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Talking Snakes with Legs


SkepticTheist

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It is known that some species of Lizards/Snakes exist that have "legs" that obscure the line between snakes and lizards.

Secondly, Satan, scripturally can possess humans and talk through their mouths.

Why can't he do this in animals, if a bunch of devils jumped into a bunch of pigs that ran off a cliff?

Just because Satan in the Temple appears in human form, why should the Genesis account of a possessed snake not be taken literally.

Why should the "facsimile" of the "Book of Joseph" of the snake with legs in the JS Book of the Dead Papyri not be interpreted as Satan possessing the snake in the garden as Oliver Cowdery interpreted it?

Yeah, I know that John Gee and others deny that Cowdery was referring to the picture on the JS Papyri that the church now has in its possession. I simply disagree with that.

I think that the Book of the Dead has some intimate connection to the Book of Joseph as much as the Book of Abraham is intimately connected to the Sensen Papyrus.

We have yet to figure out just what that connection is, but to me, it is more than just a "missing papyrus."

Ed Goble

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In the original Genesis story, the snake had nothing to do with the Devil. It was just a talking snake - and a just-so story explaining the unpleasantness and hugging-the-ground nature of serpents. Only later tradition adapts the symbol of the snake to represent the Devil.

The symbols of the Eden story have been further adapted and re-contextualized in modern scripture to teach the current understanding of the Plan of Salvation.

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In the original Genesis story, the snake had nothing to do with the Devil. It was just a talking snake - and a just-so story explaining the unpleasantness and hugging-the-ground nature of serpents. Only later tradition adapts the symbol of the snake to represent the Devil.

The symbols of the Eden story have been further adapted and re-contextualized in modern scripture to teach the current understanding of the Plan of Salvation.

I acknowledge what you are saying as valid.

However, I am not so sure that original authors often know always what the Holy Ghost really intends in every context for the words that he inspires them to speak and write.

So, while I'm concerned with the original context, I am more often concerned with the intent of the text in a certain context that is not "false" that the Holy Ghost would uphold.

Since the Temple version represents the same character as the devil in human form, we can assume that the Holy Ghost upholds the interpretation that it literally was the devil referred to, regardless of which form the devil actually appeared.

While personal testimony is not binding to other people, perhaps individuals have had the Holy Ghost manifest this fact to them, though I am not bearing testimony myself here, nor am I saying that I can speak for the Holy Ghost. I'm saying that the Temple version is an inspired version of the creation story, yet another "targum."

I do not believe that in saying this that I am talking about something that I cannot talk about outside the temple, as it is a very simple observation about one small fact that I have heard numerous other people talk about freely.

So, regardless of how the interpretation of the Devil was placed on the snake, in the context I am speaking of, I am only concerned about that context.

So, one interpretation is that the devil appeared in human form. However, the idea that the devil can take possession of something is also a possibility, and is not out of the question, because possession is something that figures prominently in the scriptures, not just of humans, but also of animals (i.e. the pigs).

Therefore, I say once again, it is very possible that it was a literal talking snake that was possessed, and perhaps this is the "historical" way it "really" happened, and I want to discuss that.

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In the original Genesis story, the snake had nothing to do with the Devil. It was just a talking snake - and a just-so story explaining the unpleasantness and hugging-the-ground nature of serpents. Only later tradition adapts the symbol of the snake to represent the Devil.

The symbols of the Eden story have been further adapted and re-contextualized in modern scripture to teach the current understanding of the Plan of Salvation.

Exactly. The serpent motif seems to be have a long and antiquated origin. The Sumerian story of Gilgamesh includes a serpent which steals the flower which gives eternal life. In an interesting article, The Disciple as Scholar: Essays on Scripture and the Ancient World in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson by Andrew C. Skinner pp. 359-84

Scholars tell us that it is "abundantly clear from a wide range of evidence" that the image of the snake or serpent in the ancient world was a dual symbol representing deity, creativity, and healing on the one hand, but evil, harm, and destruction on the other.1 In fact, this polarity is not only found in archaic cultures but remains with us today. The symbol of the healing serpent is still preserved on the physician's caduceus (the emblem of a noble profession), while a person of disreputable actions
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All this is fine and good, but are you guys trying to say that the devil did NOT literally appear in the form of a snake in the garden of eden?

