Listening to a podcast by Fr. Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, I came across the following glorious tidbits that are examples of how the early church fathers read the Old Testament from the perspective of the New Testament and found many links. (This is generally called “typology” by the way.)
- Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to tend it. Hopko says the church fathers taught that Paradise (that is, the Garden) is wherever man is, as long as man is in communion with God, and that man’s God-given job was to make all creation into paradise. Of course, he sinned instead and became enslaved by creation rather than becoming the gardener who turned creation into Paradise. Some of the early church fathers believe this is the reason the risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalene in a Garden. She’s in a garden and she thinks he’s the gardener, which he is. He’s the Gardener, the new Adam (or last Adam) who will finally turn all creation into Paradise.
- “Why is it that God puts Adam into a deep sleep and fashions the woman from his side? Because the Bride of Christ is formed from Christ’s side when he’s sleeping (that is, dead on the cross). Christ dies and from his side come the blood and the water, which means we are born from the side of Christ on the cross.
- In the Old Testament, Eve is fashioned out of the flesh of Adam, the woman out of man. In the New Testament this is reversed. Christ is fashioned out of woman, and God fashions his flesh out of the virgin soil of the Virgin Mary.
- In Gen. 2:24 we find, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh” (NRSV). This is not necessarily a good translation. It can also be that a man forsakes his father to cleave to his wife. Quoting the psalms, Jesus says on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the same word. Some of the early church fathers taught that the Father had to forsake the Son and the Son forsake the Father so that the Son could cleave to his bride, the church. As Paul says in Eph. 5:31-32, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.”