A New Eve

St. Justin Martyr (d. 165) is the first author to contrast Eve with Mary, somewhat as Paul contrasted the disobedient Adam with the obedient Second Adam, Who is Jesus Christ. In Chapter One Hundred of his Dialogue With Trypho, St. Justin writes:

“He [the Son of God] became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, ‘Be it unto me according to thy word.’”

The popular liturgical hymn Ave Maris Stella (Hail Star of the Ocean), attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), has a play on the Latin words Eva and Ave. Eva is a Latin variant of the name Eve, and Ave is Latin for Hail, which was the greeting the angel Gabriel gave to Mary when he announced that she would give birth to Jesus Christ. It is fitting that Eva spelled in reverse is Ave, for the effect of Mary’s obedience reversed the effects of Eve’s disobedience. The second stanza of Ave Maris Stella reads:

Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
funda nos in pace,
mutans Hevae nomen.

Taking that Ave
From the mouth of Gabriel,
Establishing us in peace,
Changing the name of Eve.

Quotation of the Dialogue With Trypho from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1867).

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