Snake Handling, a Pentecostal Pastime Essay

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In the King James’ Version’s Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verse 18, it is stated that, “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” This reading has been looked at under many different shades of light. This speculation has led to many different ideas about the seriousness of the translation of the word of the Lord. For over a century, people of Appalachia have taken this line of the bible and turned it into the focus of the Christian worship services. How strictly should these Pentecostals take the word the bible? What makes these snake-handlers so different from other Christians? What can the serpent-handlers do to make their worship…show more content…
Before snakes are thrown into the mix of stereotypes, people already find it strange for worshipers to put their hands up during songs, speak in tongues, jump up and down, and yell “hallelujah” at the top of their lungs. People already had expectations of Appalachian Religion, so when people began to take up serpents in the early 1900’s, it started to add fuel to the fire of pigeonholes. Before one can actually break down the prejudices that surround snake handlers, one must learn the importance of snakes in the bible. Serpent handling churches tend to be built off one verse in the New Testament, but what about the Old Testament? People of the Holiness Pentecostal Church- the most common sect for serpent handlers- are known for heeding to the literal word of the bible more than other denominations of Christianity. The actual word serpent is used 31 times in the Old Testament (Joines, 3-4), and it takes several different symbols throughout the book. From Genesis’ serpent of original sin, to the Egyptian ideas of serpents being of new life, and rejuvenation, serpents have played several roles in shaping the actual words of the bible. The worshiping of the Lord through serpents tends to test the Lord by taking up snakes. The process of taking up snakes is just like any other Pentecostal method of praise, except with dangerous and deadly animals and/or objects thrown in the mix. Pentecost is the celebration of the instance in the bible where

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