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Why was Satan in the Garden of Eden?

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When I first took college level classes on the Old and the New Testaments in the late 1960s, I thought the Bible was insane. Source critics said there was a "J" version and a "P" version and an "E" version and a "D" version ("J" = Jehovist, "P" = Priestly, "E" = Elohist, "D" = Deuteronomist) that had been slapped together. It seemed to me that those versions must have been slapped together by an editor who was an idiot, because it just didn't make sense.

Then, in 1980, I took Power for Abundant Living, and even though that class didn't answer all my questions, it promised that all my questions COULD be answered. That worked for about six years. At that time I dropped out of in-residence training with the 16th Corps for several reasons: 1. I had not done a good enough job of putting together a spiritual partner twig and had trouble meeting my tuition deadlines. 2. My dad had suffered a stroke and I wanted to go home and help take care of my mom and dad while he recovered. 3. Geer had just read The Passing of a Patriarch on Corps Night, and nobody knew for sure what was going on. So I caught a ride from Gunnison to Emporia at the end of the block, and hitch-hiked home from there to Indiana.

At first I intended to put together a proper spiritual partner twig and apply for re-admittance into the 18th Corps. Meanwhile I attended twig coordinator meetings with the local branch, and I worked on a research project that interested me, an account of David's mighty men from the time they operated like Robin Hood's merry men while David fled from Saul, to the time they functioned like the knights of the Round Table when David himself was king. While I worked on that project, I realized that there are two accounts of how David came to Saul's attention, that those two accounts contradict each other, and that those two accounts CANNOT be reconciled by ANY of the keys or principles taught in PFAL.

That was about 1987. Things went downhill from there, and they reached their lowest point when I took Momentus in the fall of 1994. In the spring of 1996 I regained some of my senses and stood up to John Lynn, literally face-to-face, in front of about 60 people and spoke the truth. After that, I started studying the Bible on my own again, and I came across the writings of James D.G. Dunn, whom I have come to respect as the best English language, New Testament scholar of the late-20th, early-21st centuries

In 2008, after all the means of earning a living I had used in my life had gone obsolete or out of business, I went back to school to complete a bachelors degree in Organizational Leadership. I found myself with a semester to spare after completing the degree requirements, so I took 6 hours of history classes and 6 of religion, 3 hours of Old Testament and 3 hours of New Testament.

The Old Testament prof was excellent, using cutting edge pedagogic techniques, and our text was Encountering Ancient Voices by Corrine L. Carvalho. In her text Carvalho pointed out an aspect of the Old Testamemnt that I found electrifying, the editor whom we know only as "the Deuteronomist" organized the material to tell a story of doom.

God makes a series of wonderful promises, yet the stories of peoples' responses to these promises is the bleakest of failure, doom and death... a doomed humanity, a doomed nation, and ultimately, a doomed Messiah.

There is no real hope in the Bible at all until God raises Jesus from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is what Tolkien would have called the eucatastrophe of the story told in the Bible, and indeed, in the story that IS real life!

Until the time that Jesus returns, we are still living in a doomed history. If Jesus would not come back soon enough, then everything would come to nothing, but the Bible tells us he will come back at the right time.

When I look at the Bible in light of the Doomed History of the Deuteronomist, then the way the J, P, E and D sources are used MAKES SENSE!

As for the serpent in the garden: picture yourself as a Levite living in a village in the time of the Judges. Nothing much is written down, and what IS written is probably kept at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. You tell the people of the village the old stories that have been handed down from the time of Abraham, but you have to adjust the stories to make up for the changed conditions. When the Israelites learned how to farm the land from the local inhabitants, the locals told them how to watch out for the local deities as well as the local weather. You're all the time warning your people against Baal and Asherah. If you find out the secret knowledge about a particular god, then you can influence that god. There's a Canaanite in a village a few miles away who worships a snake that guards a tree of knowledge. If somebody goes over there and gives that guy an offering, he will talk the snake into giving you some knowledge you can use to manipulate the god.

