41
THE SECOND EVE

S. Paul's comparison of Christ with Adam, founded as it is on the account of man's fall in Genesis, seems necessarily thence to demand for its complement, a like comparison between the woman there predicted as the Serpent's antagonist who should give birth to the promised Seed, and Eve, the first woman, who, with Adam, had taken part in the Fall. And since, as a matter of fact, such a comparison is found in Fathers of the sub-Apostolic age, it would be only reasonable to believe that the doctrine of Mary as the Second Eve was explicitly taught by the Apostles themselves, and had its place in the revealed deposit. That this was actually the case is certain from S. John's Apocalyptic vision,* wherein the old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, comes once more on the scene; and, in conflict with him, appears the woman predicted in Genesis to be his perpetual foe, who has new brought forth her promised Seed, that Man-child who was to rule over all nations,+ Jesus Christ Our Lord.

The triple patristic testimony which we cited, shows clearly that this idea of Mary as the Second Eve was the tradition prevalent throughout Christendom in the first centuries. Those three Fathers represent the three Patriarchates of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. S. Justin from Palestine is witness for Antioch; the African Tertullian for Alexandria; and S. Irenaeus for Rome. S. Irenaeus, we should remember, had been instructed in his youth by S. Polycarp, who was made Bishop of Smyrna by appointment of the Apostles, and had himself been in early years a disciple of S. John the Evangelist, to whom personally was revealed that vision of Mary, which under Divine inspiration, he has recorded in the Apocalypse.

This same Irenaeus, thus removed but one step from the Apostles, had resided for a considerable time in Rome, in order to become conversant with the traditions of its Church. He tells us in his writings that S. Clement, Bishop of Rome, from the intimate relations and intercourse he there enjoyed with S. Peter and S. Paul, "had still the preaching of the blessed Apostles ringing in his ears, and their tradition gefore his eyes, and not Clement alone; but many in that Church still survived who had been taught by the Apostles." The Saint testifies, furthermore, that "the same tradition and preaching of the truth, which the Church had received from the Apostles, had come down to him; and consequently that one and the very same life-giving faith had been preserved in the Church, and was handed down in its purity and integrity from the Apostles even to his own day."++


* Apoc. xii.

+ See Ps. ii. 8, 9.

++ Haer. iii. 3.


 

 

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