Play 3, The Creation of Adam and Eve
Play 3, THE CREATION OF ADAM AND EVE: EXPLANATORY NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: AV: Authorized (“King James”) Version; Meditations: Meditations on the Life of Christ, trans. Ragusa and Green; MED: Middle English Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; RB: Richard Beadle, ed., York Plays; REED: Records of Early English Drama; YA: Davidson and O’Connor, York Art; York Breviary: Breviarium ad usum insignis ecclesie Eboracensis; York Missal: Missale ad usum insignis ecclesiae Eboracensis.
References to the Ordo paginarum are to REED: York, 1:16–27.
The Cardmakers, or Combsmiths, a craft that made the necessary tools for carding wool and presumably other similar items of manufacture, produced this pageant, which required that the actors who played Adam and Eve must appear in simulated nudity, probably effected with tawed leather suits as in the Cornish Creacion of the World which specifies suits of “whytt lether” (line 343 s.d.). The same type of costume would presumably have been used for other pageants in which Adam and Eve appear. The creation of Adam is shown in a panel in the Great East Window of the Minster, though this glass is heavily restored and hence should be cited with care.1 The play was copied into the Register twice; see textual notes.
23 Eftyr my schape and my lyknes. Genesis 1:26 reports that God made Adam after his image (imaginem) and likeness (similitudinem). The primacy of Adam is implied in that he was first created, then Eve, and this is reinforced in the second Creation account in Genesis which has her made from one of Adam’s body parts.
31–32 Death is already assumed as part of life, as if God already has foreknowledge of Adam’s fall, resulting eventually in his death and the death of all humans throughout history.
35 erthe. In the second Creation story in Genesis, the “slime of the earth” is the substance from which Adam was made; see Genesis 2:7.
38 lyft rybe. While the second Creation account contains the story of Eve’s creation from the rib of Adam, it does not specify the left. The left side was traditionally associated with the feminine, considered weaker, and in some locales in northern Europe women and children were relegated to the left side in church, the men to the right. The 1565 property list of the Norwich Grocers’ play included a “Rybbe Colleryd Redd” (REED: Norwich, p. 53).
41 gaste of lyffe. The account in the second chapter of Genesis reported that God caused Adam and Eve to live by breathing life into them (2:7). Spirit (gaste, modern ghost) is identified with breath. In ancient Jewish thought, life hence begins when the newly created (and, subsequently, the newborn) takes his or her first breath.
70 made of noght. A return to the concept of the Creation as made out of nothing by God, but somewhat curious in this context since Adam was made from mud and Eve from his rib.
Play 3, THE CREATION OF ADAM AND EVE: TEXTUAL NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: Bevington: David Bevington, ed., Medieval Drama (1975); Köbling: E. Köbling, “Beiträge zur Erklärung und Textkritik der York Plays”; LTS: Lucy Toulmin Smith, ed., The York Plays (1885); RB: Richard Beadle, ed., The York Plays (1972) (incorporating numerous emendations from other sources); RB2: Richard Beadle, “Corrections to The York Plays,” in Gerald Byron Kinneavy, A Concordance to the York Plays (1986), pp. xxxi–xxxii; s.d.: stage direction; Sykes: A. C. Cawley, ed., “The Sykes MS of the York Scriveners’ Play”; Towneley: Martin Stevens and A. C. Cawley, eds., The Towneley Plays.
The base text for this edition is London, British Library, MS. Add. 35290, called the “Register” in the York civic records and here identified by the abbreviation Reg. Some variations in lineation from the manuscript are not noted here; see RB and Beadle and Meredith’s The York Play: A Facsimile. In most cases the line numbering in the present text is consistent with RB. Lineation of alliterative verse throughout is based on Reg, with line numbering adjusted accordingly to account for half lines. Scribes are identified as follows: Scribe A; Scribe B: main scribe; JC: John Clerke; LH: later scribal hand (unidentified).
The Cardmakers’ pageant was entered twice in Reg. The A-text is followed in this edition, with significant variant readings in the B-text listed here. Following the craft attribution in the A-text version, a later scribe, possibly JC, has written: “This is entryd afterwards.”
1 In. Reg: large capital I, in red, incorporating line drawing of a man’s face, facing left.
2 ende. So A-text; B-text: the ende.
4 Methynke. So A-text; B-text: Me thynketh.
14 I no. So A-text; B-text, RB: I here no.
15 kynde and skyll. So A-text; B-text: kyndly skylle.
21 mare. Emended to more by LH in Reg.
22 In Reg, wyght interlined by LH above best.
24 me. So B-text, followed by RB; A-text: my.
27 hauttande. So A-text; B-text: haunttande.
31 hym fynde. So B-text, RB; A-Text: fynde hym.
39 nought. So B-text; A-text, RB: nough.
43 The. So A-text; B-text, followed by RB: This.
44 Marginal notation by JC in both texts, indicating an omission, of which the B-text is more complete:
And leyd your lyves in good degré.51 thi. So B-text, followed by RB; A-text: the.
Adam here make I thee a man of mykyll myght;
This same shall thy subget be,
And Eve her name shall hight.
52 be. So B-text; A-text, RB: by.
53 all degré. So B-text, followed by RB; A-text: all the degre.
55 tyll us. So A-text; B-text: to us.
72 I have. So A-text; B-text: is.
75 ye kone. Reg has extraneous letter between.
81 sene. So RB; A-text, B-text: sone.
82 othir. So B-text, followed by RB; A-text: othithir.
85 DEUS. So B-text; added by LH in A-text.
96 Marginal note added by LH, erased and faded, gives first two lines of the following play: Adam and Eve this is [the place] / that I have grant you of my grace to have your. . . .
Play 3, THE CREATION OF ADAM AND EVE: EXPLANATORY NOTE FOOTNOTE
Footnote 1 French, York Minster: The Great East Window, p. 49.
Go To Play 4, The Prohibition of the Tree of Knowledge