Adam the High Priest in the Paradise Temple — Margaret Barker

Adam and Eden are the beginning and the end of the Bible.

An overly literal reading of the text can obscure profound insights.

The Return to Eden was an important part of Christian teaching. See Cyril of Jerusalem, First Lecture on the Mysteries, 1.  Jesus is the last/second Adam & great high priest. The NT reverses story of Adam and Eve.

Original temple represented Garden of Eden. Sometimes the word “paradise” is not used in scripture — we often get forest, orchard, garden of delight, garden on plain, etc.

Ezekiel, a priest (Ezek. 1:3), described Eden as the mountain garden of the ‘elohim (Ezek. 28:13–14). The Genesis Eden was the garden where Yahweh of the Elohim (the “LORD God”) walked. Ezekiel’s Eden was the “garden of the gods” on the holy mountain of the gods/God (Ezek 28:12–19). The key figure in Ezekiel’s Eden became Adam. The figure in Ezekiel’s Eden was remembered as a high priest. In Ezekiel, the character driven out was the high priest. Ezekiel’s story is likely earlier than Genesis.

The figure in Ezekiel wore 9 different stones in Hebrew text, but twelve stones in Greek — just like high priest’s breastplate. He was a cherub, or was with the cherub.

In Exod. 25:8-9, 40 — Moses has a vision was the 6 days of creation. He had to replicate on earth what he had seen in his mounatin-top vision. Gen 1 = Exod. 14. The creation of Adam corresponds to the high priesthood.

The temple itself was built as a paradise place. The Great Hall of temple was decorated as a Garden, with cherubim and palm trees carved on the walls (Ezek. 41:15–20). The Temple was on a high mountain just as Ezekiel’s Eden is on high mountain (Ezek. 40:2).  He saw a river flowing from the temple, just as rivers had flowed from Eden (Ezek. 47:1–12).

Righteous are like trees in the temple of the Lord; there was a bronze serpent in temple; also a representation of the chariot(s) to the sun.

2 Enoch 8 — When the Lord returned to Paradise, he rested on throne under Tree of Life; When he returned to Paradise, seated on the chariot of cherubim, all the plants came into bloom, and the throne was set by the tree of life (Apocalypse of Moses 22:3-4).

The temple as Eden was the setting of the Book of Revelation: the heavenly city as a huge holy of holies (Rev. 21:15–16), the tree of life and the heavenly throne, the river of the water of life (Rev. 22:1–2).  – Christians in Holy of Holies. eating fruit of Tree of Life; restored access to the Tree of Life (Rev. 2:7; 22:3-4)

Adam created male and female in Gen. 1, and in Gen. 2 was formed from dust and then given breath of the Lord (Gen. 2:7). Breath of Life — ritual for giving life, power of speech. Only in Garden was Adam separated into distinct male and female beings. He was set “to till and to keep”. Word for till, ‘bd, is technical term for temple service, and keep, shmr, meant to preserve the tradition. Jewish interpretations did not think this was a command about gardening (Genesis Rabbah XVI.5).

Jubilees — Adam had to wait 40 days before entering Eden; Eve — 80 days — purification (Jub. 3:8-14). Adam burned incense as he left Eden (Jub. 3:27). Noah knew Eden as the holy of holies, and the dwelling of the Lord (Jub 8:19).

Apocalypse of Moses — Adam lost his garment of glory, the righteousness with which he had been clothed (Apoc. Moses 20:1–2). St Ephrem, “God clothed Adam with glory” (Commentary on Genesis 2). Adam and Eve in Paradise –garments of glory and beauty – Adam had been clothed with glory in Eden (Book of the Cave of Treasures, I). –Genesis doesn’t say what garment was lost.

At Qumran they wanted to regain “all the glory of Adam”…The knowledge of the Most High…the wisdom of the sons of heaven.” (Community Rule IV)

Adam’s garment of glory was woven by Wisdom, and Adam was proverbially wise -Job 15:7–8 — “are you the first man that has listened in the council of God?”

–clothing of Wisdom — like clothing of high priest; symbolism of vestments (Ben Sira 6:30-31), c.f. Teaching of Silvanus CG VII.4.89, 91; also Gospel of Thomas 78.

Life of Adam and Eve is background to Genesis: — Satan was driven from from Heaven and vowed revenge, as in Qur’an (see Life of Adam and Eve 12-16).

–Satan refused to worship Adam — he claimed was greater/older than Adam — Satan expelled from Heaven for this

This is the story behind Psalm 2 and Jesus’ temptations (Luke 4:7).

Deut. 32:43

–Heb. — all angels are to worship the Son

–Devil asks Second Adam to worship him, to reverse his ancient humiliation

–angels serve Jesus on throne in the wilderness

–all heaven and earth worship the one on the throne

–possible that Adam and Eve story is far more ancient than book of Genesis, instead of a late fabrication

Ezekiel’s visions of the chariot throne leaving the temple were Adam leaving the temple/Eden. The “form and appearance” are technical temple terms. –Forms of the living gods, forms of living spirits — Similar ideas in the Qumran Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice — “form” often translated as Rock — should be the “invisible heavenly form”.

Later teachers–sin made it impossible for Adam to know his true self “Because of sin, it was not given for man to know the d’mut on high; were it not for this sin, all the keys would be given to him and he would know how the heavens and the earth were created…” (Abot de R Nathan, A39)

–King of Tyre was the invisible form of the King of Israel — the fallen high priest figure– Charges against Ezekiel’s fallen high priest figure resemble the words the words to unfallen Adam in Genesis

Adam is the image of the “form” of God

“Be beautiful and great and fill the earth with glory” — may be related to Adam being tall, lustrous, glorious

Genesis Adam was to subdue, kbsh, the earth and have dominion, rdh. But Micah 7:18–19 suggests “binding up” our iniquities.  Adam’s work was one of Atonement — upholding the eternal covenant, binding all things together. “Have dominion” rdh, understood as in 1 Kgs 4:21–24.

–Ezekiel’s vision — Adam’s duty to “subdue” is in Ezekiel “to seal”. Ezekiel’s jewelled figure perfect in beauty perfect in beauty and full of wisdom: Adam beautiful and wise. Jewelled figure corrupted wisdom and become proud through its beauty, filling the earth with vilence, and achieved only greatness in commerce.

–Who was the snake? There was a bronze snake in temple until Hezekiah destroyed it. — Wisdom promises to open eyes and make sons of God, like Satan’s promise (Gen. 3:5)–Satan took the form of the symbol of Wisdom, his first deception. (Think Satan as serpent is similar to “devil coming as an angel of light”)

–Adam’s disobedience was his attitude towards knowledge; he intended to eat Wisdom from the tree of life (Prov. 3:18). He  chose knowledge of good and evil over “wisdom”

Before he sinned, Adam could hear the song of the seraphim singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” (Testament of Adam 1:4), as in Isaiah 6. Adam took gold, frankincense and myrrh from Eden to remind him of the garden, the temple, that he had lost, and these were buried with him (Testament of Adam 3:6). The magi bringing them as gifts to Jesus is the first sign in the New Testament of the new Adam.


This material is based on Margaret Barker’s handout together with notes of my own taken from her presentation.

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