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At the heart of the Book of Revelation St John sets the vision of a woman clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and crowned with twelve stars. He described her as a sign in heaven. She gave birth to a son who was taken up to the throne of God. A great red dragon threatened the child, but the child escaped. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels and drove them from heaven. The dragon took revenge and pursued the woman, but she had great wings and fled from him into the desert. The dragon then went to attack her other children. St John defined the children as those who kept the commandments of God and bore testimony to Jesus (Revelation 12). Elsewhere he explained that the testimony of Jesus was ‘what he saw’, his visions (Revelation 1.2).
Nothing about the Book of Revelation is simple or easy to understand, but this vision rewards careful attention to its details.
- First, the woman clothed with the sun was a Mother in heaven who had more than one child. Her firstborn was a king, and the rest of her family were faithful followers of Jesus who kept the commandments of God. Her first child was the king described in Psalm 2: ‘He shall rule the nations with a rod of iron’. This shows that the vision recalled a ritual the in first temple, Solomon’s temple, when the king from the house of David was enthroned.
- Second, the woman clothed with the sun was a queen. She wore a crown of stars and her son was the king.
- Third, she had been threatened by the great red dragon and so fled to the desert. She had been driven out of the temple in Jerusalem and gone to the desert.
- Fourth, her children were the Christians. St Paul said that Jesus was the first born among many children, in other words, that Jesus was the oldest of the woman’s family (Romans 8.29). Here, there is clear evidence for the heavenly Mother of the Christians.
Some of the questions about the Book of Revelation that cannot be answered are these:
- where did the visions originate?
- how old were they?
St John compiled them into the Book of Revelation, but there are many signs that Jesus knew these visions and spoke about them to John and maybe to other disciples too. For example, when the seventy disciples returned from their mission and told Jesus that they really did have power over demons, Jesus exclaimed: ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’ (Luke 10.18). This is the vision in Revelation 12: Satan fell from heaven to earth after the woman’s child had been taken up to the throne. Did Jesus know the rest of the vision, or just one part of it? It is likely that he knew the whole vision of the woman and her other children, and we shall come back to this later.
The opening lines of the Book of Revelation say this: ‘A revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to him to show to his servants what must soon take place…’ This is in effect the title of the book, and it says that these were the visions of Jesus. The text continues: ‘He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John’. This means that the angel of the Lord inspired John to interpret the visions and maybe to set them in their present form. So Jesus had seen Satan fall from heaven, and he knew about his heavenly Mother, the woman clothed with the sun.
The dragon attacked the woman’s other children, and John explained who they were. They kept the commandments of God and they had the testimony of Jesus. Keeping the commandments might mean simply not breaking any of the ten commandments, but the word used, tēreō, is quite strong and means ‘guard’, or ‘preserve’. It was used in the Greek Old Testament to translate the word nāṣar. This word too was sometimes used to mean keeping the commandments, e.g. Psalm 78.7: ‘They should guard/preserve his commandments’; but it was also used to describe a particular group of faithful people within Israel were preserved or guarded, e.g. Psalm 31.23: ‘Love the Lord all you his saints! The Lord guards/preserves the faithful! Or Isaiah 27.3: ‘I, the Lord, guard/preserve [the pleasant vineyard]… I guard/preserve it night and day’.
The role of a mysterious figure called the Servant of the Lord was to restore the faithful, these ‘guarded/ preserved ones’. This means that at some stage they were driven out.
There are four poems in the Book of Isaiah that describe the Servant of the Lord. They are now incorporated into the second section of the book, which some people think was added by a later disciple of the prophet. The four Servant poems seem to come from the original prophet, and were they so written in the late eighth century BCE and reused in the mid-6th century. Isaiah said that the Servant was called: ‘to raise up the tribes of Jacob, to restore guarded/preserved of Israel’, or perhaps it means ‘restore the guardians and preservers of Israel’ (Isaiah 49.6).
Perhaps, because there is a problem with the Hebrew text at this point. It could mean ‘the preserved of Israel’ or ‘the preservers of Israel’. It is important to note that a text about the ‘preservers’ who were driven out is now uncertain.
