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Evidence For Ophite Snake Worship

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Chapter Summary

This chapter opens Part III (Ritual) where the veracity of outsiders' (heresiologists and Celsus) information concerning Ophite rituals is discussed. The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the heresiological allegations of Ophite and Naassene snake worship, to see if there is any corroborating evidence that would support such claims, and, finally, to offer an explanation for these accusations. I will first consider the heresiological reports themselves. Second, I will take a brief look at pagan snake handling and imagery as a possible background for the purported Ophite and Naassene rituals. Third, I will examine the snake symbolism of the so-called original Gnostic evidence (Coptic texts from Nag Hammadi and related codices as well as various artifacts that have been considered Gnostic) in light of the allegations. Finally, before reaching the conclusions, I will also examine certain New Testament passages which may bear a relationship to these allegations.

Keywords: Evidence; gnostic evidence; heresiological allegations; naassene rituals; new testament; ophite; ophite snake worship; snake symbolism



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