How the Serpent Became Satan

  • Christian Chat is a moderated online Christian community allowing Christians around the world to fellowship with each other in real time chat via webcam, voice, and text, with the Christian Chat app. You can also start or participate in a Bible-based discussion here in the Christian Chat Forums, where members can also share with each other their own videos, pictures, or favorite Christian music.

    If you are a Christian and need encouragement and fellowship, we're here for you! If you are not a Christian but interested in knowing more about Jesus our Lord, you're also welcome! Want to know what the Bible says, and how you can apply it to your life? Join us!

    To make new Christian friends now around the world, click here to join Christian Chat.

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
4,551
2,228
113
www.christiancourier.com
#1
How the Serpent Became Satan

Adam, Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden
Shawna Dolansky une 08, 2019

Introduced as “the most clever of all of the beasts of the field that YHWH God had made,” the serpent in the Garden of Eden is portrayed as just that: a serpent. Satan does not make an appearance in Genesis 2–3, for the simple reason that when the story was written, the concept of the devil had not yet been invented. Explaining the serpent in the Garden of Eden as Satan would have been as foreign a concept to the ancient authors of the text as referring to Ezekiel’s vision as a UFO (but Google “Ezekiel’s vision” now, and you’ll see that plenty of people today have made that connection!). In fact, while the word satan appears elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, it is never a proper name; since there is no devil in ancient Israel’s worldview, there can’t yet have been a proper name for such a creature.


Depicted here are God the Father, cherubim, angels,
Adam, Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden
in Domenichino’s painting The Rebuke of Adam and Eve (1626).
Photo: Patrons’ Permanent Fund, National Gallery of Art.

The noun satan, Hebrew for “adversary” or “accuser,” occurs nine times in the Hebrew Bible: five times to describe a human military, political or legal opponent, and four times with reference to a divine being. In Numbers 22, the prophet Balaam, hired to curse the Israelites, is stopped by a messenger from Israel’s God YHWH, described as “the satan” acting on God’s behalf. In Job, “the satan” is a member of God’s heavenly council—one of the divine beings, whose role in Job’s story is to be an “accuser,” a status acquired by people in ancient Israel and Mesopotamia for the purposes of particular legal proceedings. In Job’s case, what’s on trial is God’s assertion that Job is completely “blameless and upright” vs. the satan’s contention that Job only behaves himself because God has rewarded him. God argues that Job is rewarded because he is good, and not good because he is rewarded. The satan challenges God to a wager that if everything is taken away from poor Job, he won’t be so good anymore, and God accepts. Though a perception of “the satan” as Satan would make this portrait of God easier to swallow, the story demonstrates otherwise; like Yahweh’s messenger in Numbers 22, this satan acts on YHWH’s instructions (and as a result of God’s braggadocio) and is not an independent force of evil.


In Zechariah 3, the prophet describes a vision of the high priest Joshua standing in a similar divine council, also functioning as a tribunal. Before him stand YHWH’s messenger and the satan, who is there to accuse him. This vision is Zechariah’s way of pronouncing YHWH’s approval of Joshua’s appointment to the high priesthood in the face of adversarial community members, represented by the satan. The messenger rebukes the satan and orders that Joshua’s dirty clothing be replaced, as he promises Joshua continuing access to the divine council. Once again, the satan is not Satan who we read about in the New Testament.
 

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
4,551
2,228
113
www.christiancourier.com
#2
The word satan appears only once without “the” in front of it in the entire Hebrew Bible: in 1 Chronicles 21:1. Is it possible that we finally have Satan here portrayed? 1 Chronicles 21 parallels the story of David’s census in 2 Samuel 24, in which God orders David to “go number Israel and Judah” and then punishes king and kingdom for doing so. The Chronicler changes this story, as he does others, to portray the relationship between God and David as uncompromised; he writes that “a satan stood up against Israel and he provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:6–7; 27:24). Although it is possible to read “Satan” here instead of “a satan” (Hebrew uses neither uppercase letters, nor indefinite articles, e.g., “a”), nothing else in this story or in any texts for another 300 years indicates that the idea of an evil prince of darkness exists in the consciousness of the Israelites.

So if there’s no Satan in the Hebrew Bible, where does the devil come into the details of Eden?

