Sir James Frazer, Folklore in the Old Testament

Chapter 2 Section 1

To sum up, if we may judge from a comparison of the versions dispersed among many peoples, the true original story of the Fall of Man ran somewhat as follows.  The benevolent Creator, after modeling the first man and woman out of mud and animating them by the simple process of blowing into their mouths and noses, placed the happy pair in an earthly paradise, where, free from care and toil, they could live on the sweet fruits of a delightful garden, and where birds and beasts frisked about them in fearless security.  As a crowning mercy he planted in the midst of the garden two wondrous trees that bore fruits of very different sorts, the fruit of the one being fraught with death to the eater, and the other with life eternal.  Having done so, he sent the serpent to the man and woman and charged him to deliver this message: "Eat not of the Tree of Death, for in the day ye eat thereof ye shall surely die; but eat of the Tree of Life and live forever."  Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, and on his way he bethought him of changing the message; so when he came to the happy garden and found the woman alone in it, he said to her, "Thus saith God: Eat not of the Tree of Life, for in the day ye eat thereof ye shall surely die; but eat of the Tree of Death, and live forever."  The foolish woman believed him, and ate of the fatal fruit, and gave of it to her husband, and he hate also.  But the sly serpent himself ate of the Tree of Life.  That is why men have been mortal and serpents immortal ever since, for serpents cast their skins every year and so renew their youth.  If only the serpent had not perverted God's good message and deceived our first mother, we should have been immortal instead of the serpents; for like the serpents we should have cast our skins every year and so renewed our youth perpetually.