I believe that the serpent in the Garden was a literal talking serpent for the following reasons:

  1. The punishment decreed on the serpent applied/s to the serpent/snakes, not Eve/women
  2. The consequences of this event to humankind have been literal:
    • Most people regard snakes with loathing
    • Snakes have no limbs or wings
    • Womankind suffers greatly through childbearing
    • Woman’s desire is for her husband (generally)
    • Husbands generally rule over wives (or have for most of human history)
    • The ground produces thorns and thistles in great abundance
    • By the sweat of man’s face has he eaten bread (traditionally)
  3. The apostle Paul regarded this event as literal in 2 Cor 11:3-4

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  (4)  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

The serpent was not the only talking animal described in Scripture.  Balaam’s donkey also talked. Numbers 22:28-30

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