in this case’, but he does use a man!  God specifically says to the serpent: he (that is, her offspring) shall crush your head.

Dr. Hahn continues at the 3:55 mark:

[Speaking of a dissertation done by one of his students, Dr. Edward Sri] …when biblical scholars apply themselves to the terminology and the imagery in Genesis 3:15 where the woman and her seed shall crush the head of the serpent, biblical scholars have come away looking at that in its ancient historical light and they see, quote, the woman of Genesis 3:15 is a proto-typical queen mother figure.  Where Eve failed, a new Eve will succeed.  Where the first queen mother sinned, a new queen mother will arise in righteousness … No doubt the queen mother has her place here in Genesis 3:15.  She is clearly the queen mother from whom royal offspring will arise to crush the serpents head.  So what we find in the Davidic kingdom is the restoration of what God established in the Creation kingdom, way back in the beginning.

The thing I find most baffling about this is that this focus on the woman arising in righteousness, or the woman having any part in the destruction of the seed of the serpent, apart from birthing the Messiah, is nowhere outlined in Scripture.  At best, this is nothing more than conjecture, plain and simple.  Interestingly, in Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship, Dr. Edward Sri does not seem to take such a concrete position when it comes to the concept of the queen mother being found in Genesis 3:15:

We have seen how the queen mother was associated with two key Old Testament texts, bound up with Israel’s messianic hopes.  The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 involves the sign of a queen mother who will conceive and bear the future Davidic King, Immanuel.  The queen-mother figure also may appear prototypically in Genesis 3:15, which also associates a mother with her royal offspring in a context that has important Davidic kingdom overtones.  [Emphasis mine.]2

It’s one thing to say the queen-mother figure may appear in Genesis 3:15, it’s another thing entirely to say it is without doubt.  It’s at this point that Dr. Hahn gives two examples in Judges of where a woman crushes the head of an adversary.  The first is Judges 4 where Jael drives a tent peg into the head of Sisera and the second being the death of Abimelech, where a woman threw a millstone upon his head in Judges 9.

Of course, I agree with Dr. Hahn that these are messianic types reflecting back to Genesis 3:15 and looking forward to the ultimate defeat of the seed of the serpent, but Dr. Hahn continues to suggest that this is important because in these cases a woman is the one who has carried out the deed.  On track 8 at the 4:21 mark he closes the Genesis 3:15 discussion with:

Again and again, in ancient Israel’s history, there is an anticipation, or a foreshadowing, of how God will raise up a woman to bring humiliation and defeat to those that the serpent uses to keep us from salvation.

As I’ve shown, Genesis 3:15 specifically points to the seed of the woman; the woman is not in focus, her seed is, and her seed is male.  The Old Testament is indeed replete with examples of such as well.3  It is absolutely incredible how Dr. Hahn seems to so casually take the focus away from the Messiah and apply it to Mary.

From there Dr. Hahn works to demonstrate the queen mother role found in the Davidic monarchy.  On track 9 at the 1:10 mark he has just discussed Solomon’s coronation where King Solomon is put on King David’s donkey.  Obviously this is a foreshadowing to what is often called the triumphal entry.  He discusses this in order to show how the Davidic monarchy foreshadows the coming Messiah.  But Dr. Hahn takes a peculiar turn because the focus is not going to be on the office of the king, but on the office of the queen mother.  When looking at 1 Kings 2:19, Dr. Hahn discusses how Solomon treats his mother and focuses on the imagery shown, in that he bows to her and sits her at his right hand.  He states:

But what’s so interesting to me, when I recall vividly, studying as a protestant, focusing on the biblical record of David’s kingdom, what really jumped off the page was a passage in 1st Kings chapter 2 verse 19.  For there we see Solomon’s mother, going into the royal court, the royal chamber, where everybody bows before King Solomon now that he is newly crowned, freshly anointed.  When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Solomon’s half brother, Adonijah, the King rose to meet her.  And he bowed down to her, and then he sat on his throne and had a throne, or a seat, brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right hand.  And, from that position, at the king’s right hand, she gave to him royal petitions.  Not just from royal subjects, but from his own brethren, who preferred to go through his mother, rather than going directly to Solomon, himself.

