Virgin Mary and Eve
Crayon and 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 imagery 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 sinned, these theologians overemphasised 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.
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 fulfil 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.
While the comparison of Eve and Mary is interesting, it should not be pushed too far. Because of his incarnation, death, and resurrection, it is Mary’s son Jesus who redeems humanity, 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).
In the picture above, Mary is depicted as a messenger, and the message is all about who is in her belly. Jesus is our Saviour—the giver of new life. He is the one who takes away sin and shame.
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
Life without end.
Sr Columba Guare
© 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey
 In On the Apparel of Women 1.1, Tertullian blames Eve alone and ascribes even to Christian women the “odium of human perdition.” He was wrong.
 See, for example, Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ, 17.
 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 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.
Is it he, she, they or we who crush the serpent’s head? (Gen. 3:15)
Jael, Mary, and Jesus’ Crucifixion
The Virgin Mary
Mary and the Women in Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus
Women, Eve, and Deception
Is Adam solely responsible for the first sin?
All my articles on gender in Genesis 1-3 are here.
All my Christmas-related articles are here.
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