Hank Hanegraaff, president of the Christian Research Institute and host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, considers the temptation of Eve in light of the literal principle of biblical interpretation. To read Scripture literally is to read it as literature. This means that we are to interpret the Word of God just as we interpret other forms of communication—in the most obvious and natural sense. Thus, when Moses uses the symbolism of a snake, we do violence to his intentions if we interpret him in a woodenly literal fashion. When the prophet Moses describes Satan as an ancient serpent, and the apostle John describes him as an ancient dragon, they do not tell us what Satan looks like. They teach us what Satan is like. In short, Eve was not deceived by a talking snake. Rather Moses used the symbol of a snake to communicate the wiles of the evil one who deceived Eve through mind-to-mind communication—precisely as he seeks to deceive you and me today.
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