'Woman': New Eve, among 'woman'?

Tradition interprets Our Lord’s use of the title, ‘Woman’ in John 2 as referring to Our Blessed Mother as the New Eve (New Woman), Mother of all redeemed creation.

However, there are other instances in Sacred Scripture in which Our Blessed Lord calls other women, ‘[W]oman’; e.g. the woman at the well and Mary Magdalene at the tomb.

I am interested in what my fellow CAF brothers and sisters have to say about this: Was Our Lord referring to these women in light of the ‘Woman’, Our Blessed Mother? Or, was there some other historical or cultural significance in using this term?

Thanks! :innocent:


That interpretation is unique to Mary because her role in salvation is unique. Eve disobeyed God, and brought about destruction. Mary obeyed God, and brought about salvation.

This title does not apply to other women Jesus references. It was simply a title used for women with whom you were not familiar.


Seems like that thread suggests that it was unusual for a son to call his mother “woman”. Rather he would call her “mother”. Therefore, there’s a unique significance attached to Jesus addressing His mother as “woman”.

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Some initial thoughts and ramblings.

This is a small tangent, but those who like to de-emphasize Mary sometimes claim the use of the word “woman” as a form of address as rude, as it would be in English. But that isn’t the case in all languages. In Japanese, for example, there are numerous honorifics. Older women are routinely referred to as “granny”, for example.

But that goes beyond your question. I suppose it’s a matter of circumstances. With the woman at the well, addressing her as “woman” isn’t necesssrily odd if we understand that it was not considered rude. He had only just met her. With Mary Magdalene at the tomb, at first he was concealing his identity, and Mary Magdalene would not have found being addressed as “woman” by a stranger/gardener odd. It’s when he calls her Mary that she recognizes him.

Mary at Cana seems a little different. It’s his mother. While perhaps not rude, the choice of the word woman seems underscored here.

But actually, I’m going to approach this from a different angle and claim all three women are written as types of Eve in this case.

The beginning of John is very specific. Six days pass, and on the seventh day there is a marriage at Cana. John parallels the opening to his Gospel with the creation narrative, in which on the seventh day there is a marriage between Adam and Eve. Jesus and Mary are obviously not marrying each other, but given the other parallels and this being on the seventh day, Mary as a type of Eve can be drawn out.

The woman at the well may also, in some respects, be a type of Eve. Isaac’s wife Rebecca was found by Abraham’s servant at a well. Jacob met Rachel at a well. Moses met Zipporah at a well. Wells are the places to meet future wives in the Holy Land! The use of woman here could very well have nuptial connotations, not for a literal marriage between Jesus and this woman, but between Jesus and the lost children of Israel or even the gentiles. The nuptial covenant will no longer just be between God and Israel, but between God (with Jesus as the Bridegroom (strongly emphasized in John’s Gospel)) and all peoples. (And if we go back to his mother, Mary, perhaps we can see instead an illusion to the covenant with Israel as Mary is a type of Israel/Daughter Zion in addition to the Church).

As for Mary Magdalene, I think there is an intended allusion to the Garden of Eden, emphasized by calling Mary Magdalene “woman”. She ‘mistook’ Jesus for the Gardener, which is itself a reference to Adam’s role in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is the Gardener, but not the one around the actual tomb, but on a grander scale as the new Adam.

Just some train of thought writing, but there is a lot of Genesis typology in this.


Our Lord was familiar with Mary Magdalene and referred to her as ‘woman’.

I like it! :smiley:

True, I apologize for teh oversight.

We know that Christ’s reference to His mother is unique. There is nothing to say that He wasn’t pointing to other Biblical similarities when addressing other women.

No worries!

I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for explaining all of that…I love the symbolism and layers in Holy Scripture, and I hadn’t heard this explanation before.

Thanks! I can’t take credit for more than typing it. I listened to a lecture series on the Gospel of John from Scott Hahn a couple years ago, and he really went into the wedding typology at Cana and the well, and much of it came back to me as I typed. The Gardener reference was not from that talk, I don’t remember who I heard it from, though.

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