Adamic language

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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

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.

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