Mary comforts Eve
This week we celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation of Christ. Speaking of Christ’s incarnation in the Virgin, the second-century Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons takes up St Paul’s image of Adam and Christ, the first and Last Man, and meditates on the roles of Eve and Mary the Theotokos:
Mary transmitted to Christ the entire human reality of Adam, so that he could become the new Adam, the Son of man, the summary of all men from the first… Because it was necessary that Adam should be recapitulated in Christ, so that what was mortal might be engulfed by immortality; it was necessary also for Eve to be recapitulated in Mary, so that a Virgin, by becoming the advocate of a virgin, might cancel a virgin’s disobedience by a Virgin’s obedience.”
— cf. Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching §32-33
In the same way that Eve was married to Adam and yet was still a virgin — for they were both naked in Paradise but were not ashamed (Gn 2: 25) because they had been created just recently and had no notion of procreation: they first had to grow, and only afterward to multiply (Gn 1:28) — in the same way then that Eve, by disobeying, became the cause of death for herself and for all of humankind, likewise Mary, having for husband a man who had been purposed for her in advance and yet was still a Virgin, became, by her obedience, the cause of the Cause of salvation (cf. Heb 5:9) for herself and for all of humankind.
This is why the Law gives the woman who is betrothed to a man, even though she is still a virgin, the name of ‘spouse’ of the man to whom she is betrothed (Dt 22:23-24), signifying the reversal from Mary to Eve.
For what has been tied cannot be untied, unless one retraces the path of the string inside the knots.”
— Against Heresies III,22,4