Pitrie does good work in collating certain important and significant feminine images from the Old Testament. These are: Mary as the ark of the covenant, the new Eve, the new Rachel and a theological concept that was new to me, Mary as the queen mother, the mother of the king. We also get a thoughtful investigation of the woman in the book of Revelations [Apocalypse in Catholic usage.]
Some of these themes are well-known. Christians have long thought Jesus the second Adam, who reverses the effects of the primal fall in which Adam sinned. Mary is seen as the new Eve, whose obedience to God at the incarnation reverses Eve's disobedience. He uses the concept of Mary as the new Eve to justify the Catholic claim that Mary was sinless, for he claims that if the old Adam and Eve were sinners, the new Adam [Jesus] and by implication Mary would have to be sinless. But the sinlessness of Mary would be impossible to prove.
Mary as the ark of the covenant, the bearer of God's presence, is a point about which I have written before, and it is a well-known Scriptural theme grounded in Luke's infancy account of the visitation, but a Scriptural point that was new to me was Mary as the queen mother. Pitrie reveals that in ancient Israel the queen and second to the king was not the king's wife [which one anyway?] but the king's mother, who had a special right of intercession with the king. That the king's mother had a special role in the old Israel would, Pitrie believes, lead Christians to think that in the New Israel, the church, there would be a role for a queen mother who would enjoy a special place as an intercessor with Christ, and this would be Mary. It is very clear that Pitrie is on strong ground in locating the foundations of the Christian cult of Mary in Judaism. That paganism had a an influence on the adoption of the Marian cultus should not be taken as grounds for thinking it a pagan intrusion, but as a legitimate confluence of two streams of thought, which allowed the sacred feminine to achieve its due recognition in the Christian church.
Pitrie extends his analysis of the sacred feminine represented by Mary to the concept of Mary as the new Rachel. Rachel, beloved wife of Jacob, is known as the mother of Israel. Though she is dead the prophet Jeremiah depicts her mourning for her suffering children as they go into exile. Mary, who mourned her son at the foot of the cross, is representative of Rachel in the new community of Israel, the church.
The author does a good job of showing how in the life of Mary significant Old Testament themes converge, just as they do in Jesus. Mary is therefore not an unnecessary addition to the life of the Christian church, but an element integral to the sacred drama that is played out in the life of Christ.