The deception of Eve by Satan, through the instrumentality of a serpent, has ever been an object of ridicule with the profane, who, reading without reflection, or reflecting without reading, deem that "a foolishness" which they cannot understand, or that "a stumbling-block" which they cannot explain away. Thus faith, which had defied the sophistry of the acutest sceptic, has been sometimes shaken by an incredulous sneer: and Christians, who would have scorned to be argued out of their religion, have not been ashamed to be laughed out of it.
This is an early 19th century study of Ophiolatreia, or snake-worship. Deane's primary thesis here is that ancient serpent worship was based on memories of the Garden of Eden. He has a monomaniacal devotion to the subject of snake worship and sees evidence of it everywhere. Deane reviews a massive amount of data from antiquity, travelers tales, and legend and folklore. A particularly compelling portion of the book describes ancient megalithic temples such as the Avebury and Carnac complexes as giant representations of snakes. One wonders what he would have made of the ancient American mound builders, who made huge sinuous earth sculptures in the Ohio valley.
Because he wrote before such advances such as the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics, excavations in Mesopotamia, detailed knowledge of eastern religions in the west, and the systematic study of folklore and anthropology, much of this information is outdated or incorrect. For instance, many of his etymologies can't be supported by modern historical linguistics. On the other hand, many later discoveries added to our understanding of the special role that snakes and other reptiles play in religion and mythology.