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OHJ – Was Adam Buried in Heaven?

The canonical books of the Old and New Testament are just a fraction of the religious literature that circulated in early Jewish and Christian circles. Some works were very popular and received wide distribution. The Life of Adam and Eve was one such book. It tells the story of Adam and Eve after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden including their deaths. I encourage everyone to read it as it is pretty interesting.

There are several (ancient) translations with variable tellings; the Greek (called the Apocalypse (Revelation) of Moses, and the Greek Life of Adam and Eve) and the Latin are the primary two. The composition dates of what we have now are not known with any certainty, but it is generally thought they are based on an original Hebrew version from the first century AD (or possibly even BC).

In On the Historicity of Jesus (OHJ) Richard Carrier cites the Apocalypse of Moses in support of his background knowledge Element 38 (the heavens were filled with structures and objects), and later in a footnote in the chapter covering the epistles. He makes the following references in Element 38.

OHJ p.195
The notion that Paradise (meaning the Garden of Eden) was located in the third heaven is also explained in the apocryphal Revelation of Moses

note 97. Revelation of Moses 37.4-5; 40.1-2. This text is otherwise known as the Greek edition of the Life of Adam and Eve, an early-first-century Jewish document, possibly translating an even earlier account in Hebrew or Aramaic. …

OHJ pp. 196-197
And in fact the Revelation of Moses says Adam was buried in Paradise, literally up in outer space, in the third heaven, complete with celestial linen and oils.105Thus human corpses could be buried in the heavens. Because there was obviously soil up in Paradise – in fact, not only is all manner of celestial vegetation planted in it, but when Adam is buried in it, he is buried in the same place from which God took the clay of which Adam was made.

note 105. Revelation of Moses 32-41 (esp. 32.4, 37-40); …

Reading M.D. Johnson, “Life of Adam and Eve, A New Translation and Introduction” (1985), in JH Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Volume 2, raises some question about the latter claim as Johnson thinks all the references to paradise but two mean the earthly paradise not the heavenly one. Perhaps he is wrong, and I certainly can’t translate the Greek myself, but some elements of the story, which I’ll review below, strongly suggest he is right.

I should say that in the bigger scheme of things this isn’t a huge deal. Carrier doesn’t lean heavily on this one citation. It should also be noted that this very popular story contains other intriguing parallels to the mythicist version of early Christianity. However, I have heard Carrier cite this idea of burial in heaven in other venues and it appears to me to be wrong.

Adam’s Burial

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Volume 2 (1985) p. 253
Of special interest is the conception of soul and body, seen most clearly in the Greek text, in which at the death of Adam the soul is taken into the third heaven (ApMos 37) while the body is buried in the ground (ApMos 40). Restoration of full life waits the resurrection, when the soul and body will be reunited.

32.3 Even as Eve prayed on her knees behold, the angel of humanity came to her, and raised her up and said: 
32.4 “Rise up, Eve, from your penitence, for behold, Adam your husband has gone out of his body. Rise up and behold his spirit borne aloft [to heaven] to meet his Maker.”


Angelic Liturgy

33.1 And Eve rose up and put her hand on the face (of Adam), and the angel said to her, “Lift up your hand from that which is of the earth.” [Adam’s body is “of the earth”, and she needs to let go of earthly things, so to speak, because everything she and Seth see through 37:6 is taking place in heaven. The first heaven it seems to me.]
33.2 And she gazed steadfastly into heaven, and beheld a chariot of light, borne by four bright eagles, (and) it was impossible for any man born of woman to tell the glory of them or behold their face and angels going before the chariot
33.3 and when they came to the place where your father Adam was [in the heavens], the chariot halted and the Seraphim were between the father and the chariot. 
33.4 And I beheld golden censers and three bowls, and behold all the angels with censers and frankincense came in haste to the incense-offering and blew upon it and the smoke of the incense veiled the firmament. 
33.5 And the angels fell down to God, crying aloud and saying, “JAEL, Holy One, have pardon, for he is Your image, and the work of Your holy hands.” 
34.1 And then I Eve beheld two great and fearful mysteries before the presence of God and I wept for fear, and I cried aloud to my son Seth and said, 
34.2 “Rise up, Seth, from the body of your father Adam [Seth has been looking at Adam’s body on earth while Eve was watching him in heaven], and come to me, and see a spectacle which no man’s eye has yet beheld and how they supplicate on behalf of your father, Adam.” 
35.1 Then Seth arose and came to his mother and said to her: “Why do you weep?” 
35.2 (And) she said to him: “Look up and see with your eyes the seven heavens opened, and see how the body of your father lies on its face and all the holy angels are praying on his behalf and saying: ‘Pardon him, Father of All, for he is Your image.'” 
35.3 Pray, my child Seth, what shall this mean? And will he one day be delivered into the hands of our Invisible God? 
35.4 But who are, my son Seth, the two [dark persons] who stand by at the prayers for your father?” 
36.1 And Seth said to his mother, “They are the sun and moon and themselves fall down and pray on behalf of my father Adam.” 
36.2 Eve said to him: “And where is their light and why have they taken on such a black appearance? ” 
36.3 And Seth answered her, “The light has not left them, but they cannot shine before the Light of all things, the Father of Light; and on this account their light has been hidden.”


