Saturday, August 27, 2011

Anti-Catholic Blaming of Catholic Apologists for Protestant Mistakes with Regard to Luther's View of the Canon (Part II)

By Dave Armstrong (8-27-11)

It's simply amazing, the amount of misinformation, disinformation and propaganda anti-Catholics dishes out. They make Baghdad Bob (remember that clown?) look like Abraham Lincoln. I would have thought that my previous copiously documented examination of this nonsense had laid to rest many of these bogus allegations.

Anti-Catholics are so used to lying about and distorting anything that Catholic apologists do that they literally could no sooner stop this than Niagara Falls could reverse its course.

Luther certainly did judge books of the Bible (which is technically a different notion from which books he left in his canon in his own Bible), solely on his own arbitrary, self-proclaimed, pseudo-prophetic "authority." It's not just us Catholics (oops, "Romanists") who think this, but even some Lutherans and other Protestants: some of whom are troubled by Luther's cavalier attitude towards the Bible.

I documented this almost seven years ago now, in my paper, "Luther's Outrageous Assertions About Certain Biblical Books." For example, non-Catholic Luther and "Reformation" scholar Preserved Smith wrote (this and other sources can be found in the aforementioned paper):

. . . few of his followers have ever interpreted, commented on, and criticized the Bible with the freedom habitual to him. The books he judged according as they appealed to his own subjective nature, . . .

Lutheran Mark F. Bartling (WELS), stated:

It must be admitted that Luther did develop a personal criterion of canonicity that took its place along side of apostolicity and universality (those books unanimously accepted by the early church, homologoumena) . . . It was, of all people, Carlstadt who condemned Luther for this criterion. Carlstadt said: "One must appeal either to known apostolic authorship or to universal historical acceptance as to the test of a book’s canonicity, not to internal doctrinal considerations." [De Canonicis Scripturis libellus, Wittenberg, 1520, p. 50]. This position of Carlstadt was also the position of Martin Chemnitz and of C. F. W. Walther [Compendium Theologiae Positivae, Vol. I. p. 149]

Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901), the great biblical scholar, was equally direct in his disagreement with Luther:

No Church could rest on a theory which makes private feeling the supreme authority as to doctrine and the source of doctrine. As a natural consequence the later Lutherans abandoned the teaching of their great master on the written Word.

Moral of the story: when Catholics say things like I did, in this respect, we are not saying anything that many Protestant (including Lutheran) or secularist critics of Luther (Carlstadt, Chemnitz, Walther, Smith, Westcott et al) have not already said. But when we do it, it is supposedly bad research and "propaganda." When a Protestant says the same thing, it is profound truth. Orwellian doublespeak . . . The Catholic is always wrong and the Protestant always right, even when they agree with each other. I agree: it makes no rational sense. Yet this is how anti-Catholic polemicists "reason." 

Now, when I first converted to Catholicism in 1991 and did some critical writing about Luther, I had at my disposal far fewer sources and resources than I have now. I wasn't on the Internet yet (not for another five years, and six till I had my own website). I had one Catholic book about Luther of my own (the notorious, but not devil incarnate, Patrick O'Hare) and photocopies or handwritten notes from mostly two other early 20th century Catholic sources (Grisar and Janssen) from library research. Much of my earliest research utilizes these three sources. I also had Roland Bainton and some Protestant biographies of Luther as well. I had read Bainton's famous Here I Stand in 1984.

My first paper on Luther dates from 1991. Needless to say, I have learned a great deal about Luther since that time (anyone can see how much I have written about him, including now a book) and have refined many of my opinions, as I learned more and more. I systematically purged virtually all references to O'Hare's citations from my papers way back in 2002.

I have modified many opinions in particulars, about Luther. I continue to develop my beliefs about him on an ongoing basis, and remove old stuff. One of my old papers on the topic was entitled, Martin Luther: Beyond Mythology to Historical Fact. (the original URL can be traced on Internet Archive). The first version was dated 14 January 1991. There was a "5th Revised Edition" dated 11 November 2002. In the fifth edition, all the material on the biblical canon had been removed. The third edition of 18 January 2000 still contained it, without either attribution or URL. So did the fourth edition of 27 January 2002. But since November 2002, these quotes have not been on my website, in this paper.

The last time the paper was online, according to Internet Archive, was 11 October 2003, so it's been gone almost eight years. Sometime between then and 6 December 2003 it was voluntarily removed as outdated (which is not the same as discredited) research. It never made it to my blog, because that was begun in 2004. When we look at  the particulars anti-Catholics presents to make their case against a 20-year-old paper of mine, they uniformly fail to do so, since they all go back to Protestant sources, in terms of origin in English, and continued use.

Obviously, then, I was refining the paper as I learned more things. Most people would think that is a good and normal thing in legitimate research and inquiry (since all noted researchers and authors make revisions). In this ancient paper of mine, I cited O'Hare at length:

Of the Pentateuch he says: 'We have no wish either to see or hear Moses. Job . . . is merely the argument of a fable . . . Ecclesiastes ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it . . . Solomon did not, therefore, write this book . . . The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish naughtiness . . . The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible . . .

O'Hare was not the original source of these things (in English).  I already documented in my previous paper  that the source of this material in English (far as I could determine) was Sir William Hamilton: a Scottish Protestant philosopher, in 1834. He was utilizing and translating the standard edition of Luther's Works in the18th century (the state of the art at that time): Johann Georg Walch (24 volumes: Halle: 1740-1753). Walch in turn cited the Aurifaber version of Table-Talk, dating from 1566.

Those three Protestant men are the originators of this material, not the Catholic O'Hare, who was writing in 1916 and utilizing the statements of Hamilton. Thus, O'Hare and other evil, wicked, wascally "Romanists cannot be uniquely blamed for this, as if it is poor research and a polemical motivation alone that caused them to pull things out of thin air in the effort to defame Martin Luther. It's just not so. O'Hare wasn't solely at fault. It wasn't simply "propaganda." It had a quite legitimate, scholarly  Protestant textual history.

If O'Hare was a propagandist by using these words (and I myself by using his, which are Walch's translated into English), then so were Hamilton and Walch and Aurifaber. But anti-Catholic critics merely want to bash O'Hare and the embodiment of evil and bad research, Dave Armstrong. O'Hare does indeed often engage in empty "anti-Luther" polemics and lousy research, which is why I don't use him anymore, but this instance is not an example of it.

