Life of Adam and Eve

The Life of Adam and Eve, also known, in its Greek version, as the Apocalypse of Moses, is a Jewish pseudepigraphical group of writings. It recounts the lives of Adam and Eve from after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden to their deaths. It provides more detail about the Fall of Man, including Eve's version of the story. Satan explains that he rebelled when God commanded him to bow down to Adam. After Adam dies, he and all his descendants are promised a resurrection.

The ancient versions of the Life of Adam and Eve are: the Greek Apocalypse of Moses, the Latin Life of Adam and Eve, the Slavonic Life of Adam and Eve, the Armenian Penitence of Adam, the Georgian Book of Adam,[1] and one or two fragmentary Coptic versions. These texts are usually named as Primary Adam Literature to distinguish them from subsequent related texts, such as the Cave of Treasures that includes what appears to be extracts.

They differ greatly in length and wording, but for the most part are derived from a single source that has not survived,[2]:251 and contain (except for some obvious insertions) no undeniably Christian teaching.[3] Each version contains some unique material, as well as variations and omissions.

While the surviving versions were composed from the early 3rd to the 5th century,[2]:252 the literary units in the work are considered to be older and predominantly of Jewish origin.[3] There is wide agreement that the original was composed in a Semitic language[2]:251 in the 1st century AD/CE.[2]:252


The Expulsion Of Adam and Eve from Eden picture of Mála biblia z-kejpami (Small Bible with pictures) of Péter Kollár (1897).

The main theological issue in these texts is that of the consequences of the Fall of Man, of which sickness and death are mentioned. Other themes include the exaltation of Adam in the Garden, the fall of Satan, the anointing with the oil of the Tree of Life, and a combination of majesty and anthropomorphism in the figure of God, involving numerous merkabahs and other details that show a relationship with 2 Enoch. While the idea of resurrection of the dead is present, there is no idea of Messianism, a fact that lends strong support to the theory of a Jewish origin. The Life of Adam and Eve is also important in the study of the early Seth traditions.[4]

Interesting parallels can be found with some New Testament passages, such as the mention of the Tree of Life in Revelation 22:2. The more striking resemblances are with ideas in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians: Eve as the source of sin (2 Corinthians 11:3), Satan disguising himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), the location of the paradise in the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2). No direct relationship can be determined between the New Testament and the Life of Adam and Eve, but the similarities suggest that Paul the Apostle and the author of 2 Enoch were near contemporaries of the original author of this work and moved in the same circle of ideas.[5]

Greek Apocalypse of Moses

The Apocalypse of Moses (literally, the Revelation of Moses) is the usual name for the Greek version of the Life of Adam and Eve. This title was given to it by Tischendorf,[6] its first editor, and taken up by others.[7] In the text, Moses is referred to only in the first sentence as the prophet to whom the story was revealed. The Greek Apocalypse of Moses (not to be confused with the Assumption of Moses) is usually considered to predate the Latin Life of Adam and Eve.

Tischendorf[6] used four manuscripts for his edition: A,[8] the heavily Christian-interpolated B,[9] manuscript C, and manuscript D,[10] which has probably the best text. During the 20th century many other manuscripts have been found, of which E1[11] and E2, which are similar to the Armenian version, merit special mention.


Latin Life of Adam and Eve

The main edition of this Latin version (in Latin Vita Adami et Evae) is that of W. Meyer in 1878[12] based on manuscripts S, T, M of the 9th, 10th, and 12th centuries. Later, a new and extended edition was prepared by Mozley[13] based mainly on manuscripts kept in England, of which the most important is manuscript A.[14]


The story begins immediately after Adam and Eve's banishment from the Garden of Eden and continues to their deaths.

Only the plot of chapters 23-24, 30-49, 51 is in common with that of the Apocalypse of Moses, though with great differences in details. Chapters 15-30 (Eve's Tale) of the Apocalypse of Mose have no parallel in the Latin Life of Adam and Eve. The penance of Adam and Eve in the water can be found also in the later Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan.

Slavonic Life of Adam and Eve

The Slavonic Adam book was published by Jagic along with a Latin translation in 1893.[17] This version agrees for the most part with the Greek Apocalypse of Moses. It has, moreover, a section, §§ 28-39, which, though not found in the Greek text, is found in the Latin Life of Adam and Eve. It includes also some unique material.

Armenian Penitence of Adam

This Armenian version of the Life of Adam and Eve was first published in 1981 by Stone[18] and is based on three manuscripts.[19] It was probably translated into Armenian from Greek and takes its place alongside the Greek and Latin versions as a major witness to the Adam book. A different book is the Armenian Book of Adam,[20] which closely follows the text of the Apocalypse of Moses.

The content of the Armenian Penitence of Adam includes both the penances in the rivers (not found in the Greek version) and Eve's recounting of the Fall (not found in the Latin version).


The Adam and Eve Archive is an ongoing project by Gary A. Anderson[21] and Michael E. Stone to present all of the original texts in both the original languages and in translation. It currently contains English translations of the most important texts and a synopsis guide that allows the viewer to easily jump from a section in one source to parallel sections in other sources.

See also


  1. French Translation: J.P. Mahé Le Livre d'Adam géorgienne de la Vita Adae in Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions, ed. R. van den Broek and M. J. Vermaseren. Leiden 1981
  2. 1 2 3 4 Johnson, M.D. (1985). "Life of Adam and Eve, a new translation and introduction". In Charlesworth, J.H. the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2. ISBN 0-385-18813-7.
  3. 1 2 Sparks, H.F.D. (1984). The Apocryphal Old Testament. p. 143. ISBN 0-19-826177-2.
  4. A. Frederik, J. Klijn Seth in Jewish, Christian and Gnostic Literature ISBN 90-04-05245-3 (1977) pag 16ff
  5. J.H. Charlesworth the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Vol 2 ISBN 0-385-18813-7 (1985) pag 255
  6. 1 2 Tischendorf C. Apocalypses Apocryphae, Leipzig 1866 (reprint Hildesheim 1966)
  7. name used also by Robert Henry Charles in his translation: Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon, 1913
  8. Marc. graec II 42 of Biblioteca Marciana of Venice, of the 13th century, which includes chapters 1-36,
  9. Vindobonensis Theol. Graec. 247, Wien
  10. codex graecus C 237 Inf of Biblioteca Ambrosiana
  11. Bibl. Nat. Fonds grec 1313, Paris
  12. Vita Adae et Evae, in Abhandl. der kon.bayer.Akademie der Wissenschaften Philos-philol Klasse XIV, 3 Munich 1878
  13. J.H.Mozley the Vita Adae in Journal of Theological Studies, 30, 1929
  14. Arundel 326, 14th century
  15. chapters numeration is according to Mozley's edition, longer than Charles' published text
  16. chapters 52-57 are not included in Mayer's edition but are included in Mozley's edition
  17. Denkschr. d. Wien. Akad. d. Wiss. xlii., 1893
  18. M.E. Stone The Penitence of Adam CSCSO 429-30, Louvain (1981).
  19. Jerusalem, Armenian Patriarchate, No. 1458 pp. 380-431 17th century, No. 1370 pp. 127-150 17th century and Erevan, Matenadaran, No. 3461 fols. 66r-87v dated 1662
  20. published by the Mechitharist community in Venice in their Collection of Uncanonical Writings of the Old Testament, and translated by F. C. Conybeare (Jewish Quarterly Review, vii. 216 sqq., 1895), and by Issaverdens in 1901.
  21. Gary A. Anderson


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