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Dragon Is Genesis Serpent


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Recently Taphophilia, White Raven and I had an exchange about the Dragon of Revelation. On several threads on this site, people have maintained that the Hebrew scriptures do not present the Serpent of Genesis 3 as the devil or Satan. I’m fine with that. I argue a different point, i.e. Revelation 12 and 20 does represent the Dragon/Satan/devil as the Serpent of Genesis.

 

Why do I care? I’m an atheist, but I love ancient languages, interpreting ancient texts, and arguing about same. Maybe it will help Christians on here realize how far the NT goes in adding non-Hebraic concepts to Judaism. I'd welcome any contributions to this thread.

 

Here are my reasons.

 

1. The ancient Greek word “drakon” refers to snake and often is interchanged with the Greek word, “ophis,” which means snake ("phidi" in Modern Greek).

2. In Revelation 12 and 20, “drakon” and “ophis” refer to the same character, who is also called Satan and the Accuser there.

3. Revelation uses the expression “that ancient serpent” to identify the dragon. This is most reasonably taken as a reference to Genesis.

4. Revelation represents the dragon as “standing” before the woman who gives birth in pain, reminding one of Genesis 3.

 

Now to fill in the points.

 

1. “Drakon” appears in Greek starting in Homer and Hesiod. At Iliad 12.202 the Trojans see an eagle carrying a drakon, snake, in the sky, fighting with it. The drakon bits the eagle, which drops it, and at 12.208, the Trojans rejoice when they see the “ophin” i.e. snake, in their midst. Drakon and ophis refer to the same animal. Hesiod Theogony 322 defines an ophis as a “krateros (strong) drakon.” Hesiod says the chimaera had three heads: lion, she-goat, drakon. Depictions of the chimaera in ancient art show the third head as a snake head. Theogony 825 also identifies ophis and drakon. In Pindar, Nemean Ode 1.40, Hera sends two drakontes to kill baby Herakles. The baby strangles the two “opheis.” Again on vases of this myth, you see snakes, not “dragons,” in baby Herakles' fists. I don’t know of cases in ancient Greek where a drakon has legs like our “dragon.”

 

It’s noteworthy that the drakon in Revelation 12:3 has seven heads and ten horns. In Iliad 11:39, Agamemnon’s sword belt has a picture of a drakon with three heads on one neck. It's possible that the author of Revelation chose the noun drakon rather than ophis because "drakon" is the word a story will use if the reptile has multiple heads. I don’t know this; does anyone?

 

 

2. The Dragon of Revelation is a serpent. First, at 12:9 it is described like this (my translation): “And the great drakon was cast (down), the ancient serpent, the one called Accuser (Diabolos) and Satan, who leading astray the whole world was cast down to the earth, and his angels with him were cast down.” The same wording about the drakon is repeated at 20:2.

 

So the reptile is question is a serpent, because the noun “ophis” identifies “drakon.” Second, at 12:13-14 the drakon pursues the woman into the wilderness. She flies away so she can be saved from the “ophis.” At verse 15 the “ophis” belches out water to drown the woman. Verse 16 talks about the river of water that the drakon belched out. So drakon = ophis; it’s a serpent.

 

 

3. The definite article “the” before “ancient serpent” at 12:9 marks the character as one already known to the readership. That's what the word "the" does. The adjective translated “ancient” is “archaios,” which in Greek means “having to do with the beginning (arche)” rather than “old” or “of long duration.” Since Genesis is the book of beginnings and starts in Greek translation with the words “en arche,” ("in the beginning"), it is plausible that the adjective “ancient” in Rev. alludes to that beginning, i.e. to Genesis.

 

At 20:7 after the drakon-ophis-Satan is bound for a thousand years, Satan is loosed from prison. Again, the serpent is Satan according to Revelation; “the ancient” is a link to the serpent of Genesis.

 

4. In Rev. 12:3 the woman giving birth cries out in pain and travail. I think this is a pretty good example of intertextuality, i.e. the later text (Rev.) makes use of the earlier one, for in Genesis 3, Eve is told by God that she’ll give birth in pain. The way Rev. 12 feeds off Genesis 3 provides good reason to see its drakon as in line with the serpent of Genesis 3.

 

Rev. 12:4 says that the drakon “stood” in front of the woman to devour her child. It may seem that this verse implies the drakon is not a snake, but it's not inconsistent with identification of drakon and serpent of Genesis. In that story the serpent was able to stand when he conversed with the woman, before God cursed him to crawl on his belly. So the words “drakon stood” in Revelation does not prove that the drakon is not the serpent of Genesis.

 

Although Revelation doesn't come out and say that the "drakon" is the serpent that tempted Eve, I think that identification is the most reasonable conclusion to pull out of Rev.'s language.