The Hebrew word for Christians is this same word: nōṣrȋm, literally ‘the preservers’, and in the Jewish Talmud, Jesus was called the nōṣrȋ, This is sometimes thought to be just another form of ‘Nazareth’, and so Jesus was the man from Nazareth and his followers were the Nazarenes. But this is not so. The word is Nazorene, or Nazorean, and it means the guardian or preserver. St John, who was an eye-witness, said that the words on Jesus’ cross were Jesus the Nazorene, the king of the Jews (John 19.19). The other children of the woman clothed with the sun were also the guardians or preservers. They kept the commandments of God and had the testimony of Jesus, in other words, they knew the visions of Jesus, ‘what he saw’ (Revelation 1.2).
The children of the heavenly Mother were preserving the older ways, and Isaiah knew they had been driven out but would be restored.
One of the Dead Sea Scrolls describes a group who decided to return to the older ways. The Damascus Document, as it is called, told of people who recognised that their nation had been unfaithful, and so the Lord had hidden his presence from then and from his temple. This was the beginning of the age of wrath. At some time during the age of wrath, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem, and 390 years after that, the group withdrew from Jerusalem to live again according to the old ways. The text is enigmatic and so we have to guess what underlies the words. They went to live in the land of Damascus, but we are not sure where that was. So much of the text is coded references, and we can only guess. The Lord revealed to them the hidden things in which their people had gone astray, and they called themselves the members of the new covenant.
This was one group in the time of Jesus – there may have been others – who withdrew from Jerusalem to live according to the old ways, as they were before the beginning of the age of wrath. They may have been the children of the heavenly Mother, although that is not mentioned, but in the vision, the woman clothed with the sun fled to the desert where she was kept safe. The group lived in Damascus, which suggests they were the people St Paul went to arrest (Acts 9.1-2) and .like the Christians, the called themselves the people of the new covenant.
The Damascus Document also gives a clue as to the time when the people of Israel went astray and began to change the old ways. It was not when Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, but some time before that. Isaiah’s poems about the Servant were composed at least a century before Jerusalem was destroyed, and they depicted the Servant restoring the ‘preservers’ of Israel. This suggests that Isaiah knew that Israel had gone astray by the middle of the eighth century BCE.
Our quest now is to find how and why the people went astray. In his vision of the Lord enthroned in the temple, when he was called to be a prophet (Isaiah 6.1-6), Isaiah recognised that he lived among a people of unclean lips and he had not spoken out against this. ‘Unclean lips’ meant wrong teaching, and so this was probably how he described his people going astray.
The prophet Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. He prophesied that an unnamed woman would give birth to the great shepherd-ruler. The Lord would give up his people until the time of his birth, and then the remnant of his brothers would return (Micah 5.1-4). Micah also described how a woman, we assume she was the ruler’s mother, was dragged violently from the city, but he prophesied that she would return (Micah 4.8-13). He called this woman ‘Daughter Zion’, and said she would return to her kingdom in Jerusalem.
Micah knew this woman as the Queen who had ruled in Jerusalem, and she would return. Recall now the vision in the Book of Revelation of the woman clothed with the sun and crowned with stars. She appeared in the heavenly temple, gave birth to her royal son, and then had to flee into the desert on great wings like those of an eagle. The royal seal of the kings of Judah in the time of Isaiah was a sun with wings. This was not, as is often said, an image of the sun king, but of his Mother, the winged woman clothed with the sun who was driven out.
She was not forgotten. Malachi, writing in the time of the second temple when the priesthood was corrupt and the temple polluted, knew that the Mother would return, but the prophet’s words are not translated accurately in modern versions. The natural way to read them is: ‘The sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in her wings’ (Malachi 4.2). The winged Mother would return and heal. Healing was one of her roles.
What we cannot know is this: does the vision of the dragon attacking the woman’s other children depict their persecution in the time of Jesus and St John; or does it recall the persecution of her children many centuries earlier when they were first driven out?
Nowe we know that we are looking for the heavenly Mother of the king in writings from the first temple period, many other texts come to mind.