Now there are a lot of different stories about how God created everything, so you slip a snake and a tree of knowledge that will make you as wise as a god yourself into one of those stories, and you show how doing such a foolish thing brings terrible consequences on everybody! Your version of the story becomes popular and spreads to other villages too, because you tell it to other Levites at various festivals.

Time goes by until Solomon comes into power. He spends some of his wealth to create a scriptorum with trained scribes to write things down. There are lots of stories, and they write them all down. More generations pass. The nation splits and declines. Editors begin piecing the stories together. Sometimes, they find stories that contradict each other. They can't tell which story is right, so they include them both.

And that's basically how we got most of the Old Testament.

Does that mean the Bible's not God-breathed because it's history doesn't line up with Wierwille's definitions? I don't think so. I think there are a lot of Christians genuinely speaking by the Spirit of God, and genuinely acting by the Spirit of God who have no notion they're doing anything Paul wrote about. They just think they are loving their neighbor. I think there's a lot of God-breathing going on today all over the place!



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the serpent, the devil, or Satan

whatever it is

is wherever man is

"important to man understanding his own nature"

i agree waysider

implying or saying that this is part of our nature gets some folks bothered

directly dealing with ourselves is a path few will follow

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Good question, Rottiegrrrl...this will have a lot of "I don't know" in it...

"Serpent" is the hebrew word nachash and means shiny, or shiny one. God curses the nachash and says that now more than any animal will it be cursed, denigrated to a low state, on the earth. This seems to fit with this creatures' future on the earth - Satan is referred to as "god of this world" or this age, 2 Cor. 4:4. He is associated with "this age", this period of earth and heaven.

Given all that Genesis describes as God's curse and the other ways that Satan is referred to, I think it's wrong that theology gives Satan the role of god or ruler of the earth as in one who is in control of it. The bulk of scripture doesn't paint that picture, really. Rather I see God's description as Satan being kind of the Head Guy of Sin, of disobedience of and willfulness against God. So it's not a title of authority and ownership, but rather a title of function. As if to say, "Sin? Disobey God? That's Satan, he's THE guy on that".

He has a title then but no a true claim to God's creation. Influence but not ownership. And Satan is cursed, and the lowest of all earth's creation, animals, etc. and that would in fact - include man if I understand that - and therefore - kind of SOL and no paddle. When I really look at what the Bible says the "Devil" is not one to be feared and whatever he really is - it's mostly a kind of rabbit trick going on. But it's a very weird, twisted kind of trick, that would seem to be so warped by any human standards as to be scarey, for want of a better word, as it's the opposite of what God wants - life, growth, procreation. Thus, the tendency to promote Satan to a higher position, even though God's condemned him to a much lower one.

So the presence of a "shiny one", possibly an angelic presence that would have physical brilliance, fits. Not a serpent/snake. What exactly? Cant' say, exactly.

What this nachash was doing there, have to come back to, again, some observations on scripture, with some I dunno's - will have to come back to this later. Hope this makes sense, for consideration at least.

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Praise and worship can be addictive to the recipient.

Not to mention, it can have a corrosive effect.. or cause corruption in the object of one's praise..

Not cause.. maybe that's not exactly right.. that would be blaming the to be victim bestowing such praise..

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More thoughts.

Sometimes, one is given a gift. That is, insight and understanding without any personal effort.

Its a gift.

One of my lack of given a gift.. in a mathematical sense was 7 x 8. even into recent years.. there was a hole in my head the answer would not fit. I'd have to compute it.. knew 7 x 8 was the same as 7 x 4 x 2. I could do that..


So in one sense, I'm Brilliant. In another sense, I'm a moron.


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Is this relevant to the discussion.. I think so. I think it is on topic.

You are the best math instructor I have ever had..

I have a couple of well considered replies here..

1. I'm sorry. There are a lot better I've known. I started as a graduate teaching assistant, and we all that did so were just, plain awful. I'm glad I've gotten a little better.

2. maybe it is because I've only been doing this for three years, and I'm not burned out yet..


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Another general thought around the topic of the "serpent" rottiegrrl,

The image of "Lucifer" is thought by many historians to be based on the Egyptian god "Set". Reading up on Horus, Osiris and Set gives an interesting angle on the topic.

My opinion, there's more than it to just the Jews got their conceptualization of the Devil from the Egyptians - I don't think they visualized the Devil much at all - but there's threads in history that pull it into the westernized versions and interpretations of Jewish history that then became Roman christianity.

Just some stuff to chew on - "Set" is very similar to the Christian "Devil" and is the idealization of chaos and rebellion. I think the general weirdness of it was very useful to early religious theologians who wanted to memorialize Satan as the Ultimate evil one to be feared.

The Bible's Satan/Devil/Lucifer isnt' anything like Roman Christianity's version, at all in my opinion. Personnification of willful self interest and arbitrary self determiniation - "Pride" and "Greed" - at a level that might be expected of one described as that brilliant in the Bible. Mankind has typically said that if God would make Himself known and clearly understood and "real" that man would believe in Him and follow Him - yet, the lesson of Satan is that one can be so self willed as to know that, clearly, and not accept it or respect it but want to change it, even destroy it. Kind of weird, to think of that.

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I am trying to do some basic bible study here, and I don't know if this question has been answered before, but can somebody give me an idea of WHY the devil was in the garden of Eden in the first place? And if anyone is on a roll here, why did he take on the form of a snake, and then why would God curse the serpent? And if the serpent didn't crawl on his belly before he was cursed, what the hell (scuse the pun) was he doing before? walking on 4 legs? Seriously, I know this is not all answered in the Word, but does anyone have any ideas?

I think the simple answer is that God allowed it. . . . God allowed him to be there. Even Satan is in subjection to God. The question of why God allowed this brings up all kinds of interesting moral questions and I think how we consider and answer them reveals much about our understanding and relationship with God. These are good things to consider RottieGrrrl .... in my world anyway.

There is much more to these accounts than just some life lesson in mythology. Where you might want to start is with God's attributes and character and ask yourself why He would allow this. The temptation is to impose our morality on God instead of starting from the place of His rightness....that is when we miss the wonderful things this account reveals. My two cent and probably what it is worth.

Be wary of knee-jerk responses and answers that easily dismiss the majesty of God.

Edited by geisha779
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Side note - on the "mathematical exact"ness and that approach to the Bible - I could ask myself what would these things be if there were no words for them? Things like love, truth, God, eternity, thought, choice, evil... many things exist without being depicted or communicated and there is therefore a "truth" to them. That truth, reality, it has a fundamental integrity and coherency that is very exact and very precise. When I take a specific thing and express it I would say the goal is always to be as precise and exact as I can be - "take a right at the next block" means something that I intend it to mean. "life is full of turns and the next one is a right" could mean something very different but also be very exact in it's meaning but not mean physical directions for driving a car or walking........ The idea that everyone has their own truths and versions is very true - but that represents our conscious perceptions. The next step is always to determine if what I perceive can be validated, which is kind of what life is all about, IMO. I'd prefer to be more precise than vague and pursue stability if it can be achieved. Others mileage may vary.

Gods' allowance of the Genesis record is really the rubber hitting the road, I agree geisha. Gods' sovereignty is unquestionable and has to be at the foundation of any logical premise, IMO.

That the record illustrates God giving his creation the choices to make and then the environment in which it all exists is the "truth" of the record, regardless of whether it's literal or figurative.

Just as we live in a world where we can go to the store and buy tomatoes or stand next to the President of the U.S. tomorrow, or join a choir and sing with a group of people - everything we do is because we can. When and if something changes that, we can't. No tomatoes, we can't buy them. No other people to sing - no choir.

Without couching Genesis in anything other than what it says I'd have to assume that the "nachash", the "Devil" was there because the earth, the world, was a place where he could be. If God had not wanted him there he would not have been there. Here. In the record.

From that standpoint the question - what was God doing, then? Was God setting man up to fail or for the Devil to succeed, was God making a decision about how they would act and decide?

If one premise is to assume that God is sovereign and capable of doing anything then what He did there in Genesis was create a world where choices could be made.

Christianity articulates this through Jesus Christ - to choose Jesus Christ opens clarity into other things - grace and mercy, forgiveness and redemption.

The over arching lesson to me isn't that man continually fails or succeeds by God's design and direction but rather that God directs man to choose and to choose rightly. Mankind will never choose 100 per cent perfectly all the time, every time. It is essential that we then rely on certain things - grace, mercy, forgiveness and restoration. This cycle seems to be what happens, over and over. When that process is ignored or refused, there is failure. Where it's accepted and lived, success.

An incredible thing to me is the idea that a Satan, a brilliant creation of God who knows God and his own brilliance, would decide to alter, change, ignore, overcome, defeat any part of that. It seems - weird. Yet, I can do the very same thing, do things at times that are counter to what I know is the best thing to do, not out of ignorance but by choice. Questions like - why wouldn't God forgive the Devil? Maybe the Devil doesn't want to be forgiven. Why didn't Adam throw it all down and say "I am sorry! Please, can't we learn from this and I won't do it again?" Maybe Adam didn't want to, maybe Adam was like many of us today who, against better inclination and guidance, seek to go against the better of two choices...? Genesis can seem like a silly morality play that is so impossibly abnormal that it isn't viable....but if I just look at history it's not quite as silly in it's premises and outcomes as it might seem at first glance.

This.........leaves some things unanswered, unaccounted for I know. But maybe, food for thought.

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"The Fall" is a historical fact, according to the Bible. Be these records metaphors or attempts to describe real events, that cycle is or was, what it are. There's a standard a 60 cycle AC hum that seems to be around, and of the possible choices, certain ones make for a clean signal so to speak, others provide interference, etc. etc. That scenario is very consistent in nature - nature may have a cleaner state where that is not the case but there's a very basic intrinsic essential aspect of things like the "hum" in AC, the need to get up and walk to move, the need to remember, the need to mark and measure time - all of these kinds of things make life as it is what it is - and there's always a need to learn, adjust, fix, maintain, water, plant, etc.etc. etc. With God there's no "variation" we're told, no shadow, God is constant. We're not - so call it a "fall" or a really bad day in Eden - there's a difference and the Bible speaks to that being due to man's actions in "Genesis".

God's plan all along? Start with Adam and end with Jesus Christ? Yes, I'm with you.

IMO - the Big answer to the Big question of why God did or does anything including -

I don't know. The answer might ultimately be "Because, that's what I wanted to do". The bible speaks of God acting upon HIs "Pleasure", to me that's it. It's His thing, not mine.

If I keep taking it back a step before, and back again, I come up with a "this is the way it is" and that comes back to a "is God - well, how did God come to be then and - why huh, say what?"

I don't know.

I think - and the Bible speaks to this thought in many places - that creation reflects the creator. God created after His own image.

Choice is - appears to be - God's prerogative. God does as He wishes, as He wills. Says it all over the Bible. He is the great "I am". He's not Bob, the God, cutting a deal.

For his creation to have the ability to choose would seem natural and normal then. As God is, so God does.

A future is spoken of that will be the ultimate recognition by all of God's prominence and an acceptance or imposition of His will on all who agree and disagree, either way. We're not there yet, so I'm out of pocket on that.

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Understood. :dance:/>

Everyone that I know, have known or read about or heard about, including myself, exemplifies - at times - the characteristics of the man and women in Genesis, the "Adam and Eve". Everyone, without exception except for one - Jesus Christ.

Allowing for everyone that I haven't known or heard or read about there is some possibility for other exceptions, admittedly. No problem working within that range.

