The alignment of the Woman with the monstrous is likely an incongruous image as discussions of monsters generally focus on the grotesque. However, in recent years scholarly use of monster theory has pushed against traditional binary readings of biblical cosmic figures. A monstrous encounter can involve both horror and awe, especially in the realm of religious experience. As Timothy K. Beal states, “the monster is both demonized and deified, revealing a deep sense of ambivalence about the relation between the monstrous and the divine, and intensifying the sense of paradox.” Nowhere is this blurring of boundaries more apparent than God’s pride in the monstrous Leviathan of Job who is both terrifying and beautiful (Job 41:12–34). The tendency to classify the monstrous as overwhelmingly ugly, disgustingly hybrid, abnormally large, and evil only reveals a select number of monsters. Readers predisposed to view the divine messengers or the living creatures of Revelation 4–5 as benevolent routinely overlook their monstrous characteristics (i.e. hybridity, abnormally large size, liminal identities, and dangerous abilities). In the case of the living creatures, these hybrid beings exhibit composite bodies (lion, ox, human, eagle) with fantastic wings adorned with eyes all around, simultaneously inducing awe and horror. Beyond their composite bodies, the living creatures are also dangerous guardians who control access to the divine throne and act as conduits of judgement (Rev 6:1–8). In his work on Revelation, Craig R. Koester maintains strict boundaries between “agents of the Creator with those of the Destroyer.” The hybridity of the locusts represents for him “a repulsive confusion of elements” whereas the composite appearance of the living creatures showcases the harmony of the created order. This artificial and restrictive division of the monstrous from the divine highlights the otherness of only a few creatures while leaving many divine beings languishing in the shadows of the text. The Woman clothed with the Sun is one such creature as she appears only briefly in Revelation 12 before fading out of sight. Without a name and little autonomy ascribed to her, she has become a receptacle of interpretive traditions that obscure her own uncanny attributes and alliances.
In a journal issue focused on the lack of names for female characters, it is ironic that this Woman has a surplus of monikers bestowed upon her by interpreters. Historically, scholars have sought to uncover the identity of this Woman by either seeking human actors, corporate institutions, or mythological forbearers. In response to this impulse to rename, reframe, and categorise the woman, Catherine Keller succinctly asks, “But why rush to allegorize, to doctrinalize, to make “her” an “it”? Indeed, the immense variety of traditions associated with the Woman clothed with the Sun testifies to her multifaceted character that refuses easy classification. Interpreters have found similarities between the narrative of the Woman clothed with the Sun and other stories of women like Eve, Hagar, and Mary. Early 6th century interpreter Oecumenius saw the Woman clothed with the Sun as the Messiah’s mother but also stressed her otherworldly nature describing her as “fully exalted, wholly worthy of heaven even though she possesses our own human nature and substance.” Oecumenius drew further links between the Woman clothed with the Sun and Mary by reading the Dragon’s attempt to swallow the Woman’s child with that of Herod’s attack on the innocents in Matthew.
In contrast to Marian interpretations, Methodius objected to such literal readings arguing that John’s apocalypse was rather concerned with the present and future (Methodius, Symposium 8.7). These early interpreters (Hippolytus, De antichristo 61; Methodius, Symposium 8.5; Andrew of Caesarea, Commentarii in Apocalypsin 11.33), read the various symbols associated with the Woman as allegorical clues to her connection with the church. Jewish sources are also contendefrs for the inspiration behind the Woman clothed with the Sun specifically the experience of Israel finding refuge and provision in the wilderness (Exod 16:4–17:7) or as the personified Israel (Isa 54:5–8; Hos 1–3). Finally, recent scholarly work has focused on locating her identity in surrounding cultures with comparable stories of goddess mothers fleeing monsters and finding sanctuary. Whether the figure of the Woman clothed with the Sun is read as a literal woman, a corporate entity, or a mythological goddess, each of these readings cannot completely account for all of her complexities. Indeed, it is difficult to know how to refer to this Woman of Revelation 12 without continuing to add to the confusion. Is the “Woman clothed with the Sun” intended as a name or is it simply descriptive? Does using this title perpetuate a longstanding tradition of ignoring her anonymity? For the sake of clarity, I will alternate between referring to her as the “Woman clothed with the Sun” and even simply as the “Woman.” Neither is satisfactory but my purpose is to leave behind these complex layers of interpretative traditions to examine her presentation and actions as a fantastical creature in John’s Apocalypse.