Or, if it wasn't literally a serpent, are you saying that Satan did not have anything to do with the garden of Eden and the fall of man?

Or, Are you trying to say that the Satan did NOT beguile Eve?

Please clarify what your point is. I am happy that you are giving me all this stuff which is certainly very interesting. I just want to know what your point is.

Ed

Exactly. The serpent motif seems to be have a long and antiquated origin. The Sumerian story of Gilgamesh includes a serpent which steals the flower which gives eternal life. In an interesting article, The Disciple as Scholar: Essays on Scripture and the Ancient World in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson by Andrew C. Skinner pp. 359-84

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All this is fine and good, but are you guys trying to say that the devil did NOT literally appear in the form of a snake in the garden of eden?

I do not believe Satan appeared in the literal form of a snake in Eden.

I believe the snake is used as a symbol to represent the fact that Lucifer appeared to Adam and Eve as a glorified angel of light and wisdom, and hence could be trusted in what he said.

The snake is a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

The snake told Adam and Eve how to get wisdom and knowledge.

Who wouldn't believe him?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Please clarify. You mean in your view, he appeared in the "form" of a glorified angel of light and deceived them, notwithstanding what he said was true?

Just because Satan said something that was true does not mean he was not deceitful.

The rest of you that have posted, please clarify what you are trying to say. Are you or are you not saying that Satan appeared and deceived Adam and Eve as a historical fact?

I do not believe Satan appeared in the literal form of a snake in Eden.

I believe the snake is used as a symbol to represent the fact that Lucifer appeared to Adam and Eve as a glorified angel of light and wisdom, and hence could be trusted in what he said.

The snake is a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

The snake told Adam and Eve how to get wisdom and knowledge.

Who wouldn't believe him?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Please clarify. You mean in your view, he appeared in the "form" of a glorified angel of light and deceived them, notwithstanding what he said was true?

Just because Satan said something that was true does not mean he was not deceitful.

The rest of you that have posted, please clarify what you are trying to say. Are you or are you not saying that Satan appeared and deceived Adam and Eve as a historical fact?

The best deceptions are done with truth.

And I said nothing about "historical facts."

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Ok. This is getting a little frustrating, because my questions are not answered in a clear fashion.

Please clarify what in your view constitutes the precise "historical facts" with regard to Eden?

What are the historical facts as you see them with regards to Adam, Eve, the Apple, and the Serpent?

What "literally happened" in Eden, or what literally did not happen?

Please explain in clear, simple terms.

thank you.

The best deceptions are done with truth.

And I said nothing about "historical facts."

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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The Eden story as it appears in Genesis was a symbolic parable of the Israelite exile and loss of the Temple and Kingship/Priesthood. Adam is the ideal High Priest/King, given stewardship over the Lord's Garden. When he disobeys (as did Saul, David, and the other later Kings), he loses the right to his Kingship, and is exiled from Jerusalem (the garden) and the Tree of Life (the Temple), into the wilderness (the diaspora). It's possible the serpent represented forbidden wisdom or idolatry (during the days of Hezekiah, a Serpent statue/idol was cast out of the Temple). It had nothing initially to do with spiritual eternal sin, the biological creation of man, or an inherent fall of man. It gave a hindsight view of what happened with Israelite history, and the Temporal loss of the Golden Age.

Later prophets used those same symbols, and infused new meaning in them. Today, those symbols are re-oriented to teach the current understanding of the Eternal and Spiritual plan of Salvation. Eden represents our state in the presence of God where our progression was halted until we each made the personal (and separated in time) decisions to a) enter into mortality [physical separation], and b) sin [spiritual separation]. It stresses our need to accept the Savior for us to be able to progress and return to the Presence of God to partake of the Tree of Life (Exaltation).

It's not a documentary history - they are symbols that teach us principles. Now, specifically about our own personal fall, and need for a savior. But that was not its initial use. The Lord constantly re-adapts symbols to teach us new and applicable truths.