The worldview of Jewish readers of Genesis 2–3 profoundly changed in the centuries since the story was first written. After the canon of the Hebrew Bible closed,1 beliefs in angels, demons and a final apocalyptic battle arose in a divided and turbulent Jewish community. In light of this impending end, many turned to a renewed understanding of the beginning, and the Garden of Eden was re-read—and re-written—to reflect the changing ideas of a changed world. Two separate things happened and then merged: Satan became the proper name of the devil, a supernatural power now seen to oppose God as the leader of demons and the forces of evil; and the serpent in the Garden of Eden came to be identified with him. While we begin to see the first idea occurring in texts two centuries before the New Testament, the second won’t happen until later; Eden’s serpent is not identified with Satan anywhere in the Hebrew Bible or New Testament.


The concept of the devil begins to appear in second and first centuries B.C.E. Jewish texts. In 1 Enoch, the “angel” who “led Eve astray” and “showed the weapons of death to the children of men” was called Gadreel (not Satan). Around the same time, the Wisdom of Solomon taught that “through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who are on his side suffer it.” Though this may very well be the earliest reference to Eden’s serpent as the devil, in neither text, nor in any document we have until after the New Testament, is satan clearly understood as the serpent in Eden. At Qumran, though, Satan is the leader of the forces of darkness; his power is said to threaten humanity, and it was believed that salvation would bring the absence of Satan and evil.


By the first century C.E., Satan is adopted into the nascent Christian movement, as ruler over a kingdom of darkness, an opponent and deceiver of Jesus (Mark 1:13), prince of the devils and opposing force to God (Luke 11:15–19; Matthew 12:24–27; Mark 3:22–23:26); Jesus’ ministry puts a temporary end to Satan’s reign (Luke 10:18) and the conversion of the gentiles leads them from Satan to God (Acts 26:18). Most famously, Satan endangers the Christian communities but will fall in Christ’s final act of salvation, described in detail in the book of Revelation.


But curiously, although the author of Revelation describes Satan as “the ancient serpent” (Revelation 12:9; 20:2), there is no clear link anywhere in the Bible between Satan and Eden’s talking snake. The ancient Near Eastern combat myth motif, exemplified in the battle between Marduk and Tiamat in Enuma Elish and Baal and Yam/Mot in ancient Canaan, typically depicted the bad guy as a serpent. The characterization of Leviathan in Isaiah 27 reflects such myths nicely:


On that day YHWH will punish
With his hard and big and strong sword
Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
Leviathan the twisted serpent,
And he will kill the dragon that is in the sea.

So the reference in Revelation 12:9 to Satan as “the ancient serpent” probably reflects mythical monsters like Leviathan rather than the clever, legged, talking creature in Eden.

In the New Testament, Satan and his demons have the power to enter and possess people; this is what is said to have happened to Judas (Luke 22:3; John 13:27; cf. Mark 5:12–13; Luke 8:30–32). But when Paul re-tells the story of Adam and Eve, he places the blame on the humans (Romans 5:18; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:21–22) and not on fallen angels, or on the serpent as Satan. Still, the conflation begged to be made, and it will seem natural for later Christian authors—Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Cyprian, Irenaeus and Augustine, for example—to assume Satan’s association with Eden’s talking snake. Most famously, in the 17th century, John Milton elaborates Satan’s role in the Garden poetically, in great detail in Paradise Lost. But this connection is not forged anywhere in the Bible.

Shawna Dolansky is Adjunct Research Professor and Instructor in the program in Religion at the College of Humanities, Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She coauthored the well-known The Bible Now (Oxford Univ. Press, 2011) with Richard Friedman.
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
15,629
7,715
113
#3
Why are you trying to promote the FALSE TEACHINGS of a theological liberal who is evidently an unbeliever? Do you believe her nonsense, or are you simply impressed with the fact that she is an adjunct professor?
 

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
4,551
2,228
113
www.christiancourier.com
#4
If you have nothing else to add to this thread but personal animus for the author of the article, please consider changing your tone. There's enough animus in the BDF as it is.

Her research is valid. If you don't agree, that's OK too.

Shawna Dolansky
Associate Professor
Degrees:B.A.(Hon.) (Queen's University), M.A. (UC San Diego), Ph.D. (UC San Diego)Phone:613-520-2600 x 7042Email:[email protected]Office:2A60 Paterson Hall
Website:Browse
Biography

Professor Dolansky specializes in Biblical Studies, with a focus on the history and religions of Israel and the ancient Near East and the development of the Hebrew Bible. Her research incorporates the tools of literary criticism, comparative religion, historical study, anthropology, archaeology, political science and classics in order to understand the worlds of the original authors and audiences of the biblical texts, and the subsequent development of Judaism and Christianity out of ancient Israelite religious beliefs and practices.

Professor Dolansky earned a B.A. in History from Queen’s University, and went on to graduate school at the University of California San Diego where she received a M.A. in Jewish Studies and a Ph.D. in the history of biblical Israel. After a post-doctoral fellowship with the University of California, Dolansky was Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in Boston before returning to her native Ottawa.

Professor Dolansky received the Provost’s award for Teaching Excellence in 2013 and a Professional Achievement Award from Carleton University in 2018. She is on the editorial board for Near Eastern Archaeology, serves as General Editor for Hebrew Bible content at BibleOdyssey.com, and is a frequent contributor to thetorah.com and biblicalarchaeology.org.

Research Interests

  • The development of monotheism
  • Ancient Near Eastern goddess worship
  • History of biblical interpretation
  • Understanding the Bible in its original contexts
  • Gender and Feminist Studies of the Bible and Western religions
  • The Bible in Western culture
Continues

Her Website
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
15,629
7,715
113
#5
Her research is valid. If you don't agree, that's OK too.
So now you believe that theological liberalism is valid? It is not just myself who rejects it but all Bible-believing Christians reject theological liberalism. That is exactly what undermined all the seminaries and bible schools since the 19th century.

The Higher Critics also claimed to have done their so-called research, and concluded that the Bible was NOT divinely inspired, but the mere writings of men. Therefore full of legends and fables. How does that strike you? They totally misrepresented the Old Testament, and their speculations were debunked a long time ago. But theological liberalism continues to hold sway in many places.

I intend to address all her errors in a separate post.
 

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
4,551
2,228
113
www.christiancourier.com
#6
So now you believe that theological liberalism is valid? It is not just myself who rejects it but all Bible-believing Christians reject theological liberalism. That is exactly what undermined all the seminaries and bible schools since the 19th century.

The Higher Critics also claimed to have done their so-called research, and concluded that the Bible was NOT divinely inspired, but the mere writings of men. Therefore full of legends and fables. How does that strike you? They totally misrepresented the Old Testament, and their speculations were debunked a long time ago. But theological liberalism continues to hold sway in many places.

I intend to address all her errors in a separate post.
Wow. And you dare to speak for all Bible believing Christians when you are unable to comport yourself as the Bible commands all Bible believing Christians.
You aren't even decent enough toward the OP article in this one. Now you're going to take your rampage to your own thread and berate it even more.
What a tragedy you are. My prayers surround you.
I will not respond to you again. I'd hope there is a rule against what you're doing here.
 

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
4,551
2,228
113
www.christiancourier.com
#7
For others who may be interested in this article, please do not be dissuaded by the above that entered first to comment.
This topic, the serpent, satan's identity in the garden, is not new. Even scholars in Judaism have opined on this long before the article in the OP was penned.
 

John146

Senior Member
Jan 13, 2016
12,705
2,563
113
#8
For others who may be interested in this article, please do not be dissuaded by the above that entered first to comment.
This topic, the serpent, satan's identity in the garden, is not new. Even scholars in Judaism have opined on this long before the article in the OP was penned.
Allow the Bible to tell us.
 

NotmebutHim

Senior Member
May 17, 2015
2,454
1,128
113
#9
Then who tempted Jesus in the wilderness? One of God's loyal angelic beings? His own imagination? Someone in the imaginations of Matthew and Luke? Was He merely enticed by His own desires, as James so described the state of a mere human who experiences temptation?

That would be preposterous because the Scriptures say that Jesus knew no sin and there was no deceit found in His mouth. He could not be the Savior and the spotless Lamb of God "who takes away the sin of the world" otherwise.
 

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
4,551
2,228
113
www.christiancourier.com
#11

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
4,551
2,228
113
www.christiancourier.com
#12
Then who tempted Jesus in the wilderness? One of God's loyal angelic beings? His own imagination? Someone in the imaginations of Matthew and Luke? Was He merely enticed by His own desires, as James so described the state of a mere human who experiences temptation?

That would be preposterous because the Scriptures say that Jesus knew no sin and there was no deceit found in His mouth. He could not be the Savior and the spotless Lamb of God "who takes away the sin of the world" otherwise.
This article deals with the garden of Eden and the serpent there.

I implore anyone reading this thread. Please do not enter with upset, or malice, or any other negative emotion. This thread was not intended to generate that. It was intended to help expand our studies in scripture.

