The Exaltation of Seth and Nazirite Asceticism in the Cave of Treasures

in Vigiliae Christianae
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This article argues that the Cave of Treasures mixes Jewish themes concerning the exaltation of Seth with ascetical themes found in Syrian Christian writings about Nazirite purity. The Cave of Treasure’s emphasis on Seth’s priestly duty and sexual purity echoes Syriac Christian authors, like Ephrem and Aphrahat, who also describe Seth in terms of Nazirite purity. Since the East-Syriac recension of the text contains explicit Nazirite influences that are absent from the original pre-fourth-century West-Syriac recension, an East-Syrian scholar probably revised the composition sometime between the fifth- through seventh-centuries. The later redactor took the text’s original emphasis on purity and interpreted this purity according to the East Syriac model of Nazirite asceticism that was common among other seventh-century East-Syriac authors, like Dadisho and Isaac of Nineveh.

The Exaltation of Seth and Nazirite Asceticism in the Cave of Treasures

in Vigiliae Christianae




A. S.-M. RiCommentaire de la Caverne des Trésors (CSCO 581; Leuven: Peeters2000) and A. Toepel Die Adam- und Seth Legenden.


B. Bagatti“Qualche chiarificazione su la caverna dei tresori,” Euntes docete 32 (1979) 277-84 and B. Bagatti “Apocrifi adamitici” Augustinianum 23 (1983) 213-25.


B. Bagatti“Qualche chiarificazione su la caverne dei tresori” 277-84 and B. Bagatti “Apocrifi adamitici” 213-25.


M. J. H. M. Poorthuis“Tradition and Religious Authority: On a Neglected Parallel to Mishna Abot 1.1–10,” Hebrew Union College Annual 66 (1995) 169-201.


S. Ruzer“A Long Way from the Cave of Treasures to Jerusalem: Pilgrimage or Exile?,” Jews and Slavs 10 (2003) 19-26; S. Ruzer and A. Kofsky Syriac Idiosyncrasies: Theology and Hermeneutics in Early Syriac Literature (Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture 11; (Leiden/Boston: Brill 2010) 108-19.


F. Briquel-Chatonnet“Some Reflections about the Figure of Abraham in the Syriac Literature at the Beginning of Islam,” The Harp 22 (2007) 157-75.


See A. Götze“Die Schatzhöhle” 5-91.


See B. Bagatti and E. TestaIl Golgota e la Croce: ricerche storico-archeologiche (Studium Biblicum Franciscanum 21; Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press1978) 27-30 34-30 and B. Bagatti “Qualche chiarificazione su la caverne dei tresori” 282-83.

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