The doctrine of Immaculate Conception in the Catholic faith states that God preserved Mary from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception. The Blessed Virgin was born without a sin according to God’s will. God the Father handed this gift to her, so that she may fulfill her role as the “Mother of the Lord” in the plan of salvation (Luke 1:43). Like many other foundational doctrines of the Christian faith, such as Trinity, there is no one verse in the Bible that states the doctrine of Immaculate Conception. Instead, an in-depth analysis of certain Biblical passages is required for a reader to discern this truth from the Sacred Scriptures.
It is important that we understand typology in the Bible before we say anything about Mary. Typology is when a person, an object or an action in the Old Testament refers to a person, an object, or an action in the New Testament. The Bible is full of those. Lord Jesus says, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mathew 12:40). In this passage, Our Lord is teaching us how to read the Scriptures, by identifying types in the OT with figures in the NT. In this case, Jonah is a type of Jesus, and the three days inside the whale correspond to the three days Our Lord’s body remained inside the grave. Adam in the OT is another type of Jesus. St. Paul says, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come [Jesus].” So, Jesus is the New Adam, the Adam of the New Testament.
The fact that a New Adam exists means that God is recreating the human race after its miserable fall. We turn to St. John’s Gospel to see the evidence for this. St. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Note the similarity between this verse and Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1 repeatedly uses the words, “there was night and there was morn, and the --- day” to denote the passage of time (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). In his creation account, St. John does something very similar. He uses the words, “the next day” successively to denote the passage of time (John 1:29, 35, 43). In Genesis, the seventh day was a day of rest, a feast day. Likewise, in John’s gospel, there is a feast, a wedding taking place in Cana (John says this took place “on the third day,” after the first four days that had passed according to John 1:29, 35, 43). All this is to say that in John’s gospel, there is another creation story where God is recreating the universe. However, there is a contrast between the two creation stories. In the first creation account, everything is physical, including human beings’ birth, “Eve became the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20). In the second creation story, the birth is not a physical one, but a spiritual one: “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born again” of “SPIRIT and water” (John 3:3, 5). In Genesis, mankind’s habitat is earth, a physical environment. In John’s gospel, the kingdom of God is a spiritual realm: “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). In Genesis, the first man to be created was Adam. In John’s Gospel, the first man to be “begotten” is Jesus (John 3:16). If there is a first Adam and a first Eve in Genesis; and we have our New Adam in the NT, then where is the second Eve, the New Eve who will, along with our New Adam, Lord Jesus, usher in the new creation that is taking place in the NT?
The New Eve appears at the wedding of Cana on the seventh day in the same way the First Eve appeared on the seventh day in Genesis 2. Note that the Blessed Virgin appears next to Jesus in wedding at Cana in a similar manner as Eve appeared next to Adam in the Garden of Eden. There are some differences. Eve eats from the forbidden fruit and thereby dooming mankind through her disobedience. Mary, on the other hand, in a complete act of obedience, surrenders her will to God so that mankind can be saved: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Eve encourages Adam to eat of the fruit and bring death into the world; “Jesus’ mother” encourages him to perform his “first miracle,” thereby beginning his life-giving mission of salvation (John 2:3, 11). Eve encourages God’s servant, Adam to disobey God; Mary encourages “the servants” to obey God and “do as he says” (John 2:5). Eve was standing with Adam next to the Tree of Knowledge; Mary “stood” next to Jesus under the wood of the cross, which is also called a “tree” (John 19:25; Acts 5:30). Eve cooperated with Adam to bring “death into the world” (Romans 5:12); Mary cooperated with the Lord to “give life” (John 10:10). Eve was the physical mother of all humanity, “the mother of all living”; Mary is the spiritual mother of all “her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (Revelation 12:17). Eve was called a “woman” prior to her disobedience (Genesis 2:23); Jesus calls Mary “woman” throughout the gospel of John, beginning with Christ’s mission until its end when he was hung on the cross (John 2:4; 19:26). We must pause here for a second.
This point particularly has a great deal of significance for a proper understanding of the Scriptures. When Our Lord calls his mother “Woman,” his intention was not to disrespect or rebuke her; otherwise, he would be guilty of breaking the fourth commandment, “Thou Shall Honour your Father and Mother” (Exodus 20:12). Our Lord’s intention was to reveal to mankind that she is the New Woman, the New Eve, the “woman” who was also prophesied about in Genesis 3:15 when God said to the Serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the WOMAN, between your seed and her seed; He will crush your head and you will bruise his heal.” Also note that Eve’s name does not change from “woman” to “Eve” until she committed her first sinful act of disobedience (Genesis 3:20). The Blessed Virgin on the other hand, manages to retain the title of “Woman” from the beginning of the gospel all the way to its end, signifying that she did not commit any act of disobedience, not even once. Prior to her fall, while she was called “woman,” God created Eve without a sin; by keeping the title of Woman throughout the gospel, God is telling humanity that the New Eve is also created without a blemish or stain of sin. The first woman of the “old” creation in the OT was created without original sin; likewise, the first woman of the “new creation” in the NT, Mary, is also without original sin (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The imagery of a woman alongside a man, both working together to accomplish a single mission is a recurring theme that runs throughout the Bible. We will look further into this when I discuss Mariology in other posts. For the time being, it is sufficient to demonstrate the similarities between Eve in the OT before falling into sin and Mary in the NT. Any serious Biblical student must acknowledge these truths that are unequivocally revealed by the Holy Spirit in the Sacred Scriptures. This completes the first part of the twofold scriptural proof of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. In my next post, I will show another typology in the Bible where the Ark of the Covenant is a clear foreshadowing of the Blessed Virgin. May Our Holy Mother, the New Eve, intercede on our behalf in front of the King to help us feel her motherly love and protection and bring us closer to Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ.