Oct 252012
This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series The Virgin Mary Revealed Through Scripture by Dr. Scott Hahn

In Part 2 of this discussion Dr. Hahn had introduced the concept of the new Eve in a very specific manner, he said: if Jesus is the new Adam, then Mary is the new Eve.  As I stated, this couldn’t possibly be true for two very important reasons.  For the first, Adam and Eve were husband and wife while Jesus was Mary’s earthly son.  If Dr. Hahn’s position were true it would have Jesus being married to His earthly mother; an idea, I’m sure, most, if not all, Catholic theologians would greatly discourage.  The second reason is that Eve came from Adam’s side, not the other way around.  Since Jesus was actually birthed by Mary and Mary did not come from Jesus’ side, the pattern simply cannot hold together and so, the notion that Mary is the new Eve is simply incoherent.

So where does that leave the concept of the new Eve and does Mary have a typified role to play?  Certainly, the idea of the new Eve is not foreign to Scripture and Mary does indeed have a substantial role to play as a fulfillment of Old Testament type.  What’s more, the patterns hold together in incredible detail, further demonstrating the overarching theme and supernatural design of Scripture.  But before all of that can be put together, we need to identify some key players.  Fortunately, Dr. Hahn’s presentation gets into all of it and provides a great opportunity for an exciting study in typology.

John’s Creation Motif

After quoting Justin Martyr and Irenaeus in an attempt to demonstrate that the early church fathers had the concept of Mary as the new Eve in mind, Dr. Hahn takes us to Scripture, particularly John chapters 1 and 2.  What then follows is a presentation of the creation motif in John’s Gospel.

As an overview, what Dr Hahn presents is that while John 1:1-18 has numerous parallels to the Creation narrative of Genesis, it doesn’t stop at John 1:18 but rather, that the term ‘The next day…’ in John 1:29, 35, 43 is representative of successive day’s and thereby echo the 2nd, 3rd and 4th day of Genesis 1:8, 13, 19.  He then suggests that where John 2:1 reads ‘On the third day…’ we would use that to add three days to the 4th day of John 1:43 which then brings us to day 7 of Creation in Genesis 2:1-3.  That means the wedding at Cana is paralleling the 7th day of Creation.

Because this particular discussion goes on for about 7 minutes, instead of quoting everything Dr. Hahn says to explain how the first chapters of John parallel the creation account in the first chapters of Genesis, I’ll try to pick up on the key points and respond accordingly.  On track 5 at the 4:17 mark Dr. Hahn states:

Let’s take a part of the Bible.  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  What is that?  The first verse taken from the Gospel of John.  Ring any bells?  Of course!  You not only recognize that from the Gospel of John but you also hear how it echoes Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  What a coincidence, right?  Not even close!  What a deliberate echo!

Of course I agree with this entirely.  There is nothing in Scripture that is a coincidence.  It is all there by deliberate design.  There are so many parallels to the Creation narrative in the first verses of John that scholars have to argue about which ones are or aren’t really there.  Dr. Hahn continues on track 6 at the 0:28 mark:

But I wonder did John leave it behind at that point after the opening 4 verses of his Gospel?  No.  If you keep reading in John chapters 1 and 2 you’ll discover that John kept reading from Genesis 1 and 2.  He didn’t leave Genesis 1 behind after the first 4 verses.  What do you have in John 1 verses 29, 35 and 43?  The next day, the next day, the next day.  What does that remind us of in Genesis 1?  Day 2, day 3, day 4!  And then where do we see the 4th occurrence of the next day?  We don’t.  Oh darn!  Just when I thought I was on a roll.  But what you do find is not the 4th occurrence of the phrase the next day, instead you find this very significant phrase, in John 2:1 … we read On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there.  So what does John mean when he says On the third day there was a marriage at Cana?  So the next day the first time would be day 2.  The next day the second time would be day 3.  The next day the third time would be day 4.  On the third day would bring us suddenly to the 7th day.

I want to note that up to this point I largely agree with what Dr. Hahn is presenting.  What we disagree on is where the phrase on the third day takes us which I’ll explain as we continue.  Dr. Hahn goes on:

And what happened in Genesis 1 and 2?  On day six God made man – male and then female.  And in Genesis 2 we discover he [Adam] wakes up the morning of the seventh day and what does he spy?  Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh and he says ‘Woman!’  And so there, on the seventh day is the sign of a marriage covenant between the first Adam and the first Eve.

