Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mary, the New Eve?

We all know that Paul speaks of Christ as the Last Adam; and "the New Adam" or "the Second Adam" have been used interchageably to indicate the same eternal truth, that in Him in the new foundation for the human race - a human race where mortal man can partake of the sinless divine nature, because the human and divine natures are joined in the Incarnation.

But, in the second century, the term "Second Eve" began to be applied to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why?  Because, just as the First Eve was the Mother of all the physically living, so the Second Eve is the Mother of the spiritually living.  A good analogy, but is it biblical to apply the term, one might ask.

Let us examine a few passages
  • Adam referred to Eve as "Woman" - "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man." (Gen 2:23).  Likewise, Jesus referred to Mary as "Woman" (John 2:4)
  • At the foot of the Cross, we find only one of the Apostles, John.  And, to John, representing the whole Church, Christ says, "behold your Mother" (John 19:27)
  • Mary is present in the Upper Room, praying, awaiting the birth of the Church.  St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote, "... the more [The Holy Spirit] finds Mary his dear and inseparable spouse in a soul the more powerful and effective he becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul and that soul in Jesus Christ".  And more so is this true at the very birth of the Church, the Body of Christ.
  • Gen 3:15 says (in some translations) - I will put enmity between you and the woman,    and between your seed and her seed; she shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise her heel." Yes, some translations (and most, but not all, Hebrew Masoretic texts) say "he shall bruise", and "his heel".  And, ultimately, "He", referring to Christ, is true - our salvation, our triumph flow from Him. Nevertheless, the she/her tradition is attested to, not only by early Christian authors, but also by Jewish writers such as Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, and Moses Maimonides.  And it is rightful that it should be a woman who crushes the Serpent's head, since it was a woman whom the Serpent deceived.  
Thus, in crushing the Serpent's head - by offering her body to God (Luke 1:38) that God the Word might become flesh and dwell among us (John 1:14), by sharing in His sufferings (Luke 2:35), by being the Mother of the Spiritually alive - Mary, the Theotokos, becomes the Second Eve.