18 Dec 2012 
#15 Richard Carrier and the Life of Adam

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The reference is here:
"RC:  To give an example of how diverse Jewish views could be: In The Life of Adam we have Adam being buried in heaven."

Note: I tried to post that comment (slightly edited) on Vridar but it got trashed (no reason given). 

Only the Greek & Georgian versions have a mention of Adam's body being buried in Paradise, located then in third heaven. The Latin, Slavonic and Armenian versions do not.

The translation from the Greek version I used is from The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament R.H. Charles Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1913

Except for the two mentions of the Paradise being in third heaven (xxxvii 4 & xl 2), this "Paradise" is the garden of Eden, located on earth (as in Genesis). This is confirmed all along the text, such as in:
i 1 "This is the story of Adam and Eve after they had gone out of Paradise."
vii 1 "And Adam said to him: 'When God made us, me and your mother, through whom also I die, He gave us power to eat of every tree which is in paradise, but, concerning that one only, He charged us not to eat of it,"

Adam & Seth (with descendants) are definitively living on earth:
"And Adam begat thirty sons and thirty daughters and Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years; and he fell sick and cried with a loud voice and said, 'Let all my sons come to me that I may see them before I die.' And all assembled, for the earth was divided into three parts. And Seth his son said to him: 'Father Adam, what is thy complaint'."
 (v 1-4)

Also, Seth & Eve (alive) go by themselves "towards Paradise" (x 1) and get "near Paradise" (xxx 1) where they meet Adam (near death) in a hut (xiv 1).


Afterwards, Adam dies (xxxii - xxxii), with his spirit going to heaven, but with his body lying on the earth. After being washed by angels (xxxvii) in the Acherusian lake (which was thought in antiquity to be on earth), the body is lying again in front of God. Then God says:
" 'Lift him up into Paradise unto the third Heaven, and leave him there until that fearful day of my reckoning, which I will make in the world.' Then Michael took Adam and left him where God told him." (xxxvii 4)
But next, three sentences later, we learn:
"And lo! the 'Lord of Hosts' came on and four winds drew Him and cherubim mounted on the winds and the angels from heaven escorting Him and they came on the earth, where was the body of Adam. And they came to paradise and all the leaves of paradise were stirred so that all men begotten of Adam slept from the fragrance save Seth alone, because he was born 'according to the appointment of God '. Then Adam's body lay there in paradise on the earth and Seth grieved exceedingly over him." (xxxviii 3-5)
So Adam's body is transported to paradise on earth. Therefore, it looks that "unto the third heaven" is an interpolation.

The next verse also has paradise in third heaven:
"Then God spake to the archangel(s) Michael, (Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael): 'Go away to Paradise in the third heaven, and strew linen clothes and cover the body of Adam and bring oil of the 'oil of fragrance' and pour it over him." (xl 1-2)
But the body of Adam, as last reported, was on earth, not in third heaven!
Later Abel is buried close to Adam "in the spot where God found the dust [when he created Adam]" (xl 6), which is, according to Genesis, on earth.
Still later (xliii), Eve is buried close to Adam and Abel. And after helping Seth for the burial, Michael ascends to heaven (which shows, again, the burial was on earth).

Note: if you still think "Life of Adam" had initially Adam's burial in heaven, then you should add up the ones of Abel & Eve as also in heaven, because the three of them are buried side by side. However, there is no statement in the text saying the bodies of Abel & Eve are transported by angels to third heaven!

So, I think my analysis proves that the two "unto/in the third heaven" are later interpolations, probably coming from someone who knew 2 Enoch 8 (which also places Paradise = garden of Eden in third heaven) or/and 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 (which puts Paradise in third heaven)

Note: Italics added following Gakuseidon's comment
Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {burial} {Carrier} {Life of Adam} {mythicism} {Vridar}
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Comment from: Andrew Criddle

As I noted on FRDB there is textual evidence for omitting the references to ''third heaven'' in the "Life of Adam". However it is maybe unlikely that both references are interpolations.
2013-01-02
Comment from: mullerb

Thanks Andrew for your reply. But I would have preferred you also posted it on this blog.

Anyway, I reproduce here the reply from Andrew Criddle on FRDB:

"There is actually substantial textual evidence for omitting both occurrences of "third heaven" in the Greek text of the Life of Adam. In the critical Greek text prepared by DA Bertrand La Vie Grecque D'Adam et Eve "third heaven" is omitted in both chapter 37 and chapter 40, with textual notes arguing that in both cases it is a later (Christian) interpolation.

However, other scholars have strongly criticized Bertrand over this. (There is a widespread feeling that Bertrand tends where manuscripts disagree to choose the easiest reading.) One issue is that although most the good Greek manuscripts omit one of the occurrences of "third heaven" none seem to omit both. I.E. some of the good manuscripts have "third heaven" in chapter 37 some have it in chapter 40 and some (not the very best manuscripts) have it in both. The reading in chapter 37 is unto hEWS the third heaven while the reading in chapter 40 is split between unto (imitating chapter 37) and in EN the third heaven.

It is probably best to follow the oldest and probably best manuscript and its close ally and read "third heaven" in chapter 37 and omit it in chapter 40. This gives us a text in which Adam (?? the soul of Adam ??) is washed in the Acherusian lake and taken to the Paradise in the third heaven. Subsequently the body of Adam is buried in the Paradise on this earth. The author was apparently not bothered about complete consistency but the burial of the body of Adam probably occurs on this earth and not in the third heaven.

Although most scholars still regard the Life of Adam as a Jewish work, some leading scholars, e.g. M de Jonge, regard it as a late 2nd century Christian work arguing that the Acherusian lake occurs only in Christian accounts of the afterlife not in Jewish ones."

BM: It is still my opinion one or both "third heaven" were added up. Why?
Because the rest of the text puts the body of Adam on earth (ch. 38) (after it was transported to third heaven -- ch. 37) and buried on earth (ch. 40b) (after Michael went back to third heaven to prepare the body for burial -- ch. 40a). Furthermore, Adam can get out of Paradise without the help of angels (ch. 29 ) and Eve, Seth & Adam can get close to Paradise on their own (ch. 13-14).
Having only one "third heaven" in the text, which is enough to locate Paradise in heaven, still creates all the inconsistencies I just described.
All these inconsistencies become non-existent if the two "third heaven" are removed. And I am most doubful the original author would have incorporated anyone of these "third heaven" in view of the incoherences it caused. If he ever did, he would have written the remaining of his text in such a way to prevent any non-sense.

However, I do not agree with you on this point: we are not dealing with Adam's soul in ch. 37, because I cannot imagine a soul being (carried to and) washed in a lake (and requiring a six winged seraphim for doing that!). Furthermore it seems Adam's soul went to the seventh heaven prior to that (ch. 35).

Cordially, Bernard
2013-01-02
Comment from: Andrew Criddle

Hi Bernard
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

One problem with having everything happen on earth is that the Acherusian Lake is almost certainly related to the Acheron the river of the dead. It is unlikely to refer to a lake on our earth.
2013-01-03
Comment from: mullerb

Hi Andrew,
I checked on Wikipedia: the river and the lake were located by ancients either on earth or in the underworld, but never in heaven.
Cordially, Bernard
2013-01-03