by SE Robinson · 1977 · Cited by 9 — Adam and Eve, having lost their original glory and knowledge in the fall, now learn as men about dead things. They also now recognize the evil Creator God, who

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BYU Studies ˜˚, no. ˛ (Winter ˜˝˚˚) ˜˜e Apocalypse of Adam Stephen E. Robinson In ˚˛˝˙ a collection of thirteen leather-bound volumes, containing ˆˇy-three separate compositions, was discovered in the vicinity of the small town of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt. Since that time this collection has generally been referred to as the Nag Hammadi Library. ˘ese manuscripts, written in Coptic, the language of Egypt during the ˆrst centuries of the Christian era, are the literary remains of a group of Egyptian Christians who practiced a form of Christianity called Gnos -ticism. While Gnosticism was not conˆned to Egypt, it was there that the dry climate and a healthy distance from the watchful eyes of later orthodoxy worked together to preserve this remarkable collection of Gnostic scriptures. In contrast to the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered two years later, there has been relatively little excitement over the Nag Hammadi ˆnd. Until recently, with the exception of the Gospels of ˘omas and Philip, the Nag Hammadi materials had remained inaccessible and relatively unknown even to students of early Christianity. ˘is is due partly to unsettled political conditions in the Near East which have made it dif -ˆcult to obtain authoritative copies of the manuscripts, but it is equally a result of the scarcity of scholars in New Testament and early Church history who read Coptic conˆdently. Only in the last few years have authoritative texts for many of the documents become available and the value of Coptic for primary research in early Christian literature and the New Testament been recognized. ˘us, thirty years aˇer their discovery, the Nag Hammadi documents are gradually receiving the attention they deserve, although most are still not available in English. In the future these documents will prove to be of increasing importance to biblical scholars and historians in general, and to LDS scholars in particular. ˘e Nag Hammadi Library is important to students of early Chris -tian literature primarily because it represents an early type of Christi -anity completely unlike what has long been called fiorthodoxy.fl Walter Bauer demonstrated long ago that the traditional picture of Christian

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˜ BYU Studies Quarterly history is one from which the victorious fourth century Church care -fully erased all traces of its earlier competition. Actually, in the ˆrst three centuries there were several brands of Christianity all competing for the title of fiorthodoxy.fl ˘ese were oˇen as large as, if not larger than, the Universal Church, and equally powerful anuential. ˘e rediscovery of these varieties of Christianity and their extraordinary doctrines is forcing scholars to take another look at the nature of earliest Christianity. Although Gnosticism has long been known to scholars in a less com -plete form through the writings of the Church Fathers and through an occasional manuscript, it has usually been treated as a form of aberrant Christianity having only secondary signiˆcance. ˘e discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library has reemphasized the fact that Gnosticism was not merely the fiheretic fringefl of the Universal Church, but that in large areas of the ancient world Gnosticism was the Church. ˘e importance of the Nag Hammadi texts to LDS scholars is that they not only witness an early Christianity signiˆcantlerent from the orthodox tradition, but that they witness the existence of certain peculiar doctrines and bits of tradition in very early Christianity that in modern times are found almost exclusively among the Mormons. ˘e following few examples will demonstrate some of these teachings and traditions. ˘e term Gnostic comes from the Greek word for knowledge ( gnosis ). Fundamental to Gnosticism was the belief that the principle of knowl -edge is the principle of salvation and that it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. Personal revelation was crucial. ˘e knowledge necessary for salvation consisted, according to many Gnostic writings, of higher teachings and ordinances taught by Jesus and his disciples and transmitted in oral traditions which were most oˇen too secret and sacred to be written down or to be discussed with any who were not worthy of them. On those occasions when they were written down, they ˚. Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, ˚˛˚). t should be understood, however, that Gnosticism is itself only a general term used to identify a variety of sects which shared the same general approach to religion, but which did not necessarily agree on speciˆc tenets. ˘e term Protestantism is used in much the same way to denote an approach to Christi -anity whicers from that of Catholicism. Cf. Joseph Fielding Smith, comp., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, ˚˛ee also D&C ˚

