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 itself
  • The Biblical Text of Genesis 1-3
  • Commentaries written on those verses by both Jewish and Christian writers
  • Apocryphal stories about Adam and Eve from the earliest post-Biblical period up to and including Medieval rewritings of the tale that are explicitly built on our Vita text
  • Iconographic representations of the story

Unfortunately much of this material had to be presented in English translation alone. This is because the Web cannot, as of yet, present anything more than the standard Latin alphabet. The reliance on English means that the scholarly usage of the material is going to be hampered by not allowing for direct access to the original. Just as problematic is the fact that most of the material in English translation is of recent vintage and thus is copyrighted. We have assembled all of these texts in the original, but their display will have to be a future event. As to those texts in English, we have posted as many representative samples as can be done. Let us describe each section of the Archive.

  1. The Vita text itself. In this section we present the Vita text in its entirety. The material will be approachable from two directions representing two different user-purposes:
    • MANUSCRIPTS One goal will be to present every text in its original manuscript page form. Ideally each manuscript will also be transcribed into machine readable form and translated into English. Most likely, though, the English translations will be limited to a single 'critical' text (or, in certain cases two or three representative exemplars). In addition, this section of the Archive will contain a description of the textual families, their history and other background information necessary for understanding the type of material that has been assembled.
    • SYNOPSIS The other goal will be to present the Vita in a synoptic fashion. At present this is only possible by setting the material up in a "table" on the Web (This "table" is currently under construction. The texts can only be shown in English or Latin. We have also developed a synoptic text viewer which will allow the representation of all the data in each lanuage. This viewer has been described above.
  2. The Biblical Text. This portion of the Archive will present the Biblical texts in one of two ways: Either as a single text in serial order, or in a synoptic table that will enhance the ability to discern variants across the many versions. Again, although we are limited to the Latin alphabet, all the data has been stored in the originals and with the synoptic text viewer the material will be viewable in the original. When the Web can handle Unicode, all of this material will become publicly available.
  3. Commentaries. The number of commentaries on Genesis 1-3 that were produced in Late Antiquity is staggering. At present only a small sampling is represented. In the end we hope to have a dozen or so Patristic commentaries, several Rabbinic texts pertinent to Gen1-3 and a selection of Medieval line-by-line commentaries.

    Because these commentaries are so long, it is useful to set up their electronic presentation in a manner that will facilitate easy searching. Each commentary will begin with a short table of contents with hot-buttons linked to a single or several biblical verses. Thus the user will be ablt to go directly to the text under consideration.

  4. Apocryphal Stories. At present we have incorporated the Book of Jubilees and the Cave of Treasures. We hope to include a rather large sampling of Armenian apocrypha as well as several Medieval retellings of the story of Fall that built on the Vita as their base text. Among these will be Lutwin's Eva und Adam and the anonymous Old Irish, Saltair Na Rann. The Saltair is especially interesting for text-critical purposes, for it appears to have preserved a Greek form of the Vita text that underlies the form of the work witnessed in the Armenian and Georgian versions.
  5. Images. Here we have the largest problem with copyright. A variety of images have been assembled in regard to the Cheirograph legend and the Fall of Satan narrative. In addition we have scanned in the iconographic material on Gen 1-3 from: a. The San Marco mosaics, b. The Hortus Deliciarum. None of this material is currently available for viewing.

B. The Fall of Satan

The Archive has also been presented in a way to illustrate sample problems in the Vita narrative. Over the course of the last year Stone has worked on the legend of the Cheirograph in the Vita and in all of the associated apocryphal material, Anderson has worked on the Fall of Satan. Below we will present some of the sources for the study of Satan's fall as it is witnessed in the Vita narrative and in the exegesis of Ezekiel 28.

The source page for the Fall of Satan has been linked to the Pericope page. It will also be accessible from the very first page of the Archive itself. When one enters the source page for this narrative unit one will find a representative sampling of various materials from late antiquity that are relevant for the interpretation of this narrative unit in the Vita. In addition to the source material itself, there will also be an interpretive essay that will guide the reader through the material. As in any humanistic endeavor this essay cannot be considered the last word on the subject, rather it represents the views and perspectives of the compilers of this Archive. The advantage of presenting the material in this fashion is that the user of the archive will be able to see at a very quick glance what sources have been assembled by the author and will be able to consult these sources either to confirm what the author has written or to form a new opinion on the matter.

The sources presented in the Fall of Satan page represent, for the most part, the categories that stood at the very front of the Archive. We have divided them as follows:

  1. The Vita narratives that bear on the tale itself;
  2. Possible Biblical sources for the creation of the tale;
  3. Apocryphal retellings that directly bear on the history of the idea;
  4. Patristic and Rabbinic writings relevant to the fall of Satan. This category is very close to the "commentary" section that was listed at the front of the Archive. Some of the material is in the form of a line by line commentary, but other materials here represent early Christian exegetical activity as attested in other theological sources;
  5. Koran. This is a special category that is quite important for the story of Satan's fall for the Koranic story built directly on the Vita;
  6. Images.

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