Marian Traditions in Scripture

I’ve touched on the touchy subject of Mariology on this blog before, usually as an aside in the course of discussion something else.  But this time I’m tackling it head-on by commenting upon a YouTube video that I found a while ago.  This post will probably mostly just be a review of the contents of the video, and will be followed up with more detailed comments of my own in a separate post.

0:19 – The video starts out with a pair of important points:

  1. The Old Testament foreshadows the New Testament and the New fulfills the Old.
  2. 1st-century Christians (and Jews) knew the OT from memory, and could easily see the connections between the OT and what the Apostles were teaching.

This is, perhaps, the premise of the entire argument.  As far as I’m aware, all Christians affirm point 1, and point 2 is a fact of history.  (Of course, not literally everybody memorized the entire OT; such was the practice of the Pharisees and other great teachers of the day.  Gentile Christians, of course, had to be introduced to the OT from scratch, but at least all the “biblical preaching” of their day was from the OT with the Apostles’ memoirs used as an interpretive lens.  In short, point 2 is point 1 in practice.)

0:41 – Now the Scriptural exploration can begin.  The Gospel of John and the book of Genesis are put in parallel:

  • Both begin with a Creation Story, “In the beginning…” (Gen. 1:1 & John 1:1)  This is a distinctive start that every hearer would have caught immediately.
  • Both quickly address light and darkness (Gen. 1:5 & John 1:5)
  • Both quickly address the Holy Spirit over water (Gen. 1:2 & John 1:32-33)
  • Both have a 7-day account.  In Genesis, of course, it’s creation.  Here it is in John:
  1. John’s first mention of the Messiah
  2. “The next day…” (John 1:29)
  3. “The next day…” (John 1:35)
  4. “The next day…” (John 1:43)
  5. 6.  7. “On the third day a wedding took place…” (John 2:1)

On day 7 in Genesis 2:23, Adam says “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  In John’s seventh day, Jesus says “Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come.” (2:4)  By way of parallelism we see Jesus & Mary sharing the same flesh & blood, and both the old Adam and the New Adam calling someone “woman” – the old Eve and the new Eve.  Furthermore, we know that the old Eve prompted Adam to do his first evil act, and the new Eve here prompts the new Adam to do his first glorious act (or ‘sign,’ as John calls it).  The parallelism continues, Eve believes an evil angel (Satan the serpent), leading to sin and death, while Mary believes a good angel (Gabriel), leading to grace and hope through Christ.

3:00 – A new question is asked: Why is Mary referred to as our mother?

The beginning of the answer is offered by quoting John 19:26-27, wherein Jesus makes Mary John’s mother, and John Mary’s son.  But then it goes back to the OT/NT parallelism this time picking up a different one of John’s books.  The woman & her offspring are at war with Satan (Gen. 3:15 & Rev. 12:17).  The video comments that Eve is “the mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20) and at the tree of life (the cross) Mary becomes the mother of all those disciples living in Christ.  Jesus only addressed this to John because John was the only disciple there at the time.

4:00 – Now it’s pointed out that after the cross, John and Mary lived together for a while after; clearly if anyone got a chance to learn Mary’s perspective on the sequence of gospel events and pass it on, it was John.   A parallel checklist is then offered to summarize how Mary is the New Eve, just as Jesus is the New Adam (finishing at 5:22):

  • Both qualify as “bone of bone and flesh of flesh”
  • Both are called “woman” by their respective Adam
  • Both listened to an angel, prompts Adam to act, with results for all their future offspring
  • Eve was cursed for her sin, while Mary was blessed (Luke 1:42)
  • Both are mother of their race
  • Both are at war against Satan

5:30 – A new line of thought: the most revered non-God thing in the Old Testament is the Ark of the Covenant.  God demanded the Ark to be made to precise measurements with the finest materials and purest gold, and the most sacred relics of the Jewish religioon are placed inside of it.  Other than a hint of a potential hiding-away of the Ark by jeremiah in the books of the Maccabees, it’s never seen again after the destruction of Jerusalem.

6:02 – That is, not until John sees it in a vision!  (Rev. 11:19)  But when he goes to describe it, he talks about a woman!  Remember the opening premise here, in bold at the top of this post: The New Testament fulfills the Old, and connections between the two were especially apparent to the Apostles’ original audience.

  • Both Arks contained the Word of God (stone tablets & Jesus).
  • Both Arks contained bread (manna & the Bread of Life).
  • Both Arks contained a sign of the Priesthood (Aaron’s staff & Jesus our graet high priest).

7:08 – As Exodus 25:11-21 prescribe, the Ark of the Old Covenant was made fo the purest gold for God’s Word.  Mary, likewise, is a vessel specially prepared for the Word of God made flesh.  Reverencing the old Ark did not subtract from the worship of God, rather, irreverence for the Ark was considered and insult to God!  Thus, Mary can be seen to be worthy of veneration in the Church.  More parallels are offered to illustrate this (culminating at 8:8:11).

  • Both are overshadowed by God, resulting in His abiding presence (Ex. 2:34 & Luke 1:35).
  • Both are treated with reverence by others to the point of confessing their unworthiness to be in its presence (2 Sam. 6:9 & Luke 1:43).
  • Both are greeted with joyful dancing upon their arrival (2 Sam. 6:17 & Luke 1:44).
  • Both remained for 3 months in an irregular location (2 Sam. 6:11 & Luke 1:56).

The video now comments that just as God himself provided the lamb for the sacrifice, God himself also prepared the Ark.  This preparation was real enough such that even before the power of God overshadowed Mary, Gabriel could still address her “Hail, grace-filled one!”  It is argued that this is why Mary is believed to have been born without sin.  I’m not sure I quite buy that, but I’ll have to come back to that later.

8:40 – 1 Chronicles 15 & 16 describe the great celebration & reverence paid to the Ark.  Since we know that Jesus came to fulfill the Old Covenant, rather than abolish it, it makes sense for us to celebrate & venerate the New Ark in our New Covenant.

9:29 – Now the video is beginning to wrap up, and put all its ducks in a row.

  • The Old Ark was pure & undefiled, sinful humans weren’t allowed to touch it.
  • The New Ark was pure & undefiled, she too was preserved from the stain of sinful humanity.
  • Adam & Eve were created without original sin, and thus had the possibility of never dying.
  • The New Adam and New Eve also were born without original sin.  Jesus, we know, ascended into heaven…

9:38 – Enoch and Elijah were assumed in heaven… would Jesus do any less for his own mother?  As Psalm 132:8 puts it, “Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: thou and the Ark, which thou hast sanctified.”  (That is more of an illustration than a proof.)

9:47 – In Revelation 12, Mary is depicted as a Queen: she’s wearing a crown and gives birth to a king.  Luke 1:32 is one of many verses that identify Jesus as the promised King on David’s throne.  The Queen, in this Jewish tradition, is not the King’s wife, but the King’s mother (Psalm 45:9, 1 Kings 2:17-20, 2 Chronicles 15:16, 22;10, Jeremiah 29:2).  The Queen, is in a position closest to the King’s ear, allowing her to be a particularly able advocate for the people.  On this point, too, I’ll have some follow-up comments next time.

About Fr. Brench

I'm an Anglican Priest and a sci-fi geek. Therefore, I write about liturgy & spiritual formation, theology & biblical studies, and Doctor Who. But I keep those blogs separate so I don't confuse too many people!
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1 Response to Marian Traditions in Scripture

  1. Pingback: Just how Blessed was Mary? | Leorningcnihtes boc

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