First, there is Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy. When Jerusalem was in danger, threatened by a coalition of enemies from the north, Isaiah met king Ahaz and assured him that the royal house would continue; he would have a son and heir. ‘The Virgin shall conceive and bear a son and call his name Immanuel.’(Isaiah 7.14). This was the heavenly Mother of the future king, not just the human woman who would bear child. She was the Mother in heaven, also present in her earthly manifestation. She was called the Virgin, [not a virgin, or even ‘a young woman’]. Isaiah was speaking of a known woman, whose title was the Virgin, hā‘almâ. The title implies someone who was hidden, or someone in eternity.
This was also a title in Ugarit, a neighbouring culture to the north of Israel that had flourished a few centuries earlier. The title was given to divine or royal persons, such as the queen mother. This was also the case in Jerusalem: the Virgin was the Mother in heaven and her Son was called ‘God with us’, showing that Mother and Son were believed to be both divine and human.
This belief could still be found many centuries later. Origen, the Christian biblical scholar who died in 253 CE, said that John the Baptist was an angel and a man at the same time. He was an angel on earth. Origen referred to ‘an apocryphal text currently used by the Hebrews’ called the Prayer of Joseph, which explained that Jacob the patriarch was also the angel Israel who stood in the presence of God. Thus, said Origen, the Christians recognised that John the Baptist was more than just a man; he was the angel who would appear before the Lord returned, just as the prophet Malachi had said.
In the same way, the Mother in heaven and her Son in first temple Jerusalem were also the queen mother and her son the king. In the vision of the woman clothed with the sun, her male child was set on the throne of God. This shows where the Mother in heaven gave birth to her child.
She was seen in the holy of holies. St John says that the ark was seen when the temple in heaven was opened, and the pregnant woman appeared as a sign. Since the ark was kept in the holy of holies behind the veil in the first temple, this means that the veil had been drawn aside and St John saw the hidden woman giving birth to her son. Remember, there was no ark in the second temple, so a vision that includes the ark is set in the first temple. The woman bore her son in the holy of holies of the first temple.
Isaiah described the heavenly birth of the new king:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
There will be no end,
upon the throne of David and over his kingdom… (Isaiah 9.6-7).
The familiar words were the song of angels in the holy of holies when the new king was born.
There are other texts about this birth in the holy of holies. Psalm 110, for example, described the birth of the king, but the key verse here is now damaged. Material about the Mother in heaven and her children has a suspiciously large number of damaged texts. You will recall that Isaiah’s text about the preservers of Israel is also damaged.
The key verse is Psalm 110.3. Scholars have to reconstruct as best they can with the help of the Old Greek translation of the verse, and there is still no agreement. The AV translates the verse thus:
Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
The Old Greek is:
With you is the rule on the day of your power, in the glory of the holy ones, from the womb before Morning Star I have begotten you.
There are many problems, but I shall mention only four:
- ‘your youth’ in the Hebrew is ‘I have begotten you’ in the Greek. That is another way to read the unchanged Hebrew consonants. You just pronounce the word differently, with different vowels.
- ‘the day of your power’ can also mean ‘the day of your birth’. The two Hebrew words are exactly the same.
- ‘the beauties of holiness’ can also be ‘the splendid garments of a holy one’.
- ‘Thy people’ became ‘with you’ in the Greek, and neither makes much sense.
This verse is about the king’s heavenly birth: ‘I have begotten you’, ‘the day of your birth’; and he has the ‘splendid garments of a holy one’.
But where is his Mother?
I suggest she has been lost in the word now translated ‘your people’ or ‘with you’. One letter has changed: the aleph has become and ‘ayin. Written with an aleph, the word is ‘your mother’. The difficult word that follows is then to be read ‘she offers graciously’, and so the two Hebrew words are ‘Your mother offers graciously’ rather than ‘your people are willing’.
The line whole is then, and probably once was: ‘On the day of your birth, your Mother graciously offers you the splendid garments of a holy one’. The Mother in heaven clothed her child with a glorious temple garment.
There was strong pressure to remove the Mother from the temple during the later years of the first temple. The movement had its first success in the time of Isaiah, and when he was called to be a prophet he recognised that he lived among a people of unclean lips. There were other attempts to remove her until finally King Josiah purged the temple in 623 BCE. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem a few years later. Refugees from Josiah’s purges and the Babylonian war took with them memories of the Mother who had protected them. The Book of Jeremiah describes some refugees in Egypt who blamed the destruction of Jerusalem on Josiah removing the Mother from the city:
[When e venerated the Queen of heaven] we had plenty of food, and prospered and saw no evil. But since we left off burning incense to the Queen of heaven, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine’ (Jeremiah44.17b-18).
