Latin Vita Adae et Evae

Table of Contents

The Latin version of the primary Adam book is commonly known by the name Vita Adae et Evae. Sparks notes that the occurrence in it of transliterated Greek words makes it certain that it is a translation of a Greek original. [2] The Latin Vita Adam et Evae was translated into English by Wells in Charles' APOT together with the Greek Apocalypse of Moses and parts of the Slavonic Life of Adam, and by M.D. Johnson in Charlesworth's OTP together with the Greek Apocalypse of Moses. In The Apocryphal Old Testament, M. Whittaker chose to translate only the Latin Vita Adam et Evae, giving the Greek Apocalypse of Moses 25-30 in an Appendix.Manuscripts and Editions

The text was best edited over 100 years ago by Meyer on the basis of twelve manuscripts (nearly all in Munich) and a number of medieval European versions. [5] Further lists of manuscripts were made by Stegmüller [7]

Meyer identified four manuscript groups, and Mozley added further information about certain of these, and also identified a fifth group. A further subgroup of Meyer's Group III was identified by Thomson. [9] Mozley identified three groups of manuscripts which are affiliated with Meyer's Group II. The following two manuscripts are related most closely to it and he designates them "(ii):"

His eight Group "(i)" manuscripts are also related to Meyer's Group II, but include special passages at the end, dealing with the formation of Adam's body and the giving of his name.

  • W Winchester Cathedral, early s. xiii.

    Meyer's Group III

    This text has minor additions and omissions at various places. Moreover, it omits Chapter 51 a-d, but tells the story of the wood of the Cross in four large additions in Chapters 42-44, 48. [13] A separate subgroup of this text type was identified by Thomson. [15]

    Meyer's Group IV manusc

    This text has certain of the additions mentioned above, but is also much abbreviated. Codicological considerations lead to the conclusion that this manuscript was made from an original dating between 730 and 740, making it an exceptionally old witness to the text.

    Mozley's Group "(iv)"

    This is a compilation of the Vita Adam et Evae with the legend of the Holy Rood, parts of which occurred in Meyer's Group III. They are combined with the material on Adam's body and name to form a connected narrative. [17] Halford prepared a list of all known manuscripts, consulting the published editions and catalogues of manuscripts. She listed a total of seventy-three manuscripts, and it is possible that even more exist.The Text and Its Problems

    Meyer's text is fundamentally based on Group I of manuscripts, but he often has recourse to readings of Groups II and III. The fact that Meyer selected Group I as his text [22]

    Mozley discusses the character of the additional passages found in his manuscripts in some detail. In particular he stresses manuscripts containing additional Sethite and Holy Rood portions and the account of the formation and naming of Adam. [24] We might add that a comparison with the Armenian Penitence of Adam and the Georgian Book of Adam is also likely to show certain common points. [26]

    Halford also draws attention to the vernacular versions of the Latin Vita Adae et Evae. Meyer had already known of some versions in French, English, Italian and German. Referring to the work of Greene, Kelley and Murdoch on the Saltair na Rann, she mentions additional texts in German, Breton, and Italian. [28] Indeed, the relationships of the vernacular versions to the Latin, and to one another, are impossible to determine without a fuller edition of the Latin, giving all the "additional" passages to be found in the various Latin recensions.

    In our judgment, Halford's comments are significant, though they are not completely satisfactory (see below). The presently known Latin text must be regarded as largely tentative, until at least sample collations and a preliminary classification of all the known manuscripts are undertaken. The role of the vernacular versions in the knowledge of the text should be clarified. Moreover, some of the material found in manuscripts other than those of Meyer's Group I, which is often considered "secondary" or "interpolated", may come, as both Mozley and Halford observe, from rather ancient sources.Date

    Meyer observed that the Latin Vita Adam et Evae was translated later than the Latin of The Gospel of Nicodemus and consequently after the third or fourth century C.E.Vita Adam et Evae. [32] No new considerations bearing on the date of the Latin Vita Adam et Evae have been adduced since Mozley's time.Issues in Research

    Almost none of the discussions we have seen has dealt in any detail with the purpose, shape or function of this version, nor with it in comparison with the Greek Apocalypse of Moses or with other primary Adam writings. The only exception, to a limited extent, is the work of Levison in his book Portraits of Adam. He proposes that the Latin Vita Adam et Evae is divided into two main parts and that each such part contains three subsections. The two main parts are chapters 1-29 and 30-48. In each main part he discerns a quest (1-8 and 30-36 + 40); an interruption by Satan (9-17 and 37-39); and an outcome of the quest (18-29 and 41-48). [36] As was true of his analysis of Apocalypse of Moses, here too Levison does not concern himself with the possible function of the book in its Christian context, nor does he deal in any depth with the interrelationship of the two versions he chose to present. Yet his analysis goes beyond anything existing so far.

    One wonders how the relationship of Latin Vita Adam et Evae with Greek Apocalypse of Moses, or else an assessment of the primary or secondary nature of its special materials, could be carried out without first gaining a better picture of its development and functioning in the context of medieval literature. It was Murdoch who devoted some remarks to this, and we quote his apt comments at length:

    The VA [Vita Adam et Evae] does not exist, then, in a single text, but is rather a labile sequence of distinct chapters. Even at its earliest stages there are elements that appear to be contractions or expansions of passages attested at greater or lesser length in say, AM [Greek Apocalypse of Moses]. É Emphases may shift more clearly in the comparison of the extant versions with one another. É The context of the VA must also be considered (both with regard to the Latin texts and more especially with the vernacular adaptations). É The work is frequently seen as a preface to the Holy Rood material, for example, but it also forms part of a chronicle presentation of world history without the explicit soteriological bias.A List of the Latin Manuscripts of Vita Adam et Evae