Babylon and the Papacy

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The following is an essay published by Clarifying Catholicism. Clarifying Catholicism enjoys promoting essays and works pertaining to Theology and Philosophy, written by High School and College students. All essays submitted must have received a mark of 90% or higher from their respective instructors. Essays can be submitted under the “Contact” forms. The following essay was reviewed approved by William Deatherage, Executive Director of Clarifying Catholicism on July 7, 2018.

Introduction (Full File Below)

The Book of Revelation is known for it plethora of striking visions, filled with several images with multiple potential meanings, but which nearly always hint at eschatological predictions. One of the most fascinating visions is that of the Whore of Babylon, or Babylon the Great, a vision received by John towards the end of the book, in chapter 17, during which he sees Babylon the Great, “mother of whores and earth’s abominations” (Rev. 17:5), seated atop a beast with seven heads. There have been many interpretations for this vision throughout history, but one of the earliest and most pervasive is the identification of Babylon the Great with Imperial Rome, based on physical characteristics surrounding the woman and the historical context of Revelation. However, an interpretation from the late medieval period gained traction during the Reformation; Babylon the Great was associated not with imperial Rome but Papal Rome and the wider Roman Catholic Church. The interpretation remains a fairly popular one, so it begs the question: which characteristics of Babylon the Great, as described in Revelation 17, led to figures of the reformation identifying the whore of Babylon with the papacy?


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