Posted on

Fire in the Bones [Biblical, Heterodox Christianity]: Satan

After May I took a month or two “off” from writing and research. Then I began reading a bunch of theology texts dealing with Judaism around the time of Christ. Then I took another short break because the next thing on my agenda was starting again at Genesis 1:1. I had postponed this for a couple reasons. First, it is obviously a big undertaking. Second, when I was doing my theology reading, I could do it anywhere I had my tablet computer. All I had to do was mark certain passages of interest. However, going through the Bible again requires more note-taking, so I use my desk-top computer in my office, so it cuts into my schedule in a different way from bedtime reading of theology texts. But I’ve begun, and immediately things jumped out at me about the Garden of Eden. I try as much as I can to read the Bible with “open eyes,” not making presumptions about what I’m going to read. This type of reading lets passages jump out at you that might otherwise have been overlooked because they don’t fit the narrative you expect.

One thing that struck me about the Garden of Eden story is that there is no indication at all that the serpent who deceived Eve was actually Satan. In fact, a little research shows that “Satan” as a personification of evil [or at least an adversary of humanity] simply did not appear to exist in Jewish thought until many centuries later. Assuming that the Books of Moses existed [in some form] to be used for the teaching of the Israelites and their immediate progeny, we can clearly draw the conclusion that those early readers had no notion of the serpent as Satan. [Whether or not the serpent WAS Satan, a claim that gets some strong support from Rev 12:9 (and weak support from other passages), is another question entirely.]