Study to show thyself approved.
God's word is a treasure. If it was all that there need be in the life of a Christian, we would not see all the disciplines that blossomed from the sacred text, so that we may delve deeper into God's words and understand more of what He has to tell us eternally.
 

John146

Senior Member
Jan 13, 2016
12,705
2,563
113
#13
Which one? Ours or the Hebrews?

Rather than animus entering this thread, how about checking out the links that further inform the article itself?
Such as this one:https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-interpretation/who-is-satan/

I think it important to remember, the Christian New Testament is grounded in the Hebrew Old Testament. If we are hostile to Hebrew history, we are lost.
Whoever thinks this way? The translators of the KJV? Wrong. Hell is not Satan’s home or place of rule. Satan doesn’t want to go to hell. Hell is a place of fire and great torture. Satan was an anointed cherub until iniquity was found in him. He is exactly who the KJV describes him to be. He is the old serpent called the devil and Satan. He is depicted as the great red dragon in the end times.

Is this horned, red-skinned monster with a pitchfork ruling hell truly the great enemy of God envisioned by the writers of the Biblical texts?”
 

John146

Senior Member
Jan 13, 2016
12,705
2,563
113
#14
If it was all that there need be in the life of a Christian, we would not see
What? The word of truth is all the believer needs to live for God and to know Him.

Matthew 4:4 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
 

Lightskin

Well-known member
Aug 16, 2019
3,165
3,664
113
#15
If you have nothing else to add to this thread but personal animus for the author of the article, please consider changing your tone. There's enough animus in the BDF as it is.

Her research is valid. If you don't agree, that's OK too.

Shawna Dolansky
Associate Professor
Degrees:B.A.(Hon.) (Queen's University), M.A. (UC San Diego), Ph.D. (UC San Diego)Phone:613-520-2600 x 7042Email:[email protected]Office:2A60 Paterson Hall
Website:Browse
Biography

Professor Dolansky specializes in Biblical Studies, with a focus on the history and religions of Israel and the ancient Near East and the development of the Hebrew Bible. Her research incorporates the tools of literary criticism, comparative religion, historical study, anthropology, archaeology, political science and classics in order to understand the worlds of the original authors and audiences of the biblical texts, and the subsequent development of Judaism and Christianity out of ancient Israelite religious beliefs and practices.

Professor Dolansky earned a B.A. in History from Queen’s University, and went on to graduate school at the University of California San Diego where she received a M.A. in Jewish Studies and a Ph.D. in the history of biblical Israel. After a post-doctoral fellowship with the University of California, Dolansky was Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in Boston before returning to her native Ottawa.

Professor Dolansky received the Provost’s award for Teaching Excellence in 2013 and a Professional Achievement Award from Carleton University in 2018. She is on the editorial board for Near Eastern Archaeology, serves as General Editor for Hebrew Bible content at BibleOdyssey.com, and is a frequent contributor to thetorah.com and biblicalarchaeology.org.

Research Interests

  • The development of monotheism
  • Ancient Near Eastern goddess worship
  • History of biblical interpretation
  • Understanding the Bible in its original contexts
  • Gender and Feminist Studies of the Bible and Western religions
  • The Bible in Western culture
Continues

Her Website
I always appreciate what you share Whisper, but if this professor doesn’t believe in Jesus, she hasn’t learned a thing. ❤️
 

John146

Senior Member
Jan 13, 2016
12,705
2,563
113
#16
For others who may be interested in this article, please do not be dissuaded by the above that entered first to comment.
This topic, the serpent, satan's identity in the garden, is not new. Even scholars in Judaism have opined on this long before the article in the OP was penned.
This woman believes the whole garden story is myth, a fairy tale.
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
15,629
7,715
113
#18
You aren't even decent enough toward the OP article in this one. Now you're going to take your rampage to your own thread and berate it even more.
Whispered, if you do not like false teachings to be exposed on an open Christian forum, you should not be posting them (which makes you an accessory after the fact). I do not go on rampages, but I definitely expose false teachers and false teachings. SHAWNA DOLANSKY IS A FALSE TEACHER, AND CHRISTIANS SHOULD BEWARE OF HER AND IGNORE HER.

So let's get down to specifics.

