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ANF04. Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second
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Chapter V.—Of the Word Woman, Especially in Connection with Its Application to Eve.

But since they use the name of woman in such a way as to think it inapplicable save to her alone who has known a man, the pertinence of the propriety of this word to the sex itself, not to a grade of the sex, must be proved by us; that virgins as well (as others) may be commonly comprised in it.

When this kind of second human being was made by God for man’s assistance, that female was forthwith named woman; still happy, still worthy of paradise, still virgin.  “She shall be called,” said (Adam), “Woman.”  And accordingly you have the name,—I say, not already common to a virgin, but—proper (to her; a name) which from the beginning was allotted to a virgin.  But some ingeniously will have it that it was said of the future, “She shall be called woman,” as if she were destined to be so when she had resigned her virginity; since he added withal:  “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and be conglutinated to his own woman; and the two shall be one flesh.”  Let them therefore among whom that subtlety obtains show us first, if she were surnamed woman with a future reference, what name she meantime received.  For without a name expressive of her present quality she cannot have been.  But what kind of (hypothesis) is it that one who, with an eye to the future, was called by a definite name, at the present time should have nothing for a surname?  On all animals Adam imposed names; and on none on the ground of future condition, but on the ground of the present purpose which each particular nature served;292292    Gen. ii. 19, 20. called (as each nature was) by that to which from the beginning it showed a propensity.  What, then, was she at that time called?  Why, as often as she is named in the Scripture, she has the appellation woman before she was wedded, and never virgin while she was a virgin.

This name was at that time the only one she had, and (that) when nothing was (as yet) said prophetically.  For when the Scripture records that “the two were naked, Adam and his woman,” neither does this savour of the future, as if it said “his woman” as a presage of “wife;” but because his woman293293    Mulier, throughout. was withal unwedded, as being (formed) from his own substance.  “This bone,” he says, “out of my bones, and flesh out of my flesh, shall be called woman.”  Hence, then, it is from the tacit consciousness of nature that the actual divinity of the soul has educed into the ordinary usage of common speech, unawares to men, (just as it has thus educed many other things too which we shall elsewhere be able to show to derive from the Scriptures the origin of their doing and saying,) our fashion of calling our wives our women, however improperly withal we may in some instances speak.  For the Greeks, too, who use the name of woman more (than we do) in the sense of wife, have other names appropriate to wife.  But I prefer to assign this usage as a testimony to Scripture.  For when two are made into one flesh through the marriage-tie, the “flesh of flesh and bone of bones” is called the woman of him of whose substance she begins to be accounted by being made his wife.  Thus woman is not by nature a name of wife, but wife by condition is a name of woman.  In fine, womanhood is predicable apart from wifehood; but wifehood apart from womanhood is not, because it cannot even exist.  Having therefore settled the name of the newly-made female—which (name) is woman—and having explained what she formerly was, that is, having sealed the name to her, he immediately turned to the prophetic reason, so as to say, “On this account shall a man leave father and mother.”  The name is so truly separate from the prophecy, as far as (the prophecy) from the individual person herself, that of course it is not with reference to Eve herself that (Adam) has uttered (the prophecy), but with a view to those future females whom he has named in the maternal fount of the feminine race.  Besides, Adam was not to leave “father and mother”—whom he had not—for the sake of Eve.  Therefore that which was prophetically said does not apply to Eve, because it does not to Adam either.  For it was predicted with regard to the condition of husbands, who were destined to leave their parents for a woman’s sake; which could not chance to Eve, because it could not to Adam either.

If the case is so, it is apparent that she was not surnamed woman on account of a future (circumstance), to whom (that) future (circumstance) did not apply.

To this is added, that (Adam) himself published the reason of the name.  For, after saying, “She shall be called woman,” he said, “inasmuch as she hath been taken out of man”—the man himself withal being still a virgin.  But we will speak, too, about the name of man294294    Viri:  so throughout. in its own place.  Accordingly, let none interpret with a prophetic reference a name which was deduced from another signification; especially since it is apparent when she did receive a name founded upon a future (circumstance)—there, namely, where she is surnamed “Eve,” with a personal name now, because the natural one had gone before.295295    See Gen. iii. 20.  For if “Eve” means “the mother of the living,” behold, she is surnamed from a future (circumstance)! behold, she is pre-announced to be a wife, and not a virgin!  This will be the name of one who is about to wed; for of the bride (comes) the mother.

Thus in this case too it is shown, that it was not from a future (circumstance) that she was at that time named woman, who was shortly after to receive the name which would be proper to her future condition.

Sufficient answer has been made to this part (of the question).


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