THE SECOND EVE
What is the great rudimental teaching of Antiquity from its earliest date concerning her? By
“rudimental teaching” I mean the prima facie view of her person and office, the broad outline laid
down of her, the aspect under which she comes to us, in the writings of the Fathers. She is the Second Eve. Now let us consider what this implies. Eve had a definite, essential position in the First Covenant.
The fate of the human race lay with Adam; he it was who represented us. It was in Adam that we fell;
though Eve had fallen, still, if Adam had stood, we should not have lost those supernatural privileges
which were bestowed upon him as our first father. Yet though Eve was not the head of the race, still,
even as regards the race, she had a place of her own; for Adam, to whom was divinely committed the
naming of all things, entitled her “the Mother of all the living”, a name surely expressive, not of
a fact only, but of a dignity; but further, as she thus had her own general relation to the human race,
so again had she her own special place as regards its trial and its fall in Adam. In those primeval
events, Eve had an integral share. “The woman, being seduced, was in the transgression.” She
listened to the Evil Angel; she offered the fruit to her husband, and he ate of it. She co-operated,
not as an irresponsible instrument, but intimately and personally in the sin; she brought it about. As the history stands, she was a sine-qua-non, a positive, active, cause of it. And she had her share in its punishment; in the sentence pronounced on her, she was recognised as a real agent in the temptation and its issue, and she suffered accordingly. In that awful transaction there were three parties concerned,-the serpent, the woman, and the man; and at the time of their sentence, an event was announced for the future, in which the three same parties were to meet again, the serpent, the woman, and the man; but it was to be a second Adam and a second Eve, and the new Eve was to be the mother of the new Adam. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.” The Seed of the woman is the Word Incarnate, and the Woman, whose seed or son He is, is His mother Mary. This interpretation, and the parallelism it involves, seem to me undeniable; but at all events (and this is my point) the parallelism is the doctrine of the Fathers, from the earliest times; and, this being established, we are able, by the position and office of Eve in our fall, to determine the position and office of Mary in our restoration.
I shall adduce passages from their writings, with their respective countries and dates; and the dates shall extend from their births 6r conversions to their deaths, since what they propound is at once the doctrine which they had received from the generation before them, and the doctrine which was accepted and recognised as true by the generation to whom they transmitted it.
First, then, St. Justin Martyr (A.D. 120-165), St. Irenaeus (12O-200), and Tertullian (160-240). Of these Tertian represents Africa and Rome; St. Justin represents Palestine; and St. Irenaeus Asia Minor and Gaul;-or rather he represents St. John the Evangelist, for he had been taught by the Martyr St. Polycarp, who was the intimate associate as of St. John, so of the other Apostles.
1. St. Justin:
“We know that He, before all creatures, proceeded from the Father by His power and will,. ..and by means of the Virgin became man, that by what way the disobedience arising from the serpent had its beginning, by that way also it might have an undoing. For Eve, being a virgin and undefiled, conceiving the word that was from the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death; but 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 Highest overshadow her, and therefore the Holy One that was born of her was Son of God, answered, ‘Be it to me according to Thy word.’”