Eve as a Type of Mary:
A Positive Perspective

    The Eve-Mary comparison by the early Fathers is principally what I will call a "negative" typology, exemplified by famous phrases such as, "Death through Eve, life through Mary" and Mary's obedience untied the knot of Eve's disobedience." In this paper I will attempt to set forth a "positive" typology, i.e., to portray Eve as a type of Mary in a more positive light. In so doing I will focus primarily on Genesis 2:20:

The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.

While the early Fathers and the Tradition which followed them emphasized that (spiritual) death came through Eve's disobedience, it must nevertheless be remembered that Eve received her name as "mother of all the living" only after the Fall. Before this she was called "woman." Therefore, Sacred Scripture reveals that in a true, literal sense, Eve became, after the Fall, the mother of the entire human race which was (and is) her progeny.

Eve is responsible, by the principle of causality, for bringing life (on the natural plane) to the entire human race which followed her. This makes her the matriarch of all peoples, including the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus Himself, in His humanity as a descendent of Eve. Jesus received His humanity from Mary, who herself was a daughter of Eve. Again, from the perspective of causality, the flesh that Jesus received, which the Eternal Word needed to redeem us, came from Eve as well as Adam. Therefore, the supernatural life of grace which we received from Christ's Redemption was made possible in part by Eve.

Conclusion: Eve, as mother of all the living and our mother in the order of nature, is truly a type of Mary, Mother of all the living and our Mother in the order of grace (cf. LG 61).

Furthermore, Eve became mother of all the living in the order of nature through her obedience, in faith, to the Original Blessing given by God to the human race, which was also a divine command: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Genesis 1:28) In contrast to radical feminism which views childbearing and child rearing as a form of "slavery" and "male subjection of women" and seeks to be freed from this "oppressive" state by recourse to contraception and/or abortion (and thereby suppressing fertility in disobedience to the divine command to "be fertile," and becoming like the male who is free to engage in sexual activity free from the responsibility of children), Eve was open to human life and to God's potentially life-creating love and freely cooperated with Adam in conceiving and bearing children: "The man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, '1 have produced a man with the help of the Lord'." (Genesis 4:1)

Eve was willing to undergo the "pangs of childbirth" (Genesis 3:16) because she, as mother of all the living, saw human life and its generation on the natural level to be a great and incomparable good. Also, Eve believed in faith that her "seed" would crush the head of the serpent and bring forth redemption for the entire human race. Mary, as the woman of faith par excellence, by conceiving Jesus in faith and in offering Him "in pain" (Revelation 12:2) to the Father on Calvary for our salvation, recognized the spiritual generation of her children to be the greatest of goods. Eve valued her fertility and saw it as an authentic expression of her femininity. Eve, in her receptivity and fruitfulness in the order of nature is a type of Mary, whose willingness to become a mother in spite of her desire to remain a virgin, brought forth superabundant fruitfulness in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: the fulfillment of God's plan of salvation and redemption was tied to fertility and an openness to bring forth human life, despite its pains and sorrows. Eve, by her faithfulness to the divine blessing and command to "be fertile" and "fill the earth," became mother of all the living in the order of nature. By her faithfulness she also cooperated, indirectly, in bringing forth Jesus Christ, the "Seed" of the woman who crushes Satan's head. Eve is a type of Mary whose Fiat made her superabundantly fertile and fruitful with the Word made flesh.

Father Dwight P. Campbell


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