Joanna Southcott: Enacting the Woman Clothed with the Sun

Gordon Allan

in The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199204540
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Joanna Southcott: Enacting the Woman Clothed with the Sun

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Joanna Southcott's theology identified her uniquely as ‘the woman clothed with the sun’. This article shows how she performed her role as the interpreter of scripture, unsealing those parts that were obscure (or sealed), and as the petitioner to God to fulfil the promise made in Eden to bring an end to evil. She spread her message through her many books, with a view to gathering others who would join with her, as her children, in her petition for the overthrow of Satan. The major change in the interpretation of the identity of her child in the last year of her life, however, led to a literal rather than figurative actualization of the biblical promise, and when the child was not born as expected, others claimed this role. Her interpretation of the Bible combined what she claimed to be definitive interpretations of obscure biblical texts with the fulfilment of a key passage in the way she lived out an apocalyptic prophecy which she believed had always been directed to her. Like the New Testament writers who believed that Elijah had returned in the person of John the Baptist, so Southcott and her followers saw her physical condition as an acting out of the biblical text in preparation for the fulfilment of scripture and the eschatological consummation.

Keywords: Joanna Southcott; obscure biblical texts; biblical promise; Elijah; John the Baptist

Article.  6257 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Christianity

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