In the previous paper I already made a lengthy comparison of Hamilton's section about Luther and the canon (translated from Walch, who cited Luther friend Aurifaber), and O'Hare's. Here I'll do it line-by-line (using O'Hare portions that I cited in my old Luther paper):

[Catholic] O'Hare, 1916: Job . . . is merely the argument of a fable . . .
[Protestant] Hamilton, 1834:  Job spake not, therefore, as it stands written in his book, but hath had such cogitations . . . It is a sheer argumentum fabulae. . . .
[many Protestants (usually liberals who were biblical skeptics) picked this up -- so we observe in a Google Books search -- and noted that Luther regarded the book of Job as a fable or mere dramatic story without factual basis; see also a general Google search along these lines]

O'Hare, 1916: Ecclesiastes ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it . . . Solomon did not, therefore, write this book . . .
Hamilton, 1834: This book (Ecclesiastes) ought to have been more full; there is too much of broken matter in it; it has neither boots nor spurs, but rides only in socks, as I myself when in the cloister . . . Solomon hath not therefore written this book 

O'Hare, 1916: The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish naughtiness . . .
Hamilton, 1834: The book of Esther, I toss into the Elbe." [Ib.] ["And when the Doctor was correcting the second book of Maccabees, he said: --] . . . I am so an enemy to the book of Esther, that I would it did not exist; for it Judaizes too much, and hath in it a great deal of heathenish naughtiness. 

O'Hare, 1916: The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible . . .
Hamilton, 1834: The history of Jonah is so monstrous, that it is absolutely incredible.
[a Google Books search of this phrase reveals that many Protestants cited it throughout the 19th century: several noting that it came from the Protestant Hamilton. It was in common use before O'Hare was even born]

It wasn't only the Catholic O'Hare citing or paraphrasing these sections from Hamilton: not by a long shot. I have linked above to examples found in Google Books searches. Secularist Luther scholar Preserved Smith also did, just five years before O'Hare:

. . . he declared Job to be an allegory; Jonah was so childish that he was almost inclined to laugh at it; the books of Kings were "a thousand paces ahead of Chronicles and more to be believed." “Ecclesiastes has neither boots nor spurs, but rides in socks, as I did when I was in the cloister."

(The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1911, 268)

The only section that couldn't be traced back to Hamilton was "We have no wish either to see or hear Moses." Very well, then; I did a search on Google Books. Not much turned up. All O'Hare stated was, "Of the Pentateuch he says: 'We have no wish either to see or hear Moses.'" I agree that this is inadequate, because it has no context at all and could easily be misinterpreted (especially knowing Luther and his frequent rhetorical exaggerations and oft-used sarcastic, non-literal mode of argumentation). On the other hand, O'Hare has not interpreted it himself. In any event, the words themselves do exist in Luther, and in that sense, this is not "propaganda" per se, but the reporting of a fact.

Luther, in his treatise, Against The Heavenly Prophets In The Matter Of Images And Sacraments," wrote (my bolding):

Now then, let us get to the bottom of it all and say that these teachers of sin and Mosaic prophets are not to confuse us with Moses. We don’t want to see or hear Moses. How do you like that, my dear rebels? We say further, that all such Mosaic teachers deny the gospel, banish Christ, and annul the whole New Testament. I now speak as a Christian for Christians. For Moses is given to the Jewish people alone, and does not concern us Gentiles and Christians. We have our gospel and New Testament. If they can prove from them that images must be put away, we will gladly follow them. If they, however, through Moses would make us Jews, we will not endure it.
(Luther's Works, Vol. 40, p. 92)

But this dates from after 1955, and wasn't available to O'Hare. Moreover, in  Luther Vindicated by Charles Hastings Collette, the author provides extensive context. He states:

There is a passage quoted by Dr. McCave, as reported in his Lecture in The Midland Counties Express, as follows :—"It was Luther who said of the Pentateuch 'We neither wish to see nor hear this Moses; he is master of all hangmen, and no one can surpass him when there is a question of terrifying, torturing, or tyrannizing.' " I have utterly failed to trace this passage.

Collette's book was published in 1884, and he was a Protestant. This could very well be O'Hare's source (the reference to "the Pentateuch" strongly suggests it), in which case again it is a matter of O'Hare citing a Protestant, who is not hostile to Luther at all; a book, in fact, where he is expressly defended. "Dr. McCave" appears to be Canon James McCave, D.D.: a Catholic; Collette is not necessarily agreeing with what he cited, and couldn't trace it. Thus we have:

[Catholic] O'Hare, 1916: Of the Pentateuch he says: 'We have no wish either to see or hear Moses.'
[Protestant] Collette, 1884 (citing Catholic McCave):  It was Luther who said of the Pentateuch 'We neither wish to see nor hear this Moses . . .'

According to Walch, Luther thought the book of Job was a "fable." This came right from him, as Hamilton stated. According to Preserved Smith (writing in 1911), he thought it was "allegory."

O'Hare drew directly from the Protestant Hamilton, who translated into English the official Luther compiler Walch, who included Table-Talk from Luther contemporary and personal secretary Aurifaber. This is O'Hare's fault that he dared to trust Protestants for accurately reporting the words of their hero Luther? And it's our fault for citing him, doing so? As if anti-Catholics have never utilized older pro-Luther research (they do all the time) and in so doing, trusted it implicitly for accuracy?

Isn't Catholic apologetics fun? This is the sort of garbage we hear from our anti-Catholic intellectual giants on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis: pathetic tactics from historically-challenged fools who are unable to rationally defend their viewpoints.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Luther on the Book of Esther: Attempts to Blame Catholics for a Questionable Luther Citation Passed Down by Three Admiring Protestants

By Dave Armstrong (8-20-11)

I wrote a paper on Luther's view of the book of Esther (24 March 2007). In it I explained (right at the top) that I had made an honest mistake, and was correcting it (unfortunately, it made it into my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, completed in 1996 and "officially" published in 2003: p. 261, but was not included in my 2008 book on Luther: ch. 3 on the biblical canon).

We all make mistakes, and we all know it (well, most of us know that . . .). It's no big deal: part of being human. Heaven knows that we apologists, who are dealing with hundreds of arguments and counter-arguments and facts all the time, will inevitably make mistakes, including some botched citations. I've retracted things many times when it was my duty to do so, after receiving additional relevant information.

But there are such things as an honest mistake and on the other hand, an inexcusable mistake, that suggests incompetence and excessive ignorance. Mine was clearly an honest one, and as I already showed in my linked paper above, it was based on past initial, "primary research" errors of Protestants who were passing on Luther's writings (and obviously not critics of him), not Catholics seeking to discredit Protestantism by deliberately distorting his words.

