Mary in the Old Testament

by Bryan Cross

Over the past two weeks Dr. Lawrence Feingold of the Institute for Pastoral Studies at Ave Maria University, has presented two teachings on Mary in the Old Testament, as part of a longer teaching series on Mariology for the Association of Hebrew Catholics.

At the beginning of the first talk (see below), given on September 22, Dr. Feingold introduces the whole series, by discussing the importance of Mariology, and briefly surveying the Protestant objections to Mariology. He explains that Mary is present in the Old Testament in three ways: in prophecy concerning the mother of the Redeemer, in Old Testament figures of Mary, and in the ultimate mission of Israel, which is to prepare for the birth of the Redeemer. In this third way Mary sums up in herself the ultimate mission of the Jewish people.

In the second part of this first talk, Dr. Feingold brings out the parallelism between Mary and Israel, and the way in which Israel realizes her mission only through Mary. This mission required preparation, and the whole of the Old Testament is a record of this preparation, a preparation that culminates in Mary as the perfect and holy Daughter of Zion, who by God’s election would bring forth the Redeemer into the world.

In the second talk, given on September 29, Dr. Feingold explains how Mary is present typologically in various female figures in the Old Testament. (For a brief explanation of the justification of biblical typology, see here.) Christ, the Church, the sacraments, and Mary are all prefigured in the Old Testament, in much the way a human author foreshadows future events in a novel. Mary is foreshadowed in the person of Eve, in that both are mothers of all the living, yet in different ways. Eve is the mother of all those living with natural life, while Mary is the mother of all those living with supernatural life, though in other ways they are opposites, for Mary’s obedience undoes the knot of Eve’s disobedience. Drawing from Cardinal Ratzinger’s book Daughter Zion: Meditations on the Church’s Marian Belief, Dr. Feingold shows how Sarah, Hannah, Judith, Esther, and the woman of Proverbs 31 are types of Mary. Sarah and Hannah foreshadow Mary by way of their faith and miraculous fertility in the context of barrenness. Judith and Esther prefigure Mary by way of their beauty and their intercession on behalf of the people of God and as instruments of divine protection from their enemies. Each of these Old Testament women prefigure Mary through their humility, as God demonstrates the distinction between nature and grace.

Dr. Feingold explains how the liturgy of the Church recognizes the Old Testament references to the “Daughter of Zion” (and “Daughter of Jerusalem”) as references to Mary, because she sums up in herself the mission of the Jewish people. All Israel is the betrothed bride, but Mary is that bride most perfectly and without blemish; she is the model of Israel as bride, as daughter of Zion. Drawing from the prophets Zechariah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, Dr. Feingold shows how Mary is the daughter of Zion par excellence, in whom God comes to dwell physically. From the Wisdom literature and especially the Song of Songs, he shows how Mary is the exemplar of perfect created wisdom, which is Israel’s perfect response to the divine and uncreated Wisdom. The femininity of wisdom (in Hebrew and Greek) is not accidental; it stands on the side of creation, as the created answer to God’s own uncreated Wisdom (i.e. the eternal Logos). Mary is the perfect answer to the Word of God, and thus she is the exemplar of the created wisdom spoken of in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.

Part 1

Part 1 - Q&A

Part 2

Part 2 - Q&A

(Originally posted on Called to Communion)


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