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The MOST Theological Collection: Mary in Our Life

"Appendix I: Selected Passages from the Fathers on the New Eve and Related Ideas"

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1. St. Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 100-165)

... we have understood that He came forth from the Father before all things ... and was made man of the Virgin, so that the disobedience brought on by the serpent might be canceled out in the same manner in which it had begun. For Eve, being untouched and a virgin, conceiving the word from the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But Mary the Virgin, having received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her so that the Holy One born of her would be the Son of God, answered: "Be it done to me according to your word." Dialogue with Trypho, 100.

2. St. Irenaeus (c. A.D. 120-202)

Just as she ... being disobedient, became a cause of death for herself and the whole human race, so Mary ... being obedient, became a cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race.... for in no other way can that which is tied be untied unless the very windings of the knot are gone through in reverse: so that the first joints are loosed through the second, and the second in turn free the first.... Thus, then, the knot of the disobedience of Eve was untied through the obedience of Mary. Against Heresies, III, xxii, 4.

Although the one had disobeyed God, the other was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve. And just as the human race was bound over to death through a virgin, so was it saved through a virgin: the scale was balanced—a virgin's disobedience by a virgin's obedience. Against Heresies, V, xix, 1.

And just as it was through a virgin who disobeyed that man was stricken and fell and died, so, too, it was through the Virgin, who obeyed the word of God, that man resuscitated by life received life ... for Adam had necessarily to be restored in Christ that mortality be absorbed in immortality, and Eve in Mary, that a virgin, become the advocate of a virgin, should undo and destroy virginal disobedience by virginal obedience. Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, 33, trans. Joseph P. Smith, S.J., "Ancient Christian Writers" (Westminster, 1952), XVI, 69.

3. Tertullian (c. AD. 150-c. 240).

Therefore, since we are told that the first Adam was from the earth, God fittingly also made the next, the new Adam, into a life-giving spirit out of the earth—that is, of a flesh not yet used for generation. And yet, lest I miss the opening provided by the name of Adam—why did the Apostle call Him Adam if Christ as man was not of earthly origin? But here reason also helps to show that God, by a rival method, restored His image and likeness which had been captured by the devil. For into Eve when she was yet a virgin had crept the word that established death; likewise, into a virgin was to be brought the Word of God that produced life: so that what had gone to ruin by the one sex might be restored to salvation by the same sex. Eve had believed the serpent, Mary believed Gabriel. What wrong the one did by her belief, the other destroyed by her belief. On the Flesh of Christ, 17.

4. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 313-86)

Through the virgin Eve came death. It was necessary that life appear through a virgin, or rather, of a virgin, so that just as the serpent deceived the one, so Gabriel brought the good tidings to the other. Catechesis, XII, xv.

5. St. Jerome (c. A.D. 347-419)

But after the Virgin conceived in her womb and brought forth for us a child for whom "the government is upon his shoulder ... God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come," the curse was dissolved. Death [came] through Eve: life through Mary. Epistle, XXII, xxi (internal quotation, Isa. 9:6).

6. St. Ambrose (c. AD. 333-397)

Through a man and a woman flesh was cast out of paradise; through a virgin it was joined to God. Epistle LXIII, xxxiii

From the virgin earth [came] Adam, Christ [came] from a virgin; the former was made to the image of Got, the latter [was] the image of God; the former was exalted above all irrational animals, the latter above all living things. Through a woman [came] folly, through a virgin [came] wisdom. Death [came] through the tree, life through the cross. On the Gospel of Luke 4:7.

7. St. Augustine (A.D. 354-430)

For He received flesh from us and offered it. But whence did He receive it? From the womb of the Virgin Mary, so that He might offer dean flesh for the unclean. Sermon on Psalm 149:2.

(Note that here St. Augustine presents Mary as being the representative of the whole human race at the Annunciation. W. M.)

Here also is a great mystery: since death had come upon us through a woman, life was born for us through a woman, so that the conquered devil was tormented by both sexes, that is, male and female, since he had rejoiced in the ruin of both. His punishment would have been too small if both had been freed and had not been freed through both. On the Christian Combat XXII, xxiv.

(A very important passage. Note that St. Augustine associates Mary with Christ in the very act by which we were liberated. This seems to imply Calvary itself. W. M.)

... but certainly she is the Mother of His members, which we are; for she co-operated in love that the faithful be born in the Church.... On Holy Virginity, VI, vi.

Since our original fall took place when a woman conceived in her heart the poison of the serpent, it is not surprising that our salvation came when a woman conceived in her womb the flesh of the Almighty. Both sexes had fallen: both had to be restored. Through a woman we were sent to ruin: through a woman salvation was restored to us. Sermon 289, ii.

8. Oriental Rite Liturgy of the Second Century

The following titles appear abundantly since the second century: Effacement of the malediction; Cause of salvation; Bridge to the Creator; Reconciliation of the world; Mediatrix of salvation; Reparatrix of the ages; Salvation of the world; Common salvation of men.

See E. Druwe, S.J., "La Mediation universelle de Marie," H. Du Manoir, S.J. (ed.), Maria (Paris, 1949), I, 433.

For a more extensive collection of Patristic New Eve texts in English, see: T. Livius, The Blessed Virgin in the Fathers of the First Six Centuries (London, 1893), pp. 47-59. Other Fathers quoted in Livius are: St. Theophilus of Antioch, Origen, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Amphilocus, St. Ephrem, St. Epiphanius, St. Maximus, St. John Chrysostom, St. Peter Chrysologus, St. Proclus, St Eleutherius Tornacensis, and the Epistle to Diognetus.

Still more texts in Latin are contained in Gabriel M. Roschini, O.SM., Mariologia (2nd. ed.; Rome, 1947), II, 300-1, 304-9.

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