 

What I said about the word "ancient" above leads me to add that the whole thrust of Revelation is to announce the completion of the great religious story that began in Genesis. That's why it ends with the vision of a new heaven and a new earth. It fits the old mythical structure of ring composition if the seducer of Genesis is defeated at the end of salvation history. I think this is a thematic reason to think the dragon/Satan is the serpent of Genesis. The author is trying to be profound.

 

Taphophilia has already cited Sumerian myths of a serpent. I think the author of Revelation provides a good example of the way the early Christians picked up religious ideas from elsewhere in Asia, often ideas floating around in various groups within Judaism, and carried them further.

 

An important aid could come from the earliest patristic Christian references to the serpent and the dragon and Satan. I suspect early Christian interpreters made the identification of Serpent with Dragon/Satan easily. The way the early church interpreted its own scripture is always to consider carefully. I haven't looked into patristic sources, though.

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Here are my reasons.

 

1. The ancient Greek word “drakon” refers to snake and often is interchanged with the Greek word, “ophis,” which means snake ("phidi" in Modern Greek).

2. In Revelation 12 and 20, “drakon” and “ophis” refer to the same character, who is also called Satan and the Accuser there.

 

No problem so far.

 

3. Revelation uses the expression “that ancient serpent” to identify the dragon. This is most reasonably taken as a reference to Genesis.

Number 3 I will address.

4. Revelation represents the dragon as “standing” before the woman who gives birth in pain, reminding one of Genesis 3.

Think I'll address this one too.

3. The definite article “the” before “ancient serpent” at 12:9 marks the character as one already known to the readership. That's what the word "the" does.

 

Except "The" doesn't come directly before "ancient serpent"...which alters the meaning slightly. Look:

 

9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

 

 

The adjective translated “ancient” is “archaios,” which in Greek means “having to do with the beginning (arche)” rather than “old” or “of long duration.” Since Genesis is the book of beginnings and starts in Greek translation with the words “en arche,” ("in the beginning"), it is plausible that the adjective “ancient” in Rev. alludes to that beginning, i.e. to Genesis. .

And just why should we stop at Genesis? Wasn't the expulsion of Satan and friends technically pre-genesis? Particularly as "The Fall" is not mentioned anywhere in genesis? In fact, when you read all of Chapter 12, it's quite clear that it doesn't refer to the original fall of angels at all, but coming as a result of Michael and friend's in heaven going to war with dragon and friends at the ending of things.

 

4. In Rev. 12:3 the woman giving birth cries out in pain and travail. I think this is a pretty good example of intertextuality, i.e. the later text (Rev.) makes use of the earlier one, for in Genesis 3, Eve is told by God that she’ll give birth in pain. The way Rev. 12 feeds off Genesis 3 provides good reason to see its drakon as in line with the serpent of Genesis 3. .

 

Seeing as practically every woman on the planet experiences pain during birth (unless highly drugged and or a scientologist), the link to Eve in Genesis is tenuous at best. Particularly as this episode:

13When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. 15Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.
.......is not depited or referenced in any way whatsoever in Genesis, and it would have made a great "plight of Eve" story.

 

 

Rev. 12:4 says that the drakon “stood” in front of the woman to devour her child. It may seem that this verse implies the drakon is not a snake, but it's not inconsistent with identification of drakon and serpent of Genesis. In that story the serpent was able to stand when he conversed with the woman, before God cursed him to crawl on his belly. So the words “drakon stood” in Revelation does not prove that the drakon is not the serpent of Genesis.

Doesn't adequately prove that is IS the Genesis serpent either. Particularly when dragons are frequently depicted as having legs.

Although Revelation doesn't come out and say that the "drakon" is the serpent that tempted Eve, I think that identification is the most reasonable conclusion to pull out of Rev.'s language..

Only by assuming a LOT.

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I don't really see what the problem is here. Who cares whether or not the serpent / dragon in Revelation is the serpent from Genesis? The fact remains that nowhere else in the entire OT is this serpent ever mentioned again. Satan is hardly ever even referred to in the OT and when he is, it's not as the "rebellious fallen angel" modern Christians would have us believe him to be.

 

So what is the argument here? If the serpent in Revelation is a reference to the serpent in Genesis, it's John making an inference. Is there any other location where this comparison is made that would lead us to believe early Christians accepted that the serpent in Genesis was Satan? None that I know of.

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Hi, Agnostic Atheist. I think you've accurately touched on the issue we were tossing around on another thread: i.e. whether the NT (OK, one guy, author of Revelation) identifies Satan and the serpent of Genesis 3. Those of us talking about this agreed that the OT does not identify the serpent as Satan, and I think we (i.e. Taph, White Raven, me) agree that Satan in the OT is not the devil as Christianity represents him.

