QUESTION 92: THE PRODUCTION OF THE WOMAN
We must next consider the production of the woman. Under this head there
are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the woman should have been made in that first production of
(2) Whether the woman should have been made from man?
(3) Whether of man's rib?
(4) Whether the woman was made immediately by God?
Article 1: Whether the woman should have been made in the first production of things?
Objection 1: It would seem that the woman should not have been made in the
first production of things. For the Philosopher says (De Gener. ii, 3),
that "the female is a misbegotten male." But nothing misbegotten or
defective should have been in the first production of things. Therefore
woman should not have been made at that first production.
Objection 2: Further, subjection and limitation were a result of sin, for to
the woman was it said after sin (Gn. 3:16): "Thou shalt be under the
man's power"; and Gregory says that, "Where there is no sin, there is no
inequality." But woman is naturally of less strength and dignity than
man; "for the agent is always more honorable than the patient," as
Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 16). Therefore woman should not have
been made in the first production of things before sin.
Objection 3: Further, occasions of sin should be cut off. But God foresaw that
the woman would be an occasion of sin to man. Therefore He should not
have made woman.
On the contrary, It is written (Gn. 2:18): "It is not good for man to be
alone; let us make him a helper like to himself."
I answer that, It was necessary for woman to be made, as the Scripture
says, as a "helper" to man; not, indeed, as a helpmate in other works, as
some say, since man can be more efficiently helped by another man in
other works; but as a helper in the work of generation. This can be made
clear if we observe the mode of generation carried out in various living
things. Some living things do not possess in themselves the power of
generation, but are generated by some other specific agent, such as some
plants and animals by the influence of the heavenly bodies, from some
fitting matter and not from seed: others possess the active and passive
generative power together; as we see in plants which are generated from
seed; for the noblest vital function in plants is generation. Wherefore
we observe that in these the active power of generation invariably
accompanies the passive power. Among perfect animals the active power of
generation belongs to the male sex, and the passive power to the female.
And as among animals there is a vital operation nobler than generation,
to which their life is principally directed; therefore the male sex is
not found in continual union with the female in perfect animals, but only
at the time of coition; so that we may consider that by this means the
male and female are one, as in plants they are always united; although in
some cases one of them preponderates, and in some the other. But man is
yet further ordered to a still nobler vital action, and that is
intellectual operation. Therefore there was greater reason for the
distinction of these two forces in man; so that the female should be
produced separately from the male; although they are carnally united for
generation. Therefore directly after the formation of woman, it was said:
"And they shall be two in one flesh" (Gn. 2:24).
Reply to Objection 1: As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and
misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the
production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the
production of woman comes from defect in the active force or from some
material indisposition, or even from some external influence; such as
that of a south wind, which is moist, as the Philosopher observes (De
Gener. Animal. iv, 2). On the other hand, as regards human nature in
general, woman is not misbegotten, but is included in nature's intention
as directed to the work of generation. Now the general intention of
nature depends on God, Who is the universal Author of nature. Therefore,
in producing nature, God formed not only the male but also the female.
Reply to Objection 2: Subjection is twofold. One is servile, by virtue of which a superior makes use of a subject for his own benefit; and this kind of subjection began after sin. There is another kind of subjection which is called economic or civil, whereby the superior makes use of his subjects for their own benefit and good; and this kind of subjection existed even before sin. For good order would have been wanting in the human family if some were not governed by others wiser than themselves. So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates. Nor is inequality among men excluded by the state of innocence, as we shall prove (Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection 3: If God had deprived the world of all those things which
proved an occasion of sin, the universe would have been imperfect. Nor
was it fitting for the common good to be destroyed in order that
individual evil might be avoided; especially as God is so powerful that
He can direct any evil to a good end.
Article 2: Whether woman should have been made from man?
Objection 1: It would seem that woman should not have been made from man. For
sex belongs both to man and animals. But in the other animals the female
was not made from the male. Therefore neither should it have been so with
Objection 2: Further, things of the same species are of the same matter. But
male and female are of the same species. Therefore, as man was made of
the slime of the earth, so woman should have been made of the same, and
not from man.
Objection 3: Further, woman was made to be a helpmate to man in the work of
generation. But close relationship makes a person unfit for that office;
hence near relations are debarred from intermarriage, as is written (Lev.
18:6). Therefore woman should not have been made from man.
On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 17:5): "He created of him," that
is, out of man, "a helpmate like to himself," that is, woman.
I answer that, When all things were first formed, it was more suitable
for the woman to be made from man that (for the female to be from the
male) in other animals. First, in order thus to give the first man a
certain dignity consisting in this, that as God is the principle of the
whole universe, so the first man, in likeness to God, was the principle
of the whole human race. Wherefore Paul says that "God made the whole
human race from one" (Acts 17:26). Secondly, that man might love woman
all the more, and cleave to her more closely, knowing her to be fashioned
from himself. Hence it is written (Gn. 2:23,24): "She was taken out of
man, wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to
his wife." This was most necessary as regards the human race, in which
the male and female live together for life; which is not the case with
other animals. Thirdly, because, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. viii,
12), the human male and female are united, not only for generation, as
with other animals, but also for the purpose of domestic life, in which
each has his or her particular duty, and in which the man is the head of
the woman. Wherefore it was suitable for the woman to be made out of man,
as out of her principle. Fourthly, there is a sacramental reason for
this. For by this is signified that the Church takes her origin from
Christ. Wherefore the Apostle says (Eph. 5:32): "This is a great
sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church."
Reply to Objection 1:is clear from the foregoing.
