Apocalypse of Adam

by Alimay Wilson

[Alimay Wilson is a third-year undergraduate at St. Mary’s College in the University of St. Andrews.–JRD]

In the debate surrounding the Apocalypse of Adam I looked at Walter Beltz’s argument for the text being a Christian-Gnostic writing. He bases his argument on the figure of the Illuminator in the text being a reference to Jesus. However this Illuminator figure is never positively identified as Jesus. G W McRae points out that it would be very unlikely that the author of the Apocalypse would have used Christian ideas and then actually eliminated any clear reference to Christ or any other New Testament personality. This, he says would go against the grain of any second-century Gnostic.

I settled for agreeing with Bohlig who argues for the text being a pre-Christian text stemming from Jewish-Iranian Gnosticism. He gives quite convincing parallels to the thirteen explanations for the origin of the Illuminator from Iranian tradition. I concluded that although Bohlig’s theory could be argued against, it showed that there were indeed plenty of pre-Christian myths and legends of redeemer-revealer figures from all sorts of other traditions from which the author could have drawn his material.

Therefore, from the evidence I found, I think that the text is more likely to be, if not a Jewish-Gnostic writing, at least a pre-Christian writing.


As per the course bibliography.

(c) 1997  Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

Contact details

St Mary’s College
The School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
South Street
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9JU
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462850 
Fax: +44 (0)1334 462852