Introduction and Problems of the Text

The Life of Adam and Eve is an apocryphal story about the experience of the first human couple after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Of the numerous apocryphal works that were written regarding Adam and Eve in the ancient world, this text certainly has pride of place. Not only was its influence in antiquity quite evident and widespread but the tale also enjoyed enormous popularity in the medieval world as well.


The text has proven very difficult to date and one can be no more accurate than to say it must have been composed between the 3rd and 7th centuries. It is quite possible of course that certain literary units of the work are considerably older than this as there can be no question that the present form of the work is the result of a complex redactional process that wove together different source materials into a single story.


Equally problematic is the question of the work's provenance. Most scholars have assumed a Jewish origin for the work, on the grounds that evidence of explicit Christian features are so minimal in the tale and seem to be of a late redactional level rather than integral to the story itself. Yet recent scholarship on the creation and transmission of such apocryphal tales from antiquity suggests that the possibility of Christian origins be given due consideration. In any event the fact that the tale was copied, edited and expanded by Christian scribes and enjoyed immense popularity in Christian circles needs to be taken seriously. There is evidence of Jewish familiarity with parts of the work but no evidence of any role in the transmission of the text as it now presently stands.


The text survives in six languages: Greek, Latin, Armenian, Georgian, Slavonic, and Coptic (only small fragments remain of this version). Most scholars agree that the text was written originally in Greek and that all of the six versions stem from some form of Greek vorlage. But it should be emphasized here that the Greek manuscripts that we now possess are not witnesses to this putative Greek original. The present Greek material has undergone considerable redactional activity and should not be considered a better witness to the original form of the text than any of the other forms. Yet it should also be underscored that the text-critical work has hardly begun on this document and almost any conclusions about such matters must be considered provisional and exploratory.

For purposes of convenience we shall refer to all the forms of this work under a simple title, "The Life of Adam and Eve," or Vita for short. But it should be borne in mind that each version has its own unique title.

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The Life of Adam and Eve

The Biblical Story in Judaism and Christianity PART ONE Introduction and Problems of the Text Individual Versions A. Greek B. Latin C. Armenian D. Georgian E. Slavonic F. Coptic PART TWO Electronic Edition A. Its Potential B. Existing Technology C. Non-Latin Charac...
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Individual Versions (Greek)

Native Title: The Apocalypse of MosesOriginal Publication: C. von Tischendorf, Apocalypses Apocryphae Mosis, Esdrae, Pauli, Iohanni. . . Leipzig, Mendelssohn; reprinted, Hildersheim, Olms, 1966.Current Edition Used: The text prepared by Nagel used in A.-M. Denis, Concordance grecque des pseudépigrap...
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Individual Versions (Latin)

Native Title: Vita Adae et Evae ("The Life of Adam and Eve")Original Publication: W. Meyer, "Vita Adae et Evae." Abhandlungen der königlichen Bayerischen Akademie des Wissenschaften, Philosoph.-philologische Klasse. Munich: 14.3, 1878, pp. 185-250.Current Edition Used: The text presented here is bas...
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Individual Versions (Armenian)

Native Title: "Penitence of Adam"Original Publication: Michael E. Stone, The Penitence of Adam. Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 429-30; Scriptores Armeniaci 13-14. ed. R. Draguet. Leuven, Peeters, 1981.Current Edition Used: sameTranslation: Michael E. Stone, Penitence of Adam, with some ...
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Individual Versions (Georgian)

Native Title: "Book of Adam"Original Publication: Georgian original: C. K'urc'ikidze, "Adamis apokrip'uli ..." P'ilologiuri Dziebani. 1964 1: 97-136. 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 a...
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Individual Versions (Slavonic)

Native Title: "Life of Adam and Eve"Original Publication: V. Jagic, "Slavische Beiträge zu den biblischen Apocryphen, I, Die altkirchenslavischen Texte des Adamsbuche." Denkschr. kaiserl. Akademie der Wissenschaften, philos.-hist. Klasse. Vienna, 42:1-104, 1893. Current Edition Used: V. Jagic.Transl...
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Individual Versions (Coptic)

Original Publication: W. E. Crum, Catalogue of Coptic Manuscripts in the Collection of the John Rylands Library. Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1909.Extended Discussion in Stone, A History of the Literature of Adam and Eve pp. 39-41. A small fragment of this version was published by W. E. ...
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Its Potential

A. Regarding Its Potential At least three different interpretive issues need to be kept in mind when preparing an edition of this work: The relationship of the various manuscripts within a particular language family;The relationship of the various versions over against one another;The manner in whic...
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Existing Technology

At present there exists an ability to present scanned photographs of the manuscript evidence, a transcription of any original which was composed in a Latin alphabet and an English translation of each text. One level of our Archive will present the user with this full range of material: a scanned ori...
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Non-Latin Character Sets

An obvious desideratum for an electronic publication of the Vita is the ability to represent the various non-Latin texts in machine readable form (Greek, Armenian, Georgian, and Slavonic). At present there are numerous ways to do this on any particular PC or Macintosh (and to a lesser degree the sam...
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Babble: A Synoptic Text Viewer

An additional consideration is the ability to display the texts in a synoptic fashion, in parallel columns. On a conventional word-processor, multi-lingual texts can be presented in such a manner. Indeed this was the way in which Stone and Anderson assembled their first form of the published Synopsi...
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A Tour of the Archive

Introduction The Archive has been put together with two purposes in mind. The first is more important: to enhance the study of the Vita itself. But the other purpose is also of some significance: to assemble a wide range of material related to the interpretation of the Life of Adam and Eve in Late A...
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Sample Study: The Fall of Satan

When one turns to the the opening page of the Archive, one is presented with a set of different categories of interpretation that bear on the life of Adam and Eve. These include:The Vita itselfThe Biblical Text of Genesis 1-3Commentaries written on those verses by both Jewish and Christian writersAp...
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Adler, W. 1989 Time Immemorial: Archaic History and Its Sources in Christian Chronography from Julius Africanus to George Syncellus. Dumbarton Oaks Studies, 26. Washington, Dumbarton Oaks.Alexandre, M. 1988 Le commencement du Livre Genèse I-V: La version grecque de la Septante et sa réception. Paris...
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Adam & Eve

Identity of Adam Adam is from the Hebrew Adam. The word Adam has its Hebrew roots in adamah which means land or ground. The word refers to the rich reddish soil of the fertile crescent in contrast to the arid earth of the wilderness which cannot support life. Usually when it is used in the Old Testa...
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