As I wrote in my paper on Luther and Esther:
. . . the error is a result, not of sinister "anti-Luther" Catholics, but of Joannes Aurifaber and Johann Georg Walch: respectively the Protestant writer and later compiler of Table-Talk. . . . a mistake somewhere along the line in the transmission of Table-Talk.

Aurifaber (1519-1575) was a Luther disciple and contemporary; lived with him as his secretary, was present when he died, and later compiled his letters and the Table-Talk. Thus, if the mistake was his fault originally, obviously it was not based on any "anti-Luther" motivation. Likewise, this holds for Walch (1693-1775), a Lutheran theologian, who oversaw a famous edition of Luther's works in German, in 24 volumes (1740–1752). Walch incorporated Aurifaber, and Hamilton translated Walch/Aurifaber.

This is apparently the English source that made it into Patrick O'Hare's The Facts About Luther in 1916, where I first saw the quote. O'Hare was merely citing what he had seen in English, since at that time, most of Luther's works were available only in German, and the English-only reader had to look around quite a bit to find his citations in English at all. The major sets of Luther's writings in English were to arrive only as late as 1940 (six-volume "Philadelphia" edition) and 1955 (standard 55-volume edition, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan).

Sir William Hamilton (1788-1856) was an eminent Scottish philosopher, and also not a Catholic. He was no "Luther hater" either, as can be plainly observed in Memoir of Sir William Hamilton, Bart., by John Veitch (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1869), pp. 331 ff.. The above remarks come from Life of Martin Luther (New York: Delisser and Procter, 1859), by Christian Karl Josias (Chevalier de) Bunsen (1791-1860), with "an estimate of Luther's character and genius," by Thomas Carlysle (1795-1881), and an appendix by Hamilton, entitled, "Reverse-Side of the Picture" (pp. 221- 250), about Luther's shortcomings (within an overall stance of admiration for him).

Carlyle's section ("Spiritual Portrait of Luther") runs from pp. 183-219. Then we have Hamilton's portion, where he retracts some earlier errors he had made:

Soon after the publication of this article, I became aware , that Esther was here a mistake for Esdras; and this by the verse quoted. The error stands in all Aurifaber's editions of the Tabletalk; his text is taken by Walch, and from Walch I translated. It is corrected, however, in the recensions by Stengwald and Selneccer, and, of course, in the new edition of the Colloquia by Bindseil. (p. 242)

This all occurred in the Protestant theological and literary world, and had nothing to do with Catholic polemics (much as anti-Catholics would love this to be the case). Wishing and hoping doesn't make a thing come true. Aurifaber's version of Table-Talk dated from 1566 [source], whereas Selneccer's was from 1577, Stengwald's (or Stangwald's) from 1571 and a second edition in 1591, and Bindseil's and Fortsemann's from 1848 (after Hamilton wrote his initial article). [source: Preserved Smith, Luther's Table-Talk: A Critical Study, 1907, pp. 62-66] There were other changes and refinements after that, with modern critical textual research on the Table-Talk. [Smith, 66 ff.]

There is obviously textual confusion to some extent, then, in the Table-Talk (which was recorded and compiled by several people in the first place), and reasonable men can differ, without bringing in self-serving conspiracy theories of Catholic polemical mischief and "Luther-hating." 1916, when O'Hare wrote, is not long after all these developments, and he can surely be excused for his mistake regarding "Esther" rather than "Esdras." It's no capital crime, let alone a deliberate botching of a Luther citation to make him appear worse than he actually was.

Now, getting back to Hamilton, the "article" he refers to is one having to do with "Admission of Dissenters to the Universities," published in the Edinburgh Review in October 1834 (pp. 202-230). Any doubt as to his authorship of the then-anonymous article is removed in his own book, entitled, Discussions on Philosophy and Literature, Education and University Reform: Chiefly from the Edinburgh Review (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1858): see p. 458 ff.

Here is how Hamilton translated into English the disputed passage in question (pp. 492-496) -- all ellipses are Hamilton's own, except the ones before the second paragraph, which are my own; bolding is mine.

Biblical Criticism.—(1) "The books of the Kings are more worthy of credit than the books of the Chronicles.''- [Colloquia, c. lix. r 6.]—(2) "Job spake not, therefore, as it stands written in his book, but hath had such cogitations . . . It is a sheer argumentum fabulae. . . . It is probable that Solomon made and wrote this book." [Ib.]—(3) " This book (Ecclesiastes) ought to have been more full; there is too much of broken matter in it; it has neither boots nor spurs, but rides only in socks, as I myself when in the cloister . . . Solomon hath not therefore written this book, which hath been made in the days of the Maccabees by Sirach. It is like a Talmud compiled from many books, perhaps in Egypt, from the Library of King Ptolemy Euergetes.—(4) So also have the Proverbs of Solomon been collected by others [caught up from the King's mouth, when he spake them at table or elsewhere: and those are well marked, wherein the royal majesty and wisdom shine conspicuous." (Ib.)]—(5) "The book of Esther, I toss into the Elbe." [Ib.] ["And when the Doctor was correcting the second book of Maccabees, he said: --] . . . I am so an enemy to the book of Esther, that I would it did not exist; for it Judaizes too much, and hath in it a great deal of heathenish naughtiness. . . .
(6) "Isaiah hath borrowed his whole art and knowledge from David out of the Psalter."1 [Ib. c. lx. 10.]—(7) "The history of Jonah is so monstrous, that it is absolutely incredible.'" [Ib.]—(8) "That the Epistle to the Hebrews is not by Saint Paul; nor indeed by any apostle, is shown by chap. ii. 3 . . . It is by an excellently learned man, a disciple of the Apostles . . . It should be no stumbling-block if there be found in it a mixture of wood, straw, hay." [Standing Preface in Luther's Version.]—(9) "The Epistle of James, I account the writing of no apostle." [Standing Preface.] "St. James's Epistle is truly an Epistle of straw [in contrast to them," (" the right and noblest books of the New Testament") "for it hath in it no evangelical character.'" (Fragmentary Preface to the New Testament, 1524.)]—(10) "The Epistle of Jude is an abstract or copy of St. Peter's second; . . . and allegeth sayings and stories which have no place in Scripture." [Standing Preface, etc]—(11) "In the Revelation of John much is wanting to let me deem it either prophetic or apostolical I can discover no trace that it is established by the Holy Spirit." [Preface of 1522.]'

All of this is a compilation of a Scottish philosopher: Sir William Hamilton: an admirer of Luther and assuredly no Catholic. This appears to be the origin.
Julius Charles Hare's 1855 book, Vindication of Luther, issued the correction to Hamilton's (actually Aurifaber's and Walch's) mistake of changing "Esdras" to "Esther." This in turn goes back to an earlier 1844 tract from Hare: see "Note W" (pp. 817 ff.): ten years after Hamilton's original article.