In other texts we find the Mother with her title Wisdom. Here in the Book of Proverbs she calls out to her foolish children when they had rejected her. This is from Proverbs 1:
How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
Behold, I will pour out my Spirit upon you… (Proverbs 1.22-23).
It was Wisdom who poured out the Spirit on her children.
The refugees who settled in Egypt never forgot the Mother. Later writings from that community enable us to reconstruct something about her.
The people who built the second temple in Jerusalem, however, did not restore her, although the people themselves did not forget her. The scribes who collected and transmitted the Hebrew texts that eventually became the Old Testament made several alterations to the texts to remove any reference to her. They called this ‘straightening’ or ‘putting right’ the text, tqn. Their changes are called the tiqqûnê sôpherim, the ‘corrections of the scribes’. They worked to remove anything that later generations considered blasphemous, and so many passages about the Mother and her Son were changed. Sometimes it was only by prescribing a new way to pronounce the words; but sometimes the letters themselves were changed.
I suspect that the true extent of this ‘putting right’ has not yet been recognised. It certainly explains why so many of the texts dealing with the Mother and her Son are now damaged or very difficult to read. Here are a few examples:
- The text about the Mother clothing her Son with a glorious garment on the day of his birth is now very damaged indeed. The word ‘mother’ has disappeared by changing one letter.
- A similar change of letter, from an aleph to an ‘ayin, also happened in Isaiah 7.11, just before the prophecy ‘Behold the Virgin shall conceive’. The original Hebrew was ‘Ask as sign from the Mother of the Lord your God’. This is what it says in the great Isaiah scroll that was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The sign from the Mother of the Lord was the Virgin giving birth.
- The prophet Ezekiel described a statue in the temple. The Hebrew texts now says it was ‘an image of the woman who that causes jealousy’ (Ezekiel 8.3), but the original was ‘an image of the woman who creates’. By adding one silent letter to her title, an aleph, she was changed from an image of the Mother into an image that caused trouble.
- Although this text does not mention their Mother, the sons of God disappeared from an old poem in Deuteronomy 32. They became ‘the sons of Israel’, and the line no longer makes sense. The original sons of God survived in the Old Greek translation, where they became ‘angels of God’; and they are clearly still there in a fragment of Deuteronomy found among the Dead Sea scrolls.
Jesus ben Sira wrote a book of wisdom teaching about 200 BCE. He lived in Jerusalem, and he shows that the Mother and her children were not forgotten in his time. He called her Wisdom, and this is what he taught about her disciples:
[Wisdom] will meet him like a Mother
And like the wife of his youth she will welcome him
She will feed him with the bread of understanding,
And give him the water of wisdom to drink (Ben Sira 15.2-3).
He also compared Wisdom to the glorious garment worn by the high priest
You will wear her like a glorious robe,
And put her on like a crown of gladness. (Ben Sira 6.31).
This is a translation of the Old Greek. When the Hebrew text was discovered, the imagery of the high priest’s clothing was even more striking.
Wisdom the Mother was a weaver who made a glorious garment for her child. Once we know that we are looking for the heavenly weaver, we can begin to look at other texts in a new way.
For example, there is a poem about Wisdom in creation in Proverbs 8. She was beside the Creator as he worked. One word has caused problems: Was she ‘hidden away’ at the beginning, or was she ‘set up’ at the beginning- or what? There are many different translations of a word that is in fact quite clear. The Hebrew says she was weaving, but modern translators have not even considered this as a possibility. ‘From eternity I was weaving, from the first, from the beginnings of the earth’ (Proverbs 8.23).
The same problem word is found in Psalm 2, which describes the ritual birth of the king. Here the Lord speaks and says that he has set his king, his son, on Zion his holy hill (Psalm2. 6). But ‘set’ here is an unusual way to translate the word nāsakh that elsewhere means ‘weave’, and it may in fact mean that the newborn king was wrapped in a woven garment that symbolised his new state.
