The Identity of the Serpent in Genesis 3 (Part One: Interpretation of Genesis 3)

Who tempted the man and woman to disobey God by eating of the forbidden tree? Although popular Christian authors often take for granted the identity of Eden’s serpent, some scholars believe that the serpent is either Satan[1] himself or at least a representation of Satan.[2] This view suggests that the modern reader should assume the New Testament doctrine of Satan is in clear view in the Old Testament. Conversely, several Old Testament scholars have fundamentally dismissed any notion that Genesis’ author attempts to portray the serpent as anything more than a cunning creature.[3] Thus, permitting only mythical or symbolic interpretation of the text.[4]

The primary cause for the differences in these views is the various methods of biblical interpretation. Consequently, in order to resolve the question of the serpent’s identity, this article proposes interpreting Genesis 3 with respect to the totality of revelation.  Moreover, this evaluation will be done in light of redemptive history by employing the analogy of faith to safeguard against an erroneous conclusion.[5] Offering a word of caution and correction on the use of the analogy of faith in hermeneutics, Robert Thomas convincingly argues that “the analogy of faith finds its proper use at the conclusion of the exegetical process as a double check on the accuracy of exegesis rather than at the beginning of the process as a preunderstanding that will adversely affect the accuracy of the exegesis.”[6] Employing the proper use of the analogy of faith in interpreting Genesis 3 will ensure that the conclusion of this article will provide an answer to the question that respects both the diversity and unity of Scripture, as well as the progressive nature of revelation.[7] In order to accomplish this task, this article will, therefore, examine the Old Testament passages that explicitly describe the person and activities of Satan, and compare them to several New Testament passages that directly or indirectly link Satan with the person and activities of the serpent in Genesis 3.

An analysis of Genesis 3 will demonstrate that Moses, the author of Genesis, meant to portray the serpent as more than a member of the animal kingdom. The serpent is presented as the enemy of both God and man. To validate the claim that the serpent who deceived the woman was either being used by or was itself Satan, this article will examine the passages that explicitly identify Satan in the Old Testament (Job 1-2; 1 Chr 21:1; Zech 3:1-2).[8] Additionally, the question of the serpent’s identity will be examined in light of several significant New Testament passages (Matt 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13; 22:3; John 6:70; 8:44; 13:2, 27; 2 Cor 11:3, 14-15; Rev 12:9, 20:2). After evaluating these texts, this article will demonstrate that the serpent of Genesis 3 should be interpreted as either a creature controlled by Satan or as Satan himself.

A Method for Interpreting Genesis 3

Authors and commentators have been raising questions about Satan for three millennia: (1) Who or what is Satan, (2) Have religious people always recognized him as their chief adversary, or (3) Is he the byproduct of an evolution in religious thought, to name a few.[9] Believing there was a seismic shift in the doctrine of Satan around the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, some scholars suggest the modern Christian view of Satan as the adversary of humanity is the result of major adaptations in doctrine. For example, Maurice Garcon and Jean Vinchon assert, “The Christian Devil, if we consider him in the classic form which he assumed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, is, we shall see, an infinitely complex personage, of relativity recent formation.”[10] Their thesis is built on the notion that magic played a central role in primitive worldviews and was later replaced as religions became more sophisticated. The Hebrew people, according to Garcon and Vinchon, in an attempt to remove sorcery from religion, replaced magic with the idea of Satan.[11] These writers argue that the Hebrews originally believed that Satan was a symbol of evil, and therefore this view was adopted by the early church.[12] Later in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, however, the church, which according to Garcon and Vinchon had not previously viewed Satan as a tangible and present reality, made a drastic doctrinal shift to viewing him as a literal being.[13] Refuting this type of religious evolutionary scholarship that dominates religious studies is not within the purview of this article, however, this type of framework has affected the interpretation of scholars[14] who begin with this type of presupposition on theological topics including the serpent of Genesis.[15]

