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Domestic and Material Culture in the Middle English Adam Books

Domestic and Material Culture in the Middle English Adam Books by James M. Dean hesubjectofthisessayisthesmallbutsignificantcorpusofmedievalEnglishwritingsthatderiveultimatelyfromtheLatinVita Adae et Euae,theapocryphalLife of Adam and Eve,composed,inits current,extantversioninperhapstheeighthcentury.Therearesome fiveredactionsoftheLife of AdaminEnglish,twoinverseandthreein prose.ThesetranslationsandadaptationsoftheVita Adaedatefromthe fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The English Adam books include theLife of AdamfromtheAuchinleckMS(inrhymedcouplets,ca.1300­ 25,NWMidlands);theCanticum de creatione(instanzas,ca.1375);Þe lyff of Adam and Eue(intheVernonMS,ca.1370­90,inprose);theproseverBrian Murdoch, The Medieval Popular Bible: Expansions of Genesis in the Middle Ages (Cambridge:D.S.Brewer,2003),43.FordifficultiesofdatingtheVita Adae,seeGaryA. Anderson, "The Penitence Narrative in the Life of Adam and Eve," in Literature on Adam and Eve,ed.GaryA.Anderson,MichaelE.Stone,andjohannesTromp,StudiainVeteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha 15 (Newyork: Brill, 2000), 3­4. Anderson discourages the searchforanUrtextanddescribesthetextas"aconstantlyevolvingdocument"(4).There aremorethanseventyextantmanuscriptsoftheVita Adae.Foradiscussionandlistof manuscripts, see Michael E. Stone, A History of the Literature of Adam and Eve, Society ofBiblicalLiterature,EarlyjudaismandItsLiterature3(Atlanta:ScholarsPress,1992), 24­30.StonemakesthepointthattheVitaisnotjustoneworkbutacompositeofseveral narrative strands.The Middle English Adam books derive, for the most part, from the MeyerTypeII(seenote2). ThesourcefortheLatinwork,theGreekApocalypse of Moses(printedinThe Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament,ed.andtrans.R.H.Charles[Oxford:Clarendon, 1913]),isearlier,probablyfourthcenturyasaterminusante quem.Stoneprovidesdates thatothershavesuggested,buthedeclinestoventurehisownopinionsaboutthosedates (Literature of Adam and Eve,22­23).QuotationsfromtheVita Adaearetakenfromtheeditionofj.H.MozleyinJournal of Theological Studies30(1929):121­47,andwillbecited parentheticallyinthetextbypageandlinenumber.Translationsaremineunlessotherwisestated.MozleykeyedhistexttoEnglishmanuscriptsofthefourteenthandfifteenth centuries;hebasedhiseditionchieflyonMSArundel326(fourteenthcentury).Mozley discussesthemanuscripttradition,includingW.Meyer'sfourmanuscriptgroups,onpp. 121­28. 25 ©2010TheUniversityofNorthCarolinaPress sionintheWheatleyMSandHarley4775(earlyfifteenthcentury);and additionalproserenderingsattachedtotextsoftheGolden Legend. Onewayofunderstandingthisextended,apocryphalstoryofAdam andEveisasaworkofpenance:the"PenitenceofAdam."Theso-called Gelasian DecretalmayhaveunderstoodtheVita Adaethatway,fortheDecretalmentionsa"BookwhichiscalledthePenitencia Adae"amongthe biblicalapocrypha.ThepopularityoftheMiddleEnglishAdambooks has been linked, accurately I believe, with the penitential initiatives ofLateranIV(1215)andrelatedconstitutions.Anotherwaytoreceive thestory,whichIwishtoentertaininthisessay,isasawork--works, rather--ofmedievalrealism:aworkthatfleshesoutandelaboratesbiblicalGenesis.IfGenesiscontainssketchy"firsts"--intheearlychapters, thefirsthumans,thefirstconversations,thefirstdisobedience,thefirst sibling rivalry, the first murder, the first exile, the first bigamist--the MiddleEnglishAdambooksshowwhatsomeofthose"firsts"might looklikeandfeellikeinrealisticsettings.Myconcerninthisessayis not with Seth, the ultimate romance hero of the piece--the one who goesonaGalahad-like"quest,"inEstherQuinn'shappyphrase,forthe "oiloflife."Myinterestisratherwiththeearliersegmentsofthestory, Life of Adam,in The Auchinleck Manuscript: http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