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˚ Apocalypse of Adam appear to have been closely held and committed to writing only in an ort to preserve them for future generations. Although orthodox Chris -tianity has emphatically denied that any such esoteric teachings ever existed, Gnosticism insisted not only that they were an important part of earliest Christianity, but also that they were the most important part. Quite oˇen this secret teaching included a knowledge of certain passwords, signs, and seals that made it possible for the Gnostic to escape from the earth, to pass by angelic beings who barred the way, and to return to God. ˘is was a literal return, for the Gnostics believed in the preexistence of man and even in his coeternality with God. ˘e beautiful Gnostic fiHymn of the Pearlfl portrays man as a spirit child of his Heavenly Father who lived as a prince in the palace of the Heavenly King before descending to the earth. Gnosticism frequently divides mankind into three categories: pneu -matics, who are spiritual; hylics, who are not; and psychics, who are a little of both. Although psychics can be saved, usually it is only the pneumatics who can be saved in the highest degree of glory. According to the Gnostic Gospel of Philip, the highest ordinance of Christianity is eternal marriage. ˘is ordinance must be performed in this life, and the fibridal chamberfl where it is performed is called the holy of holies. We read from the Gospel of Philip ˚˚But the holy of the holy ones is the bridal chamberfl, froBut the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. But those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separatedfl, and from ˚If anyone becomes a son of the bridal chamber, he will receive the light. If anyone does not receive it while he is in this world, he will not receive it in the other place.fl ˘ere is also mention made of heavenly garments and names which must never be spoken by those who know them. Gnosticism knows a married Christ, or at least a Christ with a sexual nature, as opposed to ˝. Albertus Klijn, The Acts of Thomas (Leiden: E. J. Brill, ˚p ˙. On the Origin of the World (CG II,˙) ple fiCGfl in this and sub -sequent citations shows the text to be part of the Nag Hammadi Coptic Gnostic Library now located in Cairo ( Cairensis Gnosticus ). ˘e Roman numeral is the codex number, and subsequent Arabic numerals indicate treatise, page, and line. ee Abraha The Gospel of Philip (C˛, ˚ . McL. Wilson, trans., The Gospel of Philip [London: Mowbray & Co., ˚

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˜ BYU Studies Quarterly the asexual Christ of orthodoxy. ˘e apostles also are married, and in the Second Book of Jeu the resurrected Jesus has them form a circle around an altar with their wives at their leˇ in order to teach them the true mysteries. ˘e Marcionites, a Gnostic sect, practiced a form of vicarious baptism for the dead, an ordinance that has since dropped out of orthodoxy although it is attested in the New Testament. In most forms of Gnosticism the secret oral tradition mentioned above is oˇen associated with accounts of the creation of the world, the experiences of Adam and Eve in the Garden, and the fall of man. It is usually in this creation setting or in a temple or on a mountain -top that Gnosticism places the revelation of the esoteric mysteries and the knowledge needed to thwart the archontic powers and return to God. Gnosticism is primarily concerned with the questions, Who am I? Where am I from? and What is my destiny? ˘at the answers to these questions are oˇen associated with the creation, the Garden, and the fall of man is probably due to the Gnostic presupposition that the end of all things is to be found in their beginning. Of those documents which manifest this concern, the Nag Hammadi Apocalypse of Adam is perhaps the prime example. Summary of the Apocalypse of Adam ˘e Apocalypse of Adam (CG V, ˙) purports to record the revelation which Adam taught to his son Seth. According to the text, Adam ˆrst explains to Seth that aˇer being created out of the earth, he and Eve possessed in unity a great glory, that Eve taught him a word of knowl -edge of the Eternal God, and as a result of this they were like the great eternal angels and were higher than the evil Creator God who made them. It is then told how the Creator God divided them into two aeons, The Gospel of Philip (C. Also, The Gospel of Thomas (C ˛. Carl Schmidt and Walter Till, Koptisch-Gnostiche Shriften er -lin: Akademie-Verlag, ˚ ee Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem vnd De resurrectione carnis, xlviii; see also ˚ Corinthians ˚˛ and Hugh Nibley, fiBaptism for the Dead in the Ancient Timesfl, in Improvement Era ˙˚Œ˙ecember ˚˛˝pril ˚˛˝˛). ˚˚. For mountains as temples see Hugh Nibley, What is a Temple? The Idea of the Temple in Histor y (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, ˚ . The Gospel of Thomas (C ˚n aeon in a gnostic context is fione of the group of eternal beings that together form the fullness of the supreme being from whom they emanate and