Like in the Hebrew religion, in many ancient worldviews serpents played a significant part. In his article, “The Serpent in the Old Testament,” Ross Murison provides a brief overview and theory concerning the central role of serpents in ancient worship.[16] He presupposes that the Hebrew view of the serpent is borrowed from or influenced by competing religions and then incorporated into the biblical data.[17] The notion that the Hebrew, in defining his beliefs, is merely a theological beggar whose doctrines are built on the worldviews and beliefs of his ancient neighbors is unconvincing.[18] In direct contrast to this revisionist view of the Old Testament’s theology, it is plausible that ancient religions departed from the highly developed monotheistic theology of the Hebrews. Myths such as Enuma Elish and the Gilgamesh Epic represent a common oral tradition containing both a creation story and subsequent reconstructions that coincide with pantheistic religions. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the central characters of Genesis 3, especially the serpent, play a significant part in other ancient worldviews.

On the other end of the hermeneutical spectrum is the popular evangelical idea that Satan is in clear view in the Old Testament. Although it has become the norm to read modern theological concepts into ancient revelation, it is disingenuous to force modern interpretations upon the ancient Hebrew writers.[19] The most egregious examples of forcing a contemporary evangelical idea of Satan on the ancient theologians is the interpretation of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. The belief is that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 are describing or at least referring to Satan.[20] As a result of this misreading, beliefs about Satan’s person, activities, and abilities are either misrepresented or, worse, misconstrued. The interpretation of Genesis 3, therefore, must not only be stripped of the misconception that the Old Testament view of the serpent is borrowed, but it must also be void of any contemporary portraits of Satan that are not consistent with the totality of scriptural revelation as it unfolds throughout redemptive history.

The various hermeneutical approaches to Genesis 3 are largely shaped by presuppositions such as the age of the earth, the historicity of Adam, and the extent to which Babylonian, Canaanite, or Egyptian cultures may have affected the material in Genesis, just to name a few. In his evaluation of contemporary hermeneutical approaches to Genesis 1-11, Todd Beall asserts that there are four basic approaches, all of which are influenced by one or more of the above presuppositions. His taxonomy includes the following approaches: (1) Genesis 1-11 is a myth and not a historical record; (2) Genesis 1-11 is not a myth, but primarily figurative; (3) Genesis 1-11 is not a myth, but partly figurative; and (4) Genesis 1-11 should be taken at face value or read literally.[21] Other than an account of how many times Genesis 1-11 is referenced in the New Testament, he does not mention the analogy of faith as one of the contemporary approaches. Nonetheless, Beal’s taxonomy does provide insight into how presuppositions drive the various methods of interpretation.

genesis 3 serpentAnother hermeneutical error that can lead to a mythical interpretation of the serpent of Genesis 3 is an absolute commitment to the diversity of scripture. This hermeneutic principle is founded on the idea that each biblical book must be interpreted apart from the corpus of revelation. This approach restricts the interpreter from considering the theology of other writers and requires the individual book (i.e., Genesis, Job, etc.) to be interpreted in isolation. Furthermore, this interpretive method undermines the importance of examining a passage in light of the full revelation of God recorded in both testaments. Exegetes who intend to interpret Scripture in a way that respects both the diversity and unity of the sacred writings must look beyond the prejudicial hermeneutical approaches that isolate the text or hold it hostage to philosophical presuppositions and allow scripture to be interpreted both in its immediate and canonical contexts; thus respecting both the diversity and unity of Scripture by first exegeting the text in question and then comparing it to later revelation.