Assumption of Adam to Paradise

37.1 Now while Seth was saying this to his mother, behold, an angel blew the trumpet [still in heaven here], and all the angels who were lying on their faces rose up, and they cried aloud in an fearsome voice and said: 
37.2 “Blessed (be) the glory of the Lord from the works of His making, for He has pitied Adam, the creature of His hands.” 
37.3 But when the angels had said these words, behold, there came one of the seraphim with six wings and snatched up Adam and carried him off to the Acherusian lake [interesting tidbit: Johnson notes this is the river over which the dead must cross in Greek myth and that the angel  Michael is said to wash repentant sinners here in the Apocalypse of Paul 22], and washed him thrice, and led him before God. 
37.4 And he stayed there three hours, lying down, and thereafter the Father of all, sitting on his holy throne stretched out his hand, and took Adam and handed him over to the archangel Michael saying: 
37.5 “Lift him up into paradise unto the third Heaven [God decides to have mercy and has Adam’s spirit taken from the first heaven to the third], and leave him there until that fearful day of my reckoning, which I will make in the world.”  
37.6 Then Michael took Adam and left him where God told him [to the third heaven]. And all the angels sang an angelic hymn being amazed at the pardoning of Adam.


Adam and Abel’s Funerary Rites

38.1 But after this joyous event of Adam, the archangel Michael cried to the Father concerning Adam. 
38.2 And the Father commanded him that all the angels should assemble before God, each in his order, some having censers in their hands, and others lyres, bowls and trumpets. 
38.3 And behold, the Lord of Hosts entered 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. [His spirit has been dealt with and now it is time to deal with his body]
38.4 And they came to paradise and all the leaves of paradise were stirred so that all men begotten of Adam slept [The offspring of Adam are on earth not in heaven; this is the earthly paradise God is entering.] from the fragrance save Seth alone, because he was born according to the appointment of God. 
39.1 And God came to the body of Adam and grieved greatly over him and God said to him: “Adam, what is this you done? Had you kept my commandment, those who born you down to this place would not have rejoiced. 
39.2 Yet, I tell you that I will turn their joy to grief and your grief will I turn to joy, and I will return you to your rule, and seat you on the throne of your deceiver. 
39.3 But that one (the one who sat on it prior to his becoming arrogant) shall be cast into this place [Satan is going to be punished by being cast into the third heaven? No.]with that he may see you seated upon it. Then he himself shall be condemned along with those who obeyed him and he shall grieve when he see you sitting upon his throne. 
40.1 Then God said to the archangel Michael: “Go away to Paradise in the third heaven [you don’t send someone to where they already are], and carry away [away, and back to earth] three fine linen clothes.” 
40.2 And God said to Michael and to Gabriel and Uriel: “Spread out the clothes and cover the body [which has not been said to have been moved from earth] of Adam.” And they bore the sweet olive oil and poured it upon him. And the three great angels prepared him for burial. 
40.3 When they finished preparing Adam, God said they should bear the body of Abel also. And they brought more linen and prepared him for burial. 
40.4 For he was unburied since the day when Cain his brother slew him; for Cain took great pains to conceal (him) but could not, for the body sprang up from the earth and a voice went out of the earth saying: [Cain tried to bury him but the body popped right out and the earth, certainly not in the third heaven, said:]
40.5 “No other body can be covered until –with respect to the first creature who was taken from me — the earth from which he was taken is returned to me.” And the angels took at that moment and put him upon a rock until Adam, his father, was buried. [Abel is being buried with Adam and up until now the earth would not accept him. What would be the point of saying this if the burial was taking place in heaven?]
40.6 And God commanded that after they had prepared the body of Abel for burial that they bear Abel up also to the area of paradise [Up could be important I suppose but, I think, the rest of the story shows it doesn’t mean to the third heaven] , to the spot where God had taken the earth and fashioned Adam [The same earth the voice came out of in 40:4-5, who said Adam was taken from it]. And God made them dig the spot for two. 
40.7 And God sent seven angels to paradise and they brought many fragrant spices and placed them in the earth, and afterward they took the two bodies and placed them in the spot which they had dug and built (a sepulcher). 
41.1 And God called and said, “Adam, Adam. “And the body answered from the earth and said: “Here am I, Lord.” 
41.2 And God said to him: “I told you (that) earth you are and to earth shall you return. 
41.3 Again I promise to you the Resurrection; I will raise you up in the Resurrection with every man, who is of your seed.” 
42.1 After these words, God made a three-fold seal and sealed the tomb, that no one might do anything to him for six days [Who is going to do something to him in the third heaven?] till his rib should return to him. 
42.2 Then the Lord and his angels went to their place [back to the heavens].


