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The Serpent

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, which opens Part II (Myth and Innovation), the role of the serpent will be examined. The serpent is not only one of the main characters in the Ophite mythology, but also the main reason why many other texts have been classified as "Ophite" in scholarship, even though their serpent symbolism or the overall mythology may not have anything to do with the Ophites of Irenaeus and Origen or with the other texts included in my Ophite corpus. This chapter thus forms a bridge between Parts I and II, by both examining the snake symbolism of these texts and further discussing the definition of the Ophite mythology and corpus. Finally, the chapter will examine the snake symbolism of other so-called Gnostic texts, as many of them have been erroneously classified as Ophite in previousscholarship.

Keywords: gnostic texts; ophite mythology; phite corpus; serpent; snake symbolism



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