Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

The Virgin Mary Consoles Eve

Virgin Mary and Eve
Crayon & pencil drawing by Sr Grace Remington, OCSO
© 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey.
Used with permission from the artist.

I just love this picture. The image is powerful. Just look at their feet (Gen. 3:15)!

Several early church theologians saw Mary as the antithesis of Eve and the antidote to Eve’s sin. Even though Adam and Eve both ate the forbidden fruit and both were culpable of sin, early church theologians emphasized Eve’s doubt, disobedience, and pride as being instrumental in bringing sin into the world. Conversely, they highlighted Mary’s faith, obedience, and humility as being instrumental in bringing salvation into the world. (See, for example, Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ, 17.)

But Mary is more than a “new Eve.”

Without Mary, the saving significance of her Son’s humanity is lost … In the person of the Virgin, humanity has opened the way for God to fulfill His work. Mary is properly called therefore the bearer of salvation. A new Eve, and more than Eve, she held in her hands the life by which we receive life.[1]

While the comparison of Eve and Mary is interesting, it should not be pushed too far. Because of his death and resurrection, it is Mary’s son Jesus who redeems men and women, girls and boys, potentially freeing us from the power of sin and death and the debilitating consequences of the Fall (cf. Gen. 3:15; 1 Cor. 15:56-57). Jesus is our Saviour—the giver of new life.

In the picture above, Mary is a messenger, and the message is all about who is in her belly.


You can purchase prints of this drawing online at the Monastery Candy Store here.
You can also buy Christmas cards with this picture and the poem below from the Monastery Candy Store.

O Eve!

My mother, my daughter, life-giving Eve,
Do not be ashamed, do not grieve.
The former things have passed away,
Our God has brought us to a New Day.
See, I am with Child,
Through whom all will be reconciled.
O Eve! My sister, my friend,
We will rejoice together
Forever
Life without end.

Sr Columba Guare
© 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey

Footnotes

[1] J.A. Ross Mackenzie, “The Patristic Witness to the Virgin Mary as the New Eve,” Marian Studies, Vol. 29 (1978): 67-78, 69 & 73. A pdf of this article is here.

A note on Mary’s whiteness. I’ve seen many people expressing concern about the whiteness of Mary’s and Eve’s skin tones in this drawing. I understand their concern. There is no doubt that the real Mary didn’t have white skin. Throughout the centuries, many artists have depicted Bible characters in ways that reflect the artist’s own ethnicity (and culture) rather than realistically.


Related Articles

Is it he, she, they or we who crush the serpent’s head? (Genesis 3:15)
The Virgin Mary
Mary and the Women in Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus
Blaming Eve Alone
Women, Eve, and Deception
Is Adam solely responsible for the first sin?
Other articles about “Gender in Genesis 1-3
Articles on Christmas

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18 thoughts on “The Virgin Mary Consoles Eve

  1. Powerful and beautiful

  2. That’s so cool! Another interesting comparison has been made for Easter, with Mary Magdalene in the garden being the opposite of Eve in the Garden.

    1. It’s an interesting comparison. It would be more compelling perhaps if the same Greek word was used in both Genesis 2:8-17 (paradeisos) and John 19:41 (kēpos).

  3. Interesting – but unfortunately not theologically correct. The referenced verse is speaking of Jesus not Mary .. Would be more apropos if Jesus was consoling Eve.

    1. Hi David,

      The focus of the picture is on Mary’s belly. It is her child who is the Saviour who bruises the serpent’s head. It is the hoped-for seed of the woman who removes Eve’s shame and guilt, and ours.

      The image is not biblically correct, in that there is no Bible story about Mary consoling Eve, but I think there’s enough good theology symbolised in the artwork for me to appreciate the theology. Art is often symbolic rather than factual in what it portrays, and the artist has symbolised the prophecy of the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head well.

      My accompanying blurb makes it clear who the Saviour is. Nevertheless, Mary played a vital role in bringing Salvation into the world, and I think it is fine that she is the spokesperson and prophet for Salvation in this image. I think the picture is profound.

      1. First you say the image is not biblically correct, and then you say the picture is “profound”. Sorry….. I don’t think it can be both.

        1. Hi Jo,

          There is no biblical story of the person of Mary, or the person of the incarnate Jesus, meeting and consoling Eve, but there certainly is both the biblical and theological concept of the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head.

          This image clearly points to the seed of the woman. Both women in the image have their hands on Mary’s pregnant belly. Mary’s symbolic stance is prophetic and profound. It does not take away from the fact that it is Jesus who is the one who mortally wounds the serpent. Rather, this artwork highlights this fact. Mary’s stance also highlights that she, Eve, and each of us, have victory through Jesus (1 Cor. 15:56-57). The work is symbolic.

