Typologies of Adam-Christ and Eve-Mary, and their relationship to one another, The

typologies of Adam-Christ and Eve-Mary, and their relationship to one another, The

Weyermann, Maja

(ProQuest Information and Learning: Foreign Text Omitted)

The two typologies “Adam-Christ” and “Eve-Mary” have, within the context of systematic thought, been brought into the discussion of the place of men and women in the church. In the Old Catholic discussions, however, they offer this issue, as far as I can see, no central weight of argument. In many study materials these images are referred to only in the framework of soteriological and Christological considerations. So, for example, we find this in the documentation of the special session of the International Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference of 1991:

Adam thus represents all human beings, male and female, who are in need of salvation, just as Eve represents all human beings, male and female, who are part of the fallen creation. Christ is the new human being and the beginning of the new humanity, Mary the type of this new humanity and, therefore, of the Church. Both represent to the same extent male and female.’

I think this statement gives us no grounds for controversy. The reason why we raise the matter of these particular typologies lies much more in the fact that, again and again in the discussion, reference is made to images that are thought to support a particular line of argument about the relationship of men and women to one another. Do these typologies in fact establish a particular position or particular roles for one or the other of the sexes in the church? Or do they transcend the statements that are made on the basis of these images so that no conclusions of the type mentioned can be drawn from them?

This is the fundamental question that concerns us here. It is a question both of textual interpretation and of the anthropology that lies behind such interpretation. In order to view the two typologies in relation to one another it seems to me useful to ask about their origins. I would like to show, with reference to a limited selection of patristic texts, especially early patristic texts, that in the broad stream of early church tradition the typologies are brought in to clarify and defend Christological, soteriological, and later also ecclesiological statements that transcend matters of gender differentiation. I would like to show, further, that the authors here have no interest in engaging with the meaning of gender in men and women.

The restriction to early patristic texts can be defended, in my opinion, for two reasons: for the most part later authors follow them in one or another position already clearly represented, and a more farranging presentation would be too comprehensive for our purposes.



The correspondence between Adam and Christ is known to us from the biblical, especially the Pauline, tradition. Though the Jews were concerned about Adam and the consequences of his actions, the Jewish tradition knows no antithesis of this sort between the first human being and the messiah. The idea that the first human being points to the eschatological redeemer is a genuinely Christian innovation. The consideration of Adam’s creation and fall in the light of the cross and resurrection is an especially Pauline idea. We encounter it expressly in two places: in 1 Corinthians 15:21 and 45-49, and above all in Romans 5:12-21, where Paul’s thematization is developed more clearly. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is concerned with the fundamental significance of the resurrection of Jesus. To this end he develops the apocalyptic correspondence between the beginning-time and the end-time and uses the typology of Christ as the last Adam. The correspondence is prepared for in verse 21 with the claim that just as death is initiated by one human being, so also the resurrection comes through one human being.

In verse 45 Paul interprets Genesis 2:7 thus: “The first man, Adam, became a living being, the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

In explicating the “first human being,” Paul sees Adam in antithesis to Christ, the eschatological human being. He thereby emphasizes the eschatological function of the ascended one in order to prevent a false interpretation of protological “moments” in the image of the redeemer. Such an interpretation would occur if the protological elements were understood in the sense of a mythical, dualistic anthropology. An outcome of this would be to posit two essentially different types of human being, one corresponding to the heavenly original human being, the other to the earthly Adam. But Christ is not to be identified with a heavenly proto-human being so that the resurrection cannot be established in connection with the exalted one as original . . ., because for Paul death is not the result of the earthly and bodily constitution of human beings, but is the reality of our finiteness through Adam, the first sinner. The nature and way of Adam are, according to the apostle, of fateful significance for the whole of humanity. In an analogous but, as far as content is concerned, diametrically opposed way, the story of Christ takes on a universal validity. Correspondingly, the resurrection is the redemption from sin through Christ and therefore the nullification of death.

In Romans 5:12-21 Paul expands and thinks through the correspondence developed in 1 Corinthians 15. His interest is directed to the actions of both Adam and Christ, and their effects on all others. A gate into the world of human beings was opened to sin by the trespass of a single human being, and that means also death, imposed as the punishment of God (v. 16) and as the fate of all living things (vv. 14, 17, 21). Sin is thus understood as an all-embracing complex of actions, as the sin of the world or of all humankind. Potentially every human being becomes a sinner through the trespass of Adam. Because all have sinned, death comes to each. Thus Adam receives his functional archetype-status as representative of all sinners, through whom the universality of sin shows itself in the sin of every single human being. All human beings belong to Adam by virtue of the unity of all humanity, and because of the connectedness of all sinners, arising out of this unity. As source of the story of human sin, Adam becomes the personal symbol of all.