Introduced as “the most clever of all of the beasts of the field that YHWH God had made,” the serpent in the Garden of Eden is portrayed as just that: a serpent... Eden’s serpent is not identified with Satan anywhere in the Hebrew Bible or New Testament... So the reference in Revelation 12:9 to Satan as “the ancient serpent” probably reflects mythical monsters like Leviathan rather than the clever, legged, talking creature in Eden.
FALSE. These remarks shown that the writer is an unbeliever. But here is what the NT says (Rev 12:9): And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. This is the clearest connection in the Bible between the Serpent in Eden and the Devil. “That old” goes all the way back to Genesis 3.
Satan does not make an appearance in Genesis 2–3, for the simple reason that when the story was written, the concept of the devil had not yet been invented.
FALSE. This person is suggesting that the devil is an “invention” of man, rather than a malevolent spirit being who either took possession of the serpent, or transformed himself into one. Once again the NT has been ignored. Here is what the NT says (2 Cor 11:3,14): But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ... And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
In fact, while the word satan appears elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, it is never a proper name; since there is no devil in ancient Israel’s worldview, there can’t yet have been a proper name for such a creature.
FALSE. Ancient Israel’s worldview was based upon the Torah and the Tanakh, and the devil is presented as Satan (Hebrew ha Satan = The Adversary) several times. Job is the oldest book in the Bible and Satan is clearly presented in Job.
The noun satan, Hebrew for “adversary” or “accuser,” occurs nine times in the Hebrew Bible: five times to describe a human military, political or legal opponent, and four times with reference to a divine being.
FALSE. This person does not even understand the difference between a divine being and a spirit (or angelic being). Angels are not gods or divine beings. And other than the one true God (the triune Godhead) there are no other gods except false gods (actually demons or devils).
In Numbers 22, the prophet Balaam, hired to curse the Israelites, is stopped by a messenger from Israel’s God YHWH, described as “the satan” acting on God’s behalf... like Yahweh’s messenger in Numbers 22, this satan acts on YHWH’s instructions (and as a result of God’s braggadocio) and is not an independent force of evil.
FALSE. This woman is MISREPRESENTING the angel of the LORD [the pre=incarnate Christ] as Satan! The term “the angel of the LORD” is used nine times in this passage, and by no stretch can this angel be called Satan (and that word does NOT even appear in this passage). Furthermore she is blaspheming God.

23 And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
24 But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wallbeing on this side, and a wall on that side.
25 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.
26 And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff...
31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
32 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:...
34 And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.
35 And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.


In Zechariah 3, the prophet describes a vision of the high priest Joshua standing in a similar divine council, also functioning as a tribunal.... Once again, the satan is not Satan who we read about in the New Testament.
FALSE. This woman is blatantly denying what is clearly stated in Scripture, to suit her own agenda.
1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?


Is this the same Satan mentioned in the New Testament in the book of Jude? Absolutely. In fact Michael the archangel says exactly what is said by the LORD above:
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
(1 Chronicles 21:6–7; 27:24)... Although it is possible to read “Satan” here instead of “a satan”... nothing else in this story or in any texts for another 300 years indicates that the idea of an evil prince of darkness exists in the consciousness of the Israelites.
FALSE. This woman is presuming that even though Satan is mentioned throughout the OT, the Israelites and Jews did not know or believe in the existence of Satan. This suits her agenda of denying what the Bible affirms. But in this passage in 1 Chronicles, Satan is identified as the adversary of David and Israel.
By the first century C.E., Satan is adopted into the nascent Christian movement, as ruler over a kingdom of darkness, an opponent and deceiver of Jesus (Mark 1:13), prince of the devils and opposing force to God (Luke 11:15–19; Matthew 12:24–27; Mark 3:22–23:26);
FALSE. These remarks confirm that this woman is an unbeliever who does not really accept the Gospels as a historical record. She is saying that Satan was “adopted into the nascent Christian movement” which is utter nonsense. The Gospel clearly show the existence of a real malevolent spirit being – the Devil – who is the opponent of God and Christ and whose existence is shown throughout the OT.

The Jewish rabbis equated the wicked angel Samael with Satan and the Serpent (rather than Lucifer), but the fact remains that Satan is found in both the OT and NT as the Adversary of God and Man. He is not simply an invention or an idea as suggested by Dolansky.
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
15,629
7,715
113
#20
If we are hostile to Hebrew history, we are lost.
No. If we are hostile to MANUFACTURED HEBREW HISTORY (as invented by the Higher Critics and unbelieving scholars both *Christian* and Jewish) we are safe from false teachings.