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Serpent (Serpiente)

Fishburn and Hughes: A symbol present in most mythologies and religions with varying meanings. In Christianity it is both an emblem of Christ and of saints and the disguise of Lucifer as the tempter in the Garden of Eden. The serpent is also a symbol of re-embodiment and multiplicity of lives. According to Origen, it belongs to Gnostic imagery, as the 'earth-encircling dragon' (Contra Celsum 6.25.351). The cult of the serpent occupies an important place in Gnostic mysticism, some of whose sects derive their name from it, such as the Ophites (from the Greek ophis, 'snake') and the Nassenes (from the Hebrew nahas, 'snake'). H. Jonas, The Gnostic Religion (1958), states that in the oppositional vein characteristic of Gnosticism, according to which symbols are interpreted against their traditional acceptance, the biblical God is seen as a symbol of cosmic oppression and the serpent, through its action in the Garden of Eden, as the symbol of redemption. The serpent's deed in inducing Adam and Eve to disobey their creator and taste the fruit of knowledge marks the beginning of all gnôsis (knowledge) on earth. One sect, the Peratae, regarded Jesus as a particular incarnation of the serpent since he brought lightness to a world of darkness. In Syrian-Egyptian gnôsis the serpent is seen more conventionally as a corrupter, taking the form of an earth-encircling dragon: an allegory of the evil spirit who rules the world. The Theologians