A TOUCHSTONE REVIEW
The Two Books of Adam and Eve or The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, Rev. S.C. Malan, Vicar of Broadwindsor, trans. (1882)
There is more than one version of the story of the Fall. Older than the story in the Book of Genesis is the living tradition of the spiritual emigration of Man that was handed down by word of mouth for generations. This story, found in part in the Talmud and the Koran, was first put into writing in Arabic perhaps a few centuries before the time of Jesus by an unknown Egyptian author.
From there the manuscript was carried south, where it was translated into Ethiopic and enlarged by an unknown Christian apologist. This is the version that has come down to us, edited from an Ethiopic manuscript with reference to the Arabic by Dr. E. Trumpp of the University of Munich. In 1882 the manuscript was translated into King James English by the Rev. S.C. Malan, Vicar of Broadwindsor. In 1926 the English version appeared in print in the collection titled The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden and was recently published more widely on the World Wide Web, once in 2004 and again in 2017 in a collection of pseudepigrapha. Known as The Two Books of Adam and Eve or The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, this version shares with the book of Genesis a number of familiar mythic anecdotes.
Unlike the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible, this version elaborates the loss of Man’s Bright Nature and Spiritual Body—that is, the Fall from Grace—in a long series of episodes. In this account, Man, in his original state, was an immortal spiritual Being of Light who lived under God and saw all manner of things until he took on a mortal and mutable animal body through the barbaric and impure process of materialization.
The First Book of Adam and Eve
Book I follows the first false moves and ignorant pleas of Man (Adam and Eve) in this new state and the nurturing responses of Spiritual Consciousness (God’s Word) after Man has left the first abode in the Worlds of Light (the Garden). During those first transitory days, Adam and Eve live through several varied deaths and are revived each time by God’s Word.
Chapters 1–16 introduce the act that led to Man’s descent into matter and narrate the story of the first night and the first morning, when Adam and Eve witness their newly altered flesh, now like that of beasts, and weep.
They mourn through the night in the Cave of Treasures provided them by God, burning with thirst and heat and sorrow, cut off from the sight of the Angels of Heaven. Near dawn, Adam rises in the Cave and asks God: “Why has light departed from us and darkness come over us? So long as we were in the Garden, we neither saw nor knew what darkness is.”
God replies: “O Adam, so long as the good angel [Satanael] was obedient to me, a bright light rested on him and on his hosts. But when he transgressed my commandment, I deprived him of that Bright Nature, and he became Dark. When he was in the Heavens, in the Realms of Light, he knew nothing of Darkness. But he transgressed, and he fell from Heaven . . . and it was this Darkness that came upon him. And on you, O Adam, did that Bright Light rest also. But your transgression deprived you of that Bright Light. Yet I did not let you turn into Darkness, but I made you your body of flesh that it may bear cold and heat.”
Adam implores: “O Lord, take my soul and let me not see this gloom anymore; or remove me to some place where there is no darkness.”
God replies again to Adam: “This darkness will not pass from you until the fulfillment of my Covenant, when I will bring you back again into the Garden, into the Abode of Light you long for, wherein is no darkness.”
As the first morning opens, Adam and Eve see the sun rise in glowing rays and feel its heat on their bodies; they are afraid, and they think this flame is God himself come to consume them, until God’s Word informs them that the sun is not God but has been created to give them light by day.
Thus far the story portrays Man’s partial descent into matter.
Chapters 17–65 tell the events of the first disturbing day: the varied deceptions of Satan. In the morning, Adam mistakes the Dark light of Satan for the True Light of God, and in this manner Man begins to know doubt. Confused and divided in thought, Adam remains in the Cave throughout the morning with no consolation. In the afternoon, Satan comes again, this time in the appearance of a wise elder clad in a garment of light with a staff of light in his hands. The Devil convinces Adam and Eve that they are his offspring and that he has come to retrieve them for God. But when Satan takes the two by the hand and begins to bring them out of the Cave, the Word of God comes to drive Satan from them.
Adam relates to God the story of the visit of the good old man who said he was a messenger from God. God sends his Word to Adam in response: “That figure is the father of evil arts, the one who promised you the Godhead and majesty, who brought you and Eve out of the Garden of Delights. He shows himself to you at one time like an angel, on other occasions in the semblance of a serpent, at another time like a god; he does all this to destroy your soul. And now when he saw you and Eve joined together in fasting and prayer, he wished to cut you off from all hope and destroy you. He is unable to do anything to you unless he shows himself in your likeness. But I, with the favor I have for you, did not allow him to destroy you but drove him away from you.”
The whole of the next night Adam and Eve remain in vigilant prayer. On the following morning, they try to rise to go toward the eastern gate of the Garden as God had instructed them, but their strength fails them. The Word of God comes again to teach them how to satisfy their hunger and thirst, so that they do not die. But when they drink water and eat material food, they are filled with great agony. From that hour they know that they are altered beings and that their hope of returning to the Garden is cut off. Their bodies now have strange functions, and flesh that requires food and drink to exist cannot be in the Garden.
Forty intervening chapters describe the work and the vigil that Adam and Eve keep for seven weeks of days. Chapter 69 recounts the fiftieth day, when Satan again appears in the form of a man and pierces Adam in the right side with a sharp iron-stone while he prays. Adam falls dead once more until God revives him.
The narrative of days continues with Man’s further unwitting agreements with the Devil and the alluring events that lead to the wedding of Adam and Eve and the birth of their progeny, Cain and Luluwa and Abel and Aklemia. The final chapters of Book I extol the blessings of the Cave of Treasures and open the extended story of defilements and misfortunes and murders among their progeny and the progeny of their progeny, which continues into Book II and up to the present time.
The Second Book of Adam and Eve
While Book I focused on the misfortunes of Man in his newly altered body. Book II expands upon the ignoble and fascinating acts of the new plurality of men and the allegorical landscape of their new material world.
The story of the new population of Man moves quickly into the episode when Adam’s son Cain and his beautiful twin sister Luluwa become one flesh and go down to the West to the bottom of the mountain, away from the Garden, to begin a rootless and independent existence among the forest of trees.
There Luluwa bears Cain many children, who become a race that prizes robbery and lust and violence. And they multiply until they fill the place. One of them, Lamech, murders their progenitor, Cain.
To Adam a third son is born, Seth, who, after his father’s death, severs his children and his children’s children from the progeny of his brother Cain.
The children of Seth continue to dwell in the heights, fifteen spiritual cubits below the Garden. For nourishment, this spiritual remnant neither sows nor reaps but eats the fruit of well-favored trees that grow on the mountain.
The children of Cain, their hearts inflamed by Satan, gather at the foot of the mountain to lure the children of Seth down into the dark soil of iniquity. Their ravishing music, strong drink, and splendid colorful clothing beguile the spiritual children, who watch for a year the voluptuous fellowship of their estranged brethren before they, relaxed from the counsel of their fathers, descend to share in that fellowship.
When the children of Seth attempt to return, they cannot ascend the mountain. Their nature has been transformed, and the stones of the mountain are now fire flashing before them.
Only Enoch and his righteous sons remain on the mountaintop to administer the Cave of their fathers. For these few there is a prophecy: God will not have them stay in the heights, for all their children have estranged themselves and transgressed God’s commandment. They, the righteous, will be taken down into a strange land. There they are to set their hearts on themselves and keep the commandment of God that is with them to the end of days, when the Word of God will come to those who remain pure in spirit.
With this promise the second book ends. The story of Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, continues in the apocalyptic tales of The Book of Enoch and The Book of the Secrets of Enoch
Author: Robert Petrovich