 

White Raven, this is probably one of those many cases when one interpreter of a text thinks the text affords enough basis for an interpretation that another interpreter denies it affords. I'll be back to address your points more carefully later, if I have the energy - we might all just agree that none of us have the energy to go far with this!

 

One thing, though, as I looked up Rev. in my Greek text, it said "the ancient serpent," not "that..." Either way, I think a demonstrative modifier, whether that or the, marks the noun as already known to the readership. That's generally what Greek grammarians say these words do.

 

OK, till later, cheers

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Can't the same word be used simply to mean deceiver of sorts as opposed to a literal snake as well (much how we still use it today)?

 

From http://www.sacrednamebible.com/kjvstrongs/STRGRK37.htm#S3789

 

ofiV

ophis

of'-is

 

probably from optanomai - optanomai 3700 (through the idea of sharpness of vision); a snake, figuratively, (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially Satan:--serpent.

 

Essentially this would make the verse something like:

12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old deceiver, 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.

 

The verse basically reenforces the thought (so deceiver would be redundant in use but a similar term like liar or something...obviously serpent in this case) is used.

 

Also, did people of that time see dragons as we do now? When I think dragon I imagine the more medieval flying monster but I know the Chinese have the more snake like versions in their artwork that I have seen. So perhaps this is the parallel being drawn? I know ficino hinted at a similar possibility. Maybe there's a particular dragon/serpent we're supposed to be aware of?

 

But I also agree with White Raven and others that this isn't the snake in the garden, even if it's the writers intent, because when I read this passage a year ago it was easy to see that this was a future event and not a past one. How can the fall happen before the other stuff? I go along for sake of argument but it's just crap. There's no reason to think this stuff will happen, then flashback to a great war and the fall, then back to the future...or the other possibility that there was a fall, stuff happened and this stuff will happened and there will be a war. Two shitty things happen in heaven? God can't keep his house in order (then he keeps the dragon tied up for 1000 years for some unknown reason just so he come make a bad horror movie surprise appearance to dispatch him without really trying...lame).

 

mwc

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Also, did people of that time see dragons as we do now? When I think dragon I imagine the more medieval flying monster but I know the Chinese have the more snake like versions in their artwork that I have seen. So perhaps this is the parallel being drawn? I know ficino hinted at a similar possibility. Maybe there's a particular dragon/serpent we're supposed to be aware of?

 

mwc

 

The physical description of the dragon in Revelation doesn't sound much like a snake. It seems to be some type of monster.

 

Revelation 12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

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The physical description of the dragon in Revelation doesn't sound much like a snake. It seems to be some type of monster.

 

Revelation 12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Right, I'm aware of that. My main point was that the dragon is supposed to be symbolic so the serpent term being applied to it should be as well. So the symbolic dragon is a symbolic "snake." If it's literal then does the dragon have to be a winged medieval type dragon as is often depicted or can it be more snake-like as a Chinese dragon?

 

I guess I'm thinking of the types of things that are represented in the parades. Not small by any means but not not the things that knights were slaying either. Not that I'd want to come across a 30 foot long snake like thing with seven heads and all but this wouldn't be the dinosaur like dragon that is typically depicted in art and movies either.

 

A quick Google for "types of dragons" returns lots of results. Looks likes there are dragons that are snake like without wings and four or more heads (a hydra). Could this be what "John" is referring to? There's also the Behemoth at one website which fits the bible nicely. It has no wings but it doesn't say how many heads or anything.

 

mwc

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I'm not sure if I understand the thrust of this thread.

 

It always seemed to me that the writer of Revelaton was assuming that the snake in Genesis was satan. Other than this one line, I've never been able to make the connection. And to me, a single line from a single book written who knows how long after the original story it refers to, doesn't seem avery compelling argument that the original writers of genesis considered the serpant as a manifestation of god's prosecutor...

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we kinda addressed this issue in this thread: http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=8723&st=0

 

nowhere in the bible does it say the snake in the garden was satan. most christians assume that it is satan because that is what they are taught. the only reason why satan is believed to be the snake is because of this one line:

Revelation 20:2

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

 

christians assume "that old serpent," mean satan was the snake in the garden. they never think that serpent can refer to him being called a dragon.

 

if one actually uses their brain to read genesis, it says "the serpent was more crafty that any beast on the field," which indicates the snake was just an animal, who was just a little bit smarter. and again, if one keeps reading, it says that the snake was cursed by god "more than all cattle, and more than every beast on the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life;" if this was really satan, how was he able to walk up with jesus up the mountain? in Job, how was he able to go "to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." if he was cursed to crawl on his belly all his days?