Adele Reinhartz begins her book on women and anonymity with a memorable analogy. She states, “reading the Bible for its unnamed participants is akin to examining the negatives of beloved family photographs.” There is a necessary reframing of one’s lenses, compelling an adjustment of perspective to look beyond the well-known characters and see those that have always been there yet unnoticed. Moreover, Reinhartz argues that the lack of a name is not a marker against individuality or even memorability, rather these unnamed characters can be just as distinct and vibrant. Using this analogy, I reread the Woman clothed with the Sun not to argue for a specific identity but to examine her function and actions in the text as an uncanny being. Rather than seeking to align the Woman with familiar or even named individuals, my examination of this figure hinges on her very ability to cross boundaries and refuse categories. Although the Woman’s affiliation with the cosmic world is apparent, she is not typically identified as a monster herself. Using monster theory, I explore the ways that the Woman participates in the monstrous by way of her body but also her associations with other fantastic entities. In this essay, I will focus on the following: (1) her otherworldly orientation; (2) her hybrid physical body; and (3) her uncanny associations with monstrous creatures. My aim is to unsettle the text and shake the Woman free from her traditional and historic moorings as both a human woman and allegorical concept.
Finding the Monstrous
Arriving at a common definition for a monster is challenging as modern presuppositions understand them as evil, dangerous, and frightening. In some cases, these descriptors are true and aptly describe beings like the vampire, the werewolf, and the minotaur who prey on humans. However, such a narrow definition of the monster excludes a large portion of fantastical creatures that are traditionally understood as more benevolent (or neutral) toward humanity. Helpful examples from Greek myths include Cheiron and Pegasus, both hybrid creatures that are viewed as benign and regularly aid humans. Although fear is frequently a prime indicator of one’s experience of the monstrous, there is also the ambivalent experience of awe in the face of the sublime and unknown. Rudolph Otto’s work on the mysterium tremendum is cited in monster studies for its nuanced understanding of the role of fear and dread when encountering the divine. Building on Otto’s work, Beal argues that the divine speeches from the whirlwind (Job 38–41) reveal a God who is “wholly other” and aligned with chaos. It is not only the God of Israel that falls into the category of the uncanny but also the large retinue of divine beings that comprise the heavenly world. Monsters by their very definition do not fit neatly into boxes, they are boundary crossers both in their physical bodies and their abilities to move between realms not accessible to humans. The Latin term monstrum derives from both monere “to warn” and monstrare “to demonstrate” signalling an understanding of monsters as signs or warnings. Their extraordinary appearances (often hybrid) and superhuman abilities mark them as different showing the boundaries of what it means to be human. When applied to biblical texts, the term monster is typically reserved only for creatures identified as the opponents of God even though the divine throne room employs some of the deadliest characters. Whether one is terrified or attracted to the monstrous, at their very core monsters are in Beal’s words “paradoxical personifications of otherness within sameness.” Although the Woman clothed with the Sun does not provoke feelings of dread, like other more benign monsters, she participates in a larger topography of fantastic creatures that inspire not only fear but awe. Upon closer study, the monstrous nature of the Woman clothed with the Sun both attracts and unsettles as she resists easy categorisation both in her hybrid appearance and her liminal abilities to cross divine and earthly boundaries.
Revelation 12 begins by directing the reader’s attention to the skies where two signs or portents appear. The term semeion, “sign, portent” is used to denote warnings often astrological in nature or to speak of the constellations themselves. The first sign is a Woman bearing celestial attributes including a crown of stars, clothed with the sun while standing on the moon (Rev 12:1). Shortly after, a second sign appears, that of the many-headed red Dragon sporting a crown upon its horned heads (Rev 12:3). These two portents are directly juxtaposed against each other: (1) they are both crowned; (2) both appear in the heavens; and (3) are set in opposition to each other. Despite possible echoes of other biblical women like Eve or Mary, numerous details point to the Woman’s more-than-human orientation. Adele Yarbro Collins argues that she is portrayed as a “Queen of Heaven” and a “high-goddess” reminiscent especially of Artemis and Isis. However, her association with the totality of solar, lunar and astral components far outdoes known representations of these goddesses. Her otherworldliness is further emphasised by the term ophthe “appeared” used in conjunction with theophanies, angelophanies, and prophetic visions, signalling for the audience her cosmic importance. This Woman is part of a larger cast of exceptional characters found throughout the divine geographies of Revelation and like them, she can cross the boundary between heaven and earth. Though her role as a mother might foster a sense of familiarity, her association with celestial elements and ability to cross liminal boundaries ensures that she remains overwhelmingly other and extraordinary. This phenomenon is common in monster studies where fantastic creatures are said to be unheimlich, simultaneously familiar and yet oddly strange, causing a deep sense of unease.