The grace of God in Christ, in his obedient giving up of his life on the cross, works in the opposite direction. The main accent falls on the significance of Christ’s action, and the explication of sin through the figure of Adam serves to clarify this significance.

Irenaeus of Lyons

I would like now to take the step into the patristic literature, beginning with Irenaeus. In his writings he works not only with the parallelism of Adam and Christ, but also with the comparison between Eve and Mary. This serves to secure his Christology against the Ebiontes and the Valentinians. I will discuss this more extensively below. Irenaeus’s argument is based on the notion of recapitulation (. . .). The human being is originally created according to the . . . of God, and for 61oiwrtg with God, and so destined for . . . (imperishability). As a result of the fall of Adam, however, humanity has fallen into death. Christ renews (recapitulates) the original state of affairs in that he unites, initially within himself, God and humanity. God becomes human so that we might become divine. Irenaeus sees the real redemption brought about by Christ in this deification of human nature and the consequent gift of . . ..

In this way of thinking Adam and Christ are identical with humanity-not in the sense of a single human person (cf. “we”), but in the sense of a single human being despite the multiplicity of persons. We find this, for example in Adversus haereses 5, 16, 3:

We have neither obeyed God nor believed his word, but he, through wood, has introduced both obedience and believing his word, so he has publicly shown that we-who offended God in the first Adam, by not holding to his command-in the second Adam are now reconciled, being obedient to death. For we became debtors to him alone whose command we transgressed.2

There is therefore only one human being, but in two stages. Adam is the first, incomplete stage-the human being in bondage to sin. Christ is the complete or perfected stage-the human being who has overcome sin. The universal human significance of the two-type and antitype-are made clear with reference to the renewal of the creation desacralized by sin. Within this whole context Irenaeus’s “we” signifies not simply male humanity, but unambiguously humanity as such, bound by sin and freed and renewed in Christ.

Hippolytus of Rome

A glance at the Adam-Christ typology in Hippolytus shows that we find the idea of recapitulation also with him. Exactly as Irenaeus does, he places the emphasis on the connection of divinity and humanity in Christ and its significance for a humanity that through Adam is in need of redemption:

Just as he was announced, so he was made present: he appeared, through the Virgin and the Holy Spirit, as the new human being. He received the heavenly as Logos from the Father, the earthly as human from the old Adam, through the virgin. Thus he came into the world, appeared as God in bodily form, as the perfect human being.3

In another place, with reference to believers, he says:

He lets none of his servants fall. . . he desires to transform all into sons of God and calls all the saints to the one, perfect human being. For the child of God is one, and through him we also gain rebirth through the Holy Spirit and strive towards bringing all to the one, perfect and heavenly human being.4

Christ as the incarnate one is thus the better, new creation of Adam, and whoever believes is thus, in Christ, the new and perfected human being. In this way, Hippolytus’s use of the Adam-Christ typology corresponds exactly to Irenaeus’s use of the same typology.



The Eve-Mary typology develops gradually in the early church tradition. A direct typological connection between the two women was not made from the beginning. The correspondence is encountered only as a later development in thinking. In contrast to Eve, who was already available as a comparison through the Old Testament and Jewish tradition, Mary the mother of Jesus does not appear as a type, at least not explicitly, in the earliest Christianity. The community of the saved, those who are freed from sin, in other words the church, appears as the first correspondence to Eve. This is a sort of middle step through which the correspondence between Eve and Mary later develops. For these reasons I would like to begin by discussing the antithesis between Eve and the church.

An important and, for our theme, suggestive point of departure is the personification, widespread in the Old Testament and Jewish tradition, of Israel as the “bride of God.” Above all, the prophets represent the relationship between God and his people by the imagery of bride and marriage. Isaiah speaks of JWI-IW’s struggle for “the bride of his youth.” We find this image expressed also by Jeremiah, Hosea, and Ezekiel. The Song of Songs also belongs to the tradition that represents the covenant between God and his people in the symbolism of bride and love.

We also encounter more or less direct variations of this symbolism in the New Testament. Among the indirect examples I would count those passages that compare the reign of God to a marriage feast, such as the story of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13).