 

check it: Let's Take a Look at Satan

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I'm not arguing the dragon is the Genesis serpent either. I agree that the author(s) of Genesis believed it was a talking snake and not some magical being disguised as a snake or anything like that.

 

The question, as I see it at least, is does the author of the revelation really try to tie back to the snake in Genesis with this line (actually two 12:9/20:2 though they're nearly identical) or something else? I presented the ideas that I could think up off the top of my head. I think the link to the snake in Genesis is forced by later doctrine and would have shown up in other literature if it were a more common place concept. I guess I could concede the vision is true and so it could follow it would be the only place I would find such a reference but since it seems to borrow from the Book of Enoch (at least when I read it I saw similarities) so I don't think I'll need to do that.

 

mwc

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Revelation 20:2

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years

Why isnt "that old serpent" in reference to "the dragon"? If i said "And he laid his hand on Gertude, that old lady, which is the Witch..." doesnt "that old lady" refer to Gertude?

 

So why does "that old serpent" refer to the snake in the Garden and not referencing and calling the dragon an "old serpent"?

 

Maybe i just dont understand the linguistics of the time period :shrug:

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Why isnt "that old serpent" in reference to "the dragon"? If i said "And he laid his hand on Gertude, that old lady, which is the Witch..." doesnt "that old lady" refer to Gertude?

 

So why does "that old serpent" refer to the snake in the Garden and not referencing and calling the dragon an "old serpent"?

This is how I see it but the word could be literal or figuretive. So when it says "serpent" does it mean a literal serpent (the dragon is an actual serpent/snake) or a deceiver (the dragon is a liar)? What did people consider a serpent? Consider sea serpents. The drawings I've seen made them seem quite large and something to be feared and a serpent nonetheless. Not something I'd picture in the garden talking to Eve at all or fitting the story at all.

 

So now we have to assume we're talking about his character and not a literal serpent to make these two serpents "match" up. In Revelation 20:2 that works alright but in chapter 12 it becomes redundant to call the dragon a liar twice in the same verse (which is something I posited but now that I re-read it I'm not so sure since it's awkward).

 

Going forward it's easy. They're not the same thing. Going backward and just having the dragon be a dragon is easy too. Making the dragon be the Genesis snake takes some work. ;)

 

Maybe i just dont understand the linguistics of the time period :shrug:

I don't either. :)

 

mwc

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I did some further reading and I'm convinced that this is the dragon that is being referred to by the author:

 

Isaiah 27:1

 

In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

 

This is a much better match for the serpent in Revelation than the snake in Genesis.

 

mwc

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I did some further reading and I'm convinced that this is the dragon that is being referred to by the author:

 

Isaiah 27:1

 

In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

 

This is a much better match for the serpent in Revelation than the snake in Genesis.

 

mwc

yeah! that's makes a whole lotta more sense!!!! you got serpent and dragon in the same verse. interestingly enough, i put "dragon" in the word search in skepticsannotatedbible and it came up in Neh 2:13, Psa 91:13, Isa 51:9, Jer 51:34, Eze 29:3.

 

"serpent" comes up in Isa 30:6, Gen 49:17, Exd 4:3, 7:9-10 and 15, Num 21:8-9, 2King 18:4, Job 26:13, and so on and so on and so on....

 

but of course, a fundie will never use any of these as the reference for revelations...

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Hi, everyone. I don't know why I got obsessed with this; I actually just came back from two hours at the library on the question! I guess it's just because I'm an ancient text research geek.

 

Anyway, back to whether Revelation identifies Satan and the serpent of Genesis 3 (the thread's not about the true meaning of the serpent in Genesis 3 itself). The point is, are christians justified in claiming that the NT attributes the temptation of Eve to the devil?

 

In a nutshell, I think Revelation does identify them:

a. it calls the dragon "the ancient serpent," not "an ancient serpent," as though the audience is supposed to know what ancient serpent is being meant. The most prominent OT serpent that is ancient is the one in Genesis.

b. the dragon is said to deceive/lead astray the whole world. The major thing the serpent does in Genesis is to deceive Eve (from God's POV at least!): she says "the serpent deceived me and I ate." It's interesting that in Revelation, the deceiving devil is expelled while redeemed humans inherit, forming an inversion of what happened in Genesis, when the deceiver's words led to the first humans' being expelled. (I got that point from a commentary on Revelation by A. K. Wai Siew)

 

There is literature of late Judaism and gnostic Christianity that shows awareness of the serpent/devil identification. My guess is that Revelation transmits ideas that are reflected also in these other texts.

 

Late judaism.

 

Wisdom 2.24, entrance of death into the world is because of Satan. Josephus, Antiquities 1.1.4 took this as a reference to Adam and Eve event. Josephus wrote around the end of the 1st century AD.