There are several other examples, but I want to move to the early Christian evidence.
First, there is a book of Christian wisdom teaching attributed to Silvanus that was being used in the early fourth century. A part of it was included in the teachings of St Anthony who died in 356 CE. In 1945, the complete text was discovered in Egypt, and it shows that the early Christians knew all about the heavenly Mother making a garment for her children.
Return, my son, to your first Father, God, and to Wisdom your Mother…
Wisdom summons you in her goodness saying ‘Come to me, all of you, O foolish ones, that you may receive a gift, the understanding which is good and excellent. I am giving you a high priestly garment that is woven from every wisdom…
Clothe yourself with wisdom like a robe, put knowledge upon you like a crown, and be seated upon a throne of perception. From now on, my son, return to your divine nature…’
The Mother in heaven called her children back to her and to their divine nature. She gave them a high priestly garment woven from wisdom.
Second, there was a gospel used by the Hebrew Christians that has been lost except for a few fragments in other writers. One passage was quoted by Origen, the scholar who explained how John the Baptist could be both a man and an angel. This Gospel of the Hebrews had Jesus calling the Holy Spirit his Mother: ‘My Mother the Holy Spirit took me and carried me to the great mountain Tabor…’ St Jerome, writing about 400 CE, also knew the Gospel of the Hebrews. In his Commentary on Isaiah he quoted this gospel’s account of Jesus’ baptism:
When the Lord had come up out of the water, the whole fount of the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon him, and said to him: ‘My son, in all the prophets I was waiting for you, that you should come and I might rest in you. For you are my rest, you are my firstborn son, and you reign forever.’
As late as 400CE, then, the Christians knew that Jesus had a heavenly Mother; she was called the Holy Spirit and she was called Wisdom. He was her firstborn, which, incidentally, was also a title for the king in first temple Jerusalem (Psalm 8.27).
So far, we have not looked at the New Testament, apart from the mysterious vision of the woman clothed with the sun. One problem we encounter when looking for the Mother as the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is that in Greek ‘spirit’ is a neuter noun, and modern translators choose to translate what should be ‘it’ as ‘he’ or ‘him’, andso the Mother imagery is lost. Thus for Romans 8.16 the Jerusalem Bible, the RSV and the NEB have ‘the Spirit himself’’; the NRSV avoids the phrase, but the older versions are accurate: Tyndale has ‘the same sprete’ and the AV has ‘the Spirit itself’. St Paul here is explaining that all who are led by the Spirit of God become children of God, so that Jesus is the ‘first-born among many brethren’ (Romans 8. 29). The Christians, led by the Spirit, are the other children of the woman clothed with the sun.
There is another translation problem that has obscured the Mother and her children. This time it is not modern translators, but the difficulty of rendering the subtleties of Hebrew into Greek. Jesus almost certainly did not teach in Greek, so all his sayings in the New Testament are already translated, and there is a difficulty with his saying about Wisdom and her children:
- Wisdom is justified, edikaiōthē, by all her children (Luke 11.35)
- Wisdom is justified, edikaiōthē, by her deeds (Matthew 11.19).
How is Wisdom ‘justified’? The Greek word presents the Hebrew verb ṣādhōq, and this in turn had many shades of meaning. In some forms it meant ’to put right’, even ‘to heal’; in others it meant ‘to be vindicated or proved correct.’ In this saying of Jesus, he could have meant that Wisdom, who had been rejected, was vindicated by her children or her deeds. Or it could have meant that Wisdom did her work of healing and putting right through all her children or all her deeds. One thing is certain: Jesus knew of Wisdom and her children.
St Luke knew about the Mother in heaven and her Son, how she gave birth to him in the holy of holies and wrapped him in his glorious garment. When he told the Nativity story, he told it so as to recall the temple tradition of the heavenly birth (Luke 2.1-20). He emphasised four details: Mary was a Virgin who gave birth to her firstborn son, she wrapped him around – this implies swaddling clothes – and laid him in a manger. He mentioned the swaddling clothes twice (verses 7, 12), and the manger three times (verses 7, 12, 16). The Virgin and her firstborn Son is a clear reference to the old temple ritual for the birth of the king, and wrapping a garment around the child was Wisdom’s garment for her Son.