In order to respect the unity of the Bible, the more obscure passages must be read in light of those that are explicit. In other words, the scholar uses Scripture to interpret Scripture.  The expositor of God’s Word must not only reject the notion that any text of the Bible can be interpreted apart from the total revelation of God, but he must also strive to understand each passage in both its immediate and canonical contexts. According to the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly (1:9).”[22]  Furthermore, any alleged contradictions in Scripture are also to be examined in light of the totality of revelation. Commenting on the interpretation of Scripture, Craig Blomberg, writes,

The pervasive unity of Scripture means that if the resulting interpretations of two different passages or writers produce an irreconcilable contradiction, it is legitimate to ask if one has interpreted both correctly. That Jews and Christians have historically believed that no Scripture, properly interpreted, contradicts another, means that one should exhaust all reasonable options for harmonizing texts before announcing the discovery of an insoluble problem.[23]

According to this method, instead of creating a contradiction, the New Testament clarifies the identity of the serpent in the Old Testament. However, the interpreter must be cautious to not read the fully developed theological concepts of the authors of the New Testament into the ideas and concepts of the writers in the Old Testament. A balanced interpretive approach, therefore, will start with a particular Old Testament book and then move outwardly giving consideration to other books written by the same author, writings that predated the author, and how contemporary authors understood and incorporated those theological ideas. From there, the interpreter should move forward in redemptive history giving substantial consideration to how future generations of prophets and inspired authors understood and applied the same or similar theological concepts. Finally, the biblical scholar is best situated to understand the meaning and implications of the particular passage of scripture when he views the biblical narrative as a continuous story that unfolds over countless generations. Although the Bible may appear to be a series of (sometimes loosely connected) stories, it is one story, a metanarrative of God’s creative and redeeming work.

An Analysis of the Serpent in Genesis 3

Beginning with a contextual and grammatical study of Genesis 3 will reveal that something more than a serpent is involved in the temptation of the woman. This hermeneutical view will become even more clear upon subsequent consideration of the person and work of Satan in the book of Job.[24] Furthermore, this analysis of Genesis 3 will give consideration to the descriptions of Satan in the book of Job and the two other passages in the Old Testament that directly mention Satan (1 Chr 21:1; Zech 3:1-2). In the final section, this article will identify Eden’s serpent in light of the entirety of biblical evidence.

The serpent has played very distinct roles in various religions and has always been a creature of a mystery.[25] Regardless of other religions, in Christianity the serpent and the fall of mankind are inseparable. Recognizing this inseparability, and the New Testament view of the fall being the reason for the incarnation of the Son of God (John 3:16-18), an interpreter would be remiss to consider the identity of the serpent as ancillary. A comprehensive and systematic understanding of Christian theology must, therefore, include a detailed examination and conclusion of the person and work of serpent of Genesis 3. The following analysis will reveal that a uniquely gifted serpent is not an acceptable explanation of the sinister deception in the Garden of Eden.

The Nature of the Serpent

The author of Genesis, far from viewing the serpent as secondary, presents it as both a significant participant in the narrative and the opponent of humanity and God. Fredrick Jennings rightly states, “Mere serpent, mere animal, it could not possibly be; for speech is the distinctive characteristic of the spirit, and that this serpent possessed the faculty of speech is enough to prove that someone of a higher kingdom and order that of the beasts was possessing it.”[26] Bruce Waltke calls the serpent “a symbol of the antigod”, who, “although not named here…is the adversary of God.”[27] The nature of this adversary is encapsulated in the description of it as “crafty,” which Waltke believes is a play on the same Hebrew word translated “naked” (Gen 2:25) to describe Adam and Eve.[28] He goes on to write that the Hebrew word ‘arum’ (naked, crafty) links the two scenes and draws attention to Adam and Eve’s vulnerability” as opposed to the craftiness of the serpent.[29]