 

The Life of Adam and Eve 14:3 (written around 1st cent. B.C. to 1st cent. A.D.) - Satan refuses to bow down to the newly created Adam when God calls on the angels to admire the new creature. Michael does bow. This doesn't claim that the serpent is Satan but it sets up the foundation for that later twist on the story, i.e. Satan has a motive for messing with Adam and Eve, not just the serpent with a motive.

 

Book of Jubilees 3 (written mid 1st century AD) has the serpent tempt Eve, the serpent stands upright. The connection to Revelation is that the dragon stands before the woman who is about to give birth, even though the dragon is called a serpent.

 

I Enoch 69.6, the fallen angel Gadreel led other angels to rebel and then tempted Eve.

 

Secrets of Enoch 32 (Slavic translation) from around end of 1st century AD talks about fallen chief angel who becomes Satan, deceives Eve, God curses him

 

 

Gnostic texts.

Nag Hammadi Testimony of Truth says that God cursed the serpent in Gen. 3 for telling the truth and called him the devil. The author of this says that the serpent is really Christ.

 

Nag Hammadi Reality of the Rulers says that the feminine spiritual principle appeared to Eve in the form of a serpent, and the rulers of darkness cursed the woman and the serpent and expelled Adam and Eve.

 

(These texts obviously invert a story known to them, making God the villain and the serpent the good truth-teller, who gets branded as the devil. So the serpent-devil identification was known to these gnostics of the early third century or earlier.)

 

 

Early christian fathers.

 

The earliest one I've come up with is Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 124, who says that Satan's fall was because of his interference in the Garden of Eden. Justin was in the second century A.D.

 

So, I think the serpent-Devil in Genesis notion was floating around among apocalyptic religionists during and shortly after the time when Revelation was written.

 

mwc, your connection of the dragon in Revelation to Leviathan and dragons elsewhere in the OT is very noteworthy. I think, though, that there's no reason why the author of Revelation couldn't have seen the devil in these symbolic figures, too. To think that he did doesn't generate any contradiction with the idea that he also saw the devil beneath the figure of the serpent in Genesis. The whole of Revelation is dominated by the picture of a battle between God/Christ and the adversary.

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i dont think theyre justified... just look at my example of referencing in the context of words in a sentence.

 

Why isnt "that old serpent" in reference to "the dragon"? If i said "And he laid his hand on Gertude, that old lady, which is the Witch..." doesnt "that old lady" refer to Gertude?

 

So why does "that old serpent" refer to the snake in the Garden and not referencing and calling the dragon an "old serpent"?

 

in your point b, you mentioned:

b. the dragon is said to deceive/lead astray the whole world. The major thing the serpent does in Genesis is to deceive Eve

the snake didnt deceive Eve though. everything the snake would happened after eating happened... and everything the snake said wouldnt happen when eating the apple, didnt happen... like you said... from god's pov.

 

but then again, you and mwc make valid points about how it all depends on linguistics and the image they had when they used the word dragon.

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i dont think theyre justified... just look at my example of referencing in the context of words in a sentence.

 

Why isnt "that old serpent" in reference to "the dragon"? If i said "And he laid his hand on Gertude, that old lady, which is the Witch..." doesnt "that old lady" refer to Gertude?

 

So why does "that old serpent" refer to the snake in the Garden and not referencing and calling the dragon an "old serpent"?

 

 

Hi, RHEMtron, btw the Greek says "the ancient serpent," not "that ancient serpent." I don't think "old lady" is a good analogy, though, because "archaios" isn't used to denote old people. It means something from olden times, even from the times of origin (arche means beginning). I agree that the author identifies the dragon as the ancient serpent. Saying that, though, raises the question, what ancient serpent? I can't prove that the readers of Revelation would think of the serpent in Genesis, but since Revelation is a text for christians and feeds heavily off the OT, the most natural candidate for "what serpent?" seems to me to be the earliest serpent mentioned in the OT.

 

If someone writes "Gertrude, the ancient lady, which is the Witch..." rather than "Gertrude, an ancient lady..." I think the writer would be presenting Gertrude as though her quality of antiquity is already familiar to the reader.

 

Anyway, thanks for reading what I wrote. Cheers

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just wanted to make a correction on my quote... youre right it is the old serpent. i was getting my quote from a bible that says "that". my other bibles actually say "the serpent of old".

 

im on the same boat as you now... guess that leaves me questioning why does it have to mean the snake in the garden and not the leviathan that MWC stated? is it being based on which one is mentioned first?

 

i think we would end up touching the subject of "was satan in the garden" to answer our questions.

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Hi, everyone. I don't know why I got obsessed with this; I actually just came back from two hours at the library on the question! I guess it's just because I'm an ancient text research geek.