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˚ Apocalypse of Adam apparently an allusion to the myth of the androgynous creation of Adam. ˘us separated, their original glory and ˆrst knowledge leave them and enter into their seed to be manifest in future generations through the lineage of Seth. Seth himself is named aˇer the great Savior ˆgure who will be the manifestation of the lost knowledge and glory of Adam and Eve in some future generation. Adam and Eve, having lost their original glory and knowledge in the fall, now learn as men about dead things. ˘ey also now recognize the evil Creator God, who is roughly equiva -lent in Gnosticism to the Satan of Christianity. Adam then falls into a sleep during which three men come to him whom he does not recognize, because they are not from the Creator God, but presumably from the Great Eternal God. Saying fiAdam, arise from the sleep of deat.fl they restore some of Adam™s knowledge and tell him about the Savior/Illuminator who will eventually be born from his and Eve™s seed. When Adam and Eve hear these things they give a sigh in their hearts which is overheard by the evil Creator God. He then appears before them and insists that he is their god, the god who made them. He somehow causes Adam to lust aˇer Eve (the text is broken here) and there is a second fall. Adam now reveals to Seth the things that the three men taught him, which consist of a vision of the future and of the appearance of the Savior/Illuminator. Adam prophesies that the Creator God will bring the Flood upon the world and destroy all men in order to kill the seed of Seth into whom the original knowledge and glory of Adam have entered. But angels from the Great Eternal God come on clouds and, pluck -ing the seed of Seth from thod, transport them to the place of the spirit of life. ˘e Creator God has in the meantime made a covenant with Noah and his sons, promising to save them and give them king -ship over all the earth if they will bear no seed of those who will not worship him. When the seed of Seth reappears, Noah is accused by the Creator God of breaking this covenant, which Noah denies. ˘e seed of Seth then go into a land by themselves and establish a utopian com -munity where there is no evil foyears, where angels of the Great Eternal God dwell with them, and where they are called by fithe Name.fl between whom and the world they are intermediariesfl ( Webster™s Third New International Dictionary [unabridged], s.v. fiaeon.fl) ˚˝. See Genesis ˛:˛Œ˚.

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˜ BYU Studies Quarterly Noah then divides the earth among his sons and charges his poster -ity to serve the Creator God in fear and slavery. But from the seed of Ham and Japheth ˝men join themselves with the seed of Seth. ˘e remainder of the seed of Ham and Japheth form twelve kingdoms and serve their god Sakla, the Creator God. Inevitably friction arises between the twelve kingdoms on the one hand and the seed of Seth with their ˝converts on the other. To vindicate his power in the eyes of the twelve kingdoms the Creator God sends some of his angels to rain ˆre, sul -phur, and asphalt upon the seed of Seth. But again, the Great Eternal God sends his angels Abrasax, Sablo, and Gamaliel in clouds of light to descend upon the seed of Seth, liˇ them out of the ˆre, and take them away. Some time aˇer this the Illuminator of knowledge himself appears in order to leave for himself fruit-bearing trees (i.e., men who have the gnosis) and to redeem their souls from death. ˘is is the Savior prom -ised to Adam and Eve. He performs great signs and wonders and mocks the powers of the Creator God. Because the origin and power of the Illuminator is something that the Creator God and his angels cannot explain, they fipunish his h.fl Nevertheless, they use fithe Namefl in error, and ask, fiWhere did it come from?fl In answer to this question the twelve kingdoms of Ham and Japheth attempt to explain in short enigmatic statements how he was conceived, born, nourished and thus ficame to the water.fl ˘ese statements follow the pattern of the ˆrst which is, in part: He was fro. a spiri. to heaven. He was nourished in the heavens. He received the glory and the power of the one who is there. He came to the bosom or womb of his mother. And thus he came to the water. Aˇer the twelve kingdoms, a thirteenth adds its account. ˘en ˆnally the fourteenth, the generation without a king, gives the correct answer which is God chose him from all the aeons. He caused a gnosis of the undeˆled one of truth to be in him. She said: fiHe came from a foreign atmo -sphere ( aer ). From a great aeon the great Illuminator came forth. He makes the generation of those men whom he has chosen for himself to shine, so that they shine upon the whole aeon.fl A great cot follows between the seed of Seth, here referred to as fithose who will receive his name upon the waterfl and the thirteen king -doms. Finally the peoples cry out that the seed of Seth is truly blessed and that they themselves are in error, that they have perverted the truth and will die as a result.

