2

This question raised after my other question here

Genesis 3:15

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

To me (as a non-Christian) the bold sentence in the verse above leads to a conclusion that there is no enmity (yet) between this being and Adam&Eve before the event in Genesis 3.

In other words, at the first existence of this being in Eden, he is not a bad being (yet) where Adam&Eve need not to be cautious of this being.

Since that is just a non-Christian personal opinion, that's why I would like to know if there is any Christian Church Denomination which think the same.


After I do some "deeper digging" in the internet, I found the below quotation from this site

Quote-1

Archbishop Ussher, the great 17th-century Bible scholar, placed Satan’s fall on the tenth day of the first year, which is the Day of Atonement

Reading it directly (without reading the original Ussher's book), it seems Ussher has the same thinking with me which is before Genesis 3 event, the first existence of this being in Eden (together with Adam and Eve) is not in a fallen state.

So I search more, and found James Ussher "The Annals of the World" and below is his text

Quote-2

The Devil envied God's honour and man's obedience. He tempted the woman to sin by the serpent. By this he got the name and title of the old serpent

To me, the bold sentence is not easy because Ussher use a word "devil" where this word already implied in a negative sense, an evil being. This leads me to two option :

A. because he is A Devil, an evil being, a fallen state being (in the beginning of his first existence in Eden) that's why he envied God's honour and man's obedience

B. because (later on after his first existence in Eden) he envied God's honour and man's obedience , that's why he is called a devil, an evil being.

To me, it seems Quote-1 choose the point-B.
In B, the "fit" paraphrased of Quote-2 is become like this

Quote-3

The being envied God's honour and man's obedience. He tempted the woman to sin by the serpent. By this he got the name and title of the old serpent and called a devil.

I still can not decide what Usher's meant in his sentences in Quote-2.
Anyway, my original question is still apply :).

  • The Hebrew word in the passage is איבה, meaning enmity or hatred. It is etymologically linked to the name Job and has an underlying sense of not being on the same side i.e. opponents. A snake-oil salesman can sell you snake-oil without being your enemy. The relationship is detrimental but is not really one of enmity. – Simon H Jan 2 '18 at 14:27
  • that statement was rather directed to Satan who used the snake as a mouthpiece much like the angel caused Balaam's donkey to speak in Numbers 22:26-31 – coderworks Jan 2 '18 at 20:30
  • @coderworks, yes that's what I read some articles in the internet. As I suggest in my question, the sentence "I will put enmity" (as this is the first time "heard" from the Bible) can lead to a conclusion that this being is considered not harmful/hostile on his first existence in Eden. And because Gen 3 event, the sentence seems like a "once for all" declaration. This makes a further conclusion that there is no chance (or impossible) for this being to repent. To me, this seems so valid. That's why I wonder if there is denomination which thinks the same :). – karma Jan 3 '18 at 2:19
  • ok karma, so based on your latest comment, is your question about the spirit being rather than the snake itself? And are you asking whether that spirit being could eventually repent? – coderworks Jan 3 '18 at 21:19
  • the alternate question could be why the satan envied ? and who created the satan even if we say god created the satan than that would generate another question what could have lead god to create the satan with envyous quality. to understand this we must understand that weather the writter of the story ascribed the quality to the satan or did god really spoke to the writer and literally gave the word"satan" to describe that opposite. if we dont believe the second question it would generate another question what could have lead the writter to invent the words "satan" , "sin" "hell" "heaven" – JNS Jun 8 '18 at 3:28
5

The consensus of the first millennium Church Fathers was that the serpent of Genesis 3:1 (Masoretic נָחָשׁ - nā·ḥāš; Greek ὄφις - ophis) was a simple creature that was used as a tool by the devil.

John Chrysostom (c 349-407) wrote:

Do not regard the present serpent; do not regard how we flee it and feel repulsion towards it. It was not such in the beginning. The serpent was the friend of man and the closest of those who served him ... As a creature who enjoyed great closeness to man, the serpent seemed to the devil to be a convenient tool.1

Similar views are held by by Ephrem the Syrian2 (306-373) and John of Damascus3 (c 675-749).