Eve’s Prayer to Join Adam

42.3 And Eve also, when the six days were fulfilled, fell asleep. But while she was living, she wept bitterly about Adam’s falling asleep, for she knew not where he was laid. For when the Lord came to paradise to bury Adam all were asleep [which would have been unnecessary if it had been happening in heaven] until he finished the burial of Adam except Seth alone. And no one knew (this) on the earth, except her son Seth. 
42.4 And Eve prayed while weeping that she might be buried in the place where her husband Adam was. And after she had finished her prayer, she said: 
42.5 “Lord, Master, God of all virtue, do not alienate me from the body of Adam, from whose members you made me. 
42.6 But deem me worthy, even me who is unworthy and a sinner, to enter into his tabernacle. Just as I was with him in paradise, both of us not being separated from the other; 
42.7 just as in our transgression, we were (both) led astray and transgressed your command, but were not separated, even so now, o Lord, do not separate us.” 
42.8 But after she had prayed, she gazed heavenwards and groaned aloud and smote her breast and said: “God of All, receive my spirit,” and she delivered up her spirit [again, spirit up to heaven, body still on earth].


Eve’s Funeral and Epilogue

43.1 And Michael came and taught Seth how to prepare Eve for burial. And there came three angels and they bore her body and buried it where Adam and Abel’s bodies were. 
43.2 And afterwards Michael spoke to Seth saying; “Lay out in this manner every man that dies until the day of the Resurrection.” 
43.3 And after giving him this rule he said: “Mourn not beyond six days, but on the seventh day, rest and rejoice on it, because on that very day, God and we the angels rejoice with the righteous soul, who has passed away from the earth.” 
43.4 After the angel said these things he ascended into heaven, glorifying (God) and saying: “Allelujah, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father, Amen.”

Adam Made in Heaven
Carrier mentions the Apocalypse of Moses again in a footnote in the chapter covering the epistles.

OHJ p. 570 note 74
note 74. Because on minimal mythicism Jesus was also a man (he was incarnated as one, wearing the flesh of a human being) it’s just that he became a man in the heaven, just as in some Jewish theology Adam did (in 2 Enoch and the Revelation of Moses, e.g.; see Element 38) …

He has in mind here the statement in the Apocalypse of Moses that says Adam was buried in the same soil he was made from, which Carrier has said was in heaven. If I’m right though Adam was buried (and therefore made) on earth so this support evaporates.

Series Navigation<< OHJ – Extrabiblical Evidence – Twin Traditions – Part 2OHJ – Carrier’s Response on Epiphanius and Adam >>

1 Comment

  1. Vince says:

    I want to add a piece of indirect evidence for my conclusion.

    If the Garden of Eden is in the third heaven, then what role is there for an earthly paradise? There would be none, since pre-fall Adam is in that Garden of Eden, and after is in our world. Yet, the entire story line in 9 – 13 depends on there being one, and Adam knowing of it and its contents (a healing oil specifically).

    Adam is dying and sends Eve and Seth off to get an oil to cure his ills.
    9.3 But Adam said to Eve, “Arise and go with my son Seth near to paradise, and put earth upon your heads and weep and pray God
    That it is an earthly trip is plain enough.
    10.1 Then Seth and Eve went to area of paradise. And while they were going, Eve saw her son, and a wild beast assailing him,
    You don’t walk to the third heaven and encounter wild beasts on the way.

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