This is where things start to get a little confusing.  There isn’t any indication that Adam woke up on the 7th day and saw Eve for the first time.  While the text doesn’t really specify what day Adam woke up to find Eve, I think that as far as Scripture is concerned, in terms of how we understand the creation of the first human beings, these things happened within the confines of the 6th day.  I think this reasoning holds better in light of how Scripture seems to reveal redemptive history.  Dr. Hahn continues:

So what did the early church fathers discover in John chapters 1 and 2? [re-establishes parallels] … leading us up to day 7 and there is this beautiful marriage, a wedding at Cana in Galilee.  What is the first thing that Jesus says to His mother?  ‘Woman, what have you to do with me?’  That is a euphemism, an idiomatic expression, in the Greek and Hebrew implying no disrespect whatsoever, in fact, it implies mutuality.  So here on day 7, the new Adam coming to redeem the old Creation that the first Adam had plunged into ruin.  And along with the new Adam comes a new Eve.  And along with the new Adam and the new Eve comes a mystical marriage a mystical covenant, the new covenant, and on that occasion He turns water into wine.  This was the first sign to reveal His glory.

I’m not sure which of the early church fathers wrote of this.  I read through several of Augustine’s homilies on John 2 and he seems rather unaware of the thinking that Mary is the new Eve.  In fact, Augustine held to the same view that I do in terms of the fulfillment of the new Eve as will be shown later in Part 5 of this series.  What Augustine is concerned about regarding the wedding at Cana is its symbolism and how it reflects redemptive history with Jesus in view.1

I propose a slight variation to what Dr. Hahn has presented in terms of the Creation narrative in the opening chapters of John, specifically around where we land in light of John 2:1.  Further there are greater allusions to Exodus 19 through chapters 1 and 2 of John that I think help to establish that what John has in mind is the new Creation that we have in Christ which John is going to present throughout the rest of his Gospel.

In Exodus 19 Israel arrives at Mount Sinai and camps at the foot of the mountain, while Moses goes up to meet with God.  In this process, Israel was told to consecrate themselves, to wash their garments and to make themselves ready for the third day.  The third day brought them to the 6th of Sivan, Shavuot, when God gave Israel the Torah.  The Talmud notes that Shavuot was a wedding ceremony between Yahweh, the groom, and Israel, the bride, the Torah being the marriage contract.  Shavuot marks the culmination of the redemption of Israel from the slavery of Egypt.  This is all very important because Shavuot, also called the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost, was the day that the church was birthed in Acts 2.

The Mekhilta on Exodus notes that leading up to Shavuot were 4 remote days of preparation and that the third day from the fourth would bring them to the 6th of Sivan, or Shavuot.  Since there would be 6 days leading up to Shavuot which pictures the wedding ceremony between Yahweh and Israel, it is easy to see the same in John’s Gospel, where we end up in the echo of the 6th day of Creation, a wedding at Cana.  It is reasonable to see the phrase in John 2:1, On the third day, as two days later.  As the UBS Handbook on the Gospel of John notes:

In Greek the phrase “on the third day” would normally be taken to mean “the day after tomorrow,” since it was generally the practice to count both the first and the last day in any sequence. Other solutions are possible, but it seems best to understand that the wedding occurred two days after the call of Philip and Nathanael, the last day mentioned in the narrative up to this point (1.43).2

This does not mean we would abandon the wording in John 2:1.  It is there for good reason, specifically pointing to the resurrection and The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  But it is important to note that it is somewhat idiomatic rather than thinking of it as a precise three days later.

What’s interesting is how the dialogue around the wedding at Cana closes, specifically, in John 2:11, it reads:

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.3

Jesus revealed His glory on the third day to His disciples and mirrors the revelation of the glory of Yahweh to Israel on the third day in Exodus 19:16.4  Leading up to this point, in Exodus 19:10-11, Israel was told to prepare for the third day by consecrating themselves and washing their garments.  Meanwhile in John 1 we see the consecration of baptism and the calling of the disciples until, finally, in John 2:6, at the wedding in Cana there are six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, and that water is about to be turned into wine.5

The following table should help to illustrate the parallelism that has been presented here from the first few chapters of John.  While this is far from exhaustive it should also serve to wet the appetite for further study into the Johannine text.  There is a reason why the Gospel of John is often considered easily understood by a child, yet beyond the ability of the greatest minds in human history to fathom.6

