Understanding the Blessed Virgin Mary Through the Scriptures

The author of the Acts of the Apostles does a comparison between the Jews in Thessalonica and those in Beroea, and this is what he says, here (in Beroea) the Jews were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they welcomed the word very readily; every day they studied the scripture to check whether it is true (Act. 17:11). Some of us have readily accepted doctrines about our lady, but we fail to interrogate the scripture to ascertain their veracity, hence our devotion to her is shaky, and praying the rosary even becomes a problem for some. So, we want to journey with some scholars especially Brant Pitre into the scripture to understand who Mary is, and what this means for us.

In the year 1977, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote a work titled “Daughter Zion: Meditations on the Church’s Marian beliefs”, in which he said, “if one begins by reading backwards, or more precisely, from the end to the beginning, it becomes obvious that the image of Mary in the New Testament is woven out of Old Testament treads”. This means that if you do not pay attention to the Old Testament, you will not get a perfect Picture of Mary in the New Testament. We should also bear in mind that everything said about Mary is said in a Christological context. Whatever we believe about Mary is based on what we believe about Christ (cf. CCC.487).

One of the titles given to Jesus in the New Testament especially by St. Paul, which will be of interest to us is the title, “the New Adam”. (cf. Rom.5:19; 1Cor. 15:45). If Jesus is the New Adam, who is the New Eve? We will journey through the New Testament to the Old Testament to see how Mary is concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament; prefigured in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament.


The Book of Revelation

We will focus on Rev. 12:1ff, the vision of the woman clothed with the sun. But our focus will basically be on vv,1-5 & 9.

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev. 12:1-5, 9).

John presents us with 3 characters in the vision: The serpent, The woman and The woman’s child. According to the text, the serpent represents Satan, the devil. Scholars agree that the child represents Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It can be inferred therefore that the woman who gives birth to the son (the Messiah), is the mother of the Messiah, and that is Mary. What is the meaning of this image presented to us by John? To get a clear understanding of it, we must go back to the Old Testament. The first time we encounter a woman and her child, and a serpent trying to destroy the woman’s offspring is in Gen.3.


After the fall, God gives a prophecy in 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (the proto evangelium). From the text, 4 characters are mentioned in the prophecy: The serpent, The woman, The serpent’s seed and The woman’s seed. The serpent is at war with the woman, and the serpent’s seed is at war with the woman’s seed. In his book “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary: Unveiling the Mother of the Messiah” Brant Pitre, a New Testament Scholar, says that the Jews interpreted this text of Genesis as a prophecy of the Messiah. Thus, when the Messiah comes, he will conquer all evil, the devil who appears in the form of a serpent.

What is happening here? The image in John’s vision is revealed to us here. The battle that began with Eve is being concluded in the book Revelation with Mary. Thus Revelation is revealing to us that Mary is not just the mother of the Saviour, but she is also the New Eve. Brant says that already at the beginnings of Christianity, the Christians took the interpretation the Jews gave to Gensis 3, and asked the question, “If the seed of the woman is the Messiah, then who is the woman?”. Obviously, the woman will be the Mother of the Messiah, and that is Mary. Thus, ancient Christians had already conceived this idea.

Mary is the New Eve with whom the New Adam, Jesus, undid the effect of the fall of the Old Adam and Eve. According to Brant, it is this her position that leads us to confidently assert that Mary was immaculately conceived and was without sin, and this is simply logical. Adam and Eve were created without sin, in a state of grace. If the New Eve was to be created in a state of sin, then the old Eve would be greater than her. But typology does not work that way. That which prefigures cannot be greater than that which is prefigured.

If Mary is the New Eve, what does this mean for us?

  1. It tells us that Mary knows Jesus more than we do know him, just as Eve knew Adam more than the serpent. Eve was with Adam from the beginning. Gen. 1:27 says, male and female he created them; Gen. 2:21-23 tells us that Eve was formed from the man’s side. Irrespective of the account you go with, they were together from the beginning. Mary was also with Jesus from the very beginning of his earthly existence; she conceived him in her womb, she fed him. She knows him more than we know him.

  2. If you want to get to Jesus (the New Adam), you need Mary (the New Eve). Adam was with Eve in the garden but the serpent spoke to Eve instead. Even the serpent knew that it needed Eve in order to get to Adam. My dear brothers and sisters, if you want to get to Jesus (the New Adam), speak to Mary (the New Eve). Per Mariam ad Jesum…through Mary to Jesus.

  3. Just as Adam and Eve cooperated in the garden so does Jesus cooperates with his mother. In the garden of Eden at the first sin, Adam listened to Eve, she called him to commit the first sin; and at Canaan, at the first miracle, Jesus listened to Mary, she called him to perform the first miracle (cf. Jn. 2). If Mary is with you, Jesus will never deny you.

Let our praying of the Holy Rosary deepen and strengthen our relationship with, and devotion to our Mary, knowing that we need her to get to our Lord. May she continue to intercede for us. Amen.

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