Domestic and Material Culture in the Middle English Adam Books

Studies in Philology , Volume 107 (1) – Jan 13, 2009

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Abstract

by James M. Dean hesubjectofthisessayisthesmallbutsignificantcorpusofmedievalEnglishwritingsthatderiveultimatelyfromtheLatinVita Adae et Euae,theapocryphalLife of Adam and Eve,composed,inits current,extantversioninperhapstheeighthcentury.Therearesome fiveredactionsoftheLife of AdaminEnglish,twoinverseandthreein prose.ThesetranslationsandadaptationsoftheVita Adaedatefromthe fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The English Adam books include theLife of AdamfromtheAuchinleckMS(inrhymedcouplets,ca.1300­ 25,NWMidlands);theCanticum de creatione(instanzas,ca.1375);Þe lyff of Adam and Eue(intheVernonMS,ca.1370­90,inprose);theproseverBrian Murdoch, The Medieval Popular Bible: Expansions of Genesis in the Middle Ages (Cambridge:D.S.Brewer,2003),43.FordifficultiesofdatingtheVita Adae,seeGaryA. Anderson, "The Penitence Narrative in the Life of Adam and Eve," in Literature on Adam and Eve,ed.GaryA.Anderson,MichaelE.Stone,andjohannesTromp,StudiainVeteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha 15 (Newyork: Brill, 2000), 3­4. Anderson discourages the searchforanUrtextanddescribesthetextas"aconstantlyevolvingdocument"(4).There aremorethanseventyextantmanuscriptsoftheVita Adae.Foradiscussionandlistof manuscripts, see Michael E. Stone, A History of the Literature of Adam and Eve, Society ofBiblicalLiterature,EarlyjudaismandItsLiterature3(Atlanta:ScholarsPress,1992), 24­30.StonemakesthepointthattheVitaisnotjustoneworkbutacompositeofseveral narrative strands.The Middle English Adam books derive, for the most part, from the MeyerTypeII(seenote2). ThesourcefortheLatinwork,theGreekApocalypse of Moses(printedinThe Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament,ed.andtrans.R.H.Charles[Oxford:Clarendon, 1913]),isearlier,probablyfourthcenturyasaterminusante quem.Stoneprovidesdates thatothershavesuggested,buthedeclinestoventurehisownopinionsaboutthosedates (Literature of Adam and Eve,22­23).QuotationsfromtheVita Adaearetakenfromtheeditionofj.H.MozleyinJournal of Theological Studies30(1929):121­47,andwillbecited parentheticallyinthetextbypageandlinenumber.Translationsaremineunlessotherwisestated.MozleykeyedhistexttoEnglishmanuscriptsofthefourteenthandfifteenth centuries;hebasedhiseditionchieflyonMSArundel326(fourteenthcentury).Mozley discussesthemanuscripttradition,includingW.Meyer'sfourmanuscriptgroups,onpp. 121­28. 25 ©2010TheUniversityofNorthCarolinaPress sionintheWheatleyMSandHarley4775(earlyfifteenthcentury);and additionalproserenderingsattachedtotextsoftheGolden Legend. Onewayofunderstandingthisextended,apocryphalstoryofAdam andEveisasaworkofpenance:the"PenitenceofAdam."Theso-called Gelasian DecretalmayhaveunderstoodtheVita Adaethatway,fortheDecretalmentionsa"BookwhichiscalledthePenitencia Adae"amongthe biblicalapocrypha.ThepopularityoftheMiddleEnglishAdambooks has been linked, accurately I believe, with the penitential initiatives ofLateranIV(1215)andrelatedconstitutions.Anotherwaytoreceive thestory,whichIwishtoentertaininthisessay,isasawork--works, rather--ofmedievalrealism:aworkthatfleshesoutandelaboratesbiblicalGenesis.IfGenesiscontainssketchy"firsts"--intheearlychapters, thefirsthumans,thefirstconversations,thefirstdisobedience,thefirst sibling rivalry, the first murder, the first exile, the first bigamist--the MiddleEnglishAdambooksshowwhatsomeofthose"firsts"might looklikeandfeellikeinrealisticsettings.Myconcerninthisessayis not with Seth, the ultimate romance hero of the piece--the one who goesonaGalahad-like"quest,"inEstherQuinn'shappyphrase,forthe "oiloflife."Myinterestisratherwiththeearliersegmentsofthestory, Life of Adam,in The Auchinleck Manuscript:

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Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 13, 2009

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