the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
The various philosophical (Gnostic) views concerning the original man are, in spite of their differences, intimately related, being a compound of Oriental mythology, Greek philosophy, and rabbinical theology. The first to use the expression "original man," or "heavenly man," is Philo, in whose view the γενικός, or ουράντος ἄνθρωπος, "as being born in the image of God, has no participation in any corruptible or earthlike essence; whereas the earthly man is made of loose material, called a lump of clay" ("De Allegoriis Legum," I. ). The heavenly man, as the perfect image of the Logos, is neither man nor woman, but an incorporeal intelligence purely an idea; while the earthly man, who was created by God later, is perceptible to the senses and partakes of earthly qualities ("De Mundi Opificio," 1:46). Philo is evidently combining Midrash and philosophy, Plato and the rabbis. Setting out from the duplicate Biblical account of Adam, who was formed in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and of the first man, whose body God formed from the earth (Genesis 2:7), he combines with it the Platonic doctrine of ideas; taking the primordial Adam as the idea, and the created man of flesh and blood as the "image." That Philo's philosophic views are grounded on the Midrash, and not vice versa, is evident from his seemingly senseless statement that the "heavenly man," the οὐράνιος ἄνθρωπος (who is merely an idea), is "neither man nor woman." This doctrine, however, becomes quite intelligible in view of the following ancient Midrash. The remarkable contradiction between the two above-quoted passages of Genesis could not escape the attention of the Pharisees, to whom the Bible was a subject of close study. In explaining the various views concerning Eve's creation, they taught ('Er. 18a, Gen. R. ) that Adam was created as a man-woman (androgynos), explaining (Genesis 1:27) as "male and female" instead of "man and woman," and that the separation of the sexes arose from the subsequent operation upon Adam's body, as related in the Scripture. This explains Philo's statement that the original man was neither man nor woman.
This doctrine concerning the Logos, as also that of man made "in the likeness" ("De Confusione Linguarum," ), though tinged with true Philonic coloring, is also based on the theology of the Pharisees. For in an old Midrash (Gen. R. 8:1) it is remarked: "'Thou hast formed me behind and before' (Psalms 139:5) is to be explained 'before the first and after the last day of Creation.' For it is said, 'And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,' meaning the spirit of the Messiah ["the spirit of Adam" in the parallel passage, Midr. Teh. to 139:5; both readings are essentially the same], of whom it is said (Isaiah 11:2), 'And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.'" This contains the kernel of Philo's philosophical doctrine of the creation of the original man. He calls him the idea of the earthly Adam, while with the rabbis the (spirit of Adam) not only existed before the creation of the earthly Adam, but was preexistent to the whole of creation. From the preexisting Adam, or Messiah, to the Logos is merely a step.
The above-quoted Midrash is even of greater importance for the understanding of the Pauline Christology, as affording the key to Paul's doctrine of the first and second Adam. The main passage in Pauline Christology is 1 Corinthians 15:45-50. According to this there is a double form of man's existence; for God created a heavenly Adam in the spiritual world and an earthly one of clay for the material world. The earthly Adam came first into view, although created last. The first Adam was of flesh and blood and therefore subject to death—merely "a living soul"; the second Adam was "a life-giving spirit"—a spirit whose body, like the heavenly beings in general, was only of a spiritual nature. The apparently insuperable difficulty of the Pauline Christology which confronts the expounders of the New Testament (see, for instance, Holtzmann, "Lehrbuch der Neu-Testamentlichen Theologie," 2:75 et seq.) disappears entirely when reference is made to the Midrash. As a pupil ofGamaliel, Paul simply operates with conceptions familiar to the Palestinian theologians. Messiah, as the Midrash remarks, is, on the one hand, the first Adam, the original man who existed before Creation, his spirit being already present. On the other hand, he is also the second Adam in so far as his bodily appearance followed the Creation, and inasmuch as, according to the flesh, he is of the posterity of Adam. Paul, therefore, is not dependent upon Philo for his Christology, as most scholars hold; indeed, he differs from him on most essential points. With Philo the original man is an idea; with Paul he is the personality of Jesus. With Philo the first man is the original man; Paul identifies the original man with the second Adam. The Christian apostle evidently drew upon the Palestinian theology of his day; but it can not be denied that in ancient times this theology was indebted to the Alexandrians for many of its ideas, and probably among them for that of preexistence. The Midrash thus considered affords a suitable transition to the Gnostic theories of the original man.
