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Adamic language

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Template:Semiprotected The Adamic language is, according to Abrahamic traditions, the language spoken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Adamic is typically identified with either the language used by God to address Adam, or the language invented by Adam (Book of Genesis 2:19).


Traditional Jewish exegesis such as Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 38) says that Adam spoke Hebrew because the names he gives Eve - "Isha" (Book of Genesis 2:23) and "Chava" (Genesis 3:20) - only make sense in Hebrew. By contrast, Kabbalism assumed an "eternal Torah" which was not identical to the Torah written in Hebrew. Thus, Abulafia in the 13th century assumed that the language spoken in Paradise had been different from Hebrew, and rejected the claim then current also among Christian authors, that a child left unexposed to linguistic stimulus would automatically begin to speak in Hebrew.[1]

Eco (1993) notes that Genesis is ambiguous on whether the language of Adam was preserved by Adam's descendants until the confusion of tongues (Genesis 11:1-9), or if it began to evolve naturally even before Babel (Genesis 10:5).[2]

Dante addresses the topic in his De Vulgari Eloquentia. He argues that the Adamic language is of divine origin and therefore unchangeable.[3] He also notes that according to Genesis, the first speech act is due to Eve, addressing the serpent, and not to Adam.[4]

In his Divina Commedia, however, Dante changes his view to another that treats the Adamic language as the product of Adam.[5] This had the consequence that it could not any longer be regarded immutable, and hence Hebrew could not be regarded as identical with the language of Paradise. Dante concludes (Paradiso XXVI) that Hebrew is a derivative of the language of Adam. In particular, the chief Hebrew name for God in scholastic tradition, El, must be derived of a different Adamic name for God, which Dante gives as I.[6]

Early Modern

Template:Unrefsect Some Early Modern scholars[who?] on basis of Genesis 10:5 have assumed that the Japhetite languages are the direct descendants of the divine language, having separated before the confusion of tongues, by which also Hebrew was affected, confirming in this way Emmerich's private revelations.

Elizabethan scholar John Dee makes references to an occult or angelic language recorded in the private journals of his and his seer Edward Kelley. Dee's journals did not describe the language as "Enochian", instead preferring descriptors like "Angelical", the "Celestial Speech", the "Language of Angels", the "First Language of God-Christ", the "Holy Language", or "Adamical" because, according to Dee's Angels, it was used by Adam in Paradise to name all things. The language was later dubbed "Enochian", due to Dee's assertion that the Biblical Patriarch Enoch had been the last human (before Dee and Kelley) to know the language.


Anne Catherine Emmerich

The Catholic nun Anne Catherine Emmerich stated in her private revelations that most direct descendants of the Adamic language were Bactrian, Zend and Indian languages. In this way Emmerich possibly identifies divine language as Proto-Indo-European language. According to her, it was written in sentence-level ideographic script that was more abstract than word-level ideographic script.[7]

Latter-day Saints movement

Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, in his version of the Bible, declared the Adamic language to have been "pure and undefiled".[8] Some Latter Day Saints believe it to be the language of God.[9]

Some other early Latter-day Saint leaders, including Brigham Young,[10] Orson Pratt[11] and Elizabeth Ann Whitney[12] claimed to have received several words in the Adamic language in revelations. Some Latter Day Saints believe that the Adamic language is the "pure language" spoken of by Zephaniah[13] and that it will be restored as the universal language of humankind at the end of the world.[14][15][16]

Latter-day Saint Apostle Orson Pratt declared that "Ahman", part of the name of the settlement "Adam-ondi-Ahman" in Daviess County, Missouri, was the name of God in the Adamic language.[11]

The Latter-day Saint Endowment prayer circle once included use of the words "Pay Lay Ale",[17] which some adherents believed were Adamic words meaning "Oh God, hear the words of my mouth".[18] The untranslated words are no longer used in temple ordinances and have been replaced by the English version.[19] Some think that the "Pay Lay Ale" sentence is derived from the Hebrew phrase "pe le-El", פה לאל 'mouth to God'.[19]

Other words thought by some Latter-day Saints to derive from the Adamic language include deseret ("honey bee", see Ether 2:3, but some argue "deseret" can be traced to the Egyptian word dsrt, which in fact refers to the honey bee), [20] and Ahman ("God"). Some[who?] have also taken the word shelem to mean "height" (see Ether 3:1) though the passage states, "...which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height..." not necessarily implying that the word actually means "height," but more practically that the word has at least something to do with "exceeding height."

In the Pearl of Great Price, a section of Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible, it refers to "a Book of Remembrance", written in language of Adam.[21]

See also


  1. Eco (1993), p. 32 f.
  2. Eco (1993), 7-10.
  3. Mazzocco, p. 159
  4. mulierem invenitur ante omnes fuisse locutam. Eco (1993), p. 50.
  5. Mazzocco, p. 170
  6. Paradiso 26.133f.; Mazzocco, p. 178f.
  7. Anne Catherine Emmerich, Life of Jesus Christ And Biblical Revelations, 6. Noah and his posterity, 7. The Tower of Babel (1790)
  8. Book of Moses 6:6.
  9. John S. Robertson, "Adamic Language", in Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: Macmillan) 1:18–19.
  10. Brigham Young, "History of Brigham Young", Millennial Star, vol. 25, no. 28, p. 439 (1863-07-11), cited in History of the Church 1:297, footnote (Young prays in the Adamic tongue).
  11. 11.0 11.1 Journal of Discourses 2:342 (God = "Ahman"; Son of God = "Son Ahman"; Men = "Sons Ahman"; Angel = "Anglo-man").
  12. Woman's Exponent 7:83 (1 November 1878) (Whitney sings a hymn in the Adamic tongue).
  13. Zephaniah 3:9
  14. Oliver Cowdery, "The Prophecy of Zephaniah", Evening and Morning Star, vol. 2, no. 18, p. 142 (March 1834).
  15. Bruce R. McConkie (1966, 2d ed.). Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft) p. 19.
  16. Ezra Taft Benson (1988). Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft) p. 93.
  17. Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, The Mormon Murders (New York: St. Martins's Press, 1988) ISBN 0312934106, p. 69. "the sign of the Second Token [is] raising both hands and then lowering them while repeating the incantation "Pay Lay Ale" three times"
  18. Tamra Jean Braithwaite, A Mormon Odyssey (Xlibris Co., 2003) ISBN 1413418783, p. 212. "In 1990, several significant portions of the endowment ceremony performed worldwide in Latter-day Saint temples were eliminated" including "the chanting in unison of "Pay Lay Ale, Pay Lay Ale, Pay Lay Ale" (supposedly meaning "Oh God, hear the words of my mouth" in the Adamic language)."
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Current Mormon Temple Ceremony Now Available", Salt Lake City Messenger, no. 76, November 1990.
  20. Dr. Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Deseret and the World of the Jaredites (Shadow Mountain, 1998) ISBN 0875791328 pp. 184-85
  21. Moses 6:5, 46.

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