Philobiblon: Mary cancels out Eve

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mary cancels out Eve

I was interested to learn that, at least in (some) early modern theology, Mary was supposed, through giving birth to Christ, have cleansed the "sins" of Eve, which have been used throughout Christian history as a stick with which to beat all women.

Dorothy Leigh, from The Mother's Blessing, 1616:

"...what a blessing God hath sent us women, through that gracious Virgin, by whom it pleased God to take away the shame, which EVE our Grandmother had brought us to ... man can claime no part in it: the shame is taken from us, and from our posteritie for ever. The seede of the woman hath taken downe the Serpents head ... "

Thus also the Virgin birth disproved theories that babies were made only with male "seed", with women being only the incubators.

Funny how this seems to have found little space among male theologians (of this time and later), and that "Eve's sin" was still being used as an argument against pain control in childbirth in the 20th century.

Above quote and views from Suzanne Trill, "Religion and the construction of feminity," in Helen Wilcox, ed, Women and Literature in Britain, 1500-1700, Cambridge Uni Press, 1996, p. 59


Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I also posted this over on Blogcritics, where posts on early modern theology aren't exactly common, yet it has attracted a surprising amount of attention, and some interesting comments.

7/29/2005 12:51:00 pm  

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