There is no doubt Solomon is giving his mother due respect, reverence and honor as should be done by any son,4 and that the queen mother holds an office of sorts within the kingdom, although this may not have been unique to the Davidic monarchy.  As Jamieson, Fausset & Brown note in the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible:

The filial reverence and the particular act of respect, which Solomon rendered, were quite in accordance with the sentiments and customs of the East. The right hand is the place of honor; and as it expressly said to have been assigned to “the king’s mother,” it is necessary to remark that, when a husband dies, his widow acquires a higher dignity and power, as a mother over her son, than she ever possessed before. Besides, the dignity of “king’s mother” is a state office, to which certain revenues are attached. The holder has a separate palace or court, as well as possesses great influence in public affairs; and as the dignity is held for life, it sometimes happens, in consequence of deaths, that the person enjoying it may not be related to the reigning sovereign by natural maternity. Bath-sheba had evidently been invested with this honorable office. [Emphasis mine.]5

The problem with what Dr. Hahn gave as an example above is what Bathsheba actually petitions on behalf of Solomon’s brother Adonijah.  Dr. Hahn suggests that the kings own brothers would rather go to him through their mother, instead of directly to the king himself, as though they are recognizing the office that the queen mother holds.  But what Dr. Hahn gives no mention of is the fact that Adonijah had just tried to make himself king before David could hand the throne over to Solomon.

Seeing as how Adonijah had just tried to usurp the throne, it only makes sense that he wouldn’t want to deal with Solomon directly.  You can only imagine how strained their relationship would be at this point.  In going to Bathsheba to make his request for him, he isn’t doing anything as an example for us.  It is much more likely that he is trying to sneak around out of fear for how Solomon will react.  It’s also worth noting that Adonijah still sees himself as the appropriate king because when he petitions Bathsheba, he says to her that the kingdom was rightfully his and that Israel expected him to reign.  Now, Solomon has been anointed King and Adonijah is asking to be given one of his fathers concubines as his wife.

Solomon sees this as yet another attempt to usurp the throne.  His response?  He doesn’t bother with Bathsheba’s request but instead he has Adonijah executed.  If this is the example Dr. Hahn chooses to illustrate the office and petitions of the queen mother, it’s certainly not a very good one.

The Queen of Heaven

It’s at this point that Dr. Hahn is going to wrap the concept of the Queen Mother into the concept of the Queen of Heaven, whom he will attempt to show as the virgin Mary.  On track 10 at the 0:33 mark he says:

But there is one text that is all important, in Matthew, chapter 1, verses 22 and 23, all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, Behold!  A virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Immanuel.  You go back to Isaiah 7:14 and you’ll discover that the prophet Isaiah confronted the king, Ahaz, and said your faith is sagging, ask the Lord for a sign.  But Ahaz had already decided to disobey.  He already decided to ignore the covenant.  He was already secretly bargaining with the enemies of God to enter into strategic alliances.  And so Isaiah said, you won’t ask the Lord for a sign, well he’ll give you a sign anyway.  If the king, if the man, won’t cooperate in faith with the Lord then the Lord will give a sign with the woman, a virgin, the almah, she shall conceive and bear a son.

This is very misleading.  Again, Dr. Hahn is focusing on the woman in this passage as though God has to give a sign through a woman because Ahaz wouldn’t man up.  But the focus of the virgin in Isaiah 7:14 isn’t a matter of defaulting to someone else because Ahaz wouldn’t do what he was supposed to.  To explain, the entire issue that is going on with Ahaz is his lack of trust in God’s promises that the Davidic monarchy would not be broken.  Ahaz is fearful that he will be deposed and the throne of Israel will be vacant.  God gives Ahaz an opportunity to ask for a sign to demonstrate that what Ahaz fears will not come to pass but Ahaz refuses and so God gives him one anyway, that the virgin will conceive.  In this sign God is reaffirming His promises and there is nothing anyone could do to break them.

Dr. Hahn then goes on to discuss Dr. Edward Sri’s handling of Isaiah 7:14, that the term עַלְמָה (almah) used for virgin here would have, in Isaiah’s day, been understood as the queen mother because she’s bearing forth the royal son.  But this is irrelevant since, as I have just shown, the point of the text isn’t concerned with the office of the queen mother, it is only concerned with the heir to the throne of the Davidic monarchy.  On track 10 at the 3:45 mark, Dr. Hahn wants to suggest that because the office of the queen mother would be a part of the Davidic monarchy we would see it’s fulfillment in Christ’s work since Jesus is the Son of David and heir to the throne and thus Mary, His mother, must be exalted as the queen of Heaven.  He says:

You cannot understand Jesus’ ministry, you can’t understand Christ’s mission apart from the Davidic covenant.  But once you see the Davidic covenant as the background for the Gospel presentation of Jesus, you’re going to be ready to understand the role, and the office of Mary, and why it is that Mary, who fulfills her role as a royal counselor, as a queen mother, is eventually exalted, when her son, the royal son of David, ascends into the Heavenly Jerusalem.

While there are certainly some aspects of Christ’s ministry and mission that would be difficult to grasp without an understanding of what He is to ultimately fulfill, there is nothing to understand in regards to Mary.  If there is one thing that can be taken away from this study it is that Scripture is simply silent on the office and role of Mary as royal counselor, queen mother and queen of Heaven – the work that Dr. Hahn has to go through to get to this point is unnecessary eisegesis.  He goes on:

Turn with me to Revelation chapter 11.  In Revelation chapter 11 we hear the 7th angel blowing his trumpet.  And then a voice in Heaven crying the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, His Messiah.  And He shall reign forever and ever, just as God had sworn.  He will reign forever through the son of David.  And this is the kingdom that the angel announces that Christ has established, in his death and resurrection, in his ascension, in his royal enthronement in the Heavenly Jerusalem.  We read in Revelation 12, just a couple of verses later, a great sign appeared in heaven.  It’s the same Greek word that you’ll find in Isaiah 7:14 … And so a sign appears in Heaven, a woman, clothed with the son, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  What is the significance of the crown?  This makes the woman a queen.  What is the significance of the crown being 12 stars?  She is the queen of Heaven.  Her royal authority is a cosmic queenship, just like her sons is a cosmic kingship.

Of course, what Dr. Hahn fails to mention is that the woman in Revelation 12 is actually identified for us in Scripture.  There is no need to contrive any other meaning than what Scripture has to say unless you are trying to force it to say what it doesn’t.  In this case, Scripture doesn’t say that Mary is the queen of Heaven but rather gives clues as to who this woman is, clues that take us back to Genesis and a dream that Joseph had.

Conclusion

Dr. Hahn has presented us with three primary concepts, namely, the new Eve, the woman in John’s Gospel and the Queen of Heaven in Revelation 12.  Dr. Hahn wants to suggest that Mary fulfills all of these roles and of course uses this to justify Marian doctrine.  It is my position that this is not the case and that once these concepts are properly identified we will find they fit together much more comfortably than could be hoped for Catholic tradition.  In the next and final post for this series I will put the pieces back together and show that they have greater implications for us personally than they could if the concepts ended with Mary.

  1. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
  2. Dr. Edward P. Sri, Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship, (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2005), 66.
  3. One of the greatest examples is David & Goliath.  The imagery is undeniable where the stone, an idiom for the Messiah, sinks into Goliath’s head, killing him.  It was slung by David, a messianic figure, who then proceeds to cut off Goliath’s head.
  4. Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:17; Ephesians 6:2; Matthew 19:19; Matthew 15:4
  5. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1 Ki 2:19–20). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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