It was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the Virgin Mary set free through faith.

St. Irenaeus

In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word” [Lk 1:38]. But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when she was a virgin. And even as she, having a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin (for in paradise “they were both naked, and were not ashamed” [Gn 2:25], since they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward), having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race.

And on this account does the law term a woman betrothed to a man, the wife of him who had betrothed her, although she was as yet a virgin; thus indicating the reference back from Mary to Eve, because what is joined together could not otherwise be put asunder than by inversion of the process by which these bonds of union had arisen; so that the former ties be canceled by the latter, that the latter may set the former again at liberty. And it has, in fact, happened that the first compact looses from the second tie, but that the second tie takes the position of the first, which has been canceled. For this reason did the Lord declare that the first should in truth be last, and the last first [Mt 19:30; 20:16]. And the prophet, too, indicates the same, saying, “instead of fathers, children have been born unto you.” For the Lord, having been born “the first-begotten of the dead [Rv 1:5],” and receiving into his bosom the ancient fathers, has regenerated them into the life of God, he having been made the beginning of those who live, as Adam became the beginning of those who die [1 Cor 15:20–22].

Therefore Luke, commencing the genealogy with the Lord, carried it back to Adam, indicating that it was he who regenerated them into the gospel of life, and not they him. And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the Virgin Mary set free through faith. – Against Heresies, 3:22:4 (189 A.D.)


That the Lord then was manifestly coming to his own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation that is supported by himself, and was making a recapitulation of that disobedience that had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience that was [exhibited by himself when he hung] upon a tree, [the effects] also of that deception being done away with, by that virgin Eve, who was already espoused to a man, was unhappily misled—was happily announced, through means of the truth [spoken] by the angel to the Virgin Mary, who was [also espoused] to a man. For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed his word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain God, being obedient to his word. And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a Virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way the sin of the first created man receives amendment by the correction of the first-begotten. – Against Heresies, 5:19:1 (189 A.D.)