It has been said that the Midrash already speaks of the spirit (πνεῦμα) of the first Adam or of the Messiah without, however, absolutely identifying Adam and Messiah. This identification could only be made by persons who regarded only the spirit of the Scripture (meaning, of course, their conception of it) and not the letter as binding; who lived in a medium more exposed to the heathen mythology than that of the rabbinical schools. In such circles originated the Clementine "Homilies" and "Recognitions," in which the doctrine of the original man (called also in the Clementine writings "the true prophet") is of prime importance. It is quite certain that this doctrine is of Judæo-Christian origin. The identity of Adam and Jesus seems to have been taught in the original form of the Clementine writings. The "Homilies" distinctly assert:
"If any one do not allow the man fashioned by the hands of God to have the holy spirit of Christ, is he not guilty of the greatest impiety in allowing another, born of an impure stock, to have it? But he would act most piously if he should say that He alone has it who has changed His form and His name from the beginning of the world, and so appeared again and again in the world until, coming to his own times, . . . He shall enjoy rest forever"
The "Recognitions" also lay stress upon the identity of Adam and Jesus; for in the passage (1:45) wherein it is mysteriously hinted that Adam was anointed with the eternal oil, the meaning can only be that Adam is the anointed (). If other passages in the "Recognitions" seem to contradict this identification they only serve to show how vacillating the work is in reference to the doctrine of the original man. This conception is expressed in true Philonic and Platonic fashion in 1:18, where it is declared that the "interna species" (ἰδέα) of man had its existence earlier. The original man of the Clementines is, therefore, simply a product of three elements, namely, Jewish theology, Platonic-Philonic philosophy, and Oriental theosophy; and this fact serves to explain their obscurity of expression on the subject.
Other Gnostic Systems.
In close relationship to the Clementine writings stand the Bible translator Symmachus and the Jewish-Christian sect to which he belonged. Victorinus Rhetor ("Ad Gal." 1:19; Migne, "Patr. Lat." col. 1155) states that "The Symmachiani teach 'Eum—Christum—Adam esse et esse animam generalem.'" The Jewish-Christian sect of the Elcesaites also taught (about the year 100) that Jesus appeared on earth in changing human forms, and that He will reappear (Hippolytus, "Philosophoumena," 10:25). That by these "changing human forms" are to be understood the appearances of Adam and the patriarchs is pointed out by Epiphanius ("Adversus Hæreses," 30:3), according to whom the Jewish-Christian sects of Sampsæans, Ossenes, Nazarenes, and Ebionites adopted the doctrine of the Elcesaites that Jesus and Adam are identical.
A portion of these Gnostic teachings, when combined with Persian and old Babylonian mythology, furnished Manes, or Mani, with his particular doctrine of the original man. He even retains the Jewish designations "Insan Kadim" (= ) and "Iblis Kadim" (= ), as may be seen in the Fihrist. But, according to Manes, the original man is fundamentally distinct from the first father of the human race. He is a creation of the King of Light, and is therefore endowed with five elements of the kingdom of light; whereas Adam really owes his existence to the kingdom of darkness, and only escapes belonging altogether to the number of demons through the fact that he bears the likeness of the original man in the elements of light concentered in him. The Gnostic doctrine of the identity of Adam, as the original man, with the Messiah appears in Manes in his teaching of the "Redeeming Christ," who has His abode in the sun and moon, but is (as Kessler, in Herzog's "Realencyclopädie für Protestant. Theologie," 2 ed. 9:247, has pointed out) identical with the original man. It also appears in this theory that Adam was the first of the sevenfold series of true prophets, comprising Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Zoroaster, Buddha, and Jesus. The stepping-stone from the Gnostic original man to Manicheism was probably the older Mandæan conception, which may have exercised great influence. Of this conception, however, there remains in the later Mandæan writings little more than the expression "Gabra Ḳadmaya" (=Adam Ḳadmon; Kolasta, 1:11).
The relation of the Mohammedan sects to Jewish Gnosticism in their teachings concerning the incarnation of the Divine Being is very uncertain. It is only known that their theories contain more Gnostic than Buddhist elements; and in this connection it was probably not by mere accident that the founder of one of their sects, ABDALLAH IBN SABA (652), was a Jewish apostate. Their Gnostic character plainly appeared a century later (765), when Abdallah's views were systematized by the Ismailians. Their doctrine was then stated as follows: "God has effected seven successive incarnations of His being, in the shape of prophets whom He sent into the world; and these were Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, and the Mahdi" (August Müller, "Der Islam," 1:588). It is not difficult to discern herein the Clementine theory of the sevenfold prophetic chain beginning with Adam and ending with the Messiah (Mahdi).
