, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 185-203,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 02 Apr 2011

Les enfants de Lamech dans la Bible anonyme (BNF fr. 763)


The thirteenth century Bible anonyme contains a story about the children of Lamech which, as far as I could ascertain, is unique amongst Old French bible texts. The story not only differs from that in Genesis 4: 19–22, but also deviates from corresponding passages in other Old French bible adaptations, which usually stress Lamech’s role as the first bigamist and repeat the legend that it was Lamech who killed Cain. In the present text Lamech has ten sons, instead of the usual three; this may be the consequence of an incorrect interpretation of a commentary in the Glossa Ordinaria. What is even more remarkable, though, is the description of his daughter, Naamah, as a lascivious woman and the monologue she delivers. It is difficult to determine whether this portrayal is based on patristic sources or on Jewish ones. One interesting conclusion is that there appears to be an obvious connection (even textually) between the description of Naamah in the Bible anonyme and her appearance in the fifteenth century Mistère du Vieil Testament. Although it is virtually impossible to pinpoint the sources of the mystères, the assumption that there is a common source for both texts is an attractive one.