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The account of creation mentions the serpent being wise among all beasts. After the temptation God curses the serpent.

"And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this,...upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:" (Genesis 3:14).

Does this denote that the snake had a different form, limbs perhaps, unlike we see it today? And is it rational to depict the time of temptation in a picture of snake (already crawling on its belly) talking to Eve?

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Check out thedivinecouncil.com/nachashnotes.pdf by Dr Michael Heiser! –  user1539 May 13 '12 at 10:43
    
I think it's a good question for the site, but needs some clarification on what types of answers you're seeking. Are you seeking answers from those who take a literal interpretation of Genesis, or those who take a more metaphorical view? The latter would probably say there was no literal serpent, per se, and that it was just a mythical story created to explain (among other things) why snakes have no limbs. –  Flimzy May 13 '12 at 18:20
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A dragon. I have no evidence for this, except that a dragon is used to describe Satan in Revelation 12. And a dragon kind of looks like a snake with legs! –  Matt White May 14 '12 at 1:39
    
Satan (within common interpretations) is also said to be the most beautiful angel in all creation. Maybe he was a beautiful dragon? –  Flimzy May 14 '12 at 3:02
    
Well, if you take the Bible metaphorically, then it's meaningless to ask any questions of the "what really happenned?" sort. The only answer will be, "Nothing happenned at all. At most we can look for the symbols in the metaphor." –  Jay May 14 '12 at 6:29

2 Answers 2

I think the only answer anyone can really give is, "No one knows."

The most obvious reading is that before this, serpents walked upright, and that got changed them that day as a sign of the degradation of Satan.

It's also possible that the intended meaning is that serpents always looked pretty much like they do now, but with this incident God used the fact that serpents have no legs as a symbol.

It's also not spelled out in the text whether Satan was appearing in the form of a serpent, or whether Satan is simply called a serpent. Perhaps in his true form -- whatever that is and if he has one -- he resembles a serpent or other reptile, or perhaps it's a description of his personality.

The story is so briefly told that there are just a lot of uncertainties.

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In her account of the Fall in THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST AND BIBLICAL REVELATIONS, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) describes the serpent as follows:

Among the animals was one that followed Eve more closely than the others. It was a singularly gentle and win- ning, though artful creature. I know of none other to which I might compare it. It was slender and glossy, and it looked as if it had no bones. It walked upright on its short hind feet, its pointed tail trailing on the ground. Near the head, which was round with a face exceedingly shrewd, it had little short paws, and its wily tongue was ever in mo- tion. The color of the neck, breast, and underpart of the body was pale yellow, and down the back it was a mottled brown very much the same as an eel. It was about as tall as a child of ten years. It was constantly around Eve, and so coaxing and intelligent, so nimble and supple that she took great delight in it. But to me there was something horrible about it. I can see it distinctly even now. I never saw it touch either Adam or Eve.


Please see What is the Catholic Church's view of Anne Catherine Emmerich - can her visions and prophecies be trusted? in conjunction with this question.

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And why should anyone trust what she says? –  curiousdannii Jul 15 at 23:24
    
@curiousdannii Question posed –  FMS Jul 16 at 11:43

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