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What is being said here is that the Lord knows/rightly assumes that we cannot handle the TRUTH, so He speaks in parables and symbols and allows us to interpret them as best we can.Some(those of us who prefer a literal interpretation because of our lack of sophistication) think the scriptures have a true historical basis. Others(who prefer a more nuanced and figurative interpretation) accept the archaic civilizations views as the final word on the subject. Pick your poison(venom?).

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What is being said here is that the Lord knows/rightly assumes that we cannot handle the TRUTH, so He speaks in parables and symbols and allows us to interpret them as best we can.Some(those of us who prefer a literal interpretation because of our lack of sophistication) think the scriptures have a true historical basis. Others(who prefer a more nuanced and figurative interpretation) accept the archaic civilizations views as the final word on the subject. Pick your poison(venom?).

Actually, I believe the use of Symbols allows individuals to learn dynamically. It's not a matter of not being able to handle the Truth, because I think Symbols are vehicles to best express many aspects and nuances of truth, and not limited in a way a single written out set in stone phrase would. The problem is when we project our current understanding back on the ancients, and assume they used and understood the symbols the same way we do today.

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The Eden story as it appears in Genesis was a symbolic parable of the Israelite exile and loss of the Temple and Kingship/Priesthood. Adam is the ideal High Priest/King, given stewardship over the Lord's Garden. When he disobeys (as did Saul, David, and the other later Kings), he loses the right to his Kingship, and is exiled from Jerusalem (the garden) and the Tree of Life (the Temple), into the wilderness (the diaspora). It's possible the serpent represented forbidden wisdom or idolatry (during the days of Hezekiah, a Serpent statue/idol was cast out of the Temple). It had nothing initially to do with spiritual eternal sin, the biological creation of man, or an inherent fall of man. It gave a hindsight view of what happened with Israelite history, and the Temporal loss of the Golden Age.

Later prophets used those same symbols, and infused new meaning in them. Today, those symbols are re-oriented to teach the current understanding of the Eternal and Spiritual plan of Salvation. Eden represents our state in the presence of God where our progression was halted until we each made the personal (and separated in time) decisions to a) enter into mortality [physical separation], and b) sin [spiritual separation]. It stresses our need to accept the Savior for us to be able to progress and return to the Presence of God to partake of the Tree of Life (Exaltation).

It's not a documentary history - they are symbols that teach us principles. Now, specifically about our own personal fall, and need for a savior. But that was not its initial use. The Lord constantly re-adapts symbols to teach us new and applicable truths.

Excellent post nack. We need to give you a raise or something.

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Ed:

You raise an interesting question and the example of Legion entering the herd of swine would give reason to believe that evil spirits can enter the bodies of animals. Its a plausible theory.

The way that the story is presented in the temple suggests to me that the serpent is a symbol. Lucifer presents himself to Eve as Eve's brother. I think he would have needed to present himself in human form for this presentation to be effective. Christ was represented as a serpent on Moses's staff too. It is also interesting that in the temple, when the Father is cursing Lucifer, the cursing is comparing Lucifer to a serpent....upon his belly eating dust and, brusing the heel of the seed of Eve but getting his head crushed. I think its all sympolic.

Maybe Lucifer did spend some time in the garden in the literal form of a serpent though. I don't know but I suppose it possible. However, Legion required Christ's permission to enter the swine so I think if an evil spirit were to enter the body of an animal it would have to happen under God's permission.

I do accept the Adam and Eve story as a real historical event, it is not symbolic myth.

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All this is fine and good, but are you guys trying to say that the devil did NOT literally appear in the form of a snake in the garden of eden?

Or, if it wasn't literally a serpent, are you saying that Satan did not have anything to do with the garden of Eden and the fall of man?

Or, Are you trying to say that the Satan did NOT beguile Eve?

Please clarify what your point is. I am happy that you are giving me all this stuff which is certainly very interesting. I just want to know what your point is.

