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Pseudepigrapha: Life of Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve

Apocrypha means 'hidden or secret', not 'dubious authenticity'. The history of the term’s usage indicates that it referred to a body of esoteric writings that were at first prized, later tolerated, and finally excluded (e.g. Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls). Deutero-canonical books are those that are accepted in one canon but not in all (e.g. Greek Orthodox Bible, Ethiopian Orthodox Bible). Deuterocanonical means 'secondary canon', not non-canon. Pseudepigrapha is a 'third canon', not necessarily non-canon. There were no Christians at the Council of Jamnia in 90 CE.

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha are extremely numerous and offer accounts of patriarchs and events, attributed to various biblical people from Adam to Zechariah. Some of the most significant of these books are the Ascension of Isaiah, the Assumption of Moses, the Life of Adam and Eve, the First and Second Books of Enoch, Jubilees, the Letter of Aristeas, and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.

All the New Testament Apocrypha are pseudepigraphal, and most of them fall into the categories of acts, gospels, and epistles. Most of these books arose from sects that had been or would be declared heretical, such as the Gnostics (Nag Hammadi Bible) and Montanism. Some of them argued against various heresies, and a few appear to have been neutral efforts to popularize the life of some saint, including a number of women. In the early decades of Christianity no orthodoxy had been established, and various factions were vying for ascendancy in the young church. All sought through their writings, as through their preaching and missions, to win believers. In this setting virtually all works advocating beliefs that later became heretical were destined to denunciation and destruction.

Life of Adam and Eve (pseudepigraphal book, a writing that in style and content resembles canonical Bible books): One of many Jewish and Christian stories that embellish the account of Adam and Eve as given in Genesis. Biography was an extremely popular literary genre during the late Hellenistic period of Judaism (3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE), and legends of biblical figures were numerous. But all surviving Haggada about Adam and Eve are Christian works and are preserved in a number of ancient languages (e.g. Greek, Latin, Ethiopic). Although all Aramaic and Hebrew texts have been lost, the basic material was presumably of Jewish authorship. Extant versions of the Life of Adam and Eve have consequently been used to reconstruct the supposed original, which was probably composed sometime between 20 BCE and 70 CE, because the apocalyptic portion of the work (chapter 29) seems to imply that the Herodian Temple of Jerusalem was functioning when the book was written. The book is primarily noteworthy for its imaginative retelling of the biblical story and for its inclusion of visions and angelology, both characteristic of Hellenistic religious writing. The detailed descriptions of the penances that Adam and Eve inflicted upon themselves after their expulsion from Eden suggest an ascetic influence.

The crystal sea. God commands Adam, expelled from Eden, to dwell in the Cave of Treasures. On the third day, God planted the garden in the east of the earth, on the border of the world eastward, beyond which, towards the sun-rising, one finds nothing but water, that encompasses the whole world, and reaches unto the borders of heaven (The Forgotten Books of Eden by Rutherford H. Platt, Jr. at &