We all have our things. :) I'm still here for some reason.

 

In a nutshell, I think Revelation does identify them:

a. it calls the dragon "the ancient serpent," not "an ancient serpent," as though the audience is supposed to know what ancient serpent is being meant. The most prominent OT serpent that is ancient is the one in Genesis.

I'd say this is debatable at this point. In my opinion this is not the most prominent OT serpent. The fact that a simple search for the word "leviathan" gets me five matches in the OT tells me it was at least known by name. In addition the Book of Enoch (and I imagine other apocolypictic works of the period...I'm still looking) was popular and mentions leviathan as well. I just looked and it looks like leviathan has its origins with Lotan which is a seven headed Ugaritic serpent that was present at creation (in sort of a struggle with god).

 

It seems fair to imagine this legend would be something that people would be aware of even if not officially a part of their religion. Look at how many things are in xianity that aren't in the bible but accepted as fact.

 

b. the dragon is said to deceive/lead astray the whole world. The major thing the serpent does in Genesis is to deceive Eve (from God's POV at least!): she says "the serpent deceived me and I ate." It's interesting that in Revelation, the deceiving devil is expelled while redeemed humans inherit, forming an inversion of what happened in Genesis, when the deceiver's words led to the first humans' being expelled. (I got that point from a commentary on Revelation by A. K. Wai Siew)

True but that doesn't mean it's the same serpent. I just took a look at another site http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp...id=275&letter=L and they have this bit:

According to a midrash, the leviathan was created on the fifth day (Yalḳ., Gen. 12). Originally God produced a male and a female leviathan, but lest in multiplying the species should destroy the world, He slew the female, reserving her flesh for the banquet that will be given to the righteous on the advent of the Messiah (B. B. 74a).

This would place the creation of this serpent prior to the one in the garden making it slightly more ancient.

 

The Sumerian god Tiamat (http://www.crystalinks.com/sumergods1a.html) apparently got upset and created sea serpents. This is the origin of the Hebrew word "tehom" ("the deep"). The Jewish god obviously does his creating over the face of the deep. I doubt this is coincidence. This goddess was forgotten but her creation (later attributed to god himself as a fallen angel), leviathan, lived on in some ever present evil living in the deep that god would some day overcome to make the world a safe place. Isn't that a metaphor for how some see the devil (and the xians Satan)?

 

Wisdom 2.24, entrance of death into the world is because of Satan. Josephus, Antiquities 1.1.4 took this as a reference to Adam and Eve event. Josephus wrote around the end of the 1st century AD.

 

Wisdom 2.23-24

[23] For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.

[24] Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it.

 

Anitiquities 1.1.4

... But while all the living creatures had one language, at that time the serpent, which then lived together with Adam and his wife, shewed an envious disposition, at his supposal of their living happily, and in obedience to the commands of God; and imagining, that when they disobeyed them, they would fall into calamities, he persuaded the woman, out of a malicious intention, to taste of the tree of knowledge, telling them, that in that tree was the knowledge of good and evil; which knowledge, when they should obtain, they would lead a happy life; nay, a life not inferior to that of a god: by which means he overcame the woman, and persuaded her to despise the command of God. ...

I can sort of see the point in the Wisdom of Solomon except that the author forgets that Adam and Eve didn't eat from the Tree of Life and weren't created to be immortal. Josephus never mentions the snake was Satan and basically lumps the serpent in with the other creatures. However, if this is supposed to go along with xian doctrine then we're to believe that the devil is envious of god and wants to be worshipped but this would have us think that the devil is envious of man.

 

The Life of Adam and Eve 14:3 - Satan refuses to bow down to the newly created Adam when God calls on the angels to admire the new creature. Michael does bow. This doesn't claim that the serpent is Satan but it sets up the foundation for that later twist on the story, i.e. Satan has a motive for messing with Adam and Eve, not just the serpent with a motive.

Does this help?

The Life of Adam and Eve 16.4 - The serpent said, 'In what way or how can we expel him from the Garden?' Satan said to the serpent, 'Be you, in your form, a lyre for me and I will pronounce speech through your mouth, so that we may be able to help.

In this telling Adam and Eve aren't tossed from the garden and guards are placed around the tree. Satan the enlists the help of the serpent to get them tossed out for good so they can move in (at least that's what I got from a quick skim of the text...I could be way off ;) ).

 

You cite quite a few other things that I'll need to take a look at.

 

It seems that "John" is trying to tie quite a few themes together but I really don't see a solid tie to just the snake in Genesis. If I had never heard of this religion or the doctrine and read through the book there's no way I'd put dragon and snake together the way people do today. The tie is just that weak. The snake in Genesis just is never mentioned after the curse that I am aware of (within the bible proper). Leviathan is and it fits the dragon description that is given. The problem is the dragon/serpent/deceiver combination. We can find dragon/serpent and serpent/deceiver but no good combination that has all the traits needed (maybe "serpent" is all he thought was needed though since it's not like people could use a computer to search for terms).

