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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. MYTHICAL EXPLANATION.—The Mosaic history of our first parents’ fall cannot be regarded as a mere myth, concerning the condition of primitive man, similar to the myths existing in other nations. This view, whether it represents the Mosaic account as a mere philosophic theory concerning the origin of evil (Rosenmüller), or as the figurative expression of sensual allurement (Reuss, etc.), is in either case equally untenable. Not as if we denied the similarity between the heathen myths and the Hebrew account concerning the primeval condition of mankind; but we maintain that this very similarity is more satisfactorily explained if the historic character of Moses’ story be admitted than if it be denied. For if all is mere myth, why have all the nations of antiquity developed mythologies which are identical rather than similar? And if it be said that the critical analysis of the Pentateuch suggests the mythical character of the Mosaic story, we point to the fact that this is incompatible with the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch.

2. SYMBOLICAL EXPLANATION.—Still, this latter argument does not weaken the theory proposed by Philo, though it destroys Reuss’ position on the present question. Philo (cf. De mundi opificio, p. 26, c., ed. Francofordiæ, M.DC. XXIX.) believes that the serpent mentioned in the third chapter of Genesis is a symbol of sensual pleasure. The state of paradise applies only to the time when Adam was alone on earth; having given way to their desire of offspring, Adam and Eve had naturally to bear all the consequences: Eve had to suffer the pangs of childbirth, Adam was subjected to the annoying cares of his household. Both were thus condemned to a severe punishment for yielding to their wanton desire. The serpent is said to be doomed to eat the dust of the earth, because man’s pleasure is of a low kind, connected with the world of sense and matter. According to this view, there are only five historical facts contained in the first chapters of Genesis: 1. The existence of God; 2. God’s unity; 3. God’s creation of the world; 4. the unity of this world; 5. God’s ruling providence over this world. Everything besides these five points is myth and symbol, serving merely as the outward garb of the hidden truth.

3. ALLEGORICAL EXPLANATION.—The view of Cajetan regarding the third chapter of Genesis bears some resemblance to the theory of Philo, though it differs widely enough from its Jewish prototype to avoid all theological censure. What is called the serpent in Genesis is, according to Card. Cajetan, nothing but the devil tempting Eve inwardly; what is described as a dialogue between the serpent and Eve is a mere series of suggestions which the devil made in Eve’s heart. The temptation therefore and the fall really occurred, but the manner in which they are told is a mere allegory. A number of Protestant authors, who reject Reuss’ theory according to which Gen. 3 is a mythical representation of the origin of sin in general, still adhere to a modified form of Cajetan’s view. Gen. 3 is a myth indeed, or an allegory, which does not concern the origin of sin in general, but our first parents’ sin in particular. Some of these writers admit the presence and the agency of the devil in Eve’s temptations, others speak only of the allurement of sensual pleasure. Abarbanel’s explanation, which admits the presence of a real serpent, but denies the agency of the devil, whose conversation is supplied by the thoughts arising in Eve’s mind when she saw the serpent eating of the forbidden fruit, has found so little favor that it is practically extinct. It will appear in the commentary that the mythical and allegorical explanations of the passage are incompatible with the context and the universal national traditions concerning the history of our first parents.

4. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PASSAGE.—This is proved by way of corollary at the end of this chapter.

GEN. 3:1–19

Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: “Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?” And the woman answered him, saying: “Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.” And the serpent said to the woman: “No, you shall not die the death. For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Andthe woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold; and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband, who did eat.

And the eyes of them both were opened; and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig-leaves and made themselves aprons.

And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. And the Lord1 God called Adam, and said to him: “Where art thou?” And he said: “I have heard thy voice in paradise, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” And he said to him: “And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?” And Adam said: “The woman whom thou gavest me to be my companion gave me of the tree and I did eat.” And the Lord said to the woman: “Why hast thou done this?” And she answered: “The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.”

And the Lord God said to the serpent:1 “Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle and beasts of the earth; upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put1 enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall1 crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”

To the1 woman also he said: “I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.”