Hamilton's replied to Hare, in the elaborating and clarifying footnotes of his Discussions on Philosophy from 1858. In those, Hamilton contends exactly as I did in my Esther paper: he admitted the one textual mistake, but argued that Luther, nonetheless, was still quite hostile to Esther, based on texts that are not disputed. Here are two Protestants arguing with each other over the proper text, and Luther's view of Esther. Catholics had nothing to do with it. 

One Protestant cited two others who were (so the prevailing textual theory would have it) wrong about Luther's words. A fourth Protestant comes along and corrects the third one who had erroneously cited the first two, and these two (third and fourth) Protestants disagree with each other as to what Luther thought of Esther. Several other Protestants pass down and comment on alternate renderings of Table-Talk (other than Aurifaber's version). Aurifaber is the original culprit back in 1566 (or so it seems, anyway: for all we know, he accurately transcribed Luther's words and the others did not). This is no Catholic conspiracy to smear Luther and botch his words for polemical purposes. 

As far as I can tell, Hamilton introduced the Esther and similar "hostile to various books of the Bible" Luther quotes, into English language awareness, in his article of October 1834. This was corrected, as to Esther-Esdras, in 1844 by Julius Hare, and later in an 1855 book. Hamilton in turn recognized his error about Esther, but disagreed with most particulars and the overall thrust of Hare's critique, in 1858. But is that the end of it in the Protestant world? No. We have the 1834 documentation from Hamilton and other instances of the quote are easily accessed in Google Books:

1) John Kitto's Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature (1845) cites (on p. 663) the two Hamilton Esther quotes word for word, with complete documentation, including page number (p. 228).

2) A skeptical book by John Shertzer Hittell, The Evidences Against Christianity, Volume 2 (1857), cites Hamilton's translation of Luther's words at length on p. 271, without documentation.

3) The 1865 Catholic book, Points of Controversy, by Cornelius Francis Smarius, cites Hamilton at length, with slightly changed words (pp. 55-56). He notes the source on p. 56 as "Edinburgh Review, No. 121" and compresses of the two Luther/Hamilton statements on Esther, cutting out what was in between but not noting it (which is not good). He substituted "such" for Hamilton's "so", "wish" for his "would", and "has" for "hath".

4) William McDonnell, in his 1873 volume, Exeter Hall: A Theological Romance, cites Hamilton's words at great length, without attribution, on page 111.

5) A History of the English Church from its Foundation to the Reign of Queen Mary (1875), by Mary Charlotte Stapley, includes the statement (p. 431), that Luther "wished the Book of Esther were tossed into the Elbe." 

6) Another skeptical book, The Bible, Whence and What? (1882), by Richard Brodhead Westbrook, echoes Hamilton's translation at length without giving the source, on p. 195.

7) The Literary Churchman and Church Fortnightly (23 November 1883, p. 511) parrots the same sentiment: "'Esther' he would like to toss into the Elbe."

8) In 1912, Catholic Everett Pomeroy published the book, "The Great Reformation": A Great Mistake. He followed (on p. 120) all four of Smarius' changes from Hamilton, regarding the "Esther" quotations, but adds a second deletion and compression, as well: omitting Hamilton's "I am so an enemy to the book of Esther, that . . .".

9) Catholic polemicist and apologist Patrick F. O'Hare is a latecomer to this scene. His book, The Facts About Luther is from 1916, and he (somewhat loosely) cites Hamilton, too, without attribution, on pp. 207-208 (my bolding):
[complete] Here are some examples of his judgments on them. Of the Pentateuch he says: "We have no wish either to see or hear Moses." "Judith is a good, serious, brave tragedy." "Tobias is an elegant, pleasing, godly comedy." "Ecclesiasticus is a profitable book for an ordinary man." "Of very little worth is the book of Baruch, whoever the worthy Baruch may be." "Esdras I would not translate, because there is nothing in it which you might not find better in Aesop." "Job spoke not as it stands written in his book; but only had such thoughts. It is merely the argument of a fable. It is probable that Solomon wrote and made this book." "The book entitled 'Ecclesiastes' ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it. It has neither boots nor spurs; but rides only in socks as I myself did when an inmate of the cloister. Solomon did not, therefore, write this book, which was made in the days of the Maccabees of Sirach. It is like a Talmud, compiled from many books, perhaps in Egypt at the desire of King Evergetes." "The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish naughtiness." "The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible." "The first book of the Maccabees might have been taken into the Scriptures, but the second is rightly cast out, though there is some good in it."

O'Hare's "version" is word-for-word identical to that of the Catholic Smarius' section on Esther. The fact that O'Hare follows him in all three word changes and the compression into one statement, is virtual proof that he was directly citing (in his "Esther section") Smarius and not, e.g., Pomeroy, who apparently followed Smarius, with one section deleted. So the citation trail to the present usual Internet form appears to be:

1) Protestant Sir William Hamilton: 1834.

2) Catholic  Cornelius Francis Smarius: 1865 (attributed), with three word changes and compression of the original statement.

3) Catholic Patrick F. O'Hare: 1916 (not attributed), drawing word-for-word from Smarius.
 4) Yours truly, in 1996 or earlier research, citing O'Hare and passing it onto the Internet after 1997, with a retraction in 2007. I have long since almost totally ceased to utilize O'Hare, because of his strong anti-Luther bias, his sloppiness -- of which the present example is rather typical --, and the finding of much better sources these past twenty years since I have been doing Catholic apologetics.

We see, then, that Catholics did get in on the "Hare/O'Hare game" eventually,  but it was not only Catholics by a long shot, and all the original and primal errors involved, culminating with Hamilton in 1834, came from Protestants, without exception, and many Protestants followed it, even after it was shown to be in error as early as 1844. Catholics merely followed the Protestant 1834 source, and hence are not responsible for its origin; also it is routine that folks will cite arguments from the opposing party, to avoid the charge of partisan bias, so we would fully expect that Catholics would cite Protestant sources, in arguing their case. At best, one can say that people on both sides were not aware of either the origin or later correction of the passage.

The non-Catholic philosopher by trade, Sir William Hamilton (by all indications) is the person who brought this particular Luther "citation trail" into being, from German to English, in 1834. I grant that there is a lot of sloppiness in citation to be found (among scholars and non-scholars alike), but that is by no means exclusive to Catholic apologists online. 