In light of the understanding that the serpent was more than an animal and that the situation in Genesis 3 is adversarial, the question is whether the devil, as described in the New Testament, is behind the activities of the serpent? If Satan is the puppet master and true force behind the serpent’s claims, then, as David Atkinson asks, is he wearing a careful mask?[30] A closer look at the text reveals that the author of Genesis does not intend to be ambiguous about the serpent’s identity. Moreover, it is plausible that the author is describing something more than a member of the animal kingdom, possibly a creature from the heavenly realm. In his article, “Snake or Seraph? The Identity of the Serpent in Genesis 3,” Gonzales offers a controversial, yet intriguing, theory that the serpent in Genesis 3 is not an animal, but instead an angelic being.[31]  His theory is founded upon three lines of argument. First, he contends that “the serpent obviously bears qualities that are superior to animal life, namely, intellectual, communicative, and moral capacities.”[32] These peculiar attributes considered in light of the Hebrew syntax, according to Gonzalez, “place[s] the serpent in a class of his own.”[33]

Gonzales’s second argument is based upon the superiority of the serpent over the man and woman in the text, which suggests that that the tempter may have been an angelic being.[34]  While this reasoning may seem outlandish at first, deeper consideration reveals a reasoned logic.  Genesis presents Adam as superior in knowledge and position over all animals (cf. Gen 2). In contrary roles, as Gonzales points out, the serpent in Genesis 3 assumes the role of man’s teacher and superior.[35] This observation raises an important question, namely how is it possible for an animal, namely a serpent, to be endowed with the ability to use speech and reason to assume a position superior to man? Based on the narrative in Genesis 2, it is implausible that any animal in the earthly realm could possess such faculties or assume such a position. Furthermore, in Genesis, the man and woman are presented as being wiser than all in the animal kingdom (Gen 2:9, 16-17).[36] The serpent in Genesis 3 possesses a higher or divine knowledge that characterizes angelic beings (2 Sam 14:17), which appears to make it wiser than the man and woman.[37]

Finally, Gonzales’ third point is based on a further evaluation of the grammar of Genesis 3:1. He claims that “the use of the definite article with the noun ‘serpent’ suggests an entity already well-known to the original Israelite audience.”[38] Gonzalez believes that instead of being ambiguous about the identity of the serpent, the author’s comments must be considered in light of his audience whose worldview allowed for the interaction between angelic beings and humanity.[39] If the original audience was aware of a class of angels called “seraphim,” Gonzales suggests, they would have possibly recognized the serpent as belonging to this class.[40] While this evidence is appealing, the majority of commentators either view the serpent as merely an animal or as an animal that Satan used to deceive the woman. Paul’s reference to Satan as disguising himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), however, makes Gonzales’ theory even more intriguing. This theory provides a sound theological, contextual and grammatical basis to cast serious doubt on any thought that the serpent is merely an animal. Moreover, Gonzalez’s theory is supported by the later scriptural view of Satan as the true adversary behind the temptation in Eden.

The Activity of the Serpent

The serpent’s ability, in Genesis 3, to speak further reveals that it is not an ordinary creature. Moreover, the serpent’s words, namely the audacious claim to know divine matters, further calls into question any theories that suggest the serpent is nothing more than a hyper-intelligent member of the animal kingdom. Edward Young rightly states, “No mere snake could of itself display the craftiness and cunning which manifest themselves in the subsequent discourse with Eve.”[41] The inquisitive scholar must, therefore, ask, where does the serpent receive divine information about the nature of God? In the dialogue between the serpent and the woman, the serpent questions God’s character (Gen 3:1-5). The serpent, far from being ambiguous, reveals himself as the enemy of God by first perverting God’s utterance and then by completely denying God’s Word (Gen 3:1, 4).[42] The serpent Serpent’s goal is to deceive the woman into believing that God’s prohibition is unreasonable, and therefore can be ignored. The serpent’s stated allegations, which defame the character of God, reveal the author intended to portray the serpent as something other than and above an animal. No mere animal could possess both the knowledge of God’s prohibition and the ability to question the character of its Creator.

