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PhD Sergei Lagunov at Protestant Theological University

Thursday 14 februari 2019, 15.45, Sergei Lagunov will defend his thesis Following the Traces of the Serpent in the Old and New Testaments and the Early Jewish Interpretation: Genesis 3:1-15 in Light of Its Reception History. The ceremony will take place in the aula of the VU/Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1105, Amsterdam.

About the thesis

The idea that the serpent in the Garden of Eden has to be equated with Satan finds still support, amongst others with most Russians Orthodox and Baptist readers. This idea, however, does not tally with the original meaning of the Hebrew text. It can also be demonstrated that the often assumed relation of Isaiah 14:4b-24 and Ezekiel 28:11-19 to Genesis 3, in support of the “satanic” interpretation, is part of a later interpretative tradition. The present study notes that a great deal of modern conservative research tends to describe the first sin and the role of the devil more in theological, rather than hermeneutical terms and rarely considers the original texts strictly within their literary contexts.

For this reason, the present study intends to address this imbalance by examining the various texts from the Old Testament, the Second Temple period, and the New Testament, which supposedly contain either indirect or direct interpretations of the story in Genesis 3, postponing the questions concerning the relation to Genesis 3. It can be concluded that the documents written before the first century CE typically describe the serpent similarly to what one finds in the Genesis narrative, while those written after the first century CE begin to interpolate the later Jewish and Christian interpretative traditions, which had been gradually morphing the serpent into Satan. This transformation continued, aided by a dualistic argumentation around the time of the early Church Fathers, until the serpent was generally understood as Satan himself. The incipient tendency to see the serpent as Satan, which is most likely a product of the Jewish Alexandrian diaspora, may have begun to flourish within Christian communities after the books of the New Testament had been completed. 

About the candidate

Sergei Vladimirovich Lagunov was born on December 1, 1974, in Yekaterinburg, Ural region, Russia. He received his Bachelor Theology at the North Caucasus Biblical Institute in 2007, and his Master Theology at the International Baptist Theological Seminary of Prague in 2010. Since 2015 he teaches Old Testament at Saint-Petersburg Christian University. He is married and has one daughter.

Promotores: prof. dr. K. Spronk en prof. dr. J.T.A.G.M. van Ruiten