The imagery is even clearer in Matthew 9:15 and its variants, where Jesus characterizes himself to the disciples of John as the bridegroom. This is also the case in John 3:29, where John the Baptist says of Jesus: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom.” It seems as if for John the image of Israel’s marriage to God is given as the point of contact between the old and new covenants. Paul also makes use of the image of the bride with reference to the relationship between Christ and the people of God, the church. In 2 Corinthians 11:2 he describes the goal of his efforts in the following terms: “I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

The image is used even more extensively in Ephesians 5:22-32, where the writer bases his exhortation to married couples on the relationship between Christ and the church. At the same time the companionship between husband and wife is related to Christ and the church as a mystery. With this reference to Genesis 1:27-that is, to the creation of human beings as male and female-he implicitly places the church in the place of Eve at the side of the new Adam.

About the middle of the second century we find, in the visions of Hermas, a description of the church as the old woman, as the first creature, for whose sake the world was made.5 She appears as the mother who has raised her children by the grace of God.6 In the further development of his visions Hermas sees the old woman grow young to become a virgin. For him this signifies the church’s growing youthful-therefore also this process in Christians-from the weakness of old age that characterizes the godless life to the renewal through repentance (viz. 3:11-13). In Hermas we thus see the beginnings of a picture of the church that arises from three components: the church as virgin, the church as mother, and the church in its preexistence as the goal of the world’s creation.

In the Second Letter of Clement we find an ecclesiology with a distinctive preexistence character. The church was from the beginning. It existed in a spiritual manner, and becomes visible only in the children, that is the believers, whom she has borne. Arising from the creation narrative, that God created human beings as male and female, is the identification that we have first seen in Paul-of the man as Christ, and the woman as the church. The church is also identified as the flesh of Christ. She is the human nature that is united with the Spirit of Christ. For this reason the flesh, the humanity of Christ, is in an actual sense the church, and human beings are the church by way of the participation of their flesh in the Spirit of God. It is on the presupposition of this idea in God’s plan of creation and salvation, of the preexistence of the church, that the flesh of Christ was already present and effective before his actual incarnation. From the creation narratives we may well suppose an implicit parallelism of Eve and the church. For the church is set beside Christ as Eve is beside the man Adam as wife. And just as husband and wife are said to be one, so the same is said of Christ and the church.

We encounter the church as virgin in the Hegesippius fragments of Eusebius of Caesarea’s History of the Church: “Because the church was not yet stained by vain teachings, she was designated as a virgin.”7

The image of the virgin stands here for the unbroken nature of her faith. It is not difficult to recognize the connection to the image Paul uses in 2 Corinthians for the faithful congregation: the faultless virgin, given over to Christ as his bride. Again, the parallel to Eve is obvious.

Enough has been said about the comparison between Eve and the church. Mary comes into view first, however, in another context: exactly where there is a concern to establish the humanity of Christ, in other words, where Christological matters are concerned.


We find an early development of the parallel between Eve and Mary around the middle of the second century, in the work of Justin. In dialogue with Trypho the Jew he interprets Psalm 21 (22) Christologically. In this he explicates what Christ has revealed of himself as Son of God and Son of Man:

became human through the virgin Mary, so that by the same way that sin, occasioned by the serpent, came into being, sin is also destroyed. For Eve, who was an uncorrupted virgin, after she had received the word of the serpent, gave birth to sin and death. The virgin Mary on the contrary was full of faith and joy when the angel Gabriel brought her the joyful news that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the most high overshadow her. On this account the holy one who would be born of her would be the Son of God. And she answered: “May it be to me according to your word!” Jesus is born through the Virgin Mary. Through him, as we have shown and as so many texts have indicated, God has destroyed the serpent and the angels and human beings who have grown like it. But those who repent of their sins and believe in him, they are freed from death.”

In this excursus from his main line of argument, Justin explains the notion of “recapitulation” that he finds in Romans 5:19. In the same way that the first disobedience came into the world, it is also expiated. We find this same idea in Romans, in the words: “For just as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).

As we have seen above, Paul in fact uses the parallel between Adam and Christ to explicate this thought. Justin, on the other hand, develops it through a contrast between Eve and Mary, drawing the following parallels:

Eve is a virgin-Mary is a virgin.

Eve receives/conceives the word of the serpent-Mary receives faith and joy from the message of the angel

Eve bears disobedience and death-Mary answers let it be to me accordng to your word.”

