The testament of Adam.
Counted among the pseudepigrapha.
Online Critical Pseudepigrapha.
Religious Studies: Testament of Adam (English only; John C. Reeves).
Testament of Adam (English only).
Sacred Texts: Testament of Adam (English only).
Apocrypha in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
Apocrypha in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).
The testament of Adam is counted as one of the pseudepigrapha.
Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).
Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the testament of Adam:
James Charlesworth writes (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp.
The Syriac and Arabic texts were edited, with critical notes to the Ethiopic,
by C. Bezold (Die Schatzhöhle. 2 vols. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1883-1888),
and the Syriac text of B. M. Add. 25875 was translated into English by E.
A. Wallis Budge (The Book of the Cave of Treasures. London: Religious
Tract Society, 1927). Two Arabic manuscripts of a different recension of the
Cave of Treasures, one on Mt. Sinai and the other in Cambridge, were brought
to the attention of scholars by M. D. Gibson. She edited and translated the
former and appended a description of the latter (Apocrypha Arabica
[Studia Sinaitica 8] London: CUP, 1901).
The present form of the work dates from the sixth century A.D. (Budge, pp.
xi, 21f.), but the original is from about the fourth century, and was written
somewhere near Edessa in Syriac because of the exalted concept of that language
(see Budge, pp. 22f., 132, 230; Gibson, p. 34).
For specialists on the Pseudepigrapha the main question is not how later
sources, like the Book of the Bee, were dependent on the Cave of the Treasures
(see E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Bee. Oxford: Clarendon, 1886),
but how it used and preserved earlier Jewish and Jewish-Christian writings,
e.g. Jubilees and Life of Adam and Eve.
Worthy of special note is a text often appended to the Cave of Treasures
(contrast Gibson's text), the Testament of Adam, which was edited from the
Syriac by M. Kmosko ('Testamentum Patris Nostri Adam,' Patrologia Syriaca,
ed. R. Graffin. Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1907. Vol. 2, pp. 1306-60), and from
a different recension in Arabic by Gibson (pp. 12-17 [in Arabic numbering]).
An English translation is found in Budge's The Book of the Cave of Treasures
(cf. the different recension translated by Gibson, pp. 13-17). This pseudepigraphon
evidences many features that suggest a date of composition in the late second
century A.D. The rewriting of tradition in the second half in which Cain slays
his brother because of jealousy over Lud, their sister (cf. Budge, Cave
of Treasures, p. 70; Gibson, p. 17) may reflect early Syrian asceticism,
perhaps that of the Encratites. Even earlier is the first half, because of
the conspicuous absence of Christian elements and the general early Jewish
tone (cf. the ending with 4Q Morgen- und Abendgebete). Significantly, the
Greek portions preserve only this first section (see the editions mentioned
by A.-M. Denis, no. 24, p. 11, n. 37).
The Testament of Adam is a good candidate for inclusion within the Pseudepigrapha
because of its date and apparent Jewish character. The Cave of Treasures should
not be so included, because it is beyond the chronological limits and is permeated
with relatively late Christian ideas (e.g., "Eden is the Holy Church;"
Budge, Cave of Treasures, p. 62; Gibson, p. 8).
The purpose of the Cave of Treasures is to relate the "succession of
families from Adam to Christ." After the expulsion from Eden, Adam and
Eve dwell in a cave on the top of one of the mountains near Paradise, which
has been shut. The cave is called "Cave of Treasures" because Adam
places therein gold, myrrh, and frankincense "from the skirts of the
mountain of Paradise."
S. E. Robinson writes: "The three sections of the Testament of Adam were
not written at the same time, but the final Christian redaction, in which the
testament took on its present form, probably occurred in the middle or late
third century A.D. This tentative date for the final redaction of the Testament
of Adam is supported by several bits of evidence. First, the testament is familiar
with the Christian traditions found in the New Testament and must therefore
be dated after, say, A.D. 100. Second, part of the Prophecy section is quoted
in the Syriac Transitus Mariae, which is dated in the late fourth century.
Third, the Testament of Adam demonstrates a literary relationship at one point
with the Coptic Apocalypse of Elijah, which is dated in the third century A.D.
Ordinarily this might be due to copying at some later date, but here the Testament
of Adam seems to preserve the passage (a description of the signs of the Messiah)
in a more original form than does the Apocalypse of Elijah and should probably
not be dated after that document." (The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha,