By St. Augustine of Hippo
(On Genesis: A Refutation of the Manichees, Bk. 2, Ch. 20)
Coming now to the serpent, it represents the devil, who certainly wasn't simple. That he was said, you see, to be wiser than all beasts is a figurative way of stating his slyness. It does not, however, say that the serpent was in paradise, but that the serpent was among the beasts which God had made. Paradise, after all, as I said above, stands for the blessed life of bliss in which there was no longer a serpent, because it was already the devil; and he had fallen from his blessed state, because "he did not stand in the truth" (Jn. 8:44). Nor is there anything strange about the way he could talk to the woman, though she was in Paradise and he was not; she was not in Paradise, you see, in a local sense, but rather as regards her blissful feeling of blessedness. Or even if there is such a place called Paradise, where Adam and the woman were actually living in the body, are we to understand the devil also making his approach there in the body? Not at all, but he made it as a spirit, as the Apostle says: "According to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the children of unbelief" (Eph. 2:2).