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Jewish apocrypha includes texts written in the Jewish religious tradition either in the Intertestamental period or in the early Christian era, but outside the Christian tradition. It does not include books in the canonical Hebrew Bible, nor those accepted into the canon of some or all Christian faiths.
Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in Judaism
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Writings dealing with this subject are extant in Greek, Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Armenian and Arabic. They go back undoubtedly to a Jewish basis, but in some of the forms in which they appear at present they are Christianized throughout. The oldest and for the most part Jewish portion of this literature is preserved to us in Greek, Armenian, Latin and Slavonic.
- The Greek Διηγησις περι Αδαμ και Ευας (published under the misleading title Αποκαλυψις Μωυσεως in Tischendorf's Apocalypses Apocryphae, 1866) deals with the Fall and the death of Adam and Eve. Antonio Ceriani edited this text from a Milan MS. (Monumenta Sacra et Profana, v. i). This work is found also in Armenian, and has been published by the Mechitharist community in Venice in their Collection of Uncanonical Writings of the Old Testament, and translated by Conybeare (Jewish Quarterly Review, vii. 216 sqq., 1895), and by Issaverdens in 1901.
- The Vita Adae et Evae is closely related and in part identical with the Διηγησις. It was printed by Wilhelm Meyerin Abh. d. Münch. Akad., Philos.-philol. Cl. xiv., 1878.
- The Slavonic Adam book was published by Jajic along with a Latin translation (Denkschr. d. Wien. Akad. d. Wiss. xlii., 1893). This version agrees for the most part with the Διηγησις. It has, moreover, a section, §§ 28-39, which though not found in the Διηγησις is found in the Vita.
Before we discuss these three documents we shall mention other members of this literature, which, though derivable ultimately from Jewish sources, are Christian in their present form.
- The Book of Adam and Eve, also called the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, translated from the Ethiopic (1882) by S. C. Malan. This was first translated by August Dillmann (Das christl. Adambuch des Morgenlandes, 1853), and the Ethiopic book first edited by Ernest Trumpp (Abh. d. Münch. Akad. xv., 1870–1881).
- A Syriac work entitled Die Schalzhöhle translated by Carl Bezold from three Syriac MSS. in 1883 and subsequently edited in Syriac in 1888. This work has close affinities to the Conflict, but is said by Dillmann to be more original.
Armenian books on the Death of Adam (Uncanonical Writings of O.T. pp. 84 sqq., 1901, translated from the Armenian), Creation and Transgression of Adam (op. cit. 39 sqq.), Expulsion of Adam from Paradise (op. cit. 47 sqq.), Penitence of Adam and Eve (op. cit. 71 sqq.) are mainly later writings from Christian hands.
Returning to the question of the Jewish origin of Διηγησις, Vita, Slavonic Adam book, we have already observed that these spring from a common original. As to the language of this original, scholars are divided. The evidence, however, seems to be strongly in favour of Hebrew. How otherwise are we to explain such Hebraisms (or Syriacisms) as ευω ῥεει το ἑλαιον εξ αυτου (§ 9), οὑ ειπεν... μη φαγειν απ αυτου (§ 21). For others see §§ 23, 33. Moreover, as Fuchs has pointed out, in the words ἑση εν ματαιοις addressed to Eve (§ 25) there is a corruption of חבליס into הבליס. Thus the words were: "Thou shalt have pangs." In fact, Hebraisms abound throughout this book.
Jannes and Jambres