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Dear Gramps,

When explaining why she ate the forbidden fruit, Eve states that the “serpent” beguiled her. In this instance is the word serpent meant to be a metaphor, or are we to understand that Satan took that form when speaking to Eve, and if he did, why?  If he did appear to Eve as a serpent, did he similarly appear to Adam?








The scriptures referencing Satan as a serpent are more likely figurative rather than literally in the form of a serpent. A similar question might be asked in relation to the dove at Christ’s baptism. In our scriptures we are given the following regarding the “dove” that descended and was, “A prearranged sign by which John the Baptist would recognize the Messiah (John 1:32–34).”

1) The Spirit of God descended like a dove (Matt. 3:16)

2) After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Ghost came down in the form of a dove (1 Ne. 11:27)

3) I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove (D&C 93:15)

The Holy Ghost’s spirit did not take the form of a dove literally, but figuratively. It was the “sign” of the dove that was given to John the Baptist, “Whoever led the Son of God into the waters of baptism, and had the privilege of beholding the Holy Ghost descend in the form of a dove, or rather in the sign of the dove.”

When we think upon Satan being described as a serpent here are some other thoughts, “God created man in His own image.” This is just as true of the spirit as it is of the body, which is only the clothing of the spirit, its complement—the two together constituting the soul. The spirit of man is in the form of man, and the spirits of all creatures are in the likeness of their bodies. This was plainly taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 77:2). (First Presidency Joseph F. Smith, emphasis added)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote:

“Since the day in which Satan spoke by the mouth of the serpent to entice Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit (Moses 4:5–21), Satan has been called ‘that old serpent.’ (Rev. 12:920:2D&C 76:2888:110.) Choice of the name is excellent, indicating as it does a cunning, sly, subtle, and deceitful craftiness” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 704).” (emphasis added)

I believe the scriptures, in relation to modern instruction, let us know that Satan did not take the form of a serpent.






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