Friday, December 23, 2011

He Will Trample Your Head

And the Lord God said to the serpent...
Because you have done this, cursed be you of all the cattle and all the beasts of the field.
On your belly shall you crawl and dirty shall you eat all the days of your life! Enmity will I set between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers! He will trample your head, and you will bite his heel!
- The Book of Genesis
by R. Crumb

So here we are. Christmas, the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ, looms near. So let's take a look back at the beginning. Okay, not the very beginning, but a little while later when humans ran afoul of the divine order. This passage, graphically adapted by Crumb, comes from Genesis 3:14-15.

Crumb chooses to illustrate the text rather literally. In his notes, he comments on his depiction of the snake: "I took the liberty of drawing the serpent with arms and legs, although nowhere in the text is he described that way. But it is at least implied when God condemns the serpent to crawl on his belly and eat dirt forever and after."

Did the serpent really walk around on legs before this confrontation with God, as the text would imply? I don't know. Honestly, a walking talking snake-man doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. But, like usual, focusing on the literalism of the story ignores the point of the story. The point is humankind fell prey to the seduction of evil, personified by Satan, the devil, the serpent, or what have you. But all was not lost, for one day someone would come along to quash that evil.

Christianity tends to read this passage as an early reference to the oncoming Messiah. It views the woman's seed as being none other than Jesus, son of the virgin Mary. Similar language to this text and its imagery exists in the New Testament when talking about Jesus and Satan.

Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil
- Hebrews 2:14 (NRSV)
The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
- Romans 6:20 (NRSV)

These are but a few examples, but you get the idea. In light of this reading, we find that as God dished out punishment for the serpent and humans, he alluded to that which would eventually right these wrongs. It appears that even from the very beginning of this trouble God had a contingency plan in place. God would have made a valuable addition to the A-Team.

I had a point here. I think. Maybe. Okay, anyway, as you go about your business this weekend celebrating the holidays (holy days), let's all take a moment to remember that, as humans, we inevitably go along with the evil ways of the serpent. But fortunately for us that is not the end of our story. For God sent a seed to crush the head of that serpent.

Is that point good enough? Hey, I tried.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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