The astral qualities of the Woman are noted by numerous scholars who find parallels or precedents with specific ancient goddess figures. The two primary contenders are Leto and Isis, both mothers whose children are threatened by an adversary, and who are rescued by a powerful deity. Collins finds the most convincing of parallels in the myth of Leto and argues for some degree of dependence by the author of Revelation. Specifically, she links the aggression of the serpentine Python with the Apocalypse’s Dragon, the pregnant Leto with the Woman clothed with the Sun, the subsequent flight of both Leto and the Woman, and finally the protection given by Poseidon to Leto and Earth to the Woman. These parallels are convincing, and the influence of the Leto myth material is evident in the shaping of Revelation 12. However, there are important differences between these sources and John’s creative adaptations, signalling its multivalent layers. David L. Balch also points to the influence of other ancient myths especially those featuring the Egyptian Isis (identified with Io) found prominently in Roman domestic art. He reminds the reader that the visual experiences of John’s audience surrounded by frescoes and statues of such goddesses contributes to these complex webs of traditions. Although Collins ultimately argues for Leto as the most convincing of parallels, she notes similar patterns throughout the ancient world including: Akkadian, Hittite, Ugaritic, Jewish, Egyptian, and Greek. My aim is not to identify or create a hierarchy of specific source texts but to view the complexity of the Woman as evidence of her otherness and otherworldly orientation. Michelle Fletcher’s application of pastiche to read Revelation is helpful in this instance to appreciate how John interweaves multiple traditions. As Fletcher notes, “pastiche texts are by their very nature open texts because they do not create one fixed predetermined meaning, as both the past texts and the present location dialogue with each other, and in this multitude voices are heard.” The confusion around the Woman’s identity is understandable considering the extensive fusion of possible traditions that John is combining and reapplying in her presentation.
A Hybrid and Monstrous Body
Surprisingly, little attention is paid to the physical metamorphosis of the Woman as she transitions from a recognizable human form to one with wings. As noted above, this Woman is less than typical with her astral adornments and her positioning in the heavenly realm. In addition to these fantastical elements, she is also presented as a hybrid creature in the physical combination of components that break normative boundaries. The Woman is simultaneously both human and animal with the addition of divinely provided wings (Rev 12:14). Although the label of monster is unfortunately too often assigned solely to creatures predetermined as evil or disgusting, it is an apt descriptor for all cosmic beings that challenge boundaries. A chief identifier of the monstrous body is that it “indicates a fundamental break in the expected workings of the cosmos.” This is frequently represented in the physical hybridity of the monster’s body that fuses disparate entities into one figure or shifts between states. In each instance, the being is the “other” refusing to fit the categories that govern the normal world. However, the use of the term monster is often applied conditionally rather than uniformly leaving some monstrous beings unaccounted for. This is especially true when a monstrous entity is viewed as beautiful or attractive. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid (and the later Disney movie) is an excellent example of these double standards in which the unnamed little mermaid, a composite fish-human, is not assigned the label “monster” despite her obvious hybridity. In contrast, the sea witch, who likely shares with the little mermaid a similar fish-human body, is associated with objects of disgust that include a slimy abode, hybrid animal-plants that kill, a frog eating from her mouth, and snakes that crawl over her body. For most readers, the sea witch is the obvious monster of the tale, the villain depicted in horrific terms, eliciting reactions of revulsion from both the reader and the little mermaid. Two monstrous creatures and yet the monstrosity of the little mermaid lies hidden in the perceptions of the audience. It is the little mermaid’s perspective that readers/viewers adopt, even though she is just as other and strange, a hybrid creature that further morphs into the semblance of a human.
Similarly, scholars have neutralised the remarkable addition of the Woman’s fantastic features in Revelation 12. Unlike other divine figures in John’s Apocalypse, she is not considered an aberration after receiving her wings. This is likely due to the divine origin of the wings and that she is not perceived as disgusting because of this transformation. Even when some scholars note the wings of the woman, they are viewed as “through the agency of natural forces” and thus downplay her extraordinary body. Moreover, her metamorphosis into a hybrid woman-bird is not the focus when she is read as an allegorical figure. Instead, links are drawn to Exodus traditions (Exod 19:4) that use the metaphor of eagle wings to refer to God’s divine provision for Israel, again normalising this fantastic element of her body. The impulse to name (or categorise) this Woman either as a human predecessor (Eve, Mary) or a corporate body (Israel, church) effectively mutes her participation in the monstrous. She is read against these figures rather than as her own independent character who does not adhere to normative rules. This tendency to domesticate the Woman clothed with the Sun is not universal as mediaeval illuminated apocalypses consistently portrayed her as both a winged creature and an allegory for the church. Indeed, the Trinity Apocalypse (circa 1260) even highlights an angel outfitting the Woman with a pair of wings. As Richard K. Emmerson notes literal and allegorical readings could stand alongside each other in these illuminated manuscripts.