 

mwc

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guess that leaves me questioning why does it have to mean the snake in the garden and not the leviathan that MWC stated? is it being based on which one is mentioned first?

 

 

 

Hey! One of the commentaries I looked at last night said that in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT done in second century B.C. or so, "drakon" tends to be used for water snakes/monsters like Leviathan, and "ophis" tends to be used for land snakes. Earlier Greek authors didn't restrict the application of drakon to water snakes; see my OP. And besides, the Isaiah passage mwc quoted applies the nouns drakon and ophis both to Leviathan, so I don't think that commentator (John M. Court, Myth and History in the book of Revelation [London 1979]) is completely correct. Anyway, I agree with mwc that there are connections between the dragon of revelation and Leviathan. I think there's at least one difference, in that the dragon at the end of chapter 12 stands on the sand of the sea, and in 13:1 there comes up out of the sea a beast with various weird body parts. So in Revelation, the dragon isn't from the sea, unlike Leviathan.

 

I think the pattern of imagery is the main thing. The author of Revelation is carrying on the imagery both of serpent and of water monster that he finds already in the OT (and probably other apocalyptic literature that didn't get put in the canon). He takes both reptilian images to stand for Satan, who by this time in history had morphed into the figure of God's great adversary, and not God's servant/prosecutor as he was centuries before in Judaism. mwc was right to point out that Isaiah talks about punishing Leviathan, and in Revelation, the dragon is punished. Remember that in Luke 10:18 Jesus is represented as saying "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." I think that in the mind of the author of Revelation, any reptile adversary who falls/is punished is a symbol for Satan. I can't ignore what's said in Revelation to allude to Genesis, though. So I think the author of Rev. sees both reptiles as symbols of Satan. That's why he applies both reptile words to Satan/the devil. If Rev. 12 alludes to Isaiah, it doesn't follow that other features of that chapter don't allude to Genesis.

 

Apocalyptic writers like to mishmash symbols, thereby distorting the sense of the earlier texts they cannibalize. To notice how Revelation does this was the main point of this thread when i posted it.

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Does this help?

 

 

The Life of Adam and Eve 16.4 - The serpent said, 'In what way or how can we expel him from the Garden?' Satan said to the serpent, 'Be you, in your form, a lyre for me and I will pronounce speech through your mouth, so that we may be able to help.

 

In this telling Adam and Eve aren't tossed from the garden and guards are placed around the tree. Satan the enlists the help of the serpent to get them tossed out for good so they can move in (at least that's what I got from a quick skim of the text...I could be way off ;) ).

 

 

Hi, mwc. I found this version of the Life of Adam and Eve:

 

xiii 1 The devil replied, 'Adam, what dost thou tell me? It is for thy sake that I have been hurled

 

2 from that place. When thou wast formed. I was hurled out of the presence of God and banished from the company of the angels. When God blew into thee the breath of life and thy face and likeness was made in the image of God, Michael also brought thee and made (us) worship thee in the sight of God; and God the Lord spake: Here is Adam. I have made thee in our image and likeness.'

 

xiv 1 And Michael went out and called all the angels saying:

 

'Worship the image of God as the Lord God hath commanded.'

 

And Michael himself worshipped first; then he called me and said: 'Worship the image of God

 

3 the Lord.' And I answered, 'I have no (need) to worship Adam.' And since Michael kept urging me to worship, I said to him, 'Why dost thou urge me? I will not worship an inferior and younger being (than I). I am his senior in the Creation, before he was made was I already made. It is his duty to worship me.'

 

xv 1,2 When the angels, who were under me, heard this, they refused to worship him. And Michael saith, 'Worship the image of God, but if thou wilt not worship him, the Lord God will be wrath

 

3 with thee.' And I said, 'If He be wrath with me, I will set my seat above the stars of heaven and will be like the Highest.'

 

xvi 1 And God the Lord was wrath with me and banished me and my angels from our glory; and on

 

2 thy account were we expelled from our abodes into this world and hurled on the earth. And

 

3 straightway we were overcome with grief, since we had been spoiled of so great glory. And we

 

4 were grieved when we saw thee in such joy and luxury. And with guile I cheated thy wife and caused thee to be expelled through her (doing) from thy joy and luxury, as I have been driven out of my glory.

 

xvii 1 When Adam heard the devil say this, he cried out and wept and spake: 'O Lord my God, my life is in thy hands. Banish this Adversary far from me..."

