The way that the serpent is best known in the Bible is as the cunning traitor who convinces Eve to eat the “forbidden fruit.” But there are other representations that are less well known. There are serpent priests, a feathered serpent, a healing serpent and a wise serpent. (Chapter 13 in When Eve Was a Goddess). The serpent priests are the Levites, the feathered serpent is a seraph (Isaiah 30:6), the healing serpent is the fiery serpent that Moses carries on a pole (Numbers 21:8) and the wise serpent appears in Matthew 10:16 “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Why, then, is the serpent so reviled? Could the image of the serpent be a Biblical reversal of even more ancient teachings?
The name Eve, in Hebrew means “life.” There is a tree in the Garden of Eden also named “life.” In fact, its name is the “Tree of Life.” Rather than forbidden fruit, this tree is the Tree of Eve. It was only later in translation that humankind in general and Eve specifically was forbidden access to Her Tree. (Discussed in When Eve Was a Goddess chapter 14, and in more depth in ONE GODS, chapters 10 and 11).
Janet Rudolph, One Gods, The Mystic Pagan’s Guide to the Bible
Janet Rudolph’s insightful interpretation of the Tanakh, the Bible also known as the Old Testament, draws on comparative linguistics, comparative religion, cross-cultural myths, and archaeology, as well as a wholesome world view perceived in the course of her religious training, life experience, travels, and observation of nature. This world view is one of “functional harmony,” or “inter-arching oneness,” uncovered in literal translations of passages from Genesis, presented in Chapter 1. The theme of “inter-arching oneness” influences discussions of ancient Hebrew letters as well as sounds and syllables of the names of God; the life of the prophet Moses, founder of Judaism; the burning bush, symbolic of the interpenetration of spirit and matter; the many-named Venus, morning and evening star; and mythological twins, one mortal and one immortal, for example, Jacob and Esau. Chapter 7 clarifies the concept of “oneness” in terms of related and opposite (dualistic) perspectives, in the process of consolidating the theme with references to poetry and physics. This chapter abounds in summary passages, for instance,
Although the Bible speaks of a “one god”, it is my belief that
Moses’ primary message was the oneness of all creation. Divinities such
as Isis, Venus, and Quetzalcóatl are actually depictions of creation’s one-
ness, appearing as we are able to see them–in the full glory of diversity,
a mystical tapestry with its various threads come to life (p. 117).
Such bridging prepares readers for ensuing adventure: exploration of the divine origin of alphabets; the labyrinth, pilgrimage, and quest; the world tree, with birds in its branches and serpent at its root, pertaining to the feathered serpent shown on the cover of the book; marvelous myths of goddesses inhabiting the tree, and more. The book offers “to Do’s”—activities such as breathing, chanting, and visualization—for those who opt for palpable experiences of oneness.
As Rudolph states at the outset, her theme of inter-arching oneness is both radically old and radically new. Why so? The concept of “oneness” is old, for it is based on ancient spiritual knowledge, for example, the dictate of Hermes Tablet, “as above, so below,” and it is implicit in the Bible, as Rudolph demonstrates. The concept is new because dualistic philosophy and traditional readings of the Bible have obscured “oneness” over the centuries, and scholars are presently referring to the notion “as above, so below” as they attempt to explain dark matter or “nothingness,” which is invisible yet certainly related to human experience.” For example, at a recent conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California, titled “Climates of Change and the Therapy of Ideas” (April 2016), one lecture recurrently referred to the dictum “as above, so below”; another presented research on dark matter while relating macrocosm to microcosm in various ways. Thus, in reading Janet Rudolph’s One Gods, we not only gain better understanding of the Bible and a spectrum of related topics, but also acquire important background for notions explored in depth psychology (as well as biology, physics, cosmology, et al.) today.
Ph.D., Comparative Literature