And to1 Adam he said: “Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work, with labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust shalt thou return.”

1. CHRISTIAN TESTIMONY.—The Fathers of the Church unanimously speak of Eve as the type of the Blessed Virgin Mary—a type founded both on the striking similitude and dissimilitude of its antitype. Referring to the learned work of Passaglia (De imm. conceptione, t. ii. pp. 812 f.) for the fuller development of this doctrine, we must for the present content ourselves with the view of the Church expressed clearly in her liturgy, the common reading of her authentic Latin version of the Bible, and the Papal bull Ineffabilis Deus,” in which the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is taught ex cathedra. From all this we rightly infer that the Holy Ghost, when inspiring this prophecy, intended to point out typically the Blessed Mother Mary and her signal enmity against the devil. And since he even then clearly foreknew the whole extent of this enmity, we reasonably conclude that he also intended to foreshadow its plenitude, especially as it is manifested in her immaculate conception.

2. RABBINIC TESTIMONY.—But for the present we are rather in search of arguments for the Messianic interpretation of the Synagogue given to the so-called Protevangel. It is true that the Rabbinic writers have used the passage in a most curious context, which seems at first sight to exclude all Messianic interpretation. We need only refer to the commentary given of Gen. 2:4, as explained in Ber. R. 12 (ed. Warsh. p. 24 b). The Hebrew word for generations, “toledoth,” is always written in the Bible without the quiescent letter ו (vav)—a letter signifying the numerical value six. In Gen. 2:4 and Ruth 4:18, however, the quiescent letter occurs in “toledoth.” This fact is thus interpreted by the Rabbinic authority above referred to. After the fall, i.e., subsequent to Gen. 2:4, Adam lost vav, i.e., six things: his glorious sheen (Job 14:20); life (Gen. 3:19); his stature either by 100, or by 200, or by 300, or even by 900 cubits (Gen. 3:8); the fruit of the ground; the fruits of the trees (Gen. 3:17); and the heavenly lights. In Gen. 2:4 the ו (vav) is still in the “toledoth,” because Adam still possesses the six gifts, and the letter reappears in Ruth 4:18, because these six things are to be restored to man by the “son of Pharez,” or the Messias. Though according to the literal rendering of Ps. 48 (49):12 (in Hebrew 13) man did not remain unfallen one single night, yet for the sake of the Sabbath the heavenly lights were not extinguished till after the close of the Sabbath. It is added that when Adam saw the darkness he was very much afraid, saying: “Perhaps he of whom it is written, ‘he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,’ cometh to molest and attack me,” and he said: “The darkness shall surely cover me.” In reference to the six things, compare: Judg. 5:31 b; Is. 60:2; Lev. 26:13; Zach. 8:12; Is. 30:26 (cf. Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,” 5th ed., New York, ii. p. 711).

3. But whatever may have given rise to such a context, Rabbinic literature certainly acknowledges the Messianic bearing of Gen. 3:15. “The voice of the Lord God walking in paradise” is identified with the Shechinah and the Middle Column. The Targ. Jonathan has it: “And they heard the voice of the Word of the Lord which walked about in the garden.” The Jerusalem Targ. has in the following verse: “And the Word of the Lord called Adam.” Tikkune Zohar (c. 98 princ.) writes: “They heard the voice of the Lord, which was the Middle Column, and the Shechinah was with it. The voice walking in the garden was the Middle Column.” And again: “The voice in the garden was the Shechinah.” And in another place (Bammidbar Rabba, sect. 13, fol. 218, i.) it is written: “Was not the principal occupation of the Shechinah this, that it dwelled on earth? as it is written: And they heard the voice of the Lord walking in the garden.” Philo has the following remarks (De somniis, p. 461): “The Holy Word has commanded some what to do, as their king; others it has usefully instructed as a teacher informs his disciples; others, again, it has advised in the best manner as their counsellor, since they could not advise themselves. Besides, it has committed to others all kinds of secrets, which an uninitiated person must not hear. At times, too, it asks persons: Where art thou? as it asked Adam.” Moreover, the Messias is represented by the Rabbinic writers as having repeatedly visited our parents in paradise (Bereshith Rabba, sect. 11, fol. 11, 3; sect. 12, fol. 12, 4; Zohar chadash, fol. 82, 4).