But what of the manger? This was word play that was characteristic of old temple discourse, especially of the wisdom teaching. It could be very complex, and it was also very clever. In Hebrew, the word manger is ’ēbhûs, and the old name for Jerusalem was yebhûs, Jebus. They sound very similar and whoever told this story to St Luke knew this. Mary wrapped her son in a garment and set him in Jebus is a clear echo of Psalm 2.6 as we proposed to read it: ‘I have put my king in a woven garment upon Zion my holy hill.’
This was the birth of the Mother’s firstborn; but St Paul said that Jesus was the firstborn among many children, and the woman clothed with the sun had other offspring. What of them?
St Luke records this too. Before Jesus was taken up into heaven, he said this to his disciples: ‘Stay in the city until you are clothed, enduō, with power from on high’ (Luke 24.49). This was the garment woven from every wisdom that Silvanus knew was given to the children of Wisdom.
There is much more material but no more time. I hope this has been enough to show you that Mother in heaven was a central figure in the old temple. Over many generations there was pressure to remove her, but we do not know why. Isaiah recognised that removing her led to false teaching. The refugees who eventually fled from Jerusalem took with them their old faith and did not forget her. They were the preserved or the preservers of Israel whom the Servant of the Lord would restore.
Scribes in the second temple era tried to remove from the Hebrew texts all memory of the Mother and her Son, and modern translators have continued their work by not translating accurately even what remains. Malachi did not prophesy that the Sun of righteousness would arise with healing in HIS wings (Malachi 4.2). Isaiah did not prophesy that A young woman would give birth to a son (Isaiah 7.14). He spoke of The Virgin, and the refugees in Egypt remembered this when they translated Isaiah into Greek.
And so we end where we began, but now we know why the Woman clothed with the sun is at the centre of the Book of Revelation, and we know who she is and who are her children.
Q1. Am I a child of this Heavenly Mother? If yes, is this symbolic or literal?
A1. I think when you are talking religious talk, you don’t really separate like that. Yes, we are all children of the Heavenly Mother.
Q2. Who is the mother of the non-Christians?
A2. That is a very difficult one. I suspect that she too and they’ve got to rediscover their mother.
Q3. Was Nazarene an intentional pun on Nazorene? Not all gospels claim he [Jesus] is from Nazareth, if I recall correctly.
A3. I can’t run all that through my mind now, all I can say for certain is what John wrote on the cross had an “o” in the middle and that, in itself, is enough to bring us up short and make us read the text carefully.
Q4. Could you discuss the winged sun as an image of the Divine Goddess?
A4. The answer is not in 30 seconds, but it is certainly there. That is the image of the king and you find the same winged sun also in some Ugaritic engravings where she is hovering over the king and so forth, so it’s quite an important figure. And, of course, she is the winged figure in Revelations chapter 12.
Q5. Do you believe the Holy Ghost is our Mother in Heaven?
A5. The answer is yes.
Q6. Is there any relationship between the Heavenly Mother and the Holy Spirit?
A6. Yes, another name for the same Lady.
Q7. Should the traditional concept of the Godhead (i.e., Father, Son, Holy Ghost) include her?
A7. Well, it does.
Q8. Why, in your opinion, is there not more in the scriptures revealed about the Mother in Heaven?
A8. Well, there is a lot more in the scriptures once we translate them correctly and once we try to un-do the work of those people who called themselves the “correcting scribes.” This is something that some scholars are working on – I’m one of them – at the moment. It’s a big job; it’s not something you can rush and do in a week because you are proposing that there have been changes in scripture and that is not something that you do lightly. But there is a lot of evidence.
Q9. How do the scriptures support the idea of the Lady of the Temple being mortally represented by Mary?
A9. This you need to go into the very earliest Christian traditions about Mary. If you look at the early Byzantine hymns to Mary, the liturgies about Mary, every one, and I mean every one of the titles for Mary, comes from the temple tradition of the Mother in Heaven.
Q10. Why is the Mother in Heaven a doctrinal threat for modern Christianity?
A10. Whoever said that it was?
Q11. What is the Age of Wrath?