Despite the different and rather clumsy parallelism, it is not hard to recognize that for Justin the point of comparison lies in disobedience and obedience in relation to God. He interprets Genesis 3:15 Christologically, and wants to prove with the contrast between Eve and Mary that the pronouncement in Genesis 3:15 is fulfilled in Mary and Christ. Thus Christ as the son of Mary is the promised seed of the woman who frees the world from the serpent, or in other words from evil and its seed. We can suppose that Paul’s parallel between Adam and Christ and Justin’s between Eve and Mary have a common basis in Genesis 3:15.

Irenaeus of Lyons

In closer correspondence to the antithesis between Adam and Christ (see above), Irenaeus is also one of the first to develop a parallel between Eve and Mary. His writings show us extensively the developmental line of this typology. He is the earliest of the church fathers to identify Mary and the church with one another. The point of comparison he finds in the role played by Mary’s obedient motherhood in the history of salvation. Through this she appears as the reconstruction of Eve. He is offered the impetus for this, in connection with the idea of recapitulation, in the Christological interpretation of Genesis 3:15, as he develops it in Adversus haereses 3, 21, 10:

And he recapitulated in himself the old creation. For as through the disobedience of a single human being sin found entry into the world, and through sin, death (cf. Rom 5:12, 19), so it is also through the obedience of one human being that righteousness has returned (cf. Rom 5:19). The fruit of this is that life comes to human beings who were once dead. And as the first-created human being, Adam, had his being out of the uncultivated and virgin earth-“for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (Gen 2:5)and from the hand of God (cf. Ps. 119 [118]: 73; Job 10:8), that is, from the Logos of God, because “everything was made through him” (John 1:3) and the Lord took dust from the earth and moulded him (Gen. 2:5)-in just the same way the Word itself recapitulated Adam in itself and was fittingly born from Mary who was still a virgin. In this way Adam is recapitulated. If the first Adam had had a father and had been born from the seed of a man (1 Cor. 15:45), then it would be fitting to say that the second Adam had been begotten by Joseph. But if the first is taken from the earth and shaped by the Logos of God, then the Logos of God must be born in exactly the same way if this recapitulation is to be effective. Why did God not take dust once again but allow the creature to come into being from Mary? Because it is not some other creature that needed to be saved, but one and the same creature, recapitulated under the conditions of likeness. 9

What we find at first here is not a correspondence between Eve and Mary, but much more the undisturbed earth, which is the more logical comparison with reference to the parallelism between Adam and Christ. In both cases there is an element of virginity (or the lack of an earthly father). Mary has to be compared with the earth, the 11 mother” of Adam, and should in this context be compared with the second Adam.

In direct comparisons between Mary and Eve, e.g., in Adversus haereses 5, 19, 1 (cf. Epideixis 1, 3, 33), another connection stands at the center. Irenaeus is concerned with the theme: through a woman came death-through a woman life (per feminam mors-per feminam vita). He writes:

just as one (Eve) was seduced by the word of an angel, to depart from God and to close off his word, so in the same way the other (Mary) received through the word of an angel the knowledge that she would bear God, because she was obedient to his word. As one was disobedient to God, so the other followed willingly, so that the virgin Mary became advocate for the virgin Eve. And just as humanity was burdened with death through a virgin, so it was also saved through a virgin. The disobedience of a virgin was overcome by the obedience of a virgin.10

In this context, the antithesis of Eve and Mary makes sense. It has to do with human degeneracy and human salvation. True to his teaching on recapitulation, Irenaeus sees the bondage to death, which was set in motion through Eve, overcome by Mary. Thus Eve and Mary are of significance for the whole of humanity, in a similar though not identical way to Adam and Christ. This Irenaeus shows decisively in Adversus haereses 3, 22, 3f. Here he works out the thought that just as Eve was the cause of death for the whole of humanity (universo gener hominis), so in the same way Mary was for the whole of humanity (universo gen.et! hominis) the cause for salvation:

For this reason Luke presents the register of the generations from the birth of our Lord back to Adam, twenty-two generations (cf. Luke 3:23-38). He thereby connects the end with the beginning, and shows that he (i.e., Jesus) is the one who has in himself recapitulated all the peoples since Adam, all the languages and generations, including Adam himself. Thus Adam is called by Paul a “type of the one who was to come” (Rom. 5:14), because the Word as creator of all things made present in advance, in the Son of God, the coming order of salvation for humanity. God saw that the psychic, that is the natural, human being would be saved by the spiritual human being (1 Cor. 15:45 f.). So even before the existence of the one who was saved there had to be one who would be saved, so that the savior would not be superfluous.

