I recently read an article written by a Protestant theologian explaining the salvific role of Eve. As I read it, the thing that stood out to me was the author’s dismissal of Eve being the foreshadowing of Mary – just as Adam foreshadows Jesus. Eve and Adam both had their roles to play in the Garden. Both Eve and Adam failed in their roles. Both of those failures had to be reversed for salvation. Although the author acknowledged the reality that Jesus is the new Adam, he rejected the idea that Mary is the new Eve. This short review provides a couple quotes from the journal article and then demonstrates the direct parallels to the author’s points about Eve, which are found in Mary. The concludes with one bonus point – alluded to by the author but not expanded upon by him.
“Adam was the first human; Jesus represents the Second Adam, the first of a new spiritual race, a new creation that points to the culmination of the age with resurrected humanity. In 1 Corinthians 15, Adam and Jesus are contrasted in reference to death and resurrection: ‘For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive’” (1 Cor 15:22).*
“Eve occupies a critical role in the Genesis story that Paul will take as paradigmatic for all women. I consider four aspects of Eve’s story in Genesis that have a bearing on the 1 Timothy 2 text: (1) she is made after Adam and for Adam; (2) she takes a lead role in listening to the serpent and eating the forbidden fruit; (3) her role in the curse is coupled with a promise of overcoming the serpent through the fruit of her womb; and ultimately, (4) she is seen as saving humanity through her procreative ability.”**
Before detailing the following, it must be said that Jenks specifically rejects the connections I will make that indicate Mary is the New Eve just as Christ is the new Adam (see first paragraph of page 153 and associated footnote).
Considering the principle that the Gospels (along with other portions of the New Testament) tell the reversal of what occurred in the Gospel, the reversal is in the outcome and the reversal is frequently depicted in the sequence.
(1) Regarding the Incarnation of Jesus, Mary is physically first, and is filled with God’s grace for Jesus.
(2) Mary takes the lead role in saying yes to God. “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).
(3) Mary’s role in the reversal of the curse is promised through the fruit of her womb. “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end’” (Luke 1:30-33).
Elizabeth “exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord’” (Luke 1:42-45).
(4) Point (3) lends itself to the conclusion that Mary is saving humanity through her uniquely blessed, and miraculously virginal, procreative ability.
There is a bit more to explore, however. Jenks accepts that Eve is the mother of all the living because he acknowledges Genesis 3:20 where the Bible says, “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”***
As he did not see the four early correlations, Jenks likewise does not see the parallel of Mary being the new mother of the living – those alive in Christ. When the Bible tells us that Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son” (Luke 2:7), we see the promise of the spiritual birth of all those born-again in the faith. “For those whom [God the Father] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 3:28).
That connection brings the point full circle that, as Eve was once the mother of all that are living (but were brought to death by sin), Mary is now the mother of all who are living because “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22), freeing us from the death of sin. Those who are alive in Christ are in the and are Church — therefore the title given to “Mary as Mother of the Church” is accurate, suitable, and used by Christians as early as St Ambrose of Milan when he discussed the Gospel of Luke (Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 5.92). These truths motivated Leo the Great to explain, “In Christ, therefore, born of the Virgin’s womb, the nature does not differ from ours, because His nativity is wonderful.… And each one is a partaker of this spiritual origin in regeneration; and to every one when he is re-born, the water of baptism is like the Virgin’s womb; for the same Holy Spirit fills the font, Who filled the Virgin.”****
Yes – Just as Jesus is the New Adam – Mary is the New Eve.
Yes – As Mary is the Mother of all those alive in faith – Mary is the Mother of the Church.
Steven G Rindahl, SSJ DMin STM
Founder and Director
Warriors on the Way
* R. Gregory Jenks, “Eve as Savior of Humanity? From the Genesis Narrative to Paul’s Comments on Childbearing in 1 Timothy 2:15,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 66, no. 1 (March 2023): 134.
** Jenks, “Eve as Savior,” 135.
*** Jenks, “Eve as Savior,” 140.
**** Leo the Great, “Sermon XXIV,” in Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, vol. 12a, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (New York, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1895), 135, 24.3
Jenks, R. Gregory. “Eve as Savior of Humanity? From the Genesis Narrative to Paul’s Comments on Childbearing in 1 Timothy 2:15.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 66, no. 1 (March 2023): 133–161.
Leo the Great. “Sermon XXIV.” In Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, 12a:134–136. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. New York, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1895.