The Serpent is the Hero in Genesis?


(John Harshman) #21

But it didn’t turn out to be true if “in the day of” means “when”. Adam and Eve didn’t die when they ate the fruit. They died long after they ate it. We have no account of when Eve died, but it was considerably after that, and Adam lived for hundreds of years. There’s the lie.

Nor does “die” plausibly refer to spiritual death or becoming mortal. Adam was already mortal, which is why all God had to do was expel him from the garden before he ate from the tree of life and became immortal. (It’s odd that Adam hadn’t bothered to try that tree previously, but that’s how the story goes.)

(John Harshman) #22

Of course I have a problem with Christianity, but that isn’t relevant here. This thread isn’t even about genealogical Adam.

This back story seems not to exist in the actual story, and seems incompatible with GA, as it’s the initial creation of humans that was given dominion over the world, back in Genesis 1. Nor does there seem any support in Genesis for making the serpent equal to Satan or to any spiritual being. It’s a snake, the cleverest of all the animals, and it’s cursed to crawl on its belly and to be disliked and attacked by humans. The rest is post hoc invention.

(Jon Garvey) #23

Do I tell you how to do science? Then until you get some grounding in theology, and study the Scriptures for the fifty years or so I’ve been doing it, and read the literature, might pay you to be a bit less arrogant when commenting on other people’s fields.

(John Harshman) #24

Not sure. I’d have to check all your prior posts. But thanks for the argument from authority, which is certainly easier than addressing what I say.

(George) #25

Ancient Sages were supposed to be inscrutable. The Genesis “Eden Cycle” is a masterpiece!

(Matthew Pevarnik) #26

Maybe, though from my first glance the earliest Prometheus story comes from the 8th century BCE with Hesiod’s Theogony which is likely before the more recent version of Genesis was compiled (after the Babylonian Exile?). Outside of a very very tenative connection, there isn’t too much I think that one can write with much substance on how the Greek cosmogony stories are related to the Israelite cosmogony stories. Generally speak, and with much more direct similarities, one would be able to compare the Israelite story to others in the ANE like Sumerian, Babylonian etc.

(Jon Garvey) #27

You didn’t say anything - just made assertions without justification.

(George) #28


I have to agree with you.

The Sumerians, Semites and Egyptians admired snakes. Genesis 1 seems to be designed to impugn them.

This is one of the reasons i see Genesis as influenced by Persian/Zoroastrian contact. The magi hated snakes.

(John Harshman) #29

I don’t mean a literal story about Prometheus, I mean a story of that type: person steals X from the gods and gives it to humanity. These sorts of stories are all over the world. One might even consider Jack and the Beanstalk as a version.

And this time, as in the Prometheus story, he’s punished for it too.

(John Harshman) #30

Disagree. My justification is a natural reading of the story.

(Ashwin S) #31

Well a “natural” reading is not justification enough. Look at your assumptions-

How do you know what it means. You are reading something from an ancient culture originally written in a foreign language. Why would a natural reading from your POV be worth anything?

Your entire premise stands on a deviant reading of the text.
Forget Genesis… people can misread a letter even in modern times written in a foreign culture.

Why not show some humility or atleast be realistic about your competence to handle the text?

(John Harshman) #32

I was quoting deuteroKJ, the person I was responding to. Do you have an argument for why that reading is wrong?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #33

It is not consistent with the rest of Genesis, the rest of the Pentateuch, the rest of the old testament, or the rest of the new testament.

(Ashwin S) #34

And you were justifying how you came to your conclusion based on a “natural” reading… I am pointing out a wrong methodology on your part.
Did you get the point?

(John Harshman) #35

Could you be more specific?

(John Harshman) #36

We can at least agree that’s what you’re trying to do.

(Jon Garvey) #37

Ah, the good old “natural reading.” That’s why there are Creationists.

(Jon Garvey) #38

Quite right. And we should even add that it’s not consistent with the rest of Gen 1-11, which is the primary literary unit, or with the Hebrew concept of God at any period.

Hesiod’s Prometheus arose out of a universe formed by the rivalries of deities, and in this case families of deities.

The Renaissance re-casting of the Eden story (which was finally unsuccessful, hence its supplanting by the Prometheus myth) arose out of a unique European intellectual climate of the New Man, the measure of all things, asserting his newly acquired classical knowledge over the received traditions. It’s hard to imagine, let alone identify, any parallel movement in Israel at any period, especially one in which the orthodox would like the story so much that they adopted it in their Torah.

(Ashwin S) #39

One important thing to understand in interpreting any text is:
“what is the Author trying to communicate”?
This will involve understanding the context of the message very well.

Is the Author of Genesis trying to prove God is a liar?
(The answer is No… in case you haven’t figured it out).

Now suppose the scenario being proposed is something that never crossed the Authors mind. The next question to ask is whether it makes any logical sense (especially in connection to the rest of the bible or the immediate context).
I.e if God lied… why?
How difficult would it be for God to prevent Adam and Eve from eating the fruit?
or kill them as soon as they ate the fruit and create a new set of human beings.

Between your explanation of the story and Deutero Kj’s… which one do you think makes sense?

(Jon Garvey) #40

He could, but a full treatment requires a few hundred pages. Précis:

Gen 1-11: Creation, commission of Adam and promise of blessing, breaking of faith, exile, escalation of evil. End point - Babel. And a genealogy leading to…

Genesis 12ff: Commission of patriarchs and promise of (long-term) blessing including nationhood, keeping faith, provisional blessing. End point - entry into time of blessing and trial.

Pentateuch after Genesis: Commission of Israel and promise of land blessing, breaking faith. End point: on boundary of promised land, but stern warnings of exile to distant lands.

Prophetic corpus (ie rest of OT): Israel possesses blessing, but with major caveats owing to endemic disloyalty. Escalation of evil over centuries, then exile and abrogation of covenant. End point - Babylon. As N T Wright says, no exile from Judah could have read Gen 1-11 without seeing it as his/her own situation.

And that’s why more liberal scholars say that the Adam story was invented to “prequel” that catastrophic situation - either way the story is about covenant disloyalty on man’s part and divine punishment in the stated terms of the same covenant on God’s part. It’s the polar opposite of a Prometheus-type myth, which could only arise when life seems good, human confidence high, and the gods distant and not worthy of much respect.

The OT ends with promises of a new covenant which will not fail as Israel’s had.

New Testament: Jesus is described both by direct and indirect reference (including genealogy back to Adam) as the new Adam who succeeds where Adam fails, and moreover overturns his failure. He defeats the devil, “that ancient serpent” and “the liar from the beginning,” in temptation immediately after his baptismal commission, he obeys God consistently, suffers a death and resurrection that reverses the death sentence on Adam’s race, and gains both eternal life and the human reign over creation that Adam lost.

Jesus is also described in terms of the true Israel (including another genealogy linking him back to Abraham), the king-like-David who is faithful, not rebellious, in the wilderness, who obeys the law and serves God throughout his life, who suffers on behalf of the nation and is crowned with the blessing promised to Israel - a vast people, an enlarged land, and the eternal presence of God, inaugurated by his resurrection and to be consummated in a new heavens and a new earth in which God’s glory is all in all - which was the very blessing traceable back to the calling of Adam.

The final vision of the Book of Revelation, picturing the final state of this new creation, incorporates imagery based on both the garden of Eden and the Temple of Jerusalem - Jesus story is Israel’s story is Adam’s story. But none of them are Prometheus’s story.