Correspondingly, we see the obedience of the Virgin Mary when she says: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Eve, on the other hand, was disobedient, and her disobedience occurred when she was still a virgin. She indeed had Adam as her husband, but despite that was still a virgin-in paradise they “were both naked, and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25), because they had been created shortly beforehand and were not yet knowledgeable about the procreation of children, for they first had to grow up and only then “multiply” (cf. Gen. 1:28). In this way, just as disobedience became for them and for the whole of humanity the cause of death, so also Mary, who was also promised in marriage but still a virgin, became both for herself and for all humanity the cause of salvation (cf. Heb. 5:9). For this reason the law considers her, being betrothed yet still a virgin, the wife of her betrothed (cf. Dent. 22:23.). Thus there is a correspondence between Mary and Eve, for what is bound cannot otherwise be released than that the knots of bondage be untied, such that the first knots are loosed by the second, and the second set the first free. Thus it is that the first knots are released from the second loop, and the second loop takes the place of the first untying. Thus the Lord says that the first shall be the last and the last first (cf. Mark 10:31). And the prophet says exactly the same thing when he says, “In the place of ancestors you … shall have sons” (Ps. 45 [44]:17). For as “first-born from the dead” (Col. 1:18) the Lord took the ancestors into his womb and gave new birth to them, into the life of God, and was indeed himself the first of the living (cf. Col. 1:18), just as Adam was the first of those who die. This is why Luke begins his genealogy with the Lord and goes backwards to Adam (cf. Luke 3:23-38). This shows that it is not they who gave birth to him, but he who gives birth to them into the good news of life. Thus the knots of Eve’s disobedience find their unloosing in the obedience of Mary. For Eve was bound by her unbelief, while Mary was set free by her belief.11

In summary we can outline the following parallels of recapitula tion developed by Irenaeus:

Eve opened the way for the serpent and thus for evil to humanity. Mary gave birth to Christ who crushed the serpent’s head (cf. haer. 4, 40, 3), and thereby brought life to human beings. Eve’s inner deed was faithlessness to God, and thus disobedience. Mary’s inner deed was faithfulness to God, and thus obedience.

Eve’s action was based on the hearing of an evil message from an evil messenger. Mary’s act began with the hearing of a good word from a good angel.

Eve was a virgin. Mary was a virgin.

So much for the correspondence between Eve and Mary in the context of salvation and its opposite for human beings. In Irenaeus, however, we find Mary placed in another, broader context, that which speaks of the birth from a virgin and the new birth of humanity from faith. Alois Miller summarizes the content and the meaning of this in his dissertation Ecclesia-Maria, 12 and here I essentially follow his interpretation.

In a thoroughgoing exposition of his teaching on recapitulation, Irenaeus characterizes the birth of Adam, i.e., natural conception, for all human beings as birth into death. The birth of Christ, the symbolic birth from the Virgin, in other words, is at the same time the birth of each and everyone into life. The condition for this is belief in the incarnation of God that becomes reality through just this birth. This presupposition is aimed against the Ebionites, who called into question the supernatural birth of Christ.13

For Irenaeus this is about a mystically real rebirth that works itself out in human beings through faith. Human beings become by faith, through the birth of Jesus from the Virgin Mary, children of God in the flesh. This leads Irenaeus almost to an identification of the act of giving birth on the part of Mary with the church’s act of giving birth, through faith. A relationship of identity comes into being between Mary and the Church, which Irenaeus bases immediately upon the identity of Christ as head with his members. The birth of the head means also the rebirth of the members. And because Christ and the believers are one and the same in head and members, so is the mother of Christ, Mary, who bore him without impurity, one and the same with the church that bears the faithful in baptism.

Hippolytus of Rome

We have seen above that Hippolytus, in his Adam-Christ typology, sees in the incarnation of Christ the rebirth of the many as new, perfected human beings. From this he also draws consequences for the relationship between Mary and the church. In an interpretation of the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45), Hippolytus understands John, in Elizabeth’s womb, to recognize the Logos in the womb of Mary, i.e., the people in the womb of the church:

For just as the scriptures show us a second coming of our Lord and savior… so also there were two forerunners. The first, John, proclaimed to all the heavenly light that was shining in the world. While still in the womb, as the first-conceived of Elizabeth, he went forth to show to the other infant-as yet also still in the womb-the new birth that would be imparted to them through the virgin and the Holy Spirit. As he heard the greeting of Mary, “the child leaped for joy in the womb” (cf. Luke 1:41, 44), for he saw the Logos of God that had been conceived in the womb of the virgin.14

Once again here Mary and the church are identified. He describes the church as an ever self-renewing community, through all times, of those who live in righteousness. Insofar as the church now gives birth as Mary gives birth to Christ, the being of Mary and thus also of the church is perfected in each and every believer as a member of this community. Christ, the Logos, is thereby born through the church in every one of the faithful.

