Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, MA

First Advisor

JoAnn Davidson

Second Advisor

Oliver Glanz



The Christian tradition of the Fall as it relates to Gen 3 is an interpretive construct that is foreign to the text and its immediate context. While scholars continue to view humanity and its fallen state as the central theme of the narrative, I suggest that such are but second to an even greater narrative—namely, a cosmic conflict between Elohim—the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the serpent.


The first chapter of this study considers the traditional view of the temptation narrative (i.e. Gen 3:1-7) as the Fall of Man and suggests that the story of Adam and Eve speak not to the origin of sin and death—i.e. the Fall—but to the debut of the serpent and its shrewdness. The second chapter examines the character introductions of Elohim, Adam and Eve, and the serpent, respectively. The third chapter examines the characterization of the serpent as ע ו ר ם (Gen 3:1a) followed by an understanding of how the narrator prepares his audience for the masterly dialogue between serpent and woman. This dialogue is analyzed in the fourth chapter with an emphasis on the plausibility of an existing thematic pattern of discourse present in each segment of speech.


The results of this investigation suggest that the central theme of the temptation narrative is not the Fall of Man but that such is only second to the introduction of the serpent and its shrewdness.


Though Gen 3:1-7 unequivocally speaks of a real temptation and the failure of humanity to resist that temptation; though ancient interpreters were correct in viewing the story of Adam and Eve as the beginning and commencement of humanity’s mortality and human sinfulness; and however theologically significant and relevant these themes are, the Fall is an interpretive construct that remains second—moreover, a consequent—to the greater narrative of a cosmic conflict and nevertheless functions as a byproduct of the serpent’s shrewdness.

Subject Area

Bible. Genesis 3:1-7--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Serpents--Religious aspects; Serpents in the Bible