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Genesis 3:1-6

This is a splendid composition in which the rigid demarcation of space created by the tree is resolved into a deadly circle of sin by the participants. Satan, in the form of the fallen angel Lucifer, spews out the snake who gives the apple to Eve. She, facing the cause of her downfall, passes the apple to Adam who receives it with one hand and eats it with the other. This is a form of continuous narrative, compressing several separate dramatic moments into one scene.

Lucifer sending an emissary to perform the evil deed is an Anglo-Saxon feature, illustrated in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 11, p20 (the Caedmon Genesis). In the Anglo-Norman play Le Mystère d’Adam, written in the mid-12th century, Diabolus himself enacts the temptation while the apple is only passed to Eve by the serpent after he has left the stage (Studer, 1949, xxii; AP, 57, pl 108).

Adam and Eve, seated beside the tree instead of standing, are also shown in Caedmon’s Genesis. In that example their position signifies penitence and dejection after the Fall.

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