The image of Mary the mother is used here to make statements about the church and the faithful. The comparison with Eve is not explicitly drawn here, because the dimension concerned with salvation and the restoration of fallen humanity is not in the foreground. The Commentary on the Song of Songs 15 points much more in this direction, in that the synagogue and the church are set over against one another as the “old Eve” and the “new Eve.” Hippolytus interprets Song of Songs 3:1-4 in the light of the Easter message of the gospels of Matthew and John. Constantina Peppa examined these texts in her dissertation that was accepted in 1994 by the Old Catholic Theological Faculty (Bern). I refer here to her work.

In chapter 25 Hippolytus sets the two types overtly against one another and develops their inner connection. The women who seek the dead Jesus (cf. Song of Songs 3:1) are a type of the synagogue.16 The women who encounter the risen Christ (cf. Song of Songs 3:4) are a type of the new Eve. As witnesses of the resurrection they represent the church. In the encounter with the risen one, and in clinging fast to the “tree of life” which the risen one makes present, Hippolytus sees the time in which the new Eve, the church, takes the place of the old Eve, the synagogue.17

The women sent to the disciples become thereby “apostles of Christ.” Through their obedience to the divine command to proclamation they stand in contrast to the old Eve. Fulfilled through this obedience, they are no longer led astray by the serpent. The new Eve becomes a helper to the new Adam. In telling the joyful news they are proclaiming not an error like the old Eve, but the truth of the resurrection. Here Hippolytus contrasts the negative role of the woman at the fall to the correspondingly positive role of women in the proclamation of life.18

Hippolytus opens an interesting perspective with this contrast. A division between women who hear and men who proclaim cannot be maintained in this variant of the typology. Much more it is men who have to hear the women sent to them from the Lord, that is, the new Eve in the form of the church, in order to receive the knowledge of the gospel.

Hippolytus is concerned then not only with the hearing and receptive form of the church, which is widely promoted even today with Mary as a type of the church, but also with the image of the active, proclaiming church. This he develops with the aid of the typology “old Eve-new Eve.”

It needs to be mentioned here that the church gives birth to Christ not only through proclamation but through the sacraments, and indeed through its whole life. To this extent, the image of the active, proclaiming church-and in the widest sense, the sacramental actions of the church-are always implicit in statements, based on the type of Mary, about the church that brings believers to birth. In Hippolytus’s type of the old and the new Eve, this much at least is quite explicit in connection with proclamation.

Final Considerations

This line of thought that, with some variations and parallels, develops the Adam-Christ and the Eve-Mary/Church typologies, can be traced through the writings of the church fathers of East and West. Here-in the West-it goes as far as Augustine. From the examples cited here the central line of thinking is, in my opinion, clear: Adam and Eve as types of humanity in need of redemption are, respectively, set over against Christ and Mary as types of the new humanity in its redeemed condition. In this sense their relationship to one another is clearly circumscribed. Mary as the type of the church, of the new Eve at the side of the new Adam, is in this way established in relation to Christ. She is virgin, bride, and consort, and thereby also body of the Lord. As the mother of the Lord she is also a type of the church, who gives birth to Christ among the believers. According to the intentions and objectives of particular statements, which are not the same in every context, corresponding images are brought into play. This, in my opinion, shows clearly that images can only carry a limited power of expression and that this was seen the same way by the early church authors. Therefore, the greatest caution is to be exercised when they are taken out of their original context and drawn into the formulation of present-day questions. It is especially important to note that the two typologies are always applied, as we have seen, to the whole of humanity. In other words, their statements include both men and women without distinction.

We find questionable examples of an inappropriate application of the texts about the Adam-Christ and Eve-Mary typologies in the reports of the Inter-Orthodox Theological Consultation at Rhodes (1988) concerning the place of women in the Orthodox Church and the ordination of women. 19 The “Conclusions” emphasized, as a matter of course, the equal honor of women and men before God.20 Reference was also made to the representation of the whole of humanity (men and women) by Eve (fallen humanity) and the Theotokos/Mary (a renewed humanity in the birth of Christ).21 At the same time, however, gender-specific conclusions were drawn on the basis of typology, and corresponding allocations of roles were determined for men and women in the church and before God.

