In his Against Heresies (c. 180 AD), Ireneaus of Lyon writes
[God] pronounced no curse against Adam personally, but against the ground, in reference to his works, as a certain person among the ancients has observed: “God did indeed transfer the curse to the earth, that it might not remain in man.”
Who is Irenaeus quoting here? The Ante-Nicene Christian Library gives a cross-reference to Genesis 3:16, but does not identify the ancient writer. I can't even tell if it refers to a Christian writer or a pre-Christian writer!
Irenaeus doesn't say and he doesn't give any hint.
Unfortunately, that question couldn't be answered by several other experts in the field:
It is unclear to whom Irenaeus is here referring.
- M. C. Steenberg: "Irenaeus on Creation: The Cosmic Christ and the Saga of Redemption", Vigiliae Christianae, Supplements, Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2008, p185.
Though the chain is not as compressed as in IV 20.2, he does it in III 23.3. Here, spliced between two references to Genesis, and followed by a reference to the Lord's words in Matthew, are the following words of an unnamed, non-Scriptural authority: 'As a certain person among the ancients has observed: “God did indeed transfer the curse to the earth, that it might not remain in man”.'
- Charles E. Hill: "'The Writing which Says… ' The Shepherd of Hermas in the Writings of Irenaeus", in: Markus Vinzent (Ed): "Papers presented at the Sixteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2011", Studia Patristica Vol. LXV, Volume 13: The First Two Centuries - Apocrypha Tertullian and Rhetoric From Tertullian to Tyconius, Peeters: Leuven, Paris, Walpole, 2013. p134