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“ ˜ BYU Studies Quarterly a philosophical cosmogony has not yet taken place, and we do not ˆnd any such philosophical abstractions as Sophia, Nous, Sige, or Ennoia . ˘e Apocalypse of Adam is consistently anthropomorphic and literal, showing nothing of the philosophical veneer of a more entangled Gnos -ticism. ˘e only exceptions to this occur in the excursus on the four -teen kingdoms which, as Hans-Martin Schenke and Charles Hedrick have suggested, may be an addition to the original text. Attempts to date the document precisely have been only partially successful. Jean Doresse has suggested that the Gospel of the Egyptians is to a degree dependent upon the Apocalypse of Adam. If this is correct, the Apoca -lypse of Adam is at least earlier than the Gospel of the Egyptians, which is usually dated before the third century ‘.’.˘e text shows unmistakable signs of dependence on a tradition sympathetic to that of the Old Testament, and there is in all probability a Jewish source behind the Apocalypse of Adam. Evidence of this can be found in the testamental form of the document, the Jewish angelology, the myth of the androgynous creation of Adam and Eve, the heavenly voice ( bath kol ), the importance placed on fithe Namefl, and the fact that in this text Adam and Eve commit a real sin and experience a real fall. Likewise the account of the destruction of the Sethian cit˙:˛Œ˚˚ almost certainly draws upon the Old Testament account of the destruc -tion of Sodom and Gomorrah. Furthermore, Josephus, a ˆrst century Jew, is already familiar with the tradition found in our text of Sethians who live apart in their own land, believe that the earth will be destroyed by water and ˆre, and who write their knowledge on pillars of stone. In contrast to these Jewish elements, the Apocalypse of Adam does not contain any elements which are necessarily Christian. All of the ., for example, Irenaeus, Against Heresies , Book ˚, and ˘e Apocry -phon of John (CG II,˚). ˚. Charles Hedrick, fi˘e Apocalypse of Adam: A Literary and Source Analysis,fl Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Literature, ˛nd Hans-Martin Schenke, fiZum Gegenwärtigen Stand der Erforschung der Nag- Hammadi-Handschriˇen,fl Koptologische Studien in der DDR (Halle-Wit -tenberg: Wissenschaˇliche Zeitschriˇ der Martin-Luther-Universität, ˚˙), pp˙. ohn Doresse, fiLe Livre sacre du grand Esprit invisible ou l™Evangile des Egyptiens II: Commentaire,fl JA ˚˛. Genesis ˚ee also Pheme Perkins, fiApocalyptic Schematization in the Apocalypse of Adam and the Gospel of the Egyptiansfl, Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Literature ˛˛ osephus, Antiquities

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˚ šApocalypse of Adam apparent Christian references can easily be explained from pre-Chris -tian or non-Christian sources. Hellenistic mystery religions had many revealer/redeemer ˆgures who taught their chosen followers the mys -teries of salvation. Pre-Christian Judaism had a doctrine of a sering Messiah as Jeremias has shown, and thus George MacRae suggests that the section from the Apocalypse of Adam that deals with the ser -ing Illuminator is in essence a midrash on Isaia If this is true, the sering-Messiah passage does not establish a Christian origin for the document, but rather strengthens the contention that it rests on a Jewish vorlage . ˘e same result obtains in respect to the apparent reference to baptism. ˘e refrain of the thirteen kingdoms fiand thus he came to the water,fl is, to begin with, something of a riddle. Schenke goes back to an older Egyptian meaning for MOOY to get the translation fiand thus he came into appearance,fl making the refrain refer to an epiphany. While this makes the phrase understandable, it relies on a meaning for MOOY which is not attested in Coptic. It is more likely that fiand thus he came to the waterfl refers to the baptism of the gnosind would therefore have the sense of fiand thus he came (at baptism) to knowledge and power.fl Since initiatory baptism was not an exclusively Christian rite, there is no reason to insist that these passages were written by a Christian or that they refer to the baptism of Jesus. In the ˆnal analysis, however, the conviction that the Apocalypse of Adam is pre-Christian is based on an argument from silence, and MacRae cautions us with the reminder that while ˙e Concept of Our Great Power (CG VI, ˝) also contains no single indisputably Christian passage, the combined weight of its allusions and parallels makes its Christian origin certain. In sum -mary, it can be fairly stated that the Apocalypse of Adam is early, that it rcts a Jewish vorlage , and that it may be an example of pre-Christian Gnosticism. ˜e Apocalypse Iranian? Alexander Böhlig has suggested more speciˆcally that the Apocalypse of Adam may be an example of pre-Christian Gnosticism under the ˚. Walter Zimmerli and Joachim Jeremias, The Servant of God , Studies in Biblical ˘eology, noondon: SCM Press, ˚˛˙p. ˙. George MacRae, fi˘e Coptic Gnostic Apocalypse of Adam,fl The Heythrop Journal ans-Martin Schenke, fiGegenwärtigen Stand,fl p. ˚rom Worterbuch, II, ˙

