I am still reading “The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan.” This is a Christian work that dates anywhere from the fifth century C.E. to the ninth century C.E. It was written originally in Arabic and was translated into Ethiopic.
In this post, I would like to highlight two issues:
transubstantiation and the Sabbath. I will be using the translation
that is in The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden.
A. Transubstantiation states that the bread and the wine in the
Eucharist literally become the body and blood of Christ. This belief is
arguably attested in Christianity as early as the second century. See here for patristic references that appear to lean in that direction. (Matthew E. Ferris in Evangelicals Adrift, however, argues that patristic sources manifest more of a symbolic approach to the bread and the wine.)
Transubstantiation appears in “The Conflict of Adam and Eve with
Satan”, Book I, Chapter 69, verse 12. In that chapter, Adam and Eve use
corn to make an oblation to God. God tells Adam and Eve:
“Since ye have made this oblation and have offered it to Me, I shall
make it My flesh, when I come down upon earth to save you; and I shall
cause it to be offered continually upon an altar, for forgiveness and
for mercy, unto those who partake of it duly.”
This is saying that corn will be made into the flesh of Christ. It
also says that this corn will be offered continually on an altar and
will bring forgiveness and mercy to partakers. This sounds like
transubstantiation occurring at the Eucharist, which is a sort of
B. I grew up in and long associated with churches that observed the
Sabbath on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. Many Christians who
go the church on Sunday and do not keep the seventh-day Sabbath argue
that God only gave the Sabbath to the people of Israel, not to all human
beings. Christians who observe the seventh-day Sabbath, by contrast,
tend to argue that the Sabbath is a creation ordinance for all human
beings. They say that the Sabbath originated when God rested on the
seventh day after creation and blessed and hallowed the seventh day
(Genesis 2). According to this view, Adam and Eve kept the Sabbath.
Non-Sabbatarians have countered that God may have kept the Sabbath at
creation, but that does not mean that human beings did so until God
revealed the Sabbath to Israel.
Which view does “The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan” go with?
In Book I, Chapter 56, the Word of God (who would become Jesus Christ)
is contrasting the good things that God has done for Adam with the bad
things that Satan has done. The goal is to encourage Adam to follow
God, not Satan. In v 6, the Word of God lists a day of rest among the
good things that God has given to Adam. The implication here is that
Adam observed the Sabbath.
Yet, Chapter 68, verse 20 complicates things. There, Adam and Eve
resolve to give God an offering three times a week: on Wednesday, on
Friday the preparation day, and on the Sabbath Sunday. There, the
Sabbath is not identified as Saturday, which is when Jews observe it, in
accordance with their interpretation of the seventh day of the week.
Rather, it is identified as Sunday.
The passage is odd, for there still does seem to be an
acknowledgement in the text that Saturday is the seventh day of the
week. Friday, after all, is called the preparation day. Jews regarded
Friday as the preparation day for the Sabbath, which was on Saturday,
the following day. Plus, the day of rest in Genesis 2 is on the seventh
day of the week. Certainly the author of “The Conflict of Adam and Eve
with Satan” knew that!
Could some Christian have inserted “Sunday” into the text at a later
point to make the text accord with Sunday being the Sabbath? Could the
text have originally been presenting Adam and Eve observing the Sabbath
on Saturday? I do not rule that out. “The Conflict of Adam and Eve
with Satan” does, on some level, depict Adam and Eve doing things that
God would later command Israel to do under the Torah: offering
sacrifices, for instance. It is not inconceivable that the text could
depict them as observing the seventh-day Sabbath, as well.
Consider also the statements by Athanasius (fourth century C.E.) and
the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (possibly fourth century C.E.)
that the seventh-day Sabbath commemorates creation (Athanasius, Sabbath
and Circumcision 3; Apostolic Constitutions 7.23; 8.33). Maybe “The
Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan” believes that Adam and Eve observed
the seventh-day Sabbath to honor God as creator, but that Christians do
not have to observe the seventh-day Sabbath because they were part of
the new creation, which began with Christ’s coming, and which Sunday
On the other hand, maybe the text does hold that Adam and Eve
observed the Sabbath on Sunday. Justin Martyr, in chapter 67 of his
First Apology, says that one reason that Christians honor Sunday is that
God began the process of making the world on that day. Could the
author of “The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan” have believed that
Adam and Eve observed Sunday as the Sabbath to honor the day that God
began to create?
Also noteworthy is the Didache, which may date to the first century
C.E. Didache 8:1 says that its Christian audience fasts on the fourth
day and on preparation day. Didache 14:1 affirms that they gather,
break bread, and offer thanksgiving after confessing their sins every
Lord’s day, which is probably the first day of the week. That sounds
similar with what is in “The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan”: Adam
and Eve honor the fourth day (Wednesday), preparation day (Friday), and
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