Wondering about the scales that fell from Paul’s eyes and it’s implications

To begin I obviously don’t believe that literal scales fell from the eyes of Paul. Before some of the recent Bible Project Podcasts episodes concerning the scales of snakes I was already aware of it but it brought it back up to the front of my attention.

In genesis we read of the serpent in the garden.
Later on we read of David and Goliath and how Goliath’s armor has a scale like appearance.

1 Samuel 17:5
New American Standard Bible
5 And he had a bronze helmet on his head, and he wore scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze.

Job 41 gives the impression of the leviathan having scales that can’t be pierced.

Then we get to the New Testament and the story of Paul.

A few things come to mind concerning Paul.

  1. I felt the fact Paul had “scales” was a die to er indicator that he was the enemy of the church. Just like the scales on all the other enemies from the snake to Goliath. Part of me thinks that though he had scales, perhaps his heart was not a stone and he truly believed he was doing the will God and so God used him. Instead of Paul being struck down, he was forgiven and saved. I can’t help but feel if it was in the Tanakh Paul would have been someone that was led to destruction or killed. He would have been the bad guy struck down. But Christ saved him. He forgave his enemy and lead him to salvation.

  2. That the scales could also represent growth. As snakes mature and get older they shed. In this process they lose their eye scales. In the same way Paul matured. He went from Judaism to Christianity. He went from Moses to Christ. He outgrew his old self and shed off his scales. He could not see the light. The blind could see.

I was wondering if anyone had any good resources , or their thoughts, on tracing out the possible hyperlinks of Pauls scaled eyes to previous examples.

And also thoughts on Paul’s shipwreck and being bitten by a viper theories.

Guess I am more literal and naturalistic as I just assumed it was more due to a flash burn type phenomenon and it was just the burn peeling on the lids and the corneas healing.

A more naturalistic explanation is hysterical blindness - from guilt in Paul’s case - like Hitler’s second bout.

A little OT but given the obviously false snake story i am disinclined to
believe anything he says.

What do you mean exactly?


Are you asking me what i mean?

Yes. Was not sure what you meant by snake false story that he told.

Acts 28.

The story could not possibly be true.

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Is there any particular reason why you don’t believe it or is it the surviving venomous snake bites without harm or treatment?

For a start, no poisonous snakes live on the island.

A guy goes around picking up sticks and doesnt notice
that one of them is a snake?

Vipers dont chew, the bite is very quick.

Paul is on an unfamiliar island, he doesnt know the
snakes there, even if there was an actual snake.

Few are any good at identifying snakes. A couple of seconds
seeing one trashed aboit in the rain, but they know its a viper?

Even if even if he managed a snake bite in that unlikely
setting, most people seem to think any snake is deadly.

So get bitten by some garden snake, no swell up and die means
you are invulnerable?

The stoty does not hold up to examination.
It would be quite farcical if one tried to re enact it.

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Some interesting statements. I’ve never really dug into it because I’m a cessationist when it comes to spiritual powers. But I do want to look up the fauna of the island and so on. Really curious about it now. Will be a fun study in July ke ways. Really happy you brought it up.

I see no reason not to take this literally. Nothing particularly unscientific about this.


seborrhoeic dermatitis?

I cannot see how you can expect a diagnosis 2000 years later with so little evidence.

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I don’t actually expect a diagnosis. It’s hyperbolic. It’s making a theological claim and it’s hyperlinking back to how scales is used several times throughout history. My OP essentially summed up my opinion.

You might notice other issues with the snake story.

There’s an idiom, " take the blinders off" which nobody ever wears to begin with

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Idioms begin with practices, common experiences, and stories. In this case blinders have been used on horses for a very long time, even in ancient Egypt. The idiom of scales falling from someone’s eyes may have its origin in the story of Paul unless the medical condition(s) (similar to) which Paul experienced was much more common in the past, which is possible.

Yes, even today a bad ketatoconjunctivitis (pink eye)has a lot of mattering that could be said to be scale like. Keratoconjunctivitis - Wikipedia

@jpm. Or the thread may by a example of hyperinterpretitis

I don’t think it’s a issue of reading to much into the story.

I think that the biblical authors did a fantastic job at hyperlinking back to earlier stories.

A word study on scales and listening to some of the word by Tim Mackie on this subject is what convinced me.

That’s why my question was what do you think it was that happened to Paul but are there any other examples of scales being hyperlinked to that anyone knew of.

When tracing the scales there was a handful of things that came up. The scale were associated with fish and snakes, and possibly crocodiles as a different kinds of flesh than than that of mammals .

The first creatures who really stand out that would have been scaly and played a role in biblical patterns was the the giant sea monsters in genesis 1. Tiamat. We see that biblical story play out with the Levithan, the Egyptian magicians and even Satan being referred to as a dragon.

The next is the serpent in the garden. We see these serpents ones the garden being hyperlinked to in many ways. For one Satan is also linked to being a serpent in the garden. We see the serpents being metaphorically used as a representation of the enemy even into the New Testament where one of the signs of being an apostle was the ability to handle snakes without worry and that is also part of what was referred to in Astrid’s interpretation of the lie of Paul and the island snake. It’s a story linking the chosen people being able to deal with the enemy ( from the serpent is the garden to the serpent on an island to the great serpent the devil ) without fear.

We also see the serpent being used by Moses. Which contains several hyperlinks ad well.

The Jewish nation betrayed God and in order to be saved had to look upon a bronze serpent. By seeing the bronze serpent they were saved. Then we get to Paul on the road to Damascus being blinded. He was able to see after going to Ananias after which the scales fell off his eyes. Even the description of Jesus in revelation is hyperlinking back to the bronze serpent. Jesus feet was described , again not literally, as glowing bronze.

The biblical authors and editors were very intentional in their wording. It was not sloppily tossed together. It is the byproduct of thousands of years of fine tuning it into a great story.

As the Bible project shows, the scripture is mediation literature. It’s made to be thought about again and again again again. It’s full of so many hyperlinks developing biblical patterns that it’s crazy impressive. I have never appreciated scripture as much as I have after listening to NT Wright and Tim Mackie. Even the genealogy episode BioLogos did highlighted the importance of mediating on scripture.

The way scales and the animals with scales are linked throughout the narrative is what I am curious about. I’ll eventually just go a full word study and root word study.

I wonder - this topic being science and bible, not just a bible topic-
if you would consider putting a tenth of the attention to eye
“scales” to the impossible snake story concerning Paul.
The more one looks at it the less believable it becimes.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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