 

According to this version, the devil/Satan was the one who deceived Eve. There was a Latin, a Slavonic, and a Greek version of this story. I can't compare them all now, but they may differ in details, and some may show infection from Christian influences as they were copied.

 

I don't disagree with you about the importance of Leviathan in the OT. I think the apocryphal literature we've been quoting shows that the notion was floating around that the devil was responsible for deceiving Eve. The author of Revelation alludes to that AND to Leviathan, I think - i.e. to him Leviathan = ancient serpent = deceiver of Eve = Satan/Devil who was cast out of heaven.

 

Since I started looking into this, the apocryphal literature I've found so far makes me more convinced that by the time of the writing of Revelation, some people were pinning the deception of Eve on Satan/the Devil. The serpent of Genesis had been subsumed as a devil symbol or, in the version of the Life of Adam and Eve you quoted, as the devil's agent and mouthpiece.

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The problem is the dragon/serpent/deceiver combination. We can find dragon/serpent and serpent/deceiver but no good combination that has all the traits needed (maybe "serpent" is all he thought was needed though since it's not like people could use a computer to search for terms).

 

mwc

 

 

I agree. My take is that the author of Revelation does combine dragon/serpent/deceiver into one adversary of God, namely Satan/devil. The two reptiles are symbols of the same being. I can't think of more arguments right now, in addition to what I wrote above, in favor of the view that the serpent of Genesis is comprehended in this complex of reptile symbolism. I guess I just think that 1st or 2nd century readers, already steeped in the OT and various apocryphal texts, are going to think of the Genesis serpent as the paradigmatic ancient and deceiving serpent.

 

OK, I have to stop the madness. It's been fun so far. Now I should go back to the Latin poetry I am supposed to be working on!

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following up on mwc's reference to isiah...

 

i just looked up my old catholic bible study book. in the essays and references concerning the dragon in revelations, it stated the dragon is the same as the leviathan.

 

just thought that was interesting :grin:

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Hey, RHEMtron! So you're a fellow ex Catholic! Put 'er there, pardner. Do you still find yourself bursting forth in "pious ejaculations?" :lmao:

 

Well, the note on Revelation 12:9 in my catholic bible (The New American Bible) says that the "ancient serpent" is "the ancient serpent who seduced Eve (Gn. 3, 1-6), mother of mankind"

 

It also goes on to say in a note on 12:15 that the serpent is depicted as the sea monster, and it refers to mwc's quote of Isaiah 27:1, among other texts.

 

So I think I am in agreement with the people who did the notes in my catholic bible, i.e. that the reptile imagery for Satan in Rev. 12 connects both to the serpent of Genesis and to sea monsters in other parts of the OT.

 

Ludwig Ott in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (p. 106) says that the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1909 declared that Catholics cannot doubt the literal truth of the teaching that the first man, through the temptation of the devil in the form of a serpent, transgressed the Divine commandment.

Ott goes on to quote the verse from the Book of Wisdom that I quoted above, among various other verses.

 

Just thought I'd add from Justin Martyr (2nd Century AD), Dialogue 103: "Or he meant the devil by the lion roaring against Him: whom Moses calls the serpent, but in Job and Zechariah he is called the devil, and by Jesus is addressed as Satan, showing that a compounded name was acquired by him from the deeds which he performed." Moses calling the devil the serpent must refer to Genesis as one of the Books of Moses.

 

At Dialogue 124 Justin goes on, "But in the version of the Seventy it is written, 'Behold, ye die like men, and fall like one of the princes,' in order to manifest the disobedience of men,--I mean of Adam and Eve,--and the fall of one of the princes, i.e., of him who was called the serpent, who fell with a great overthrow, because he deceived Eve." Falling with great overthrow sounds like the fall of Satan in Revelation - also symbolized in the punishment of Leviathan, as mwc pointed out.

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following up on mwc's reference to isiah...

 

i just looked up my old catholic bible study book. in the essays and references concerning the dragon in revelations, it stated the dragon is the same as the leviathan.

 

just thought that was interesting :grin:

Oh no. The Lutheran in me doesn't know how to feel. :HaHa:

 

I wonder why all the old paintings didn't have the sea serpant influence (or maybe I just never saw it)?

 

Now I'm just curious as to why it's so important for connection to the snake in the garden to be made to the dragon instead of to leviathan? I realize the snake is now more popular but why did this whole thing come about? The story of leviathan shows that only god can slay it with his mighty sword. The dragon in Revelation can only be slain by jesus. The snake in Genesis just sort of slithers away. It just seems strange to me. I can only think they wanted to shift from powerful to crafty (but leave elements of the former so that people wouldn't think they could physically battle it themselves). Sort of how god went from powerful to loving (but remained powerful).

 

mwc

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