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Life of Adam and Eve


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First Century A.D.

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James Charlesworth writes: "Of the many books attributed to Adam, the most important are the Vita Adae et Evae and a different recension of the same book, the misnamed Apocalypsis Mosis; the former was edited by W. Meyer (Abhandlungen der Bayrischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 14, 3 [1878] 185-250) and the latter by C. Tischendorf (no. 1147) and A. M. Ceriani (Monumenta Sacra et Profana. Milan: Bibliotheca Ambrosiana, 1861. Vol. 5, 1, pp. 19-24). English translations of each recension are respectively by L. S. A. Wells (APOT 2. Pp. 123-54) and M. B. Riddle (ANF 8. Pp. 565-70). There is wide agreement that the original dates from the first century A.D. and was composed in a Semitic language. This haggadic midrash on Genesis 1-4 relates in 51 chapters (according to LAE) the life of Adam and Eve, concentrating upon the problems encountered after the expulsion from Eden and the cause of their rejection." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 74)

Raymond F. Surburg writes (Introduction to the Intertestamental Period, pp. 137-138):

The northern and eastern parts of Eden were assigned to Adam, and the southern and western parts to Eve. When their two guardian angels were absent, the devil tempted Eve, and as a result of her succumbing, she at once recognized her nakedness. When she attempted to make a girdle, all the trees refused to have their leaves used except the fig tree.

After Adam and Eve had been expelled from Eden, they went hungry for days because they were unable to eat grass (4:1 f). To overcome this difficulty, Adam decides to do penance by standing for 40 days on a stone in the Jordan River in water up to his neck; Eve does the same in the Tigris for 37 days.

The book then relates the circumstances attending the birth of Cain. This is followed by an account of the murder of Abel and the birth of Seth. Adam narrates to Seth his flight from Paradise. Surrounding Eden there were great rivers, but Michael froze the waters around paradise and brought Adam back to earth. Adam then predicted to Seth the history of the Jews up to the Last Day. When Adam became very sick, Eve and Seth set out for Eden to secure a drop of oil from the tree of mercy (36:2), which would cure Adam. Wild beasts attack them on the way and Seth is bitten. Upon arrival at the gate of Paradise, Seth and Eve are informed that the oil can only be had at the end of the present age, and that Adam would die in six days.

In the Greek version of 'The Apocalpyse of Moses,' Eve gathers her offspring and gives them a detailed account of transgressions and their immediate consequences, stressing particularly the pronouncement and judgment upon Adam and Eve by Jehovah. As Michael blows the trumpet, the hosts of heaven assemble. Then God enters Eden on His chariot of cherubim and as angels sing, all the trees in Paradise shoot forth blossoms. Following this is a paraphrase of Gen. 3:9-19. With the death and burial of Adam and Eve the book ends.

Leonhard Rost writes: "There can be no doubt that the lost original can be ascribed to a Jewish author who probably lived in Palestine—possibly toward the end of the first century B.C. The year A.D. 70 is the terminus ante quem, since the Temple—of Herod?—is still standing. The author may have had affinities with Essene circles, as the ascetic features (especially the Apocalypse's description of the physical separation of the sexes, even for animals) suggest." (Judaism Outside the Hebrew Canon, p. 154)

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