          The blue scarf is also symbolic. The colour blue has long been associated with Mary, beginning with Byzantine and early Medieval art. Natural aquamarine (ground and purified lapis lazuli) was costly and, during the medieval period and European renaissance, its use in painting was typically reserved for Mary. It’s unlikely the real Mary would have worn a white long-sleeved dress and a blue headscarf.

          1. Marg – I totally “get” this picture and understand exactly what it means. The gospel changes hearts and this picture reminds me of Genesis 3 – thank you for posting it and for giving credit to the artist for such imagery!

  4. My first reaction was, “Cool imagery but not theologically correct. THEN I saw that Mary was pregnant and I DO INDEED think it is very descriptive. Some people just don’t focus on the pregnant part and get themselves in a tizzy. Also, some people don’t understand poetry – poetry in verse or image.

  5. For those who go first to the “whether it’s theologically correct” question, please excuse yourselves for having too narrow an imagination.

    Mary is offering hope and encouragement, not “absolution,” and so, by pointing out that her infant son, as yet unborn, would be the means of God’s salvific grace, it’s TOTALLY theologically correct, as a retrojection from the artist to Mary to Eve. The child within her womb will, in fact, crush the serpent’s head she treads upon.

    Retrojection is a common feature, both in the text of Scripture, and in a biblically-redeemed imagination.

    We WILL, in fact, someday see Jesus face-to-face, as the Sciptures projectively promise… and I’ve no doubt Mary and Eve will (if not already done) have a very poignant meeting in the afterlife.

    Thanks for sharing, Marg!

    1. “Mary is offering hope and encouragement, not ‘absolution’ . . .”
      Exactly. Thanks, Guy.

  6. I think this is a beautiful image and very profound on different levels. I do get the idea that Eve was the means through which sin was brought into the world (at least according to the Bible story) and Mary is the means through which Jesus is brought into the world and is the antidote to sin (again if you follow that particular theology of the atonement).
    There are many truths and profound ideas. Not all are ‘biblically correct’ though they may still be true. And many biblical stories may be ‘true’ but not be historically fact.

    Thank you for posting it and for stimulating thought.

  7. To bad it a false dipection of what the Bible really teaches. It’s Christ who crushed the head of the serpent not mary. The glorification of Mary is biblical unsupported. Solo da Gloria …to Christ alone.

    1. Hi David.

      ~ The interpretation that it is Jesus Christ who crushes the serpent’s head may be correct, though it was unknown before the late second century AD. The earliest, clearest evidence of this interpretation occurs in Irenaeus’ second-century work Against Heresies 5.21.1 (circa 180 AD). Irenaeus quoted Genesis 3:15 and plainly identified the woman as Mary and the seed as Jesus. I write about this here.

      ~ No one is giving God’s glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). In line with her prophecy recorded in the Bible, however, we call Mary blessed (Luke 1:48). She played an amazing and unforgettable role in the incarnation. She conceived God’s child and delivered the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, and she gave her son his humanity. But, with Mary, we praise the greatness of the Lord God for this (Luke 1:46-47 CSB).

      Here is a small section of Mary’s words recorded in the Bible:
      “Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed (makarízō), because the Mighty One has done great things for me …” (Luke 1:48-49 CSB)

      And here are some of Elizabeth’s words (about Mary) recorded in the Bible:
      “Blessed (eulogéō) are you among women, and your child will be blessed (eulogéō)! … Blessed (makaria) is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!” (Luke 1:42 & 45 CSB).

      Mary’s words and her actions glorified God. Our words and actions can also glorify God.

      “… Bring my sons from far away, and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who bears my name and is created for my glory.
      I have formed them; indeed, I have made them” (Isaiah 43:6-7 CSB)

      This is what the Bible teaches.

  8. Hi, I am just encountering this would be beautiful drawing, when was it drawn? so point it so powerful so touching deep into my heart.

  9. I don’t know if my comment got posted but I did not mean to say “would be” beautiful picture it is a “profoundly” beautiful picture and I’m ordering one now. Just curious on when this picture was drawn and painted with crayons?

    1. 2005 , see included credits. Mississippi

    2. Here’s some info: “In 2003 one of our sisters made a picture of Mary and Eve, and the following year another sister wrote a poem to go with it for our Christmas card. Word has gotten out on the internet and we’re delighted that this image has conveyed something of God’s life to many people!” (Source) I’m not sure why the copyright date is 2005.

      A podcast where the artist is interviewed is here.

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