A11. This was the time when the people or some of the people who had moved away from mainstream Judaism, like the Qumran people, they said this is the time when things started going wrong for Israel; this was a time when God turned his face away.
Q12. Strong’s Concordance makes no connection of Nazoraios to the “preservers,” it merely identifies the word as another translation of “Nazarite.” How would you reconcile this with your research?
A12. Well, go to my website and on it there is a paper about Jesus the Nazorean; I think it’s 2014 [http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/TemenosJesusintheGospelofJohn.pdf].
My website is simply my name [http://www.margaretbarker.com/] and you will find something there about that.
Q13. How do you distinguish between references to the “Mother in Heaven” as the Mother of God and Mary?
A13. It’s probably quite radical but I suspect that the idea that Mary is the manifestation of this Heavenly Mother is what the original Christians thought. Now, that’s obviously a very big one to drop on anybody (especially this early in the morning) but I think we have got to look at these references; we’ve got to look at them carefully and take them seriously. And if we look at Jesus as a heavenly being incarnate, what about his mum?
Q14. So there are two “virgins” – a spiritual and a physical?
A14. Yes, except that in Hebrew thinking, you don’t distinguish between the two. That’s very important to remember. There weren’t two John the Baptists puttering around; they recognized that he lived in heaven and on earth. We pray, don’t we, “on earth as it is in heaven”?
Q15. Does Sophia (Wisdom) in the Nag Hammadi texts relate at all to The Mother in the New and Old Testaments?
A15. Now, the whole question of Sophia in the Nag Hammadi texts and various other names for The Lady, like Barbēlō, that is a very, very complicated issue. I’ve written a little about it in volume 1 of The Mother of the Lord; volume 2 which is, as they say, in progress, will have more about that but, at the moment, the progress is rather slow.
Q16. Do you regard the “Mother in Heaven” as Mary in the New Testament or someone different who is a companion of God the Father?
A16. The Mother in Heaven. I think the early Christians saw her as manifested in Mary. This is the same picture as we have had before. Mary was certainly honored by the Christians from a very early stage.
Q17a. Can you address the tradition (Catholic, maybe others) that Mary, when young, was one of the weavers of the temple veil?
A17a. Well, that’s a lovely one. Of course, had I a whole day with you, we could have done that. Mary, we are told specifically, was a weaver. She wove the veil of the temple. The veil of the temple, in temple symbolism, signified matter because it screened the glory of God from human eyes. And, coming right through into medieval Christian tradition, the high priest’s robe that is made of the same fabric as the veil, represented the presence of the Lord wrapped in matter; in other words, incarnation. So, the early Christians who told the story of Mary as the weaver and the veil, they knew this Mother in Heaven and weaving and wrapping it around her child.
Q17b. We’ve heard this tradition [referring to Q17a] when visiting Israel [Margaret: Well good, you went with a good tour group] and in a recent Catholic movie about Mary.
A17b. Well, quite possible. It’s actually in something called the Infancy Gospel of James. You can find that online and read it. It’s a lovely story, early Christian story. It is, incidentally, the Bodmer 5 papyrus of this gospel is the oldest complete gospel that we have, so it’s not something late and to be discarded. So go online and Google ‘the Gospel of James’ and you will find it.
Q17c. Is there evidence that this [referring to Q17a] is more than a tradition?
A17c. That is very difficult because a lot of the early Christian writings incorporate tradition and on the principle of “no smoke, no fire,” it’s important not to dismiss little bits. And also to remember that they reported what was symbolically significant. So, the fact that we are told that Mary was a weaver – we are not told anything about how she cooked or kept house, she was a weaver – we needed to know that.
Q18. So is it your belief that the Holy Spirit is a feminine being?
A18. The Holy Spirit is feminine, yes; I don’t that there is any doubt about that.
Q19. When studying the Bible, how does one determine when “wisdom” refers to the divine Mother or the traditional concept of wisdom?
A19. This is very difficult. Does ‘wisdom’ have a capital “W” or a small one? I think a capital “W” in far more places than is usually recognized and in most cases, of course, no capital “Ws” are recognized at all. So, there is a lot of un-doing to do there. I don’t think she is a late philosophical concept that somehow got in. I think we have got a lot of re-reading, re-studying, and looking at old scholarship on Wisdom and putting it in the museum of scholarship. We’ve moved on.
