On moral and natural evil Genesis 3 and the serpent: the source of all evil? Some reflections from the perspective of ancient Near Eastern Mythology

Gerda de Villiers

Abstract


The biblical account of creation that begins in Genesis 2,4b has a tragic result: the man and the woman are expelled from the garden that the LORD God designed especially for them (Gen 3,24). This narrative commonly bears the title, ‘The Fall’, a reading that is inspired by the Christian doctrine of humanity’s original sin and necessary redemption in Christ (cf. Rom 5,12-8,17). The cause of evil, according to Christian belief, is Satan, or the devil. Revelations 12,9 refers to the deceitful nature of the ‘serpent of old, also called the Devil and Satan’, thereby implying that Satan is the serpent in Genesis 3.
This paper examines Genesis 3 and the role of the serpent against the backdrop of ancient Near Eastern mythology. Special reference will be made to the next to last lines of Tablet XI in the Standard Baby-lonian Epic of Gilgamesh, and the myth of Adapa.

Keywords


moral and natural evil, original sin, serpent, Gilgamesh, Adapa

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