The Life of Adam & Eve / Apocalypse of Moses


by Philip Corbett

In this paper I have tried to examine the development of the Life of Adam and Eve as it is represented in the Greek Apocalypse of Moses and the Latin Vita Adae et Evae. I began my study asking which one of the texts was the elder of the two. It seems most likely that the Greek Apocalypse is the earliest work and that the Vita is an expansion of it based on other Adam and Eve traditions. By comparing aspects of the two texts and showing that they were different, I suggested that it was possible that both texts were written independently of each other whilst being based on the same traditions. I addressed the question of the original language of the work and showed that there were Hebraic tones in the Greek text that would point to a Hebrew original, but not an Aramaic one. The Latin text, it would seem, is based on the Greek, as there are Greek transliterations in the text. Turning to the question of whether the work is Jewish, I rejected the idea of proof by silence and whilst it may seem that there are Jewish references, there is no reason to think they could not have been used by Christians. Having given suggestions of Christian ideas that could only be found in Christian documents and would be unknown to Judaism, I related what was written in the Apocalypse to the theology of Paul. I discussed the issue of the sources and whether with a study of Gnostic books we can see a mutual source. To do this I looked at 1 Enoch and On the Origin of the World and found that, whilst nothing could be proven, the texts had at least traditions in common. It would also seem that the Apocalypse influenced the theology of the early church, and references to the story are found all the way up until the work of Milton. The popularity of the stories, I suggest, stems from humanity’s wish to learn about its roots and also its fascination with sin and salvation. The Apocalypse and and Vita are concerned with both these things.

(c) 2002
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

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