Handmaid and Queen

QUEEN MOTHER: A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF MARY’S QUEENSHIP. By Edward Sri (Emmaus Road Publishing, 827 North Fourth St., Steubenville, Ohio 43952, 2005), xvi + 216 pp. PB $14.95.

The purpose of Edward Sri’s study is to prove the queenship of Mary as explicitly revealed in the scriptures. Therefore, the bulk of his research centers around key texts from the Old and New Testaments.

In surveying the Old Testament, the author considers the importance of the queen mother within the Davidic kingdom. It was the king’s mother who ruled as queen, not the king’s wife. This is portrayed in the prophetic tradition, specifically as seen in Isaiah 7:14 and prototypically in Genesis 3:15. These passages, in considering both Testaments, are eventually associated with Israel’s messianic hopes. Thus, in the structure of the Davidic kingdom in Judah and Israel, the mother of the king and queenship and kingship were inseparably linked.

Sri’s New Testament study places emphasis on Matthew 1-2, Luke 1:26-45 and Revelation 12, all taken in light of the Davidic kingdom traditions. The author illustrates that there is rich scriptural support for viewing Mary, the mother of the Messiah-child, as a queen-mother figure. In Matthew the regal scene of the magi paying homage to the newborn King of the Jews brings forth the notion of the dynastic role of the gebarah (the queen mother). Within Luke, Mary is introduced in the context of the House of David as the mother of the ultimate Davidic heir, the Messiah. Within the scene, Mary is viewed in light of the many Davidic kingdom motifs, suggesting that Mary, in her role as mother of the King, would be understood as a queen mother. Elizabeth, in the Visitation narrative, gives emphasis to this theme in calling upon Mary as “mother of the Lord,” thus providing further basis for viewing her in light of the queenly mother of the Davidic royal court. Revelation 12 depicts the queenly woman clothed with the sun, crowned with twelve stars, and portrayed with the moon under her feet as representing the mother of the Davidic Messiah who will “rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” (Rev. 12:5). If this royal mother figure is interpreted with the Davidic context at hand, then the queen mother of the Old Testament may shed light on the woman’s royal maternity in Revelation 12. While this royal woman is acknowledged by scholars as representing the people of God, she may also be seen as having reference to Mary when read in light of the Gospel of John and the New Testament canon.

Previous attempts at treating the biblical foundations of the queenship of Mary have utilized theological deduction or extra-biblical typology. Sri’s study provides a deeper study of the biblical text within the context of salvation history and the narrative presentation of Mary in the New Testament.

Finally, the author considers an understanding of the meaning of Mary’s queenship for today. Society has essentially moved away from the monarchical political structures of the past. Secular notions of royalty will lead to difficulties in conveying clarity of concept within scripture. Rather, one must consider the biblical view of Christ’s kingdom. If Mary is looked upon as having any royal office, it must be seen in relation to Christ, that is, as dependent and subordinate to him (Lumen Gentium 62), Christ as King. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. He exercises his reign through humility and service. Mary is portrayed in the New Testament as one who exemplifies a Christ-like abasement-exaltation pattern. She is a humble obedient servant who, in her lowliness, God exalts. John Paul II pointed out in his Redemptoris Mater (41) that the perseverance of Mary as the “handmaid of the Lord” is an important basis for understanding her queenship in the kingdom of Christ.

Sri makes a valuable contribution in building the biblical foundation for a thematic understanding of the queenship of Mary, yet he makes a second noteworthy significant contribution in applying this theme within the larger context of Mary’s role within the kingdom of Christ.

It is worthy of note that this publication appears as part of the Letter and Spirit Project, which focuses on studies of significant themes within Scripture from literary, historical, and theological perspectives. We look forward to future contributions within this series.

Sister Madeleine Grace, C.V.I.
Houston, Texas

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