* * *

Further comments of mine, in reply:

Brigitte (Lutheran):
Amazing. It says: "Das dritte Buch Esdrae."
(8-23-11 on an anti-Catholic blog)

What's so amazing? The standard 18th-century edition of Luther's works (Walch) had "Esther," not "Esdras." That's the root of the "mistake" -- going back to Aurifaber's Table-Talk in 1566. WA reads differently. But if we want to understand the basis of this textual strain, it goes back to Protestant Sir William Hamilton, citing Lutherans Walch/Aurifaber in 1834. (8-24-11 on Brigitte's blog)

Yet somehow, all this Protestant internal disagreement is supposedly the fault of evil Catholics who merely cited official Lutheran collections of Luther's writings? I don't think so . . .(8-24-11 on Brigitte's blog, Thoughts)

Brigitte: . . . even if Luther had said that he would throw "Esther" in the Elbe, we understand that this would be in line with others in history who have questioned Esther's authoritativeness. In any case, the story is nice and instructive and the providence of God can be seen and appreciated. It does not have anything about Christ, and that's limits its usefulness and authority. Anybody could write a story about God's providence. I could write one. You might look over this list of links regarding the "anti-legoumena". (8-24-11)

Hi Brigitte,

I was simply noting that authoritative Lutheran sources had "Esther" and that this was why Catholics later cited it. All of the original material with "Esther" was Protestant (Aurifaber, Walch, and Hamilton). In 1834, Walch was the state of the art in primary Luther material.

What I get sick and tired of is [anti-Catholics] insinuating that these things are due to deliberate Catholic dishonesty. That is not the case at all here (it's merely a textual variant in Luther collections), and in many other instances where he implies it.

I have also defended Luther on many occasions where I thought he was getting a bad rap or being lied about. I'm not "anti-Luther." I am "pro-truth" wherever it lies. I like historical facts: best as they can be ascertained. (8-24-11)

Turretinfan (TAO): Clearly, it is the fault of Protestants when Romanists do lousy research. It is probably also the fault of Protestants when banned Romanists ignore the rules and post where they are unwelcome. It's all Bush's fault. (8-24-11)

Clearly it is the fault of "Romanists" when "Wittenbergians" (folks like Aurifaber, Walch, and Hamilton) can't figure out in their conflicting texts whether Luther wanted to toss Esther or Esdras into the river . . . who could doubt it? If a Catholic citing the most authoritative Luther primary source (Walch), passed along by a Protestant in 1834 (Hamilton) is "lousy research" -- so be it. But then what does that say about Walch?

I think you may be the only anti-Catholic left who doesn't routinely delete, ban, and close comment threads whenever a Catholic who is able to put up a decent fight shows up. Kudos to you for that. You don't have to be a clone of all your buddies and comrades-in-arms. (8-24-11 on another anti-Catholic blog; later deleted)

[Oops; this isn't true, I'm afraid, since Paul Hoffer (below) has informed me that TAO has deleted Paul's posts on his own blog when he couldn't refute them, and even links to posts, in order to cover up his bankruptcy of reply. So now I know of no major anti-Catholic online, who doesn't engage in these cowardly tactics.]

Paul Hoffer (Catholic friend of mine): Hello all,

Mr. Fan blames "lousy" Catholic research for promulgating a spurious Luther quote when in truth the source for that research comes from Protestant translations of that quote made by Joannes Aurifaber and Johann Walch: a fact pointed out in Mr. Armstrong's article on his Biblical Evidence for Catholicism blog. So if I understand this correctly, Mr. [So-and-So] and Mr. Fan are criticizing Catholic apologists who used famous, popular Protestant compilations of Luther's works which may or may not be refuted by other Protestant translations of Luther's works which Mr. [So-and-So] has arbitrarily chosen to use because those alternate versions show that some Catholics "got it wrong." And then on top of that, after defaming Mr. Armstrong, you then deleted his responses he proffered to defend himself. I must wonder, has Mr. [So-and-So] travelled to Germany and viewed the actual autographs to determine which version is accurate before opining here?

And to top it off, all this huffing and puffing is over a quote that probably accurately reflects Luther's disdain for Esther even if the quote itself is inaccurate.

I find the fact that you chose to attack Mr. Armstrong's character and his work and then refuse to allow him to defend himself in an open forum to be distasteful as well as un-Christian. Furthermore, I see such nitpicking to be rather Pharisaic and petty, wouldn't you agree?

Mr. [So-and-So] would have done the world a favor by pointing out the facts that the quote has been mistranslated for years by both Protestants and Catholics and offer a correction. It is disappointing that Mr. [So-and-So] chose to slog through the sewer rather than taking the high road. It is too bad that Turretinfan decided to dive in the cesspool after him.

Mr. Fan then makes a funny with the comment "It's all Bush's fault" to gloss over the fact that two well-known and famous compilers of Luther's works are to blame. The only thing that one can "fault" a Catholic apologist for is trusting the accuracy of historically famous Protestant compilations of original works from the Reformation period.

God bless! (8-24-11 on an anti-Catholic blog; later deleted because he dared to utter my name)

Turretinfan (TAO):  Mr. Hoffer:

Are you suggesting that the research wasn't lousy, or that it really is the fault of Protestants that it was lousy, or some third thing? I got a little distracted by your colorful "cesspool" metaphor and perhaps missed where you actually explained what was wrong with what I actually said as opposed to arguing points I never disputed.

Also, while we are at it, do you think it is my or Mr. [So-and-So's] fault that your friend posts despite knowing he's unwelcome here? (8-24-11; same place; later self-deleted because it was a reply to the deleted Hoffer post above)


Books by Dave Armstrong: "The Quotable Newman: A Definitive Guide to His Central Thoughts and Ideas"

[completed on 19 August 2011; accepted for publication by Sophia Institute Press on 28 September 2011. 415-page version edited down on 29 February 2012. Paperback published on 12 October 2012]

[cover design by Carolyn McKinney]

--- For purchase information, go to the bottom of the page ---

[see also The Quotable Newman, Vol. II]

Foreword by Joseph Pearce


The Anglican Newman (1833-1838) on the Falsity of Perspicuity (More or Less Self-Evident Clearness) of Holy Scripture

Cardinal Newman on Rationalistic Theological Liberalism vs. a Reasonable Catholic Faith (Tracts of the Times No. 73 of 1836)

The Catholic Cardinal Newman's Opinion of Anglicanism


Matthew Archbold (Campus Notes: The Cardinal Newman Society Blog, 10-17-12)

Dr. Jeff Mirus (Catholic Culture, "Reading the Greats During the Year of Faith: Newman and Chesterton", 11-20-12)

Amazon Book Reviews (16 as of 2-13-13, averaging 4.8 out of 5.0)

Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, in The Catholic Response (Vol. IX, No. 4, Jan / Feb 2013, p. 58):

Cardinal Newman does not admit of sound-bites but Dave Armstrong has done a creditable job of giving us easily digestible portions of Newman’s thoughts on a host of topics, conveniently arranged in alphabetical order with a precise citation following each entry. This is a wonderful addition to Newman scholarship.