A further contributing factor that diminishes an appreciation for the Woman’s extraordinary composite body is the focus on select goddesses who lack a similar metamorphosis. Collins has noted that the giving of wings to the Woman relies on the Leto myth where she is rescued by the north wind. The other major contender, Isis the mother of Horus, also experiences no similar metamorphosis in her escape from Seth-Typhon. My aim is not to diminish the importance of these examples as influences but to propose that their predominance has obscured other relevant examples. An area not typically explored in relation to the Woman clothed with the Sun is her similarity to other monstrous women/goddesses of the ancient world. The metamorphosis of women into animals or objects is not uncommon in Greek and Roman sources especially when fleeing a powerful deity. Examples include Daphne and Myrrha who are transformed into trees, Io into a heifer, Callisto into a bear and later a constellation, and Hippe into a horse and constellation. Other women are altered into monstrous creatures as punishments from the deities including Scylla, Medusa, Charybdis, and the shapeshifter Lamia among others. Depending on the readers’ perspective only some of these women are classified as monsters, typically those that exhibit hybrid features of snakes rather than the more accepted trees or animals. Yet, these women whether deemed as attractive or repulsive are all boundary crossers, showing the limits of the possible in the transformations of their bodies. Similarly, the Woman clothed with the Sun’s own mutation into a winged woman fits into these tropes especially where women are caught in a battle against a more powerful deity. Leto and Isis’s myths remain as primary conversation partners, but tales of female metamorphosis should also be considered.
Uncanny Associations: The Dragon & Earth Monster
The multiplicity of literal and allegorical interpretations of the Woman clothed with the Sun underscores the complexity of this figure. Feminist and womanist readings have also understood the Woman’s struggle with the Dragon in the context of power and empire, drawing parallels with modern audiences. Dorothy A. Lee proposes that the text invites a closer connection with the “aim being to evoke common experience and therefore empathy between the actual reader and the heavenly woman.” These interpreters helpfully centre the experiences of the Woman of Revelation 12; however, they potentially do so at the expense of losing the unfamiliarity of the woman with the audience. Her humanity, especially her suffering, define the contours of the readers’ understanding rather than exploring her otherness. In contrast, Paul B. Duff emphasises her otherworldly nature by comparing the Woman clothed with the Sun to Woman Babylon in Revelation 17. Nevertheless, their shared characteristics for Duff, serve to reinforce the “godly” nature of the Woman and the “satanic” nature of Woman Babylon. By classifying this Woman of Revelation 12 as “godly,” it further neutralises her otherness and obscures her similarities to other monstrous entities. The following section explores her alliance and participation with the uncanny specifically centred around the combat myth. Two different “battles” or interactions take place: (1) the Woman versus the Dragon; and (2) the Earth monster versus the Dragon. Rather than isolating the Woman of Revelation 12 by seeking to name and categorise her, this section reinstates her as part of a larger cosmic drama as she interacts with other fantastic beasts.
Revelation 12 is remembered vividly by artists for the aerial combat between the Dragon and Michael and the angels. This is viewed as another example of the combat myth where the chaos beast is defeated by heavenly forces. However, as David E. Aune notes, the text first sets up a conflict between the Woman and the Dragon with their corresponding identification as symbols or signs in the heavens. Both the Woman and the Dragon are labelled as semeion that simultaneously aligns and divides them (Rev 12:1, 3). However, the later battle between the Dragon and the angels (Rev 12:7–12) has consistently overshadowed the Woman’s own resistance against the Dragon. Indeed, the assumed passivity of the Woman by scholars has also added to the reduced focus on her as an agent. Aune identifies her as the “hero” of the passage but views her as a “victim-hero” since she is acted upon rather than the initiator. For Tina Pippin, the Woman clothed with the Sun fulfils typical stereotypes of the passive and maternal figure who must be rescued by a male. To an extent, I would agree that the passivity of the woman is apparent in the text; however, inaction can also be a form of resistance. The Woman’s noncompliance lacks the drama of the cosmic battle between the Dragon and the angelic hosts, but it aligns with models of resistance by marginalised communities who are forced to work around systems of power. James Scott refers to these phenomena as “hidden transcripts” where the powerless critique dominant systems through indirect forms of resistance that include “poaching, foot-dragging, pilfering, flight.” Although her actions do not fit the typical “conflict model” found in many hero versus monster myths, her agency is discernible in her refusal to yield to the Dragon and her flight into the wilderness.
It is common to read the Woman’s actions in the text as passive, viewing her as one who is acted upon. The following description from Marla J. Selvidge illustrates well the tension in the text:
The writer’s view of this woman is ambivalent. She appears to have her own place in the desert/hideout (12:17). Her stature is majestic and supranormal but she exhibits no supernatural powers. The moon is at her feet and there are stars for her crown, but she possesses no armorment, no strategies, to fight the dragon. She cowers before the dragon instead of standing and fighting with him. She cannot eliminate the dragon and so must deal with his incessant war.
