Monday, April 9, 2012

The Good Serpent

Scott Bradley


"Now it came about that after he had created the heavens and the earth the Creator Demiurge became arrogant saying, "It is I who have done all this, and it is I alone who should be worshiped herein." But finding nothing that could recognize his greatness in all that he had made, he brought forth life. Yet still, he found none among the beasts which might acknowledge his greatness, so he formed man, saying, 'Now there shall be one like unto myself who shall perceive and worship me.' And so he placed them in the Garden and commanded them to worship him as the only One, which they did in their ignorance and innocence.

"But though among the lowliest of creatures, the Serpent saw through the arrogance of the Demiurge and perceived the True One so much greater than he, and thus went to the humans saying, 'You worship this minor one in ignorance. Come, eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and your eyes shall be opened; for now you are little more than the beasts of the field.'

"So the humans ate of the fruit and, behold, they saw the arrogance and cruelty of the Demiurge and sought the True One. But the Creator, seeing their freedom, was wroth and said, 'I am a jealous and vengeful god; there shall be no god but me! And now you shall be cast out of the Garden so as to suffer as do the common beasts. And I will turn the heavens to brass and the earth to iron so that you will see nothing beyond them! Your only succor shall be in submission to me!'

"And so it came to be. For men were greatly tortured in their loss of innocence, being able to judge the injustice of the Demiurge, yet unable to see what lay beyond."

Such a reading of the creation myth of Genesis would be very much in keeping with the teaching of some strands of Gnosticism, whose interpretation of the Gospel was the greatest challenge to what became orthodox Christianity.

There are actually some surprising similarities in this view with that of Daoism. Foremost among these is the understanding that there is a Reality beyond ‘God’ and the ten thousand things; there is the Nameless beyond the Named. Where they radically differ is in the belief in a moral and ontological disconnect between them. Gnosticism remained within the fundamental dualism of Judeo-Christian thought. Matter is evil; spirit is good. Daoism, on the other hand, sees all things, though differing in kind, as Whole.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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