All of the above are considered authoritative even today within the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church. Their teachings carry various weight among many Protestants as well.

Note that Scripture itself attests that the serpent was simply a beast of the field (or wild animal).

The above seems to have been the consensus (at least at one time) of Jewish interpreters as well.4

1. On the Creation of the World VI.2
2. Commentary on Genesis II.XV.1
3. Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith II.10
4. Oxford Jewish Study Bible (2nd ed.)

  • I'm sorry, your explanation still not answer my question yet guest37. The notion that God put the most cunning evil being (which can be said this being is very powerful) to live together with Adam and Eve, intrigues me :). Will we put our baby in the same room where a hungry lion is there ? Will we put a hungry lion in the same room where our baby is there ? But this is not my main reason. The main reason is based on the text itself (I will put enmity). Or... do your answer means that until now, there isn't any Church denomination who "teach" like what I thought ? Thank you. – karma Jan 3 '18 at 2:42
2

I think most denominations understand that the serpent was but a tool used by Satan to deceive Eve.

Jehovah’s Witnesses state as much in a response to a related question from readers in the June 15 2007 Watchtower on page 31.

Below is the page. The bold print contains the statements indicating the opinion about the nature of the animal called the serpent.

Did the serpent that spoke to Eve have legs?

As recorded at Genesis 3:14, Jehovah God addressed the serpent that had deceived Eve in the garden of Eden. God said: “Because you have done this thing, you are the cursed one out of all the domestic animals and out of all the wild beasts of the field. Upon your belly you will go and dust is what you will eat all the days of your life.” The Bible does not specifically state that the animal used in tempting Eve had previously had legs but lost them. While the wording of Genesis 3:14 might lead some to think so, we need not necessarily conclude that prior to this curse, serpents had legs. Why not?

Principally because the real object of Jehovah’s judgment was Satan—the invisible spirit who had misused that lowly animal. The Bible describes Satan as “the father of the lie” and “the original serpent.” Both of these expressions apparently point back to Satan’s using a visible animal, a serpent, as his mouthpiece to induce Eve to disobey God’s command.—John 8:44; Revelation 20:2.

God created serpents, and Adam had apparently given serpents their name before Satan’s deceptive act. The unreasoning serpent that spoke to Eve was not to blame. It would have been unaware that Satan was manipulating it, and it could not understand the judgment that God rendered against the disobedient parties. (emphasis added)

Why, then, did God speak of the serpent’s physical abasement? The behavior of a serpent in its natural environment, crawling on its belly and flicking its tongue as if to lick up dust, fittingly symbolized Satan’s debased condition. Having previously enjoyed a lofty position as one of God’s angels, he was consigned to the lowly condition referred to in the Bible as Tartarus.—2 Peter 2:4.

Further, as a literal serpent might wound a man’s heel, Satan in his debased state would ‘bruise the heel’ of God’s “seed.” (Genesis 3:15) The primary part of that seed proved to be Jesus Christ, who temporarily suffered at the hands of Satan’s agents. But the symbolic serpent’s head will, in time, be permanently crushed by Christ and his resurrected anointed Christian companions. (Romans 16:20) Thus, God’s directing his curse toward the visible serpent aptly pictured the debasement and ultimate destruction of the invisible “original serpent,” Satan the Devil.(emphasis added)

  • "a literal serpent might wound a man’s heel" in general is true, so does scorpion and maybe some other creeping animals. But as we know today, there are some people who "befriends" with snake. Some women dance with snakes. Also there are some type of snakes which considered NOT hostile or venomous. I've read somewhere in the internet that verse 15, the "you" is referring to the being (not the animal). – karma Jan 3 '18 at 2:44

protected by Community Jun 8 '18 at 5:52

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