The Woman In John’s Gospel

It is at this point our attention is brought to the woman.  As Dr. Hahn had just pointed out, in John 2:4 Jesus addressed His mother as ‘Woman’ and he uses that to look back to what Adam says when he first sees his wife.  What I find most interesting about Dr. Hahn’s analogies is that right here, In John 2:1-12 he presents the parallels of the wedding at Cana and the marriage of Adam and Eve with Christ as the new Adam, coming to redeem the old Creation in a mystical marriage, but still insists that Mary is the new Eve.  It’s perplexing because most Christians know that Christ has a bride and it isn’t Mary.  But there is another area where Jesus addresses Mary as ‘Woman’ and that’s at the foot of the cross.  On track 6 at the 3:41 mark, Dr. Hahn takes us to John 19:26-27:

John notices the first time Jesus performed a sign, He referred to His mother as ‘Woman’.  So the first sign is turning water into wine, what is the last sign that Jesus will offer in His public ministry?  His own death and resurrection.  How He will die and on the third day, He will be raised and He will become the new temple.  The first sign that He performs, Mary is there as a new Eve.  The last sign He performs is His own death and resurrection and guess who’s there again… Mary.  Turn with me to [John 19:26-27] … what does Jesus say when He looks down and sees Mary?  ‘Woman!’  Once again, as with the first sign, so with the last.  ‘Woman, behold your son!’ in chapter 19 of John.  And then He turned to the Beloved disciple and said ‘Behold your mother!’ … From that hour the beloved disciple took her to his own home. Why? Jesus wasn’t playing favorites. He didn’t name John, the beloved disciple, because John knows that he’s merely a symbol, a sign that points to all of us!  All of us are beloved disciples!  All of us are called to suffer with Jesus!  All of us are called to the foot of the cross!  All of us are called to stand beside Mary and to take her into our homes from the very hour that Christ offers himself!

Of course the natural question is why, in the two places that Mary makes an appearance in John’s Gospel, Jesus addresses her as ‘Woman‘.  Dr. Hahn correctly notes that it is not a term meaning any disrespect.  There is a lot of symbolism going on and for good reason.  As Dr. Hahn states, in this Gospel, John refers to himself as the beloved disciple, pointing out that in doing so, John becomes a symbol, a picture, or perhaps even better, a model for the believer.  If that is true for the title of the beloved disciple, then it is certainly true for the woman.  But Dr. Hahn is going to take this occasion to look back to King Solomon and his mother, Bathsheba, King David’s wife.  Ultimately, this is done to present Mary as the Queen Mother, the Queen of Heaven, which, as I will show, has a disastrous affect to the biblical narrative.


Perhaps most staggering in this series is how much I agree with Dr. Scott Hahn, but come to some very different conclusions; conclusions that ultimately polarize doctrine.  We agree that there is a new Adam and a new Eve but Dr. Hahn insists that the new Eve is Mary.  We largely agree on how the opening chapters of the Gospel of John echoes the Creation narrative in Genesis.  We agree that the titles of the beloved disciple and the woman are deliberate in design and that the beloved disciple is a model for the believer.  But Dr. Hahn sees the woman as a pointer back to Adam seeing Eve for the first time and uses that as a catalyst to present Mary as the Queen Mother and Queen of Heaven, concepts that I will introduce in the next post, Part 4.

These patterns presented by Dr. Hahn do not hold firm under biblical scrutiny as I’ve already shown with Mary as the new EveThe woman has now been introduced as a title for Mary which has great implications for why she is entrusted to the beloved disciple and what that means for the believer.  All of this will be put back together with clear biblical support in Part 5.

  1. See Tractate VIII and IX in Augustine’s Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel According to St. John.
  2. Newman, B. M., & Nida, E. A. (1993). A handbook on the Gospel of John. UBS Handbook Series (55). New York: United Bible Societies.
  3. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. Emphasis mine.
  4. The LXX for Exodus 19:16 on the third day is the same wording to the Greek opening of John 2:1 on the third day.
  5. Catholic theologians Francis J. Moloney and Daniel J. Harrington present an excellent analysis of the first days of Jesus mirroring the theophany at Sinai in their Sacra Pagina series commentary on the Gospel of John, pages 50-57.
  6. John MacArthur states this from simply the prologue alone in the MacArthur New Testament Commentary on the Gospel of John 1-11, page 13.


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