Satan in the Garden?

Things I Never Learned in Sunday School

Excerpt from Things I Never Learned in Sunday School
Chapter 4 – “The Big Bad Guy: Is He For Real?”

The Crafty Serpent

Of all the stories in the Bible that relate to “Satan,” I find the one about the serpent in the Garden of Eden the most creative. Throughout my research, I came across numerous dissertations by the faithful about what “really” happened during the meeting between the serpent and Eve … and why. Again and again I read, practically word-for-word, what I had been taught during my Christian experience. The fact that there is little to no basis for this oft-repeated tale seems to matter little to the various expositors.

According to tradition, the downfall of humankind started because Eve, after a talking serpent told her that God was lying about eating a certain fruit in the Garden, went ahead and ate it and also gave some to Adam, her husband (Genesis 3:1-6). (On the surface, can anyone deny there isn’t at least a minimal amount of incredulity in this story?) After the first couple confessed they had shared the fruit, the Bible tells us God cursed the serpent and proclaimed it must forever crawl on its belly and eat dust. Nowhere does it say that God turned the serpent into an evil spirit.

In the original Hebrew language, the word for serpent is nahash and this is the word used in Genesis, not ha-satan. So where did the belief that the serpent was a representation of “Satan” get started?

You can read the answer to this question (and more) when you order a copy of Things I Never Learned in Sunday School at Amazon.com.

 

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5 thoughts on “Satan in the Garden?

  1. Ancient texts from Mesopotamia which predate the Bible and which some scholars have suggested that the Garden of Eden story is based on, say that the serpent character in the story was arguably the good guy and God character in the story was arguably the bad guy. Religion has to have a bad guy to blame things on when people suffer or do bad things. It’s always the work of the devil.

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      • They were not mixed up. It might help explain the fact that the god of the Old Testament was a jealous, angry, vindictive god who killed innocent women and children indiscriminately. Furthermore, if an all-powerful entity agreed to be your god if you chose him to be your god (as in The Covenant), that couldn’t possible make him god but simply someone wanting to be god – and then in this case he wanted to be only the god of the Israelites as opposed to a god to all his children/creation. The bottom line is that you’re either the Prime Creator or your not, since it’s a matter of fact. There’s really no choice in the matter.

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  2. We shall find that Na-hash was a “serpent” exceedingly insidious and subtle, — but not a serpent in the sense that old theologies led people to understand. It was no creeping reptile of the earth, but something inherent in every human being. If the writer of Genesis had been concerned with a reptile, he could have used the ordinary name for one mentioned above. There would have been no need for him to have created a new and carefully-thought-out “hieroglyphic” name.

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    • None of my research indicates the word nahash refers to an “exceedingly insidious and subtle” creature, nor that it was something “inherent in every human being.” As used in Genesis, it simply meant serpent or snake. Throughout the Hebrew Bible, it is also used in conjunction with saraph to describe vicious serpents in the wilderness (Wikipedia, Serpent).

      The point I was making is that Christians have incorrectly identified the snake in the Garden of Eden. Although the Genesis serpent may have been deceptive and cunning, there is no evidence it was a representation of the entity that Christians identify today as Satan.

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