Recently, Dr. Eric Svendsen was on Iron Sharpens Iron discussing “Mary: Her Role & Status in the New Testament & Roman Catholicism.” Part one of Dr. Svendsen’s interview can be heard here, part two here. Dr. Svendsen has written one of the most thorough books responding to Roman Catholic Mariology, Who Is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism (New York: Calvary Press, 2001). For those of you interacting with Roman Catholic argumentation, this book and these two interviews contain very helpful insights in understanding crucial issues in Mariology.
During the second interview, I took a minute to call in with a question for Eric based on a book I recently purchased: Where Is That in the Bible? (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 2001) by Patrick Madrid. The book is designed to “deflate standard objections to Catholicism,” and to “use Scripture to bring people into (or back into) the Church.” Madrid includes a section on Mary. In attempt to prove the Biblical basis for the Immaculate Conception, Madrid states,
“Mary was ‘full of grace’- a term that signifies and implies (though it does not explicitly prove) her Immaculate Conception and freedom from sin. Throughout the Old Testament, there are many people, places, and things that are “types’ of prefigurements of greater and more prefect [sp.] things that would come in the New Testament… The New Testament fulfillment of any Old Testament type is always more perfect and more glorious than the type itself. There are no exceptions to this scriptural rule. As we will see, Mary’s sinlessness, her Immaculate Conception, was the perfect fulfillment of several imperfect Old Testament types…The first of these types was the immaculately created cosmos (cf. Genesis 1:2). It was from this pristine organic material, as yet unblemished by sin or corruption, that God formed the body of the first Adam (cf. Genesis 2:7). Jesus Christ is the ‘second Adam” (cf. Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22). Christ, the second Adam was formed from the body of this Immaculate mother Mary” (p. 67-68).
I read this statement from Madrid to Dr. Svendsen and asked him to comment on Mary typology. His answer can be heard here:
In regard to Madrid’s argument that the “created cosmos” represent Mary’s Immaculate Conception, we do see in the Bible that indeed, Christ is a type for Adam. Paul says so explicitly in Romans 5:14, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” On the other hand, search the Scriptures high and low, you will not find Paul, or any of the Biblical writers explaining how Mary is a type for the “created cosmos.”
I’ve been going through a number of my Roman Catholic books specific to the Immaculate Conception and have yet to find any official presentation of this particular Marian parallel. I’m tempted to say it’s yet another example of private Roman Catholic interpretation, or perhaps it’s a variation of a statement from Irenaeus:
10. For as by one man?s disobedience sin entered, and death obtained [a place] through sin; so also by the obedience of one man, righteousness having been introduced, shall cause life to fructify in those persons who in times past were dead. And as the protoplast himself Adam, had his substance from untilled and as yet virgin soil (?for God had not yet sent rain, and man had not tilled the ground?), and was formed by the hand of God, that is, by the Word of God, for ?all things were made by Him,? and the Lord took dust from the earth and formed man; so did He who is the Word, recapitulating Adam in Himself, rightly receive a birth, enabling Him to gather up Adam [into Himself], from Mary, who was as yet a virgin. If, then, the first Adam had a man for his father, and was born of human seed, it were reasonable to say that the second Adam was begotten of Joseph. But if the former was taken from the dust, and God was his Maker, it was incumbent that the latter also, making a recapitulation in Himself, should be formed as man by God, to have an analogy with the former as respects His origin. Why, then, did not God again take dust, but wrought so that the formation should be made of Mary? It was that there might not be another formation called into being, nor any other which should [require to] be saved, but that the very same formation should be summed up [in Christ as had existed in Adam], the analogy having been preserved [Against Heresies 3.21.10].
The parallel implied by Irenaeus has to do with the virgin birth, not the Immaculate Conception. This doesn’t stop Roman Catholic apologists from using Irenaeus as supporting this doctrine. Irenaeus is said to make statements proving his implicit faith in the Immaculate Conception with his use of the Eve and Mary parallel (Mary as the Second or New Eve).
Madrid appears to have been making this parallel between Mary and creation for quite a while. Back in December 1991, Madrid wrote an article for This Rock Magazine entitled “Ark of the New Covenant.” Madrid stated,
“Mary’s Immaculate Conception is foreshadowed in Genesis 1, where God creates the universe in an immaculate state, free from any blemish or stain of sin or imperfection. This is borne out by the repeated mention in Genesis 1 of God beholding his creations and saying they were “very good.” Out of pristine matter the Lord created Adam, the first immaculately created human being, forming him from the “womb” of the Earth. The immaculate elements from which the first Adam received his substance foreshadowed the immaculate mother from whom the second Adam (Romans 5:14) took his human substance.”
Interestingly, Dr. White actually addressed this very statement in The Roman Catholic Controversy:
“This is a rather unusual interpretation. Mary foreshadowed in Creation? There is no emphasis in the original Hebrew text on the ‘immaculate’ elements of the earth, or the idea that Adam was formed in the ‘womb’ of the immaculate earth. Don’t misunderstand, I have no problem with the types that are directly presented to us in Scripture- Paul uses such an allegory in Galatians 4:2-31. But I also realize that there is no end to the types that one can find in Scripture, nor any controls on how far you can take such an interpretive method” (p. 204).
This type of exegetical “find what one needs” within Roman Catholic interpretation is actually allowed within their system. The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “all persons, events, or objects of the Old Testament are sometimes considered as types, provided they resemble persons, events, or objects in the New Testament, whether the Holy Ghost has intended such a relationship or not.” That is, make the connection that is needed. Whether or not the author of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, actually intended it is not a factor. This is exactly what happens with Mary typology. Catholics go through the Old Testament finding people, places, and things that are “types’ to grant Biblical status to their extra-Biblical Marian beliefs.
Madrid states in the beginning of his book that Catholics who use it will be able to show non-Catholics things in the Bible that haven’t been pointed out to them before (p.12), and that his method of using scripture is “a more thoughtful stance” in which “Catholics draw implications from the biblical text” (p.11). He says, “I as a Catholic look not just to Scripture alone…but also to the Church and its living Tradition of interpreting Scripture” (p. 10). I would be very interested to find out where the Church and living Tradition has infallibly declared creation as a type for Mary. In the guide on how to use his book, he explains how one can know the Catholic Church’s understanding of the gospel is accurate by comparing it with what the Church has taught since the days of the Apostles. It would be very helpful for Mr. Madrid to actually trace the parallel between Mary and creation back to the Apostles. If such cannot be done, the claims made to historical continuity with the Church collective ring hollow. When Madrid refers his readers to Tradition as the “Church’s lived understanding of the depositum fidei, which is nothing less than the faith once delivered to the saints” (p.16), he needs to also point out the vast amount of private interpretation put forward by Roman apologists in interpreting the Bible, especially in his own book.