Mary as the New Eve

Remember that typology stuff I was talking about? I already mentioned there that Jesus is the new Adam. But if Jesus is the new Adam, as Paul tells us, then who is the new Eve? Mary, of course! No other woman was with Him at the beginning and stayed with Him until the end. But do we need a New Eve, you may ask? Well, here is what some of the Early Church Fathers and more modern theologians have said.

"Christ was born of a woman so that just as death came through a woman, so through Mary, life might return." ~St. Peter Chrysologus

"Jesus became man by the Virgin so that the course of which was taken by disobedience in the beginning through the agency of the serpent might be also the very course by which it could be put down. Eve...conceived the word of the serpent and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her..." ~Justin Martyr

"[The Lord] was making a recapitulation of that disobedience that had occurred in connection with a tree, through obedience that was upon a tree [i.e., the cross]. Furthermore, the original deception was to be doen away with - the deception by which that virgin Eve (who was already espoused to a man) was unhappily misled. That this was to be overturned was happily announced through the means of the truth by the angel to the virgin Mary (who was also [espoused] to a man).... So if Eve disobeyed God, yet Mary was persuaded to be obedient to God. In this way, the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by the means of a virgin, so it is rescued by a virgin." ~St. Irenaus 

"Just as she [Eve]... having become disobedient, was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary... being obedient was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.... Thus the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith." ~St. Irenaus 

"...Likewise, through a virgin the Word of God was introduced to set up a sturcture of life. THus what had been laid to waste in ruin by this sex was by the same sex reestablished in salvation. Eve had believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. That which the one destroyed by believing, the other, by believing, set straight." ~Tertullian

"Our Lord.... was not averse to males, for her took the form of a male, nor to females, for of a female He was born. Besides, there is a great mystery here: that just as death comes to us through a woman, life is born to us through a woman; that the devil, defeated, would be torment by each nature, feminine and masculine, as he had taken delight in the defection in both." ~St. Augustine

"Suppose that God in making over man did not also make over woman into a new Eve! What a howl of protest would have gone up! Christianity would have been denounced as are all male religions. Women would have then searched for a female religion! It would have been argued that woman was always the slave of man and even God intended her to be such, since He refused to make the new Eve as he made the new Adam." ~Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen
They testified that yes, we did need a New Eve. Just as it was the union of wills of one man and one woman that brought sin and death into the world, so too is it the union of wills, one man, and one woman, that brought life into the world. God remade the image of Man, and so, he had to make a new image of Woman or else forever subject her to a lower state, a state which could never attain grace for she would always be marked as the weaker, less godly sex. The Father used this new Adam to bring about what the first Adam should have done - the sanctification of his Bride. Adam was there with Even when the serpent tempted her, and yet he said nothing. She was brought to Him to be his helpmate, the one to whom he would cling, and yet he did not stop her, stand up and protect her, or warn her against the lies of the serpent. So, through the weakness of both, humanity fell. Jesus sanctified His Mother, the New Eve, and gave her the ability to become the new Eve.

If we take a look at scripture, we can also see that until the Fall, Eve was called by one title: Woman. Adam does not call her Eve until after the fall and after she becomes the "mother of all the living." If you look at the Gospel of John - the only Gospel in which Jesus addresses his mother by any name or title - you see that Jesus only ever calls her one thing: Woman.

Now, we know he does not mean this disrespectfully, for as He Himself testifies when berating the Pharisees, "For God said, 'Honor your father and mother,' and 'He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.'" (Mt 15:4). The Old Testament punishment for violating one of the Ten Commandments was death, so Jesus - the fulfillment of the Law and one without Sin - could not have been being disrespectful here.

No, the Early Church - largely Jewish - understood Jesus to be referring to her as the new Eve, the new Woman. In Genesis, God promised that he would "Put enmity between [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers." Well, the first woman never again struck at the serpent, though it could be argued that her far descended offspring did wage war on sin and death - the children of the serpent. However, the early church did not read the scriptures in this way.

They saw Mary as the Woman. While the fallen angel was able to deceive the first woman, the new woman responded with faith and humility to the Angel. This was so widely accepted that Jerome, who translated the Bible into the common tongue - Latin - for the first time translated the rest of the verse, "She will strike at your head, while you strike at her heel." Other translations have since said "They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel." 

And indeed, Paul tells us that "God will soon crush Satan under your feet." (Romans 16:20), so it is not taking away from the glory of the Passion and Death of Christ to say that Mary crushed the serpent's head. Rather, it is more beautiful this way, for it more fully points to the fact that Jesus did wage war on Sin and Death. Satan tries to crush us, but Christ has already paid the debt, already won the war. His blood pays for all sin, and his resurrection frees us from death. And we get to model Mary and crush the serpent's head.

Like Eve, because of her decision - Eve to heed the serpent and fall to pride and disobedience, Mary to heed the Angel and bow to humility and obedience - Mary is now Mother of all the living. 

"True it is.... the whole race of man upon earth was born of Eve, but in reality, it is from Mary that Life was truly born to the world; so that by giving birth to the Living One, Mary might also become the Mother of all the living." ~St. Epiphanius

"The Mother of the Head, in bearing Him corporally became spiritually the Mother of all members of this Divine Head." ~St. Augustine

Indeed, Jesus himself looks at her from His cross and gazes upon her and his beloved disciple and says "Woman, behold your son." John recounts this, and he also recounts how, in heaven, there is another figure, hailed only as "Woman" who fights with a serpent, who bears the Christ Child. When the serpent cannot defeat her Firstborn, he attempts to consume the woman, but she is carried off and protected. "Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus." (Rev 12:17)

To claim that God did not feel it necessary to create a new Eve is to say that God did not make creation as it should have been in the beginning and to say that Eve did not merit redeeming. For if God made them male and female in the beginning, but when he began the re-creation of the world did not make them male and female, what would that say about the female? The man was - and is - the primary caretaker, the one who names, and, through the New Adam, the one we attain salvation through. But as God decreed in the beginning, "It is not good for man to be alone," so he brought about a helpmate, though this time in the form of a woman. A woman who declared that she was "the handmaiden of the Lord." She accepted the words of the Angel and agreed to be the portal through which God came to Man. She agreed to be the Mother of the Lord and Messiah, to become the Mother of all who are part of His Body, and to "untie the knot of Eve's disobedience."


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