Ed

One, in the OT the being known as satan did not exist. He only existed as a title given a special prosecutor of God as in Job. It wasn't until much later, post Babylonian diaspora, that Satan, anthropomorphized, became the evil dichotomy of God. During the middle age and in modern theological material including LDS scripture does Satan appear as the prince of evil. Additionally, Jews do not believe man had a literal falling away or original sin, but with original purity. There wasn't a sinful nature inherent with Adam and Eve and there wasn't an original sin to have forgiveness of.

Two, Satan himself, if taken from OT records alone, did not tempt Eve. Modern scriptures makes this comparison. We cannot support this view with an appeal to the OT. There is an interesting Midrash that states Eve was pushed into the fruit and thereby did eat.

Three, the serpent did beguile Eve, but not with a lie, but with truth. Man did become like the gods.

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What about the talking donkey in Numbers? Or was Balaam just talking out of his ...

Funny you should raise this story here, as the Hebrew word for the angel who hedged up Balaam's way was "Satan."

Not THE Satan, for there was none such in OT times, but rather A Satan, or one of the heavenly beings God used to accuse (as mentioned before) or to hedge up the way.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I do not believe Satan appeared in the literal form of a snake in Eden.

I believe the snake is used as a symbol to represent the fact that Lucifer appeared to Adam and Eve as a glorified angel of light and wisdom, and hence could be trusted in what he said.

The snake is a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

The snake told Adam and Eve how to get wisdom and knowledge.

Who wouldn't believe him?

The Book of Moses makes it clear that it was Satan who spoke through the mouth of the serpent:

Moses 4
:

5 And now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made.

6 And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.

7 And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said
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The Book of Moses makes it clear that it was Satan who spoke through the mouth of the serpent:

Joseph Smith's revisions to Genesis serve as an important transition text to go from the accepted Protestant tradition, "Satan was the snake", to "Satan was there with the snake", to the later "Satan the person was there, and there was no snake involved", as per the Temple. It shows the development of the interpretation given to the symbols, and the evolution of the meaning of the story.

And Joseph Smith taught that serpents initially had legs, and then lost them as a result of the curse.

Joseph adapted this understanding from interpreting an image of a Snake depicted with legs on a portion of his Papyri.

Serpent%20JS%20papyri.JPG

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Joseph Smith's revisions to Genesis serve as an important transition text to go from the accepted Protestant tradition, "Satan was the snake", to "Satan was there with the snake", to the later "Satan the person was there, and there was no snake involved", as per the Temple. It shows the development of the interpretation given to the symbols, and the evolution of the meaning of the story.

Very well said.

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Does it work here to take a quote from one thread and paste it in here into another?

I'm trying that, so hopefully it works..

So, if we are talking "miraculous" stuff, anything is possible I guess.

I mean, I don't know how a *donkey* in the bible can talk, much less a *snake*, but in the Book of Revelation, and the D&C, the animals praise God. I don't know. Pick your mechanism. Telepathy, hissing... I don't know. Dr. Doolittle could talk to the animals and they could talk back somehow. Maybe somehow the Adamic language has some hissing sounds. LOL. Who knows?

Ed

SkepticTheist:

Yes there are forms of snakes with no legs.

http://news.discover...ion-110207.html

But what I said was TALKING snakes. Are you seriously suggesting that literal snakes at one time also had vocal cords and human language?

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Just because the temple gives us one version, and Cowdery's interpretation as well as the book of Moses another, I don't know that the issue is settled. Being that the temple thing is a mystery play, and they needed an actor, this could just be simply because a snake doesn't make a good actor in a mystery play. We still could be dealing with a snake in the end. I don't know if this actually does point to evolution of the story, but just a different way of portraying the same story.

Joseph Smith's revisions to Genesis serve as an important transition text to go from the accepted Protestant tradition, "Satan was the snake", to "Satan was there with the snake", to the later "Satan the person was there, and there was no snake involved", as per the Temple. It shows the development of the interpretation given to the symbols, and the evolution of the meaning of the story.

Joseph adapted this understanding from interpreting an image of a Snake depicted with legs on a portion of his Papyri.

Serpent%20JS%20papyri.JPG

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