Selvidge finds evidence for the otherness of the Woman and is correct in noting her vulnerability considering the Dragon’s overwhelming menace. However, there is a persistent strength evident in her refusal to submit to the Dragon and her subsequent flight from his pursuit. As Lee notes, unlike the worshippers in Revelation 13:4 and 14:9–11, the Woman never worships the beast and continues to resist the Dragon. Moreover, once her son is rescued, no one comes to the immediate aid of the Woman and she must set off on her own. Though she is provided with wings and physically sustained in the wilderness, she still must stand against the Dragon even if she cowers in fear. Thus, the Woman’s escape to the wilderness should also be read as part of her active resistance to the power and aggression of the Dragon. Diane Treacy-Cole draws parallels between the Woman’s flight to the wilderness and that of Hagar’s experiences in Genesis 16 and 21. She considers both women as active agents, stating “Hagar and the Apocalyptic Woman are anti-heroines. The stories initially portray them as objects, but subsequent events reveal them to be actors. Danger does not immobilise them. They are resilient, creative in turning adversity into triumph.” The agency of the Woman is further illustrated by her tenacity to survive the harsh conditions of the wilderness and even the act of eating is a sign of her resistance.
Just as the Woman and the Dragon are aligned by John as otherworldly creatures, a third monster lurks at the edges of the text. In contrast to the notoriety of the great red Dragon, the presence and fantastic nature of this being are rarely observed by scholars. It is common to note the links to four goddesses behind the prominent figures of Jezebel, the Woman clothed with the Sun, Woman Babylon and the New Jerusalem. However, a fifth goddess waits in the shadows, the mother Gaia whose role in the narrative warrants more consideration especially as a monstrous entity. After the Woman’s flight, it becomes apparent that she holds no hope against the aggression and strength of the Dragon that threatens to overwhelm her with a flood of water (Rev 12:15). The monstrous mouth of the Dragon is highlighted as it was earlier in the attempt to devour the Woman’s child (Rev 12:4). Here in the wilderness, no angel comes to the Woman’s rescue, rather the Earth with its own gaping maw swallows up the torrent issuing from the Dragon (Rev 12:16). Thus, an uncanny alignment is underscored between the Dragon and the Earth, both monstrous, though only the Dragon is typically identified as such. A similar animated and personified Earth appears elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible where its monstrous mouth is again featured. In the Exodus account, it is the earth that swallows the Egyptians in response to God’s judgment (Exod 15:12) and later Korah and his household experience the horrific animation of the earth who ingests them whole (Num 16:31–35). Upon witnessing this event, the rest of the Israelites flee in terror crying “The earth will swallow us too!” (Num 16:34). Mary K. Wakeman understands the earth as monstrous in Exodus 15:12; however, she links its activities to the Ugaritic god Mot and sees it as the opponent of God. Although similar imagery is used, the earth is not the opponent of God, but functions as an agent that enacts judgments reminiscent of other dangerous divine creatures (Exod 12:23; 2 Kgs 19:35; Ezek 9:1–10:7). In Rev 12, the Earth monster is deliberately juxtaposed with the Dragon, as their actions mimic each other with their threatening and terrifying mouths. Realigning one’s lens to see all fantastic creatures as monstrous, reveals not only the Woman clothed with the Sun but the Earth monster who rises to defend her. This tableau of divine combat between the Dragon and the Earth firmly establishes the Woman clothed with the Sun as part of this cosmic drama reinforcing her otherworldly nature.
Although the book of Revelation abounds with monsters both in heaven and the abyss, few consider the Woman clothed with the Sun among their ranks. Popular conceptions of monsters typically equate them with evil, chaos, and disgust. As a result, the wondrous aspect of the monster is hidden from the reader, lying just out of reach. The history of interpretation regarding the book of Revelation is particularly problematic in creating artificial categories that obscures monstrous attributes of creatures aligned with the heavenly region. The Woman of Revelation 12 that appears in the heavens, is such a fantastic being that should not be excluded from the category of the monstrous. She is presented as part of a cosmic narrative and her otherness is apparent in her own hybrid appearance. However, is the label of monster for the Woman clothed with the Sun simply another example of renaming and thus subverting her real identity? Reading her as monstrous is not intended to flatten her character but to expand the dialogue of traditions that echo in John’s fusion of sources. The use of monster theory recognises the fluidity of the Woman’s form as she reflects many different possibilities from ancient goddesses to human counterparts. However, attempts to classify and categorise the Woman have been less-than successful partly because she does not neatly fit these roles. Like other monsters, she eludes classifications and challenges ways of seeing the world, showing the limits of what it means to be human in her own extraordinary body.
