Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mary Foreshadowed in the Old Testament

As the early Church began to deal with questions of the canon, she ran into a bit of a problem with the Old Testament. Taken at face value, it was the Scriptures of the Jews (the ones who had been putting Christians to death) and the ones who practiced an entirely different sort of religion. But without the OT, the NT didn't make sense. Although the extremities of the Gnostics and Marcionites ultimately threw the OT books out of the canon or even worse - labeled the God of the OT the evil "demiurge" it became apparent to orthodox Christians that "the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New".

The Old Testament was found most appropriate for the Christian faith not by a strict codex of laws on how to practice your faith and not by a collection of stories that taught moral lessons (essentially functioning like Aesop's fables - which is how most Protestants seem to treat the OT) but rather, they saw the New Testament in the Old.

The OT foreshadowed the NT. Adam was but a foreshadow of Christ; Eve was but a foreshadow of Mary. The Passover Lamb was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice Christ would become on the behalf of all mankind. The Jews eating the sacrificed Lamb was a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. And of course, why would the OT foreshadow something less than itself? Therefore, all things foreshadowed were superior to their OT prefigurements. The new Adam was greater than the old Adam and the new Eve was greater than the old Eve.

But just how important was the foreshadowing of Mary in the Old Testament to the early Church? Listen to Jaroslav Pelikan on the subject (mind you, he was still a Protestant when he wrote this):

The authors of the volume cited earlier, Mary in the New Testament, could content themselves with the reminder that "In some Roman Catholic Mariology, there is a study of how Mary's role was foreshadowed in certain OT [Old Testament] passages, on the principle that, just as God prepared the way for His Son in the history of Israel, so too He prepared the way for the mother of His Son." As the history of the development of biblical interpretation in the early Church makes evident, moreover, it was not only, as this comment suggest, "some Roman Catholic Mariology" but the entire patristic tradition East and West, that carried on such study of the foreshadowing of Mary in the Old Testament.

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