General Spirituality

Eve As A Prelude For St Mary!

In our understanding of the Bible there exists continuity between the two Testaments. The Old Testament anticipates, announces, and points to the New Testament. The two relate to each other like promise and fulfillment.

Looking from the New Testament back into the Old Testament, we recognise a number of women of importance who prefigure Mary in some aspects of their destiny, personality and vocation.

They are given the name type, because they typify in some ways the future mother of Jesus Christ. Mary is their anti-type, not in opposition but in contrast, a contrast which takes its measure from the uniqueness of Mary’s mission. She is the mother of the Messiah, whereas her prefigurations in the Old Testament prepare, suggest and intuit his future coming.

Eve’s name in Hebrew means “life.” She is called Chavvah (in the Septuagint, Eva; in the Vulgate, Heva because she is the mother of all the living (Gn 3:20).

Her initial appearance in the Hebrew Scriptures is one of beauty, goodness, wisdom, and life. … The rabbinic writings praise the beauty and adornment of Eve while commenting on Genesis 2:22: “The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from man.”

For example, Rabbi Chama ben Chanina (260 C.E.) wrote that certainly God first clothed her (Eve) with twenty-four precious decorations (those which describe the women of Israel in Isaiah 3:18-24) and then God brings her to the man.

Therefore the Lord through the mouth of Ezekiel applies the following (which was originally addressed to the prince of Tyre) to her: In Eden, the garden of God, you were, and every precious stone was your covering [carnelian, topaz, and beryl, chrysolite, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, garnet, and emerald]; of gold your pendants and jewels were made, on the day you were created (Ezk 28:13). And You are stamped with the seal of perfection, of complete wisdom and perfect beauty (Ezk 28:12)

Later Jewish writings contrast Eve’s disobedience with the fidelity and obedience of the Israelites to God on Mount Sinai. … In the New Testament, Eve is never mentioned in the Gospels. Adam is mentioned only in Luke’s genealogy (Lk 3:38).

 Eve is mentioned in two Pauline writings:

“For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God, since I betrothed you to one husband to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere [and pure] commitment to Christ “(2 Cor 11:2-3).

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve. Further, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control”(1 Tm 2:13-15).

Both passages emphasise the negative aspects of Eve’s role in salvation history.

Early Christian writers will contrast Eve’s disobedience with Mary’s obedience. However, it is only through the comprehensive reading of all texts of the First Testament that we will fully appreciate the greatness of Israel’s first mother, Eve, the mother of the living.

Eve and Mary Parallels are seen between Mary’s dialogue with Gabriel and Eve’s dialogue with the serpent (Gn 3:17, Lk 1:28-35). The text of Genesis 3:15 is also compared with the scene of Mary at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19:25-28a). … One could view the process of salvation history from Eve to Mary as a double movement: first the breaking up of the human race into many disparate individuals, and then the gradual concentration of all expectations of salvation in the Messiah born of Mary, the Mother of God.

All the eminent women in the Old Testament are concrete and partial realisations of the primal mother from ancient times (Eve) who perdures and extends herself in them. As the new Adam extends himself in the “Mystical Body” of Christ (the ecclesial community of the new People of God), so also does Mary represent all those “children of God, once dispersed, but now brought together” by her Son. Jesus’ words on the cross, “There is your mother” (Jn 19:27), may point to the popular etymological explanation of Eve’s name in Genesis 3:20: “The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.” Just as the Church is “the Jerusalem above … our mother” (Gal 4:26), so also is Mary the mother of believers, who, at the cross, were concretely present in the person “of the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

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