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Apocalypse of Adam

At a Glance
Treatise
Genre:
(5/5) *****
Reliability of Dating:
(5/5) *****
Length of Text:
Greek
Original Language:
Ancient Translations:
Modern Translations:

Estimated Range of Dating: 50-150 A.D.

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Information on the Apocalypse of Adam

Bentley Layton writes, "The Revelation of Adam ('Apocalypse of Adam') tells the gnostic myth from the creation of Eve down to the savior's final advent and the ultimate damnation of non-gnostic Christianity. The story line seems to be based primarily on the myth rather than Genesis. An important role is played by angels whose names are known from highly developed works such as [the Egyptian Gospel and Zostrianos]; this may indicate that a sophisticated form of the myth is presupposed. Yet in [the Revelation of Adam] the tale is abbreviated to the point of obscurity; a single biblical term ('god') is used, for example, to describe both the satanic creator (Sakla, i.e. Ialdabaoth) and the ineffable parent. No distinctive elements of non-gnostic Christianity occur in the work, leading some scholars to regard [the Revelation of Adam] as textbook evidence for the existence of non-Christian, i.e. Jewish, gnostic religion; such scholars are obliged to minimize its connection with other, more obviously Christian, versions of the gnostic myth." (The Gnostic Scriptures, p. 52)

Birger A. Pearson writes, "This final act of redemption [by the 'Illuminator of Knowledge'] is disturbed in the text by what appears to be a lengthy interpolation (77,18-83,4) in which thirteen kingdoms present different erroneous ntoions of who the Illuminator is. Reflected in this passage are various mythic traditions found in Greco-Roman religious lore. Only the 'generation without a king over it' knows him and the gnosis that he brings ... This interpolation disturbs a pattern of statements regarding the Illuminator that some scholars have taken as evidence of Christian influence. This pattern is rooted in biblical literature dealing with the suffering and exaltation of a righteous person (for example, Isaiah 52-53; Wisdom 1-6). ... This pattern of events dealing with the Gnostic savior correspond to the salvation history of Seth: Threatened with destruction by flood and fire, they are rescued by heavenly intervention. In the final catastrophe, a manifestation of Seth suffers with his seed, and final vindication and victory is achieved. This is intelligible without any reference to Jesus Christ or Christianity." (Ancient Gnosticism, pp. 72-73)

Madeleine Scopello writes, "The Revelation of Adam has probably been the object of redactional attention. Charles W. Hedrick sees two distinct redactional sources in the composition of the treatise; Françoise Morard, on the other hand, underscores the coherence of the text. There is no agreement among scholars about the background of this apocalypse. Is it a Jewish text that offers a polemic against mainstream Judaism? Is it a pre-Christian Gnostic text that has been influenced by Jewish apocalypticism and has adapted traditional apocalyptic themes to Gnostic thought? Is it possible to distinguish in it any Christian references, especially in the description of the third illuminator? The date of the text can be ascribed to the end of the first century or the beginning of the second; interpolations, particularly the hymnic section of stories of the origin of the illuminator, can be dated somewhat later." (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 345)


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