A further development of the Mohammedan doctrine is that of Darosi, whose adherents, under the name of Druses, form at the present day an independent community, religiously as well as politically. Darosi in 1017 publicly preached in the mosques that Adam's soul had passed into Ali, his son-in-law, and from him to the Fatimides (Müller, ib. 1:632). It is interesting to note that the identification, partial or complete, of Adam (the original man) with the Savior of man is universal, however varying the conception of the Messiah-Mahdi may be.
For practical reasons the consideration of the subject of Adam Ḳadmon in the Cabala has been reserved for the end of this article. Before discussing the subject it will be well to revert to the ancient rabbinical sources already referred to. There is a fundamental theosophical statement by Akiba in the Talmud relative to this topic to which no reference has yet been made. He says, in Abot, 3:14, "How favored is man, seeing that he was created in the image! as it is said, 'For in the image, made man'" (Genesis 9:6). That "in the image" does not mean "in the image of God" needs no proof; for in no language can "image" be substituted for "image of God." There is, moreover, another difficulty in this passage: the verse quoted is not that of Genesis 1:27, wherein the creation of man in the image of God is primarily stated. Genesis 9:6 treats only secondarily of man's creation. The selection of a secondary quotation in support is not a little surprising to those familiar with the usual rabbinical mode of quotation. In point of fact Akiba does not speak only of the image () according to which man was created, but also of the likeness (; Gen. R. 34:14). really has no other signification than "after the image." Akiba, who steadfastly denies any resemblance between God and other beings—even the highest type of angels—teaches that man was created after an image—that is, an archetype—or, in philosophical phrase, after an ideal, and thus interprets Genesis 9:6, "after an image God created man," an interpretation quite impossible in Genesis 1:27. Compare the benediction in Ket. 8a, , wherein God is blessed because "He made man in His image , in the image of a form created by Him." The concluding explanatory words of this benediction intimate, in Akiba's style, that Adam was created after the image of a God-created type ().
Closely related to the Philonic doctrine of the heavenly Adam is the Adam Ḳadmon (called also Adam 'Ilaya, the "High Man," the "Heavenly Man") of the Zohar, whose conception of the original man can be deduced from the following two passages: "The form of man is the image of everything that is above [in heaven] and below [upon earth]; therefore did the Holy Ancient [God] select it for His own form" (Idra R. 141b). As with Philo the Logos is the original image of man, or the original man, so in the Zohar the heavenly man is the embodiment of all divine manifestations: the Ten Sefirot, the original image of man. The heavenly Adam, stepping forth out of the highest original darkness, created the earthly Adam (Zohar, 2:70b). In other words, the activity of the Original Essence manifested itself in the creation of man, who at the same time is the image of the Heavenly Man and of the universe (Zohar, 2:48), just as with Plato and Philo the idea of man, as microcosm, embraces the idea of the universe or macrocosm.
The conception of Adam Ḳadmon becomes an important factor in the later Cabala of Luria. Adam Ḳadmon is with him no longer the concentrated manifestation of the Sefirot, but a mediator between the En-Sof ("Infinite") and the Sefirot. The En-Sof, according to Luria, is so utterly incomprehensible that the older cabalistic doctrine of the manifestation of the En-Sof in the Sefirot must be abandoned. Hence he teaches that only the Adam Ḳadmon, who arose in the way of self-limitation by the En-Sof, can be said to manifest himself in the Sefirot. This theory of Luria's, which is treated by Ḥayyim Vital in "'Eẓ Ḥayyim; Derush 'Agulim we-Yosher" (Treatise on Circles and the Straight Line), leads, if consistently carried out, to the Philonic Logos.
- Hausrath, N. T. Zeitgesch. 2:163 et seq., 3:88-96;
- Siegfried, Philo von Alexandrien (see index);
- Hilgenfeld, Clementinische Recognitionen und Homilien (see index), Jena, 1848;
- Uhlhorn, Die Homilien und Recognitionen (see index);
- Franck, Système de la Kabbale, trans. by Jellinek, pp. 130 et seq., 166.
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Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Adam Ḳadmon'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​a/adam-admon.html. 1901.