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˜€ ˜ BYU Studies Quarterly uence of Iranian religion. In evidence he oers some Iranian par -allels to the Apocalypse of Adam. For example, Böhlig notes that the three men who come to Adam arrespond to the three Uthras in the eleventh book of the Mandaean Ginza. ˘e descent of holy angels and the polluting of holy waters are also found in the same book of the Ginza. Surely the fact that all three of these motifs from the Apocalypse of Adam are found in the same book of the Ginza is striking and must be given due consideration. But at the same time, it remains that all three of these motifs have Jewish and Hellenistic parallels as well. As Böhlig himself points out, it is likely that the reference to the three m is ultimately derived from the three angels who appear to Abraham in Genesi. Pheme Perkins has drawn attention to a similar passage in ˙e Death of Adam, vv. ˚here Eve sees three men enthrone Adam aˇer his death. ˘e three descending angels, Abrasax, Sablo, and Gamaliel are also found in the Gospel of the Egyptians. Although they are not accused of polluting the waters, the aeons Micheu, Michar, and Mnesinous are speciˆcally said to be over the living waters in Codex Brucianus. ˘e scheme employed in the Apocalypse of Adam of three world ages separated bod and ˆre also appears typically Iranian. But ˆrst century Judaism was already familiar with the same idea, even though it may ultimately have been borrowed. Josephus speaks of the Sethians setting their knowledge up on pillars of brick and stone that would sur -vive these twin cataclysms. Böhlig has further suggested that the formulas of kingdoms seven, eight, ten, and eleven in the excursus on the fourteen kingdoms refer explicitly to the birth of the savior/illuminator Mithra. However, all fourteen formulas are vague at best, and while it is true that some of them contain elements identiˆed with Mithra, these elements are also found in connection with a number of other Hellenistic saviors. If the allusions were more speciˆc we would probably ˆnd that the statements of the thirteen kingdoms represent various ficounterfeitfl saviors from ˝. Alexander Böhlig and Pahor Labib, Koptisch-gnostische Apikalypsen aus Codex V von Nag Hammadi im Koptischeh Museum zv Alt-Kairo (Halle-Witten -berg: Wissenschaˇliche Zeitschriˇ der Martin-Luther-Universität, ˚ heme Perkins, fiApocalyptic Schematization,fl p. ˙˛˝; see also Michael Stone, fi˘e Death of AdamŠAn Armenian Adam Book,fl Harvard Theological Review ˙˛ (˚ odex Brucianus, Baynes Papyru˚. . Josephus, Antiquities

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˚ ˜˜Apocalypse of Adam the Hellenistic mystery religions, including Mithraism, while that of the fourteenth, the generation without a king, represents the fitruefl under -standing of the Savior professed by the Gnostics who produced the Apocalypse of Adam. In any event, it is unlikely that all or most of them refer to Mithra, since Mithra himself is never pictured as a sering Savior as is the Illuminator in this text. It has also been suggested that the fourteen kingdoms may be par -alleled in Iranian religion by the fourteen light aeons of Mani. But it seems more probable that we are presented here with a contrast of thirteen false kingdoms against the one true generation, since we are speciˆcally tohat the generations of the powers use the name, whatever it may be, erroneously. While there are solid Iranian parallels to the Apocalypse of Adam, it may be that the traditions found in the Apocalypse are just as likely to have their antecedents in Jewish and Hellenistic literature and ideas. But, while it may be unnecessary to draw on Iranian religion for ideas that are already found in the Mediterranean world, the fact that parallels can legitimately be called up from both the East and the West suggests that the mythical and religious preconditions of Gnosticism were more ubiq -uitous in the ancient world than is generally thought. ˜e Apocalypse and the Latter-day Saints To Latter-day Saints, interest in the Apocalypse of Adam lies particu -larly in the following parallels to LDS religion. ˘e document is a tes -tament which Adam in the last year of his life leaves to his righteous posterity, the seed of Seth. Adam says that he and Eve were originally created with glory and knowledge. Eve brings knowledge to Adam and as a result fiwe were as the great eternal angels,˝:˚e Creator God (Satan) separates them, thus bringing about a fall. ˘eir original knowledge and glory leave them, and they become mortal. Now they recognize the Creator God. Adam falls into a sleep during which three ephali. ˛. ˘ere are also thirteen aeons in the Pistis Sophia. See G. R. S. Mead, Pistis Sophia (London: John Watkins, ˚˛˝. ˚˙. It should be noted here that if we are correct in interpreting the formulas of the thirteen kingdoms as rep -resenting inaccurate or false utterances, then the formula of the ninth kingdom which may be a reference to the fall of Sophia, may also be the polemic of one Gnostic sect against another.

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