The Curse of the Serpent

Another essential aspect of understanding the identity and nature of the serpent in Genesis 3 is to consider the curse placed on it by God himself. Several important aspects of the curse present the serpent as more than an animal. God’s judgment, which is expressed in the metaphorical declaration that the serpent will crawl on its belly eating dust (3:14), communicates a perpetual humiliation. This humiliation will culminate in the serpent’s final defeat by a descendant of the woman (3:15). The pronouncement of a final blow to the serpent’s head further reveals that it will personally be involved in the final defeat. Thus, revealing the serpent will constantly be part of the ongoing conflict and will personally suffer the final blow.

Additionally, the serpent is cursed for using its unusual ability to speak to convince the woman to doubt God’s character (3:13-14). Interestingly, in His pronouncement of judgment, God speaks directly to the serpent. Since the creation narrative gives no indication that animals were created with the ability to either communicate with humans or comprehend the words of God, it is illogical to think that God would speak to a creature that did not have the ability to comprehend speech. A serpent who can both speak and is spoken to by God is no mere animal.

When formulating a conclusion to the identity of the serpent, the traditionally liberal approach to Genesis does not give enough consideration to these aspects of the judgment of the serpent. In his analysis of Genesis 3, Murison concludes that the text provides no trace of the serpent being anything other than an animal.[43] He emphatically states, “A serpent tempts; a serpent is punished.”[44] This conclusion ignores both the nature and the cures of the serpent and hinders the quest to identify the true nature of Eden’s serpent. If Murison is correct, then the punishment or curse imposed upon the serpent should not be given much credence.[45] On the contrary, the curse reveals a great deal more about this alleged animal’s character and nature.  According to Page, the curse of the serpent, as well as its unnamed offspring, reveals at least a “rudimentary knowledge of a realm of evil forces under the leadership of the tempter.”[46] Though Satan is not mentioned in Genesis 3, the portrayal of the serpent and the subsequent curse both point to something much more than an animal at work in deceiving the woman.[47]

This article is part one in a three-part series. Part Two “Satan in the Old Testament.”

Footnotes:

[1]Throughout this paper the terms “Satan” and “Devil” will be used interchangeably to refer to the same being.  The Hebrew word “Satan,” means “adversary” or “opponent,” and is translated by the Septuagint as “diabolos” which is translated in English as “devil.”

[2]Examples of this include: Erwin W. Lutzer, The Serpent of Paradise: The Incredible Story of How Satan’s Rebellion Serves God’s Purposes (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996); Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2004); Jerry Rankin, Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God’s Glory (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2009); Geisler, Systematic Theology; One notable exception is Sydney H. T. Page, Powers of Evil: A Biblical Study of Satan and Demons (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995).

[3]Gerhard von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary, trans. John H. Marks (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1972), 85–99 Rad serves as an excellent example of scholars who hold this position when he asserts, “The serpent which now enters the narrative is marked as one of God’s created animals.  In the narrator’s mind, it is scarcely an embodiment of a ‘demonic’ power and certainly not of Satan” (85).

[4]S. D. Fohr, Adam and Eve: The Spiritual Symbolism of Genesis and Exodus (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986) Fohr provides an example of those who interpret the serpent in a purely symbolic manner. Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Eden Narrative: A Literary and Religio-Historical Study of Genesis 2-3 (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2007) Mettinger’s work offers an example of how Genesis is interpreted as a mythological narrative.  According to Mettinger, “Mythological narratives relate to reality but not in the sense that they refer to individual events in space and time; they do not have a referential ambition.  Rather, their relation to reality manifests itself in their representativity” (83). Walter Brueggemann, Genesis, ed. James L. Mays, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1982), 47 Brueggemann outright dismisses any notion of Satan being present in the text.  He claims, “The serpent is a device to introduce the new agenda.  It is a technique to move the plot of the story.  It is not a phallic symbol or satan or a principle of evil or death.  It is a player in the dramatic presentation.”

