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Biblical