Dr. Jeff Mirus (Catholic Culture, "Newman, a Model for Converts," 2-1-13)

Dr. Steven Schloeder (The Sacred Landscape: Reflections of a Catholic Architect,  3-7-13)

Stephen J. Kovacs (New Oxford Review, October 2013) 

Matthew Celestis (Christian.Tory.Monarchist, 6 March 2015)


The Quotable Newman and The Quotable Newman, Vol. II: Complete Index of Correspondents

Cardinal Newman's Conversion Odyssey, in His Own Words (September 1839 to December 1845)
[list compiled from two of my Newman quotations books] [19 March 2015]

Upcoming  Book (The Quotable Newman)

Sophia Institute Press Flyer / Press Release

Meet the Author, with host Ken Huck, produced by Radio Maria. 45-minute interview about my books, The Quotable Newman, and The Catholic Verses, 17 January 2013. [ Listen ] I've also posted my written interview notes, that contain a lot of material that we didn't get to, due to the constraints of time.


[written by the eminent Catholic biographer, Joseph Pearce -- read it in its entirety]

[Pearce's Foreword posted at Catholic Exchange, 16 October 2012, and in Crisis Magazine, on 23 January 2013]


The aim of this book is a simple, albeit very ambitious one: to compile notable quotations from Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) in the areas of theology and Church history, so that his thinking and wisdom might be more accessible to the reading public, and particularly to students (in school or out) of Christian theology and its history.

As with most works of this sort, the goal is to help make the quoted author more widely known: to spark interest and pique curiosity in more than a few readers. I envy those who will be embarking for the first time on a journey of serious reading of Cardinal Newman. It’s pure joy for any thinker (and any Christian) to do so.

I also seek to create a handy reference source that can be consulted when particular topics come up. Newman’s thought is so full of insight that it seems to have no end. With the help of the Holy Spirit and whatever gifts granted to me by God’s grace, I shall do my best to compile the most substantive, pithy, and memorable quotations of Cardinal Newman that I can find.

The task of selection is necessarily subjective, and daunting, but this is a task I had to do, due to the huge debt I owe to John Henry Newman, in relation to my own spiritual journey: one that brought me happily to the Catholic Church in 1990, exactly a hundred years after Newman’s death (largely as a result of reading his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

This work is, therefore, the fruit of a proverbial “labor of love.” Whether it was labor at all, however, is questionable, since the experience of perusing all of these wonderful books and letters (even the selection process itself), and the enjoyment obtained in so doing, made any “work” involved almost beside the point.

I do have some experience in putting together a book of quotations: I was the editor for The Wisdom of Mr. Chesterton (Charlotte: Saint Benedict Press, 2009, 378 pages). A major difference between that volume and this one, however, is the length of citations. I restricted myself in that instance to single sentences. But this would be impossible to do in Cardinal Newman’s case, because of his flowing, elaborate, complex, Victorian prose. Nevertheless, I shall attempt to keep the excerpts as brief as I can, without giving up any essential meaning.

Similar to the Chesterton collection, I will note sources with abbreviations and generally use chapter numbers rather than page numbers (since the latter will vary with different editions). I will attempt to keep quotations chronological within categories.

As indicated in the subtitles, I have narrowed the subject matter somewhat: primarily to theology and Church history. Newman also wrote widely on philosophy, education, spirituality, sociology or current affairs (Catholics in England, etc.), and produced poetry and fiction, among other things. But in particularly notable instances or topics, I was quite willing to extend the parameters and make an exception to my own “rule” -- out of love of Cardinal Newman’s style, insight, and wisdom.

I chose to concentrate on theology and the history of theological doctrine and the Church, since those topics lend themselves to thematic unity and a coherent collection that can be referenced and used for the purpose of catechesis or apologetics (my own area).

Given the vast amount of Newman’s writing involved, I thought it best to not attempt to cover everything. But for the areas I have covered, I have sought to be quite comprehensive, in order to provide a reference work of lasting value and utility: something a little different from the hundreds of works on Newman, and various anthologies and collections of his writing thus far available.

I need to note two factors that were important in my selection process, as an editor, so readers can be duly informed. As most who are reading this already are aware, Cardinal Newman was an Anglican for roughly the first half of his life, and a Catholic thereafter. Not infrequently in his earlier life, he not only explained, but vigorously advocated positions that he later renounced.

The question then arises, as to the criteria for selection of quotations in the earlier period. Or, more specifically: are they to be conceptualized as presenting (all things considered), at least in part, the “polemical Anglican (at times, outright anti-Catholic), Via Media proponent Newman” or rather, “the proto-Catholic Newman who anticipates and looks forward to his later Catholic beliefs, and holds them in kernel form”?

I have decided (probably predictably) to follow the latter course. Generally, I have not included opinions that the later Newman would have disavowed, or literally did renounce (as we see in his later corrective notes of his earlier writing). I am a Catholic, and I’m afraid that my natural bias in that direction considerably affected how the Anglican period quotations were selected and edited.

Yet I don‘t think this is a complete “loss” for Anglican or otherwise non-Catholic readers, since the (ecumenical) result is an “Anglican Newman” who is expressing ideas concerning which Catholics and more traditional or “high” Anglicans can readily agree. It is not unimportant to highlight agreement where it is present. Non-Catholic readers can also see how very much a Catholic can agree with the Anglican Newman's thinking, since I have deliberately set out to highlight the larger areas of agreement (in light of his later change of mind).

The Anglican devotee of Cardinal Newman could, in this sense, particularly benefit from the earlier quotations insofar as they present a “Catholic Newman” (i.e., Catholic in the more all-encompassing definition Anglicans use) who is not, in these compiled instances, expressing pointed disagreement with another “branch” (so to speak) of the universal Catholic Christian Church.

The second factor that ought to be highlighted (something Introductions are good for!) is my determination to include, by and large (though not always) passages in Newman’s writing that give actual arguments for positions, rather than being only beautifully expressed descriptions or sentiments and not necessarily defenses. Newman is such a good writer that virtually everything he writes is eloquent, in any event; but my goal is to emphasize the apologist Newman: the one who can provide a rationale for why we should agree with his positions.