[5]Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New versus the Old (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2002), 64“Hermeneutically, ‘analogy of faith’ is defined as the general harmony of fundamental doctrine that pervades the entire Scriptures.”; Daniel P. Fuller, “Biblical Theology and the Analogy of Faith,” in Robert A. Guelich, ed., Unity and Diversity in New Testament Theology: Essays in Honor of George E. Ladd (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 195–213 Fuller provides a synopsis and challenge to the use of the analogy of faith in a subjective way.  Fuller challenges the notion that certain biblical authors should be preferred over and against others in interpreting a text.  I concur with this point.  Therefore, my use of the analogy of faith in interpreting Genesis 3 is not to favor the New Testament authors over Moses.  Instead, I contend that the New Testament authors provide clarity on the revelation recorded by Moses in Genesis 3. The method I am proposing primarily relies upon, Graeme Goldsworthy, Christ-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and Principles (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2012) He rightly states, “It is important to see all human history from creation to new creation belongs to God’s sovereign work and purpose” (59).  This sovereign purpose is played out, according to Goldsworthy, through the Kingdom of God “defined simply as God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule” (75).  This kingdom conflict unfolds as the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent wage war.  He states that this conflict is a central theme with varying expressions throughout the Old Testament (116).

[6]Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics, 64.

[7]Goldsworthy, Christ-Centered Biblical Theology states that the interpretation of scripture must be done in “such a way as to take account of the unity of its message within its diversity” (28).  Additionally, he contends that the “New Testament understanding and usage of Old Testament texts” is paramount in biblical theology (52).

[8]According to Paul, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Tim 2:14 ESV).  Adam assumed a passive role and allowed both Eve and the serpent to subvert his authority.  He was to be the leader of his family and the vice-regent of creation—he failed in both roles.

[9]James H. Charlesworth, The Good and Evil Serpent: How a Universal Symbol Became Christianized (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010) Charlesworth claims that “it is no longer prudent to assume that the serpent is evil in Genesis” (23).  He contends that his theory is based on a thoughtful reading of the text, which prevents him from categorizing the serpent as evil (22).  His comments represent an extreme approach that reinterprets Genesis 3 in a way that blatantly ignores the unity of Scripture.

[10]Maurice Garçon and J. Vinchon, The Devil: An Historical, Critical, and Medical Study., trans. Stephen Haden Guest (New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, 1930), 9.

[11]Ibid., 21–35.

[12]Ibid.

[13]Ibid., 36.

[14]Some examples of this approach to religious studies include: Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy; Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967); Mircea Eliade, The sacred and the profane: the nature of religion, trans. Willard R. Trask (New York: Harcourt, 1959); Joachim Wach, The Comparative Study of Religions, ed. Joseph Kitagawa (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958).

[15]See also, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “The Literary Form of Genesis 1-11” in Evangelical Theological Society and J. Barton Payne, “New Perspectives on the Old Testament.” (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1970), 48–65.

[16]Ross G. Murison, “The Serpent in the Old Testament,” The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 21, no. 2 (1905).

[17]Miguel A. De La Torre and Albert Hernández, The Quest for the Historical Satan (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011), 63–74 De La Torre and Hernandez provide an excellent example of scholars who assume that, during their exile from the Promised Land, the Israelites borrowed and incorporated the cosmology and theology from foreign cultures.  They ignore both the late date of the Gathas, Zoroastrian holy books, and the highly developed monotheism of the Israelites.  Their bias, which is common among liberal scholars, is evident in their assertion that, “The representation of Satan as God’s archenemy was further developed in the post-exilic period, rooted in the religious cross-fertilization of the Babylonian Captivity and subsequent Israelite encounter with Persian culture” (63).

[18]See also, Merrill F. Unger, Biblical Demonology; a Study of the Spiritual Forces behind the Present World Unrest (Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press, 1952), 25–27.

[19]Lewis Sperry Chafer, Satan, His Motive and Methods (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1919), 3 Shafer argues that Ezekiel 28:11-19 “deals at length with Satan in relation to the age before the creation account.  Furthermore, he contends that Isaiah 14:12-20 clearly sets forth Satan’s crime (7).