Reply to Objection 2: Matter is that from which something is made. Now created
nature has a determinate principle; and since it is determined to one
thing, it has also a determinate mode of proceeding. Wherefore from
determinate matter it produces something in a determinate species. On the
other hand, the Divine Power, being infinite, can produce things of the
same species out of any matter, such as a man from the slime of the
earth, and a woman from out of man.
Reply to Objection 3: A certain affinity arises from natural generation, and this
is an impediment to matrimony. Woman, however, was not produced from man
by natural generation, but by the Divine Power alone. Wherefore Eve is
not called the daughter of Adam; and so this argument does not prove.
Article 3: Whether the woman was fittingly made from the rib of man?
Objection 1: It would seem that the woman should not have been formed from the
rib of man. For the rib was much smaller than the woman's body. Now from
a smaller thing a larger thing can be made only---either by addition (and
then the woman ought to have been described as made out of that which was
added, rather than out of the rib itself)---or by rarefaction, because,
as Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. x): "A body cannot increase in bulk
except by rarefaction." But the woman's body is not more rarefied than
man's---at least, not in the proportion of a rib to Eve's body. Therefore
Eve was not formed from a rib of Adam.
Objection 2: Further, in those things which were first created there was
nothing superfluous. Therefore a rib of Adam belonged to the integrity of
his body. So, if a rib was removed, his body remained imperfect; which is
unreasonable to suppose.
Objection 3: Further, a rib cannot be removed from man without pain. But there
was no pain before sin. Therefore it was not right for a rib to be taken
from the man, that Eve might be made from it.
On the contrary, It is written (Gn. 2:22): "God built the rib, which He
took from Adam, into a woman."
I answer that, It was right for the woman to be made from a rib of man.
First, to signify the social union of man and woman, for the woman should
neither "use authority over man," and so she was not made from his head;
nor was it right for her to be subject to man's contempt as his slave,
and so she was not made from his feet. Secondly, for the sacramental
signification; for from the side of Christ sleeping on the Cross the
Sacraments flowed---namely, blood and water---on which the Church was
Reply to Objection 1: Some say that the woman's body was formed by a material
increase, without anything being added; in the same way as our Lord
multiplied the five loaves. But this is quite impossible. For such an
increase of matter would either be by a change of the very substance of
the matter itself, or by a change of its dimensions. Not by change of the
substance of the matter, both because matter, considered in itself, is
quite unchangeable, since it has a potential existence, and has nothing
but the nature of a subject, and because quantity and size are extraneous
to the essence of matter itself. Wherefore multiplication of matter is
quite unintelligible, as long as the matter itself remains the same
without anything added to it; unless it receives greater dimensions. This
implies rarefaction, which is for the same matter to receive greater
dimensions, as the Philosopher says (Phys. iv). To say, therefore, that
the same matter is enlarged, without being rarefied, is to combine
contradictories ---viz. the definition with the absence of the thing
Wherefore, as no rarefaction is apparent in such multiplication of
matter, we must admit an addition of matter: either by creation, or which
is more probable, by conversion. Hence Augustine says (Tract. xxiv in
Joan.) that "Christ filled five thousand men with five loaves, in the
same way as from a few seeds He produces the harvest of corn"---that is,
by transformation of the nourishment. Nevertheless, we say that the
crowds were fed with five loaves, or that woman was made from the rib,
because an addition was made to the already existing matter of the loaves
and of the rib.
Reply to Objection 2: The rib belonged to the integral perfection of Adam, not as
an individual, but as the principle of the human race; just as the semen
belongs to the perfection of the begetter, and is released by a natural
and pleasurable operation. Much more, therefore, was it possible that by
the Divine power the body of the woman should be produced from the man's
From this it is clear how to answer the third objection.
Article 4: Whether the woman was formed immediately by God?
Objection 1: It would seem that the woman was not formed immediately by God.
For no individual is produced immediately by God from another individual
alike in species. But the woman was made from a man who is of the same
species. Therefore she was not made immediately by God.
Objection 2: Further, Augustine (De Trin. iii, 4) says that corporeal things
are governed by God through the angels. But the woman's body was formed
from corporeal matter. Therefore it was made through the ministry of the
angels, and not immediately by God.
Objection 3: Further, those things which pre-exist in creatures as to their
causal virtues are produced by the power of some creature, and not
immediately by God. But the woman's body was produced in its causal
virtues among the first created works, as Augustine says (Gen. ad lit.
ix, 15). Therefore it was not produced immediately by God.
On the contrary, Augustine says, in the same work: "God alone, to Whom
all nature owes its existence, could form or build up the woman from the
I answer that, As was said above (Article , ad 2), the natural generation of
every species is from some determinate matter. Now the matter whence man
is naturally begotten is the human semen of man or woman. Wherefore from
any other matter an individual of the human species cannot naturally be
generated. Now God alone, the Author of nature, can produce an effect
into existence outside the ordinary course of nature. Therefore God alone
could produce either a man from the slime of the earth, or a woman from
the rib of man.
Reply to Objection 1: This argument is verified when an individual is begotten,
by natural generation, from that which is like it in the same species.
Reply to Objection 2: As Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ix, 15), we do not know
whether the angels were employed by God in the formation of the woman;
but it is certain that, as the body of man was not formed by the angels
from the slime of the earth, so neither was the body of the woman formed
by them from the man's rib.
Reply to Objection 3: As Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ix, 18): "The first
creation of things did not demand that woman should be made thus; it made
it possible for her to be thus made." Therefore the body of the woman did
indeed pre-exist in these causal virtues, in the things first created;
not as regards active potentiality, but as regards a potentiality passive
in relation to the active potentiality of the Creator.