Thus, it is apparent, that my status as a Catholic, and as a Catholic apologist, by occupation, has influenced how I edit. But I suppose this is to be expected, and I don‘t believe it detracts from the utility of the overall effort in the slightest, especially since I have stated my goals and “biases” upfront, so as to avoid any misconception.

May the reader enjoy and be edified and educated by what I have compiled from Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s delightful writing.


Antiquity (the Early Church)
Apologetics and Evangelism
Apostolic Deposit of Faith
Apostolic Succession
Atonement: Universal
Baptism and Regeneration
Baptism, Infant
Baptism of Desire
Church, The (Ecclesiology)
Church, Indefectibility of
Church, Infallibility of
Conversion and Converts
Conversion (His Own)
Councils, Ecumenical
Creation; Nature
Demons (Fallen Angels)
Deuterocanon (“Apocrypha”)
Development (of Doctrine)
Doctrine; Dogma
Doctrines and History
Doctrines: “Primary vs. Secondary”
Eden, Garden of
Eucharist: Communion in One Species
Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction
Faith Alone (Protestant Notion of Sola Fide)
Faith and Reason
Faith and Works
Fathers of the Church
God, Omnipotence of
Gospel; Good News
History and Christianity
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit: Indwelling of
Honorius (Pope)
Ignatius of Antioch, St.
Ignorance, Invincible
Images, Use and Veneration of
Inquisition / Temporal Punishments 
Jesus: Divinity of
Jesus: Incarnation and Two Natures of
Jesus: Passion and Suffering of
Jesus: Redeemer
Justification and Human Free Will and Cooperation (Synergy)
Justification and Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
Justification and Sanctification
Justification by Faith Alone (Falsity of)
Justification, Infused
Justification (Luther vs. St. Augustine)
Laity; the Faithful
Liberalism and Nominalism, Theological 
Mary: Assumption of
Mary, Blessed Virgin (General)
Mary: Devotion to; Veneration of
Mary: Holiness and Immaculate Conception
Mary: Intercessor, Mediatrix, and Spiritual Mother
Mary: Mother of God (Theotokos)
Mary, Perpetual Virginity of
Mary, Queen of Heaven
Mass, Sacrifice of 
Mortification and Self-Denial 
Mystery (Biblical, Theological) 
Ordination; Holy Orders
Original Sin; The Fall of Man
Papal Infallibility
Papal Sins, Limitations, and Lack of Impeccability
Papal Supremacy and Petrine Primacy
Paradox: Christian or Biblical
Perspicuity (Total Clearness) of Scripture (Falsity of)
Prayer for the Dead
Prayer (of the Righteous)
Priesthood; Priests
Private Judgment
Reform, Catholic
Rule of Faith / “Three-Legged Stool” (Bible-Church-Tradition)
Sacramentals and Sacramentalism
Sacraments and Salvation
Saints, Communion of; Veneration of
Saints, Intercession of
Saints, Invocation of
Salvation: Absolute Assurance of, Unattainable
Salvation, Moral Assurance of
Scripture, Canon of
Scripture, Material Sufficiency of
Sheol / Hades / Limbo of the Fathers
Sin, Mortal 
Sola Scriptura / Bible Alone (Falsity of)
Total Depravity
Tractarianism; Oxford Movement; Via Media
Tradition, Apostolic
Trent, Council of
Trinitarianism; Holy Trinity


Paperback from Sophia Institute Press ($24.95)


Sophia E-Book [ePub + mobi] ($9.95)

Last updated on 18 July 2015.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dialogue with Two Protestants on the Woman of Revelation 12: Is She the Blessed Virgin Mary?

By Dave Armstrong (8-16-11)

This discussion was condensed from a combox on a friend's Facebook page. Guy's words will be in blue; Brian's in green.

* * * * *

Guy Duininck I also don't accept that the ark of the covenant is a type of Mary.......that is all far too presumptious [sic] for this careful student of Scripture. I also don't accept that she is the woman in Revelation. . . . This [is] all speculation which then becomes a foundation for further argument.

That's fascinating. Her son is described as "one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne," (12:5, RSV); so you deny that this is Jesus? If it isn't Jesus, who is it? And if it is, then how can you deny that His mother is Mary? Catholics believe that there is a double application here to the Church and to Mary (a common phenomenon in Scripture). But to deny the application to Mary altogether runs into the exegetical absurdities that I note. 

Brian Sleeman  Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

12:1-6 The church, under the emblem of a woman, the mother of believers, was seen by the apostle in vision, in heaven. She was clothed with the sun, justified, sanctified, and shining by union with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. The moon was under her feet; she was superior to the reflected and feebler light of the revelation made by Moses. Having on her head a crown of twelve stars; the doctrine of the gospel, preached by the twelve apostles, is a crown of glory to all true believers. As in pain to bring forth a holy family; desirous that the conviction of sinners might end in their conversion. A dragon is a known emblem of Satan, and his chief agents, or those who govern for him on earth, at that time the pagan empire of Rome, the city built upon seven hills. As having ten horns, divided into ten kingdoms. Having seven crowns, representing seven forms of government. As drawing with his tail a third part of the stars in heaven, and casting them down to the earth; persecuting and seducing the ministers and teachers. As watchful to crush the Christian religion; but in spite of the opposition of enemies, the church brought forth a manly issue of true and faithful professors, in whom Christ was truly formed anew; even the mystery of Christ, that Son of God who should rule the nations, and in whose right his members partake the same glory. This blessed offspring was protected of God.

But then I've seen interpretations that the passage refers to a succession of Christian Emperors.

Seems that deciphering Prophecy can be a difficult task - I wouldn't be ready to my money on any of the interpretations yet.
Hi Brian. Since Guy hasn't answered my question about the woman in Revelation and Christ, maybe you will. It's right above your last comment. Please do inform all of us who this "Son" is, and who his mother is. I'll even help you with cross-reference clues:

Psalm 2:7-9 (RSV) I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you.[8] Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. [9] You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."

Revelation 19:13-15 He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. [14] And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. [15] From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

Revelation 12:5 she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,
I can cite Protestant commentators, too. Baptist A. T. Robertson (Word Pictures in the New Testament - six volumes), says of Rev. 12:5: "There is here, of course, direct reference to the birth of Jesus from Mary". Eerdmans Bible Commentary likewise states: "the 'catching up' is sufficiently similar to the victorious ascension of Jesus to make plain its real meaning in this context."
Jamieson, Fausset,and Brown Commentary states: "rod of iron . . . ch. 2:27; Psalm 2:9, which passages prove the Lord Jesus to be meant. Any interpretation which ignores this must be wrong." It also notes the reference to the ascension.

