Saturday, May 02, 2015

Day on the Serpent in Eden

The Serpent in the Garden of Eden and its Background

The serpent in the Garden of Eden is popularly equated with the Devil. However, modern scholars agree that this was a later identification and not the original meaning, but there is no consensus as to what the original background of the serpent was. This brief article critiques a number of the proposals that have been made and suggests a possible background for the serpent. More generally it also discusses other questions of interpretation that have arisen in connection with the serpent in Genesis 3, in particular the suggestion that the serpent should be viewed more positively than has been customary and questions associated with the so-called Protoevangelium in Genesis 3:15.

Adapted and expanded from: John Day, From Creation to Babel: Studies in Genesis 1-11 (LHBOTS 592; London/New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013), 35-37.

By John Day
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies
Lady Margaret Hall
Oxford University
April 2015