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ANF06. Fathers of the Third Century: Gregory Thaumaturgus, Dionysius the Great, Julius Africanus, Anatolius, and Minor Writers, Methodius, Arn
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Chapter VII.—The Child of the Woman in the Apocalypse Not Christ, But the Faithful Who are Born in the Laver.

If any one, for there is no difficulty in speaking distinctly, should be vexed, and reply to what we have said: “But how, O virgins, can this explanation seem to you to be according to the mind of Scripture, when the Apocalypse plainly defines that the Church brings forth a male, while you teach that her labour-pains have their fulfilment in those who are washed in the laver?” We will answer, But, O faultfinder, not even to you will it be possible to show that Christ Himself27222722    It is hardly necessary to observe, that amid many interpretations of the passage, this which Methodius condemns is probably the true one, as it is certainly the most natural.—Tr. [It is certainly worth observing, that Methodius has on his side a strong following among the ancients; the interpretation the translator favours having little support save among modern defenders of the late pontiff’s bull Ineffabilis. Elucidation II.] is the one who is born. For long before the Apocalypse, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word was fulfilled. And John speaks concerning things present and things to come. But Christ, long ago conceived, was not caught up to the throne of God when He was brought forth, from fear of the serpent injuring Him. But for this was He begotten, and Himself came down from the throne of the Father, that He should remain and subdue the dragon who made an assault upon the flesh. So that you also must confess that the Church labours and gives birth to those who are baptized. As the spirit says somewhere in Isaiah:27232723    Isa. lxvi. 7, 8. “Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man-child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.”27242724    In the LXX. “a male.” From whom did he flee? Surely from the dragon, that the spiritual Zion might bear a masculine people, who should come back from the passions and weakness of women to the unity of the Lord, and grow strong in manly virtue.


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