Q20. Was Jesus a twin?
A20. Answer: I have no idea. There is no evidence on that, at all.
Q21. So to be clear, Mary, The Virgin was/is our Heavenly Mother?
A21. Mary, The Virgin – she is the earthly manifestation of what the early Christians saw as the woman clothed with the sun who gives birth of the Messiah in the book of Revelation.
Q22. Can you expand upon the Mother weeping and being comforted by a pre-mortal spirit when Satan fell from heaven?
A22. I don’t recognize that – is that in your [LDS] scriptures? I don’t recognize that. Will whoever asked that question find me afterwards and we’ll talk about it.
Q23. The rabbis say the word is not “virgin” but “young woman” in the Hebrew Bible.
A23. Yes, well they would, wouldn’t they? Now this is where you have to do a simple process of counting. The old Greek was translated before the time of Christianity. And that says clearly parthenos – Virgin. After the advent of Christianity, the mainstream Jews – those who didn’t become Christians – realized that the old Greek translation was no longer accurate. So how had the Hebrew changed, we ask ourselves? During the second century, three new Greek translations were made and Origen (of course, working in the early part of the third century), made a comparison of all these things; so, we’ve got quite a lot of evidence that survives. The post-Christian translations that did not like what the Christians were doing with that proof text, all say “young woman.” The pre-Christian translation (which the post-Christian Jews said was no longer accurate), that was changed. But the people who chose to translate [the Hebrew] almah as [the Greek] parthenos, were those that were keeping alive the tradition of the Mother, in Egypt. It’s modern political correctness (that’s being kind, it could just be ignorance), that leads people to translate almah as “young woman.” And it’s not just a virgin, it’s The Virgin; there is a definite article – there is no question about that.
Q24. Did she also aid in weaving the first veil of the temple?
A24. That’s very interesting because [in] one of the great purges, one of the things that King Josiah removed from the temple when he purged everything, it was like a process of reformation. And one of the targets of his reforming zeal was to remove everything to do with The Lady, including driving out the young women who were the temple weavers. Now, that’s very interesting. That’s something that would be very interesting to pursue (that is a work in progress) but certainly weaving is associated with The Lady and The Mother in Heaven. She weaves the fabric of creation, the high priests’ garments, her golden light is woven through the fabric which represents creation. So, the high priest wears a garment that represents the golden light of heaven shot through the fabric of creation – but that is really another session.
Transcriber’s note: This Question and Answer session has been lightly edited for clarity.
 ‘Rule’, literally ‘shepherd’ is how the Lxx read the Hebrew tr‘m. This could be read as terō‘ēm, break, from r‘‘; or it could be tir‘ēm, ‘shepherd’ from r‘h.
 The MT is wnṣyry, which is corrupt. BHS proposes wnṣry, ‘preservers of’; BDB proposes wnṣwry, ‘preserved of’.
 Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 43a.
 Two incomplete copies of the Damascus Document were found in Cairo in1897. The pieces found in caves 4, 5 and 6 corresponded to this text, with some additional material.
 Damascus Document III, VI.
 ‘I kept silent’, ndmyty, reading from dmm, keep silent, rather than dmh, destroy. Thus Lxx Marchalianus, Qmg and Symmachus esiōpēs, and Vulgate tacui.
 About 731 BCE.
 See N Wyatt, Religious Texts from Ugarit, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998, p.58.
 Origen, Commentary on John 2.31.
 4Q Deutj
 Two late mediaeval mss in Cairo in 1897, and then parts at Masada and Qumran. A fragment of Ben Sira 6.20-31 was found in cave 2.
 D Clines, A Concise Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, Sheffield: Phoenix Press, 2009 offers ‘weave’ as the meaning here.
 Or ‘pour out’.
 The Teaching of Silvanus, CG Vii.4.89, 90, 91.
 Origen, Commentary on John 2.12; Homilies on Jeremiah, 15.4.
 E.g. hiph‘il at Isaiah 53.11, ‘accounted righteous’..
 E.g. qal Isaiah 45.25 ‘triumph’.