[20]Page, Powers of Evil, 37–42 Page offers convincing evidence that neither Isaiah 14 nor Ezekiel 28 should be interpreted as describing or condemning Satan. Gregory A. Boyd, God at War: The Bible & Spiritual Conflict (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 157–62 Likewise, Boyd demonstrates that both Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 are using cosmic warfare language to describe the defeat of two human kings.

[21]Todd S. Beall, “Contemporary Hermeneutical Approaches to Genesis 1-11” in Terry Mortenson and Thane H Ury, eds., Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth (Green Forest, AK: Master Books, 2008), 132.

[22]“Westminster Confession of Faith,” Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics [on-line]; accessed 9 October 2013; available from  http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=

http://www.reformed.org/documents/westminster_conf_of_faith.html; Internet.

[23]Craig Blomberg, “The Unity and Diversity of Scripture,” in T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, eds., New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 70.

[24]Although it is beyond the limits of this article to address the authorship of various books of the Old Testament, Christian tradition has held that both Genesis and Job were authored by Moses.

[25]Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis: The Traditional Hebrew Text with New JPS Translation (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 24.

[26]Frederick Charles Jennings, Satan: His Person, Work, Place, and Destiny (New York: A.C. Gaebelein, 1910), 13–14.

[27]Bruce K. Waltke and Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 90.

[28]Ibid.

[29]Ibid.

[30]David Atkinson, The Message of Genesis 1-11: The Dawn of Creation, vol. 1, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), 81.

[31]Bob Gonzales, “Snake or Seraph? The Identity of the Serpent in Genesis 3,” [on-line]; accessed 19 October 2013; available from http://www.drbobgonzales.com/ 2011/12/02/snake-or-seraph-the-identity-of-the-serpent-in-genesis-3; Internet.

[32]Ibid.

[33]Ibid. See also, “Genesis 3:1 Was there a talking snake in the garden?,” The Agape Geek Blog [on-line]; accessed 19 October 2013; available from http://agapegeek.com/2009/10/26/genesis-31-was-there-a-talking-snake-in-the-garden/; Internet.

[34]Ibid.

[35]Ibid.

[36]Ibid.

[37]Ibid.

[38]Ibid.

[39]See Numbers 22:28-30 where the LORD speaks through a donkey. The author, who is likely the same author of Genesis, makes it clear that the animal is merely a conduit through which God communicates to Balaam. This account adds strength to the theory that an animal cannot, in and of itself, communicate in a human language apart from supernatural intervention. Moreover, this narrative supports the theory that interactions between humans and angelic beings (i.e., the Angel of the LORD) would not have been out of the realm of possibility for the original audience.

[40]Bob Gonzales, “Snake or Seraph? Gonzales suggests that Isaiah 6:2, 6 provides further evidence by using the same word sometimes applied to ordinary snakes for the “dragon-like angelic beings with wings and limbs that flanked Yahweh’s throne.” Furthermore, he observes that the presence of angelic guardian-creatures called “cherubim” in the same chapter provides further support that the serpent was, in fact, a “seraphim.”

[41]Edward J. Young, Genesis 3: A Devotional & Expository Study (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1966), 9.

[42]Unger, Biblical Demonology; a Study of the Spiritual Forces behind the Present World Unrest, 205.

[43]Murison, “The Serpent in the Old Testament,” 127; See also, Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis. Chapters 1-17 Chapters 1-17 (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1990), 188 Without providing any support, Hamilton, claims that the serpent was clearly an animal made by God.

[44]Murison, “The Serpent in the Old Testament,” 127.

[45]Sarna, Genesis, 27 If the curse was merely upon an animal then one is left with nothing more than the loss of a few limbs.  Sarna states that the curse of the serpent, who many in the ANE believed walked erect, is now permanently doomed to a posture of abject humiliation.  However, there is more to God’s pronouncement of judgment than a mere physical debilitation.

[46]Page, Powers of Evil, 20.

[47]Ibid., 23.

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