So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
- Genesis 3:14-15
The photo of artwork above is from my granddaughter, Karina, who drew these earlier this year. She’s seven years old and she is into dragons, that and unicorns, and anything extremely shiny. She prefers gold, but I don’t think she is terribly picky.
The full dragon drawing was draw while looking at one of her graphic novels. The dragon head was drawn at school with nothing to use for reference. Her teacher could not believe the intricate detail, just from a second-grader.
It got me to thinking. Back about 20 years ago, I started to create a computer-based training version of the Scriptures. I almost made it through Jeremiah before the software was no longer supported to adapt to new versions of Windows. But in one of the first lessons, I depicted the ‘serpent’ as a dragon. In the Scripture above, the serpent is cursed by having to move on its belly. This means that the serpent did not move on its belly in the Garden of Eden. A dragon is a logical guess.
Add to this that nearly all cultures on earth have some type of dragon story in their folk tales. Since Adam and Eve are common ancestors, why not have stories of snakes that can walk or even fly, if the serpent was a dragon originally?
I went to Thailand on two separate occasions in the late 90s. Each time, I visited a Buddhist temple where they had a wall dedicated to arhats (or arahats as the spelling was in the temple’s English). (Visiting, and learning, not worshipping) An arhat is one who has achieved nirvana. The artwork of arhats, in sculpture or paintings, is purposeful in that each arhat provides a basic principle of the religion and the artwork depicts that struggle or the ascendance above the struggle. When conquering defilements is part of the principle, a dragon is used as the antagonist for the arhat. Thus, in art, a dragon is the source and strength of outer defilements.
This is juxtaposed by the Chinese culture, highly affecting the Thai culture, where the dragon is the sign of conquering, ruling, and prosperity. Yet, even then, those things are temporal and only affect the earthly realm. Thus, one could understand a vow of poverty to be fighting the defilements that tie us to this mortal realm called earth.
In comparison of two totally divergent cultures, could one see the similarities?
If the Judeo-Christian culture could link to the dragon as the pre-Fall of Man serpent, the dragon would be easily considered the source and energy of all defilement throughout history. It could be the symbol of earthly power and prosperity as Satan is the prince of this world. Thus, the Chinese tradition and the Buddhist arhat tradition could both be true and in alignment with Christian teaching. As far as that one concept goes, no discussion here about faith in God.
I could have simply entitled this post “A Thought on Dragons,” but since I am a bit tired, and dragging, I thought I would be a bit whimsical.
Does it matter what the serpent looked like before the Fall? Not really, but it is amusing to ponder how dragons become an important part of nearly every culture on earth. Yet, no one has found a fossil. Strange how few believes in Jonah’s fish because of no fossil record, but ask any child under ten years old if dragons are real… Ah, don’t mess with their dragons!
I hope you have been amused. We must focus on Jesus and being more like Him each day, but occasionally letting our imaginations go wild isn’t a bad thing either. There may be more truth in our pondering than we could ever imagine.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.