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Sechrest, Love L. “Antitypes, Stereotypes, and Antetypes: Jezebel, the Sun Woman, and Contemporary Black Women.” Pages 113–137 in Womanist Interpretations of the Bible. Edited by Gay L. Byron and Vanessa Lovelace. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2016.
Selvidge, Marla J. “Powerful and Powerless Women in the Apocalypse: ‘I Sit as a Queen, I Am Not a Widow, and I Will Never Mourn.’ Revelation 18:7.” Neotestamentica 26 (1992): 157–167. www.jstor.org/stable/43048022.
Smith-Christopher, Daniel L. “A Postcolonial Reading of Apocalyptic Literature.” Pages 180–198 in The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature. Edited by John J. Collins. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Thompson, Leonard L. The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Treacy-Cole, Diane. “Women in the Wilderness: Rereading Revelation 12.” Pages 45–58 in Wilderness: Essays in Honour of Frances Young. Edited by R. S. Sugirtharajah. London: T&T Clark, 2005.
Wakeman, Mary K. “Biblical Earth Monster in the Cosmogonic Combat Myth.” Journal of Biblical Literature 88 (1969): 313–320. doi:10.2307/3263723.
 This is standard in treatments of horror monsters, see Noel Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart (New York, NY: Routledge, 2003).
 Timothy K. Beal, Religion and Its Monsters (New York, NY: Routledge, 2002); Safwat Marzouk, Egypt as a Monster in the Book of Ezekiel (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015); Brandon R. Grafius, Reading the Bible with Horror (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2019); Heather Macumber, Recovering the Monstrous in Revelation (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2021).
 Beal, Religion and Its Monsters, 6.
 This is especially prominent in the study of cosmic beings in Revelation where only select hybrid beings are viewed as disgusting and labelled as either demonic or evil: Leonard L. Thompson, The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1990), 77–78; James L. Resseguie, Revelation Unsealed: A Narrative Critical Approach to John’s Apocalypse (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 103–5, 117, 129–30; Craig R. Koester, Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014), 367–69, 464, 473. See also Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, “A Postcolonial Reading of Apocalyptic Literature,” in The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature, ed. John J. Collins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 188.
 Challenging such traditional binaries between monstrous creatures in John’s Apocalypse is the subject of my book: Macumber, Recovering the Monstrous in Revelation.
 Macumber, Recovering the Monstrous in Revelation, 78–81.
 Koester, Revelation, 464.
 Koester, Revelation, 464.
 Bertrand Buby lists twenty-eight names and identities historically ascribed to this Woman (Bertrand Buby, “The Fascinating Woman of Revelation 12,” Marian Studies 50 : 111–17, tinyurl.com/BubyFascinating).
 Catherine Keller, Apocalypse Now and Then: A Feminist Guide to the End of the World (Boston, MA: Beacon, 1996), 64.
 For a helpful overview of the varied interpretations of this figure, see Judith L. Kovacs and Christopher Rowland, Revelation: The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004), 134–46.
 Raymond Edward Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Karl P. Donfried, and John Reumann, eds., Mary in the New Testament (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1978), 228–39; Joy A. Schroeder, “Revelation 12: Female Figures and Figures of Evil,” Word & World 15 (1995): 175–81, tinyurl.com/SchroederRevelation; Diane Treacy-Cole, “Women in the Wilderness: Rereading Revelation 12,” in Wilderness: Essays in Honour of Frances Young, ed. R. S. Sugirtharajah (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 45–58; Natasha O’Hear and Anthony O’Hear, Picturing the Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation in the Arts over Two Millennia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 113–15.
 Oecumenius and Andrew of Caesarea, Greek Commentaries on Revelation, eds. Thomas C. Oden, trans. William C. Weinrich (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 51–52.
 Though potentially jarring, I have chosen to capitalise “Dragon” gesturing towards the individuality of this divine creature rather than its generic designation of “dragon.” Additionally, the “Woman” and the “Earth” receive similar treatment to draw their personas out of the shadows regardless of their lack of a proper name.
 Oecumenius and Andrew, Greek Commentaries on Revelation, 54. Other early interpreters like Quodvultdeus simultaneously saw the Woman as representing both Mary and the church (Koester, Revelation, 527). This dual understanding also extended into the Middle Ages (Richard K. Emmerson, “Introduction: The Apocalypse in Medieval Culture,” in The Apocalypse in the Middle Ages, eds. Richard Kenneth Emmerson and Bernard McGinn [Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992], 322).
 Methodius of Olympus, The Symposium: A Treatise on Chastity, trans. Herbert A. Musurillo (Westminster, MD: Newman, 1958), 112.
