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Mary - the New Eve

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Recapitulation in scripture is about renewing and reversing what went wrong in previous times.


“For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth”. (Eph 1:9-10 - RSV)


Instead of “unite” other translations say “gather together” (KJV), “bring….together” (NIV), “sum up” (ASV).


In Christ, what went wrong is put right and some biblical themes of the fall are reversed and made new.


Genesis (The Fall)

Paul makes comparisons between Jesus and Adam, with Jesus reversing the problems for mankind that arose from the sin of Adam.

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1Cor 15:22)


“Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1Cor 15:45)


“Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” (Rom 5:14-15).


Adam was not alone. It was Eve who was first disobedient and then Adam.

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” (1Tim 2:13-14)


Adam was the original head of humanity. When Adam fell humanity fell with him. To restore what was originally intended mankind needed a new head with a new body. Jesus becomes the new head and the church the new body. This is known as recapitulation.


The original fall included Eve, indeed it was she that first listened to the serpent and disobeyed God. It would therefore be incomplete not to consider Eve’s role and how that could be reversed. Our recapitulation should include both.


In Genesis we are told God created a man, and from the man he created a woman and placed them in a garden. The man and the woman were is perfect harmony with each other and with God.


Then Satan deceived the woman (Eve) and she took some of the fruit they were forbidden to eat ate it. She also gave some to Adam who also ate it. Through their disobedience to God they lost the harmony they had with God and with each other. They were expelled from the garden.


The major fault was Adam’s. It was to him that God had given the command about the fruit. It was him who, as Paul said, brought death into the world (1Cor 15:21-22). It was Adam’s disobedience and fall that Christ came into the world to correct.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal 4:4-5).


Back in Gen 3:15 Jesus was promised, and also by implication was Mary, as Jesus was to be born of a woman (Gal 4:4 above). Both were planned and prepared for by God.


Although the primary sin was Adam’s, Eve too was implicated in the fall by her disobedience. It is fitting therefore that in the fullness of time there would be a second Eve (Mary) to undo what the first one did, just as the second Adam (Jesus) undid what the first Adam did.


They are like bookends between the fall and the beginning of our redemption.


First Adam, then Eve, made from Adam’s rib.

New Eve (Mary) then Jesus, formed in Mary’s womb.

“For as woman [Eve] was made from man [Adam], so man [New Adam] is now born of woman [New Eve]. And all things are from God.”(1Cor 11:12)


There are several parallels between Eve and Mary

Eve was a virgin who brought forth sin and death

Mary was a virgin who brought forth grace and salvation (Jesus)


Eve listened to a fallen angel (Satan) and conceived the word of the serpent in her heart.

Mary listened to an angel of God (Gabriel) conceived the Word of God in her womb.


Eve was disobedient to God

Mary was obedient to God.


Eve gave Adam the forbidden fruit which brought about the Fall

Mary gives us the fruit of her womb (Lk 1:42) which brought about Redemption


The Fall came when both Adam and Eve were together under the shadow of tree of Good and Evil.

Redemption came when the New Adam and the New Eve were together under the shadow of another tree – the cross.


The early fathers of the Church believed Mary was the New Eve.

Here are two early examples. Firstly Justin Martyr, writing in 160AD (Letter to Trypho) says:

“Christ became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience that proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord……And by her has He been born, to Whom we have proved so many Scriptures refer, and by Whom God destroys both the serpent and those angels and men who are like him.”



Then Irenaeus of Lyons (140 – 202) says that just as Adam was the head of the old human race, so Jesus is the head of the new humanity. And, just as Adam had a collaborator in the person of Eve, so Jesus has a collaborator in the person of Mary. Mary is the Eve in God’s new creation. Writing in Against Heresies he says:

"In accordance with this design Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word”. But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when she was yet a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being as yet a virgin……having become disobedient was made the cause of death, both for herself and the whole human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed (to her), and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, became the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race."



John’s Gospel

St. John’s gospel is very deep and mystical. John is supposed to have written this near the end of his very old age and so had many years to reflect and meditate on what he had seen and heard. He does not give lists of miracles but seven of what he calls “signs”. It is to the first of these – the miracle at Cana that we must examine carefully; we need to look below the surface.


There is an interchange between Mary and Jesus

'When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come."' (Jn 2:3-4)


Protestant commentators see Jesus addressing Mary as “Woman” as a rebuke. But this is not. Jesus would never be so rude to his mother as to rebuke her, particularly in public. It would be breaking the 4th commandment. And Mary does not act as rebuked. He means something special by the term “Woman”. In fact one commentator says there is not one occasion in ancient literature of a son addressing his mother as “Woman”


It is how Eve is described in the Garden of Eden. She is always called “woman” until after the fall. In this Jesus is indicating that Mary is the new Eve.


You may think this is just co-incidence but the beginning of John’s gospel has several parallel with the beginning of Genesis.


Firstly it begins with the same phrase “In the beginning….” John seems to be deliberately drawing out attention back to the book of Genesis. Next in Genesis 1:3-5 God created light to shine in darkness. In John 1:4-5 we are told …"and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness…."


Then he counts off seven days, just as at the beginning of Genesis:

"The next day" (Jn 1:29)

"The next day" (Jn 1:35)

"The next day" (Jn 1:43) – so now we are on the fourth day

"On the third day there was a wedding in Cana" (Jn 2:1) so the wedding feast was on the seventh day. John then stops counting days.


The seventh day in Genesis is the perfect day, the Sabbath, the sign of the Sinai Covenant (See Ex31:16-17). Therefore this wedding feast is going to be very significant. And indeed it is. I won’t go into it all now. In the OT the wedding feast is the sign of God’s redemption his people. John is indicating that the new covenant, which will be enacted at the Last Supper, is being inaugurated.


The wedding feast is the first sign. Calvary is the seventh great sign, when Jesus is crucified and blood and water pour from his side. This is Jesus hour, the one that at Cana he said had not yet come. Again Mary is present and again Jesus addresses her as “Woman”.

"When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home." (Jn 19:26-27)


This is not Jesus making domestic arrangements from the cross. Here Jesus is giving Mary as mother of all believers since “beloved disciple” represents all Jesus’ disciples (we are all beloved disciples). And we are to take Mary into our home - that is into our hearts.



Let us move forward to the book of Revelation and chapter 12 when we again come across a Woman:

“And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1)


This woman is Mary. We know this is Jesus because verse 5 tells us “she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” referencing psalm 2:9 (also see Rev 19:15).


Now this woman, Mary, is the mother of “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (verse 17).


So at the cross and in Revelation Mary is referred to as the mother of all believers, just as Eve was referred to as “the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20)



I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15)


Whilst the main point of this is the enmity between the woman’s seed (Jesus) and Satan there is also a hint of enmity between Mary (as the “woman”) and Satan. We can see this enmity in the attempt by Satan to attack the “woman” (Mary) in Rev 12:13 & 15


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