The thirteenth verse of the context is also explained so as to allude to the Messias. For Tikkune Zohar (c.98, princ.) paraphrases the words, “Why hast thou done this?” so as to refer the “this” to the Messias. In this manner the sin committed against “this” has been committed against the Shechinah.

But it is especially when treating of the fifteenth verse that the Rabbinic writers become clear and definite beyond all possible misunderstanding. The Jerusalem Targum thus paraphrases the passage: “And it shall come to pass, when the children of the woman shall labor in the law, and perform the commandments, that they shall bruise and smite thee on the head, and shall kill thee; but when the children of the woman shall forsake the precepts of the law, and shall not perform the commandments, thou shalt bruise and smite them on their heel and hurt them; but there shall be remedy for the children of the woman, but for thee, O serpent, there shall be no remedy; for hereafter they shall to each other perform a healing in the heel, in the latter end of the days, in the days of King Messias.”

The Targum of Jonathan speaks in the same strain, and then concludes: “Nevertheless there shall be a remedy for them, but to thee there shall not be a remedy; for they shall hereafter perform a healing in the heel in the days of King Messias.”

The Talmud Sota (fol. 49, col. 2) speaks of the heels of the Messias, and thus describes the time when they will be bruised: “Rabbi Pinchas, the son of Yair, said: ‘Since the destruction of the Temple, the Sages and the Nobles are ashamed and cover their heads. The wonder-workers are disdained, and those who rely upon their arm and tongue have become great. There is none who teaches Israel, none who prays for the people, none who inquires [of the Lord]. Upon whom, then, are we to trust? Upon our Father who is in heaven. Rabbi Eliezer the Great said: ‘Since the destruction of the Temple, the Sages have commenced to be like school-masters, and the school-masters like precentors, and the precentors like the laymen, and these too grow worse, and there is none who asks or inquires. Upon whom, then, are we to trust? Upon our Father who is in heaven. In the footprints of the Messias impudence will increase, and there will be scarcity. The vine will produce its fruit, but wine will be dear. The government will turn itself to heresy, and there will be no reproof. And the house of assembly will be for fornication. Galilee will be destroyed, and Gablan laid waste, and men of Gebul will go from city to city and find no favor. And the wisdom of the scribes will stink, and those who fear sin will be despised, and truth will fail. Boys will confuse the faces of old men. Old men will rise up before the young. The son will treat the father shamefully, and the daughter will rise up against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. The face of that generation will be as the face of a dog; the son will have no shame before his father. Upon whom, then, are we to trust? Upon our Father who is in heaven’ ” (l. c., col. a.b.).

The fifteenth verse receives a Messianic interpretation also in Zohar Gen. (fol. 76, col. 301; fol. 77, col. 305), where the phrase “he shall crush thy head” is once applied to the Messias, and again to the ever-blessed God. Schöttgen conjectures that the Talmudic designation of “heels of the Messias” (Sot. 49 b., line 2 from top) in reference to the near advent of the Messias in the description of the troubles of those days (cf. St. Matt. 10:35, 36) may have been chosen partly with a view to this passage.

Then again, the words of Eve at the birth of Seth (Gen. 4:25) seem to have reference to our prophecy. For “another seed” is explained as seed that comes from another place, and referred to the Messias in Ber. R. 23 (ed. Warsh. p. 45 b., lines 8 and 7 from the bottom). The same explanation occurs twice in the Midrash on Ruth 4:19 (in the genealogy of David, ed. Warsh. p. 46 b.), the second time in connection with Ps. 39 (40):8, “in the volume of the book it is written of me,” Ruth belonging to the class of “volumes,” Megilloth, which consisted of Cant., Ruth, Lament., Eccles., Esther.

Besides all these references, the Rabbinic passages which represent the Messias as a true man, and which describe his birth and childhood, testify to his being the son of a woman.

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