 David E. Aune, Revelation 6–16 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 680.
 Adela Yarbro Collins, The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1976), 120–21, 134–5.
 Collins, The Combat Myth; Schroeder, “Revelation 12: Female Figures and Figures of Evil”; Mary Ann Beavis, “Jezebel Speaks: Naming the Goddesses in the Book of Revelation,” in A Feminist Companion to the Apocalypse of John, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Maria Mayo Robbins (London: T&T Clark, 2009), 131–46.
 For a helpful overview outlining the complexities of ancient Near Eastern, Greek, Jewish, and Christian sources, see Collins, The Combat Myth, 61–76, 104–7, 122–26.
 Adele Reinhartz, “Why Ask My Name?”: Anonymity and Identity in Biblical Narrative (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 3.
 Reinhartz, “Why Ask My Name?”, 3–4.
 Fiona Mitchell, Monsters in Greek Literature: Aberrant Bodies in Ancient Greek Cosmogony, Ethnography, and Biology (London: Routledge, 2021), 8.
 Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958), 12–24. See Beal, Religion and Its Monsters, 7–9, 53–54; David D. Gilmore, Monsters: Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 175–76; Grafius, Reading the Bible with Horror, 126–27; Ryan Higgins, “Of Gods and Monsters: Supernatural Beings in the Uncanny Valley,” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 16 (2016): 76–77, doi:10.5508/jhs.2016.v16.a9; Macumber, Recovering the Monstrous in Revelation, 48, 81.
 Beal, Religion and Its Monsters, 54.
 Émile Benveniste, Le Vocabulaire des institutions indo-européennes, Vol. 2: pouvoir, droit, religions (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1969), 255–257.
 For a helpful exploration of the dangerous creatures employed by God, see Karin Schöpflin, “YHWH’s Agents of Doom: The Punishing Function of Angels in Post-Exilic Writings of the Old Testament,” in Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings – Origins, Development and Reception, eds. F. W. Reiterer, Tobias Nicklas, and Karin Schöpflin (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2007), 125–37.
 Beal, Religion and Its Monsters, 4.
 This “refusal to participate in the classificatory ‘order of things’” is a prime indicator of the monstrous, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” in Monster Theory: Reading Culture, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 6.
 Aune, Revelation 6–16, 679. The term semeion can also have non-astral definitions but in Revelation three instances originate in the heavenly regions (Rev 12:1, 3; 15:1).
 Collins, The Combat Myth, 71.
 For an overview of their astral qualities, see Collins, The Combat Myth, 71–76.
 Aune, Revelation 6–16, 679.
 Beal, Religion and Its Monsters, 4. The use of the term uncanny in monster studies relies on the following: Ernst Jentsch, “On the Psychology of the Uncanny (1906),” Angelaki 2 (1997): 7–16, doi:10.1080/09697259708571910; Sigmund Freud, The Uncanny, trans. David McLintock (London: Penguin, 2003).
 Collins, The Combat Myth, 67.
 Collins, The Combat Myth, 67.
 Aune, Revelation 6–16, 671–72; David L. Balch, “‘A Woman Clothed With The Sun’ And The ‘Great Red Dragon’ Seeking To ‘Devour Her Child’ (Rev 12:1, 4) In Roman Domestic Art,” in The New Testament and Early Christian Literature in Greco-Roman Context, ed. John Fotopoulos (Boston, MA: Brill, 2006), 292.
 Balch, “‘A Woman Clothed With The Sun,’” 297.
 Balch, “‘A Woman Clothed With The Sun,’” 288.
 Collins, The Combat Myth, 61–71.
 Michelle Fletcher, Reading Revelation as Pastiche: Imitating the Past (New York, NY: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017).
 Fletcher, Reading Revelation as Pastiche, 67.
 Exceptions to this include: Tina Pippin, “The Heroine and the Whore: Fantasy and the Female in the Apocalypse of John,” Semeia 60 (1992): 72–73; Aune, Revelation 6–16, 704–5; Amy-Jill Levine, “Introduction,” in Levine and Robbins, A Feminist Companion to the Apocalypse of John, 4; Beavis, “Women in Myth and History,” 139.
 Mitchell, Monsters in Greek Literature, 5.
 Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror, 42–48.
 There is a long history of associating monsters with objects of disgust. See Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror, 49–52.
 Some scholars do not see a metamorphosis but that the woman is borne on the wings of an eagle, see Hermann Gunkel, Creation and Chaos in the Primeval Era and the Eschaton: A Religio-Historical Study of Genesis 1 and Revelation 12, trans. K. William Whitney Jr. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006), 175; Collins, The Combat Myth, 67.
