Apocalypse of Adam

The Apocalypse of Adam, discovered at Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt in 1945,[1] is a Sethian work of Apocalyptic literature dating to the first-to-second centuries AD.[2] This tractate is one of five contained within Codex V of the Nag Hammadi library.


Adam in his 700th year tells his son Seth about how when he and Eve had first been created, they used to walk in the glory of the eternal God, and they were in fact more powerful than their creator (Yaldabaoth, the ruler of the aeons). However, that glory and knowledge was lost to them when Yaldabaoth became angry with them and divided them into two aeons (i.e. male and female). They became slaves to the creator, and also to death.[2]

Adam then relates to Seth the hidden knowledge he received in a revelation from three mysterious men. Adam then prophesizes about attempts of the subcreator god to destroy mankind, including the prophecy of the great global flood and of attempted destruction by fire.[3]

Adam further prophesizes that after the floodwaters have receded, God will give the earth to Noah (who will be known to posterity as Deucalion, the hero of the flood caused by Zeus in Greek mythology). Noah will then divide the earth among his sons, Ham and Japheth and Shem, with the caveat that they must always serve God "in fear and slavery". Then the descendants of Ham and Japheth (no mention is made of Shem) will form twelve kingdoms, and also be part of a thirteenth kingdom. "The illuminator of knowledge" will then come to redeem the souls of Noah's descendants.[3]

Adam then foretells the coming of the Illuminator, who will perform miracles and pass knowledge onto Noah's descendants. The powers of God are jealous of the Illuminator, since he appears to be more powerful than they are, and they inquire about his origin. The thirteen different kingdoms each describe a different origin story for the Illuminator, each ending with the phrase "And thus he came to the water". Of these stories, only the "generation without a king," proclaims the truth.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Robinson, SE (1977). "The Apocalypse of Adam". Brigham Young University Studies. 17 (2): 131–53. JSTOR 43040720.
  2. ^ a b Meyer, Marvin W.; Robinson, James MacConkey (1977). The Nag Hammadi Library in English. BRILL. p. 256. ISBN 9789004054349.
  3. ^ a b c MacRae, George W. (2021). "The Apocalypse of Adam". The Nag Hammadi Library. Hollywood, CA: The Gnostic Society Library. Retrieved June 30, 2021.

Further readingEdit

  • Translation by George W. McRae and Douglas M. Parrott from The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990 (ISBN 0-06-066935-7)

External linksEdit