Monday, May 26, 2008

A Queen Mother

Apologies for light blogging last week - real life and all of that needed more of my attention. But as this is the last week of May, the month of Mary, I wanted to make one more point about Mary and why Catholics honor her. I think it is particularly important to get that in this week as I think we can be reasonably sure that an anti-Catholic post will be presented by Candy soon, at least if her reading material is any indication!

We have already seen how Mary has an honored position in the chart as the Christ bearer- the New Testament "ark of the covenant" in the flesh. We are now going to see her position as Queen Mother.

Beginning on page 78 of Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God Professor Hahn starts making the case for Mary in this very important position. I producing key sentences from page 78 onward. It really is worth obtaining the book to read the entire work.

The woman ordinarily honored as queen (in most near Eastern cultures) was not the wife of the king, but the mother of the king.

As wife of the former king and mother to the present king, the queen mother embodied the continuity of succession.

The Office of the queen mother was well established among the gentiles by the time the people of Israel began to clamor for a monarchy.

Historically this played out as the people looked around them for models of governance. Remember, they (Israel) wanted a king in order to be "like all the nations." Thus, following the models of the neighboring lands, they established a dynasty, a legal system, a royal court- and a queen mother. We find this in Israel at the beginning of the Davidic dynasty. David's first successor, Solomon reigns with his mother, Bathsheba, at his right hand. Israel's queen mother, or Gebirah ("Great lady") appears then, throughout the history of the monarchy to the very end.

So as we see God working out his plan, we see Him, setting the stage for the appearance of the messiah. We know that Jesus Himself will come from the line of kings, the line of King David. But secondarily we also see the establishment of position of Queen Mother and the historical and scriptural basis that Christians have had from the beginning for honoring Jesus' mother - Mary!

Continuing on page 80:

Gebirah ws more than a title; it was an office with real authority. Consider the following scene from early in Solomon's reign: "So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his thrown and had a seat brought for the king's mother; and she sat on his right" (1Kings 2:19)

First we see that the queen mother was approaching her son in order to speak on behalf of another person This confirms what we know about queen mothers in other Near Wastern cultures. We see in the epic of Gilgamesh for example that the queen mother in Mesopotamia was considered an intercessor or advocate for the people.

Next, we notice that Solomon rose from his throne when his mother entered the room. This makes the queen mother unique among the royal subjects. Anyone else would, following protocol, rise in Solomon's presence; even the king's wives were requred to bow before him (1 Kings 1:16). Yet Solomon rose to honor Bathsheba. Moreover he showed further respect by bowing before her and by seating her in the place of greatest honor, at his right hand.

I think this argument is key to understanding Mary's position. Jesus is Lord. He is King of Kings. All Christians profess this, although some parts of Christendom place more emphasis I suppose on the other roles of Jesus as savior, comforter, best buddy. But scripturally and historically it is that of King and the roots of that kingship were set up by God himself through the line of King David. It is then no small matter that the role of Mary, as mother of the king should be one of honor and respect. As Catholics we believe that Jesus does honor his mother (as any good Jewish boy would!) and as we imitate Christ we imitate Him in honoring his Queen Mother as well. When I first read Hahn's book I found this to be a most compelling and persuasive of evidence from scripture for the role of Mary in the church.

Further I would submit that regardless of what we see in the future regarding "A Woman Rides the Beast", unless it addresses this role of Mary it will be incomplete at best!

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