 Dorothy A Lee, “The Heavenly Woman and the Dragon: Rereadings of Revelation 12,” in Feminist Poetics of the Sacred: Creative Suspicions, eds. Frances Devlin-Glass and Lyn McCredden (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 209. In contrast, Aune (Revelation 6–16, 704–705) clearly sees a metamorphosis rather than the provision of an eagle, recalling other traditions of such stories in Greek mythology.
 For an overview of artistic depictions of the Woman clothed with the Sun, see O’Hear and O’Hear, Picturing the Apocalypse, 111–130.
 Trinity Apocalypse, Cambridge, Trinity College Library, MS R.16.2, f. 14r. See also O’Hear and O’Hear, Picturing the Apocalypse, 120.
 Richard K. Emmerson, Apocalypse Illuminated: The Visual Exegesis of Revelation in Medieval Illustrated Manuscripts (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018), 90.
 Collins, The Combat Myth, 120.
 Collins (The Combat Myth, 62–63) focuses on Isis’s escape from Seth-Typhon rather than her role as champion. Other traditions record the goddess Isis becoming a bird and using her wings to revive Osiris, Ilana Pardes, Countertraditions in the Bible: A Feminist Approach (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), 89–93.
 Aune does note the similarities to other Greek myths featuring the transformation of humans into birds when fleeing dangerous deities (Aune, Revelation 6–16, 704–705). See also J. Gwyn Griffiths, “The Flight of the Gods before Typhon: An Unrecognized Myth,” Hermes 88 (1960): 374–376, tinyurl.com/GriffithsFlight.
 Marianne Govers Hopman, Scylla: Myth, Metaphor, Paradox (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 197–198. For a more general discussion of metamorphosis in Greek myth, see Richard Buxton, Forms of Astonishment: Greek Myths of Metamorphosis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
 Lee, “The Heavenly Woman and the Dragon,” 208.
 Pippin, “The Heroine and the Whore,” 71–73; Lee, “The Heavenly Woman and the Dragon”; Love L. Sechrest, “Antitypes, Stereotypes, and Antetypes: Jezebel, the Sun Woman, and Contemporary Black Women,” in Womanist Interpretations of the Bible, eds. Gay L. Byron and Vanessa Lovelace (Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2016), 113–137.
 Lee, “The Heavenly Woman and the Dragon,” 206.
 Paul B. Duff, Who Rides the Beast?: Prophetic Rivalry and the Rhetoric of Crisis in the Churches of the Apocalypse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 87.
 Collins, The Combat Myth, 76–83.
 Aune, Revelation 6–16, 682.
 Collins, The Combat Myth, 57–100; Aune, Revelation 6–16, 675; Duff, Who Rides the Beast?, 93–94.
 Aune, Revelation 6–16, 675.
 Pippin, “The Heroine and the Whore,” 69, 71–73.
 James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990), viii. For a helpful overview, see Anathea E. Portier-Young, Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 3–45.
 Collins, The Combat Myth, 65; Pippin, “The Heroine and the Whore,” 71–73.
 Marla J. Selvidge, “Powerful and Powerless Women in the Apocalypse: ‘I Sit as a Queen, I Am Not a Widow, and I Will Never Mourn.’ Revelation 18:7,” Neotestamentica 26 (1992): 162–163, www.jstor.org/stable/43048022.
 Lee, “The Heavenly Woman and the Dragon,” 207. This endurance on the part of the Woman is also implied by Selvidge’s statement that the Woman must “deal with his incessant war,” Selvidge, “Powerful and Powerless Women in the Apocalypse,” 162–163.
 Lee, “The Heavenly Woman and the Dragon,” 210.
 Treacy-Cole, “Women in the Wilderness.”
 Treacy-Cole, “Women in the Wilderness,” 54.
 Sechrest, “Antitypes, Stereotypes, and Antetypes,” 123.
 Steven J. Friesen notes the lack of scholarly interest in this female character even though she is one of three figures that successfully battles the Dragon, Steven J. Friesen, Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John: Reading Revelation in the Ruins (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 186. The following scholars also mention the personified nature of the earth and its connection to Gaia: David L. Barr, “Women in Myth and History: Deconstructing John’s Characterizations,” in Levine and Robbins, A Feminist Companion to the Apocalypse of John, 57; Tina Pippin, “Revelation/Apocalypse of John,” in Women’s Bible Commentary, eds. Carol A. Newsom, Sharon H. Ringe, and Jacqueline E. Lapsley (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2012), 631; Bruce Louden, Greek Myth and the Bible (New York: Routledge, 2018), 190–191.
 Beavis, “Women in Myth and History.”
 The mouth of the monster is often a defining feature potentially alluding to a primal human fear of being eaten (Gilmore, Monsters, 176–180).
 Aune, Revelation 6–16, 686.