Contrary to the conclusions of the report from Rhodes, the patristic texts that work with these typologies offer no basis, in my opinion, from which gender-specific consequences can be drawn. I say this always in the light of the presupposition that these are read and cited with reference to the original intention of the authors, who wish to illustrate Christological and soteriological, and later ecclesiological, positions. It should also be noted that a distinction is to be made between the function of the type and the reality in terms of the history of salvation. Naturally, both Adam and Christ, as well as Eve and Mary, have their particular roles in the real history of salvation as “real” men and as “real”22 women. But as types they have specific significances that transcend gender. As I have shown above, the contents of the texts refer, by way of their intended function as types, to the church as the community of the faithful consisting of men and women. Thus the type of Mary has validity for all the faithful, men and women, and the type of Christ as the new Adam is also valid for all people, women and men. The maleness of Christ and the femaleness of Mary therefore have no influence on the theological significance of their types. The so-called “feminine” example of the type of Mary, such as the receiving of the word of God or giving birth to Christ, can thus be related not just to women, because all the faithful have to take this step on the way to faith and thus on the way to the community of the redeemed-no matter to which gender they belong.

Although both typologies transcend gender difference, it is important to be aware of the significance of the fact that that there is both a male (Adam-Christ) and a female (Eve-Mary) typology. The power of this reality lies not in its endorsement of a clear division of roles, but in the explicit indication that women and men are equally involved in the history of salvation. The very existence of a male and a female typology thus finally rules out the thought that humanity can be represented exclusively by men. Both typologies appropriately fulfill this representation.

1 Urs von Arx, “The Ordination of Women to the Priesthood (Presbyterate and Episcopate): Facts, Perspectives, Considerations (with a contribution by H. Aldenhoven, P Grijter, D. Konrad, C. Peppa, and M. Weyermann),” in Urs von Arx (ed.), The Ordination of Women to the Priesthood: Documentation for the Special Session of the IBC 1991 at Wislikofen, Switzerland, 1991, 23-53, 40.

2 Irenaeus, haer, (Adversus haereses) 5, 16. 3 (A. Rousseau, L. Doutreleau, and C. Nercier, SC 153, 219-221).

Hippolytus, Noet. (Contra Noetum), 17, 4-5 (Hippolytus of Rome, Contra Noeturn [London, 1977, ed. R. Butterworth]).

Hippolytus, antichr. (de antichristo ) 3 (H. Achelis [ed.], GCS Hippolytus 1/2, 6, 10-20).

5 There is parallel here to Jewish tradition, which understands the first world to have been created for Israel’s sake (cf. 4 Ezra 6:55-56 and Baruch 15:7, 21:24).

6 Hermas, vis. 3, 9, 1 (M. Whittaker [ed.], in A. Lindemann and H. Paulsen [eds. ], Die Apostolischen Vater [Tiibingen, 1992]) 358: “Listen to me, my children. I brought you up in perfect innocence, guiltless and in holiness in the sight of the mercy of the Lord, who has allowed his righteousness to fall upon you.”

7 Eusebius, h.e. (historic ecclesiastica) 4,22, 4 (E. Schwartz [ed.], Kleine Ausgabe [Leipzig, 1952,5th ed.] 257).

8 Justin, dial. (Dialogus cum Tryphone ) 100, 4-6 (E. J. Goodspeed [ed.], Die altesten Apologeten [Gottingen, 1984, 2nd ed.] 215).

hvnaeus: beer. 3. 21, 10 (A. Ru and L Dou [eds.], SC 211, 426-431).

Irenam, ham 5119, 1 (A. Rousseau, La Doutreleau, and C. Mercier, SC 153, 2250).

11 in,haer 3,2, 3f; A; Rousseau and L. Doutreleau (eds.), SC 211,438-444.

12 Alois Miiller, Ecclesia-Maria: Die Ein.heit Marias and der Kirche (Fribourg, 2nd ed., 1955) 53-76.

13 According to the Ebionites, Jesus was the son of Mary and Joseph. The Holy Spirit came upon him at his baptism, consecrating him as the messiah.

