36
THE SECOND EVE.

"We know that the Son of God... before all creatures came forth from the Father by His power and will... and through means of the Virgin became Man, that by what way the disobedience which was from the serpent took its beginning, by the same way it might have its undoing. For whereas Eve, yet a virgin and undefiled, through conceiving the word that came from the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death; the Virgin Mary, taking faith and joy, when the Angel told her the good tidings that the Spirit of the Lord should come upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadow her, and therefore, the Holy One to be born of her should be the Son of God, answered, Be it done to me according to thy word. And so by means of her was He born, concerning whom we have shown so many Scriptures were spoken; through whom God overthrows the serpent, and those angels and men who have become like to it, and, on the other hand, works deliverance from death for such as repent of their evil doings and believe in Him."*

S. Irenaeus, A.D. 120-200, says: --

"In accordance with this design [of saving the human race] Mary is found obedient, saying, Behold Thy handmaid, O Lord. Whereas, Eve was disobedient, since she obeyed not whilst yet a virgin. Eve, moreover -- having Adam for her husband, though still a virgin -- through being disobedient, became the cause of death, both to herself and to the whole human race. Whereas Mary, having a husband fore-appointed,+ and yet a virgin, by yielding obedience, became both to herself and to the whole human race the cause of salvation. And for this reason the Law calls her who is espoused to a man, though still a virgin, the wife of him who has espoused her, thereby pointing to that intercircling which traces back from Mary to Eve. For what is knotted up together cannot be unloosed, except by undoing the whole series of knots, and in such a way that the knots earliest made have to be undone, by first untying the knots that were made later. And so these latter set free the former. Hence, because the unloosing of the first-made must depend on the one made next, it is this latter that has to be undone first. And so said the Lord, The first shall be last, and the last first.++ The Prophet also signifies the same, saying, Instead of fathers, thou hast children.** For whereas, the Lord when born was the first-begotten of the dead,|| and received into His bosom the primitive fathers, He regenerated them into the life of God, by Himself becoming the beginning of the living, whilst Adam became the beginning of those that die.*** For this cause also Luke, beginning his genealogy from Our Lord, carried it back to Adam, to signify that it was He who regenerated them [His own forefathers], not they Him, into the Gospel of life. Even so, too, the knot of Eve's disobedience obtained its unloosing through the obedience of Mary: for what Eve, a virgin, bound by her unbelief, that same, Mary, a virgin, unbound by her faith."+++


* Tryph. 100.

+ The words of the Latin version, "habens praedestinatum virum", might also be rendered, "having the predestined Man".

++ Matt. xix. 30, xx. 16.

** Ps. xliv. 17.

|| Apoc. i. 5.

*** 1 Cor. xv. 20-22.

+++ Haer. iii. 22, 34.

 

 

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