Within that range, I would contend that the similarities are strong - where (one) knows something that is acceptably "right" and considered the correct action or path to choose - and then chooses not to do that, be it for reasons of their own or other reasons or choices they are offered.

I'm not talking about a "there's no right or wrong" everyone's a love bug in their own skin, here - I mean

Don't stick the knife in your leg, don't eat that plant, go easy on the pork, get some sleep and rest -

And then not doing that - knife in the leg cause you're stupid, eat the crap have the heart attack, stay up and party and fall asleep at the wheel driving,

Even the "soft" stuff - share some back of what we get because it makes sense to build relationships - naw, I"m keeping everything for myself, screw you and everyone else. Then you die and everyone admits they hated you and swap stories of how they tried to screw with you back all your life.

Right - wrong, simple stuff.

Don't do that Billy!!! You'll kill yourself!!! Naw, go on Billy - that'll be so COOL!!!! DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT!!! Billy does it, Billy's dead now. Poor Billy.

That's mankind. Man tries and does pretty darned good much - shoot, most of the time. Except when he doesn't. Or you do and someone else is out kidnapping baby squirrels because they like to throw them off bridges and see how they look when they hit - they just like doing that.

Those kinds of opposing forces and results - that's Genesis.

Fall, push, quick kick in the butt, fork in the eye - I can call it a number of things.

It happens every day, all the time.

There was likely a first time it happened, somewhere in the long distant past, up and down the food chain.

I don't think that's the way it was intended for a variety of reasons, or that it's the way it's going to end up for some of the same reasons.

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How can I put this nicely....?

I"m deleting this all out - enough. The topic is interesting, rottiegrrl, I see why you and others are scarce. :o/> I hope I contributed something to the mix, perhaps another time it can be discussed.

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I think Sponge makes a few good points, but I don't think he realizes who Jesus was or what he did. It is the reality of Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension to Lordship that makes "Christianity" different from other religions. In failing to recognize those realities the "Church" has made "Christianity" very much like all the other religions.

In the early-to-mid-1800s liberal theologians (at the University of Berlin to begin with) stripped everything "supernatural" out of their interpretations of the Bible, to make things line up with the science they believed at the time, which left no room for human choice, or divine agency, or even creation. Miracles were considered to be totally impossible, including the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the theology that Sponge was raised in and believes.

Fundamentalists knew the liberals were wrong to strip the supernatural out, but they couldn't explain why. The low point for Fundamentalism was in 1925 with the Scopes trial in Tennessee. Fundamentalists won the verdict, but progressives won a HUGE public relations victory, and Fundamentalism, as such, went into a great decline. However, that same year, 1925, at the University of Berlin, Niels Bohr was developing a new physics, quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics has gone on to provide us with all the wonderful electronics we enjoy, like gps, global cell phone contact, etc. etc.

Unlike the outmoded physics of the 1800s, quantum mechanics is not deterministic. It has uncertainty built into it, and it is probabilistic. It has room for human choice, and room, not just for God to have created the universe, but for God's continual sustenance of the universe.

I think God is more of a living presence than Sponge appreciates.



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That's the difference between you and Adam, Ham! He thought the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would make him smart enough to define God!



Did he want to define God....or be God's peer?

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from the comments.. even atheists like this character.. biglaugh.gif

I'm not an atheist. I just don't think I'm intelligent enough to define Deity. Through texts and contrived means..

If God is in relationship to us, I don't believe we do define Him through intelligence alone. How smart would one have to be to know God? Is anyone that intelligent? That is what we did in TWI ....try to define God through the text with intellectual assent to a form of knowledge.......

Knowing God is found in the relationship we have with Him. He is very able to reveal Himself ...... Read the Psalms if you are genuinely interested in what a relationship with God looks like.

I don't understand what you mean by "contrived means" and not sure how you assume them when you seek to define God through intelligence? That makes no sense to me.....in order to spot contrivance you would have to be intimately familiar with the genuine and that is what you have just denied knowing??

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