SCRIPTURAL EXEGESIS - PROLEGOMENA
In patristic interpretation of Scripture the Church holds a much larger and more prominent part than Our Lady, as being the mystical Body of Christ, which was in a certain sense and in the moral order, the very end of the Incarnation itself; and of which Mary, though the queen and spiritual Mother, is herself but a fellow-member with ourselves. It is in their dogmatic treatises that the Fathers dwell most on the Virgin Mother, and also in many of their writings that are of a more moral and devotional character, as we shall see later on.
We purpose in a further Chapter to dwell more at length on the patristic view of the relation between Mary and the Church.
The comments of the Fathers on passages from teh Old Testament are given in their biblical order. With regard to the New Testament, they are, for the most part, grouped together under the several mysteries or events to which they are referable.
PART I. THE OLD TESTAMENT.
"And God said: Let us make man to our image and likeness; and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea," etc. -- i. 26-28.
"But if we stop at the literal sense, how will you be able to show that the most glorious Mother of God is to the image and likeness of God? For where has she commanded or ruled over the visible animals, or the fishes, or birds, or the whole earth, she who fled away to Egypt from the face of Herod? Yet who, prithee tell me, of men or of devils will dare to say that she who is of the same essence together with God, as regards the flesh, is not to the image and likeness of Him who was born of her own self? For how is the Mother of such a Son not one who bears in herself intact and unimpaired the image of her offspring?"*
"The Lord God had not rained upon the earth; and there was not a man to till the earth. But a spring rose out of the earth, watering all the surface of the earth. And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth; and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul. And the Lord God had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning: wherein he placed man whom He had formed. And the Lord God brought forth of the ground all manner of trees, fair to behold, and pleasant to eat of: the tree of life also in the midst of paradise: and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." -- ii. 5-9.