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Mary was supposed, through giving birth to Christ, have cleansed the "sins" of Eve ...

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 information 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

About Natalie Bennett

Natalie blogs at Philobiblon, on books, history and all things feminist. In her public life she's the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.

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