That it was a real serpent is evident from the plain and artless style of the history and from the many allusions made to it in the New Testament. But the material serpent was the instrument or tool of a higher agent, Satan or the devil, to whom the sacred writers apply from this incident the reproachful name of "the dragon, that old serpent" [ Revelation Though Moses makes no mention of this wicked spirit--giving only the history of the visible world--yet in the fuller discoveries of the Gospel, it is distinctly intimated that Satan was the author of the plot John 8: But these reptiles were at first, probably, far superior in beauty as well as in sagacity to what they are in their present state.
From Text to Sermon, vol. Ray Dunning, Beacon Hill Press,pp. Unfortunately, it is also easily misunderstood and misinterpreted. Through the centuries, it has been a source of speculation about God, the world, and human beings.
Most traditional interpretations of this passage are rooted deeply in the theology of Augustine 5th century that was later adapted by John Calvin 16th century.
The idea of the "Fall" of human beings from an original state of Adamic perfection to a state of total sinfulness dominates most discussion of the passage. With the traditional doctrines of the Fall and original sin tied so closely to Augustinian and Calvinistic presuppositions, most interpretations of this passage--even by Wesleyans--tend to operate with these same presuppositions.
This is not to suggest that these ideas are necessarily wrong in themselves. The point here is that the interpretation and resulting theology of this particular passage has traditionally been seen primarily in relation to larger systems of theology and philosophy.
The narrative itself has usually taken a back seat to the broader debates concerning the historical origin of sin in the world, the incapability of human beings to do good, and the historical reliability and accuracy of the details of the account.
The story itself, with which we are so familiar, has lost its freshness and vitality; and so it has lost its ability to grip us with its marvelously simple message about God that is especially relevant for those who see human freedom and responsibility as a major factor in relationship with God.
It is this message that we will try to hear, and proclaim, anew. If we could suspend, for a moment, what we think this passage is supposed to mean, perhaps we could regain the vitality of the story itself and hear its message in a new way. If we listen, this is a story that pulls us into it and makes us see ourselves, and God, in a new light.
Guidelines and Limitations Since we often do not approach the Bible from this perspective, some preliminary observations and working guidelines will be helpful. First, we will try to remove to the background the familiar categories of systematic theology that speak of a Fall, original sin, depravity, etc.
These are valid and helpful doctrines in some contexts. Yet, they may unnecessarily confine our interpretation if we begin with them, and may not actually be at the heart of the story itself.
Second, we need to listen to the story in its own context. This includes both the setting within the spiritual life of ancient Israel cultural and historical contextas well as the setting within the book of Genesis literary context.
This suggests that the literary context, the flow of thought of the surrounding material, actually helps define and give meaning to single stories within that larger context.
There is a danger in moving the story too quickly to address New Testament and Christian issues. Likewise, to import ideas from the New Testament or even other Old Testament books into the story as keys for interpretation is to risk making the story say something that it never intended to say.
This story, as Scripture, must have its own theological integrity, or we risk having doctrine sit in judgment over Scripture. Third, we need to see the story in its entirety.
The tendency to focus on single verses or short paragraphs of Scripture can easily allow us to read meanings into a passage that the larger narrative does not support. Authors often build and develop themes, motifs, definitions of terms, and the impact of ideas throughout a narrative.
Usually, the entire flow of a story is necessary to understand the intended message. The entire narrative often carries the theological message, not just particular catch words or phrases. Finally, we need to recognize the limitations of our method. By focusing only on the story itself and its message, there are several sets of questions that we will not be able to address.
We will not be able to answer the theoretical questions that have preoccupied theologians for centuries. What would have happened to Adam and Eve had they not eaten of the forbidden tree? Where was the Garden located? What was the talking serpent?
We will also not be able to answer questions about early human existence. Most of the events in Genesis are beyond our realm of experience; they are pre-historical. This does not mean they are not historical events. It just means we have no way to relate them to other events in any meaningful way.These three wife – sister incidents revealed God’s determination to fulfill His covenant promises despite the faithless human efforts of the patriarchs to save themselves JEDP Methodology: Literary analysis of Genesis doublets.
An interpretation of Genesis 1 must deal with three elements: historical context, literary genre and textual It holds Genesis to be a Jewish borrowing and adaptation of the Interpreting Genesis One a 3. and,. the. Analysis and Synthesis of Genesis Related Media The analysis and synthesis approach to biblical studies applied here to Genesis is a methodology developed by the author (DeCanio, ) in conjunction with his doctoral studies at the University of South Africa.
View Notes - Genesis 3 from THEO at Saint Louis University. Literary Analysis Genesis: Two Main Parts Scan Analysis chart of Genesis Abraham as key transitional figure Background Menu page for a series of Bible studies on Genesis , including introductory articles on how to study and read Genesis narratives.
A Literary Analysis of Genesis Most of the events in Genesis are beyond our realm of experience; they are pre-historical. This does not mean they are not historical events. All biblical scholars acknowledge that in these three chapters we have two different accounts of creation (a.