Yet you guys can't see that this is referring to Jesus; therefore, that an interpretation that the mother of Jesus in this passage is Mary, cannot be ruled out? It can have a double application to the Church as well, but if we're talking about Jesus' mother, that has to be Mary, because Jesus wasn't born of the Church; He set up the Church.  

Well David, lets set some things straight - I DO NOT deny the virgin birth / immaculate conception of Christ (but that does not automatically make Mary sinless). There are OT references to the coming Messiah via virgin birth. Paul does not figure into anything to do with the acceptability of the process of Christs conception.

Yes, I have seen Commentaries that say exactly what you are saying too. What I was trying to point out out is that not everyone agrees on the interpretations of 'unfulfilled' prophecy. So, if you want to go down that road - let's maybe look at all the interpretations of Revelation that say that the Whore of Babylon is the RCC - I'm sure you can find many who do not hold this same view - but to go on 'weight of numbers', well that too is not scriptural. Majority vote is not the way God works.

The only Authority to be followed is what comes from God - you may believe that the RCC holds that authority - many don't see that that is supported through scripture. Like I have pointed out - and as did Christ constantly throughout His ministry - traditions can be dangerous because they lead away from God and His Word (even when they do sound right and good and true - because they came from scripture, but with a twist) - Christ even said your traditions nullify the Word of God - how much more 'stick to scripture' do you need? Timothy is a classic - what was the traditions he was told to hold too? The instruction of the Law from his beginning (From his mother and Grandmother) i.e. don't forsake the importance and need to uphold the Truth in all that you do - and the same in ministering to all. Continue to meet with fellow believers obey the sacraments (the ones prescribed in scripture). Where do all these 'traditions' stem from? The scriptures.

If you feel that your actions and approaches are correct and true, then that is between you and God - if your conscience is not pricked then maybe you are right or maybe you are blinded - it is not my place to determine. I for one see the dangers that Christ so readily despised and criticised in the Pharisees and Scribes (the 'church' of the OT if you will) and try to be conscious of discerning practices and traditions that may be following that poor example of the religious leaders of that time.

I search in vain for any answers to my arguments in your reply. Lots of non sequiturs, miscomprehension of the nature of my arguments, and you're all over the ballpark (anything and everywhere except replying directly to me): the fabled Protestant "101 objections [to Catholicism]" routine. But like a lawyer who is stuck with a bad case, if you have no rational arguments and facts to bring to bear, you throw up whatever you can to obfuscate, and hope no one (in the lawyer's case, juries) notices what you are doing.

I don't think most Protestants who do this are even aware that they are doing it, because all they are focusing on is opposing Mary and any other distinctive Catholic teaching at all costs, no matter what Scripture has to say on the matter.

So what did I not answer Dave? - Yes I have seen interpretations of Revelation that say that passage refers to Christ - and if you want then to draw the conclusion that the woman, by definition MUST be Mary (even though Christ existed before her). Yes, as I said, I've seen it. I also stated earlier that I wouldn't put my money on ANY of the interpretations to date (not because I specifically disagree with them) - so it's not that I don't answer your questions - it's that you don't like my answers perhaps?

Did I not agree with the immaculate conception?

Please point out what I did not answer? From what I can see I gave you the most honest response I can - I acknowledged that there are interpretations (apparently based on scripture) that support your argument - and yet there are others (also apparently based on scripture) that don't. I'm not particularly interested in getting caught up in 'what Revelation might mean' - I take it basically as thus, that it is the Revelation from Christ to show that He has returned to Heaven, is in Authority and that He is moving to the time of His return. Wasting time looking for the 'indicators' and 'signs' may be of interest and benefit to others, but not to me - too many 'false' conclusions have been drawn from this book.

Thanks for your reply. Very instructive . . . 

I DO NOT deny the virgin birth / immaculate conception of Christ . . . Did I not agree with the immaculate conception?

The only (huge) problem is that you don't understand that the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary, not Christ. She was "immaculate" at the moment of her conception by a special act of grace by God, removing original sin from her soul. It helps discussion quite a bit to get the basic definitions of the things being disputed, correct.

OK, how do 'we' determine . . . that the immaculate was not that she conceived with out intercourse? 

Again, you are thoroughly confused. That has nothing to do with the immaculate conception; that is the Virgin Birth. The immaculate conception is a development of the notion that Mary was without sin, and was the second Eve (very prominent in the Church Fathers). If you believe she was without sin, then upon reflection it was thought by the Church that she was also freed from original sin, by God's grace. That takes it back to conception because that is when the soul is created directly by God, and where original sin is transmitted, since the fall of Adam and Eve. 

The argument from biblical analogy that I made for the immaculate conception noted Isaiah being called from the womb (Is 49:1, 5); also Jeremiah (Jer 1:5). John the Baptist was "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Lk 1:15). Paul was called and set apart "even before I was born" (Gal 1:15). Being the Mother of God is a far greater role in the scheme of things than being a prophet or apostle; hence by analogy, we believe God especially sanctified Mary for her profound task: making her as Eve was before the fall and giving her extra grace (Lk 1:28).

It also seems possible to me that if Mary was not of the nature of man (by having no original sin), then Christ was not then from the seed of the woman - who was a 'product' of man.

This is another basic category error. Man does not have a "sin nature." That is heresy and not NT teaching. Man's nature is a thing that is distinct from original sin. It is not intrinsic to being human, that we have to be fallen. Hence, Jesus had a human nature as well as a divine nature, but both were without sin. Mary was a human being, yet without sin, just as Adam and Eve were human beings without sin, before the fall.

Dave, I get what your saying about immaculate conception (now) - seems a bit far fetched to me at this point. I can't readily refute what you say, nor do I see anything to support it - I can't see how those references you've listed actually make the case, so I'll stick with "I don't know" and accept that Mary was a very special person in the process of Gods plans and that Christ was born, to her a Virgin, as part of the fulfillment of prophecy.

Earlier in the discussion, Brian denied the doctrine of original sin, which is rank heresy:

It is true that Mary did not contract the guilt of Adam’s original sin, because nobody has. . . . Guilt simply is not inherited. The child does not bear the iniquity of the parent (Ezekiel 18:20). Human beings go astray; they are not born that way (cf. Isaiah 53:6). One is spiritually dead because of his personal sin (Ephesians 2:1), not due to the sin of others.

It is true that we aren't responsible for the actual sins of others (I've written about that too). But original sin has to do with the entire human race falling, since we were "in" Adam. See my paper: The Biblical Evidence for Original Sin.