14 Hippolytus, antichr. 44f (H. Achelis [ed.], GCS Hippolytus 112, 28).

15 Because the Commentary on the Song of Songs is not extant in the Greek original, I confine my comments to the German translation prepared by Nathanael Bonwetsch (ed.), Hippolyts Kommentar zum Hohenlied auf Grund von N. Marrs Ausgabe des grusinischen Textes, TU 23/2c (Leipzig, 1902). This is also the basis for the work by Constantina Peppa, Die Tochter der Kirche Christi and die frohe Botschaft des Sohnes Gottes: Eine Studie fiber die aktive Prasenz der Frauen and ihre besonderen Dienste im Friihchristentum und in Gemeinden der ungeteilten Alten Kirche (Bern, 1995 ) 69-76 (also now Athens: Epektasi, 1998).

16 Bonwetsch, 60: “See how this was fulfilled for Mary and Martha. With them the synagogue eagerly sought the dead Jesus, for they thought him not alive . . .”

17 Bonwetsch, 63-65: as I had gone a little further away,’ and as they turned and went, I met the redeemer. Then was the saying fulfilled: ‘I went a little way, then I found him whom my soul loves.’ But the redeemer answered and said: Martha, `Mary!’ She said: ‘Rabbuni,’ which in translation means, `My Lord!’ ‘I found then the one whom my soul loves, and I shall not leave him.’ Then she held him fast, embracing his feet, but he spoke, crying out: `Do not touch me, for I have not yet gone to my father.’ But she held to him and said: ‘I will not let you go, for I am bringing you in and giving you to my heart.’ ‘I will not let him go, until I have brought him to the house of my mother and into the treasure chamber of each one who has received me.’ Because the love of God has gathered into her in her body, she will not let go. Therefore she cries out: ‘I have found him and I will leave him not!’ 0 blessed woman, who embraced his feet, in order to hold him from flying up into the air! These things Mary and Martha said. The righteous mystery, which had been foretold by Solomon, they announced saying: `We will not let you fly upwards. Go to your father and bring the new offering. Bring to the offering Eve, who has not already fallen but who grasps painfully,with her hand to the tree of life. See, I hold him by the knees, not like a cord, to tear, but I hold to his feet, the feet of Christ. Do not let me return to the earth so that I go astray, but lead me up to heaven! 0 blessed woman, who would not be separated from Christ!”‘

is Bonwetsch, 67-70: “After this, the synagogue confessed with an outcry through these women. They offered us a good testimony. They were apostles to the apostles, sent by Christ. To them the angel first said: `Go and say to the disciples: He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him.’ And so that this apostle would not doubt the angels, so Christ himself encountered the apostles, so that these women would be apostles and would fulfill that which was missing from the old Eve. And now, heeded as obedient ones, they appear as perfect. 0 new comfort! Eve is named an apostle! See, from this time onwards the malice of the serpent will be understood, and

she (Eve) will no longer be seduced. For the one upon whom she looked she now hates, and considers as an enemy the one who seduced her through desire. After this she shall no longer transgress the tree of transgressions. See, after this she rejoices, thanks to the confession of the tree! From the tree she tastes, through Christ, and is made worthy of the good things and brought to eat. After this she will not hunger, and she will not set before the men the food that leads to perishing. She has received imperishability. After this she is in union and is helper, for Adam is the lord of Eve. 0 good helper, who has brought the joyful news to the man, which the women brought to the disciples for their salvation! And thus she has returned to the one in whom she doubted. The cause is that Eve had the custom of telling seduction, but not truth. What sort of new telling is this, 0 women, about the resurrection? Thus each holds her to be transformed, so as not to appear transformed. But they speak the truth. Therefore Christ appeared to them and says: `Peace be with you.’ He shows thereby: I have indeed appeared to the women and wanted to send them to you, to the apostles. Now that this has taken place, 0 beloved ones, after this the synagogue will grow quiet and the church shall be praised.”

19 Gennadios Limouris (ed.), The Place of Women in the Orthodox Church and the Question of the Ordination of Wome: Interorthodox Symposium, Rhodos, Greece, 30 October-7 November, 1988 (Katerini, 1992 ), 157-196.

20 Ibid., 23. 21 Ibid., 24.

22 Historical “reality” cannot, of course, mean the same thing with reference to Adam and Eve as it does to Christ and Mary.


* Maja Weyermann is editor of Christkatholisches Kirchenblatt and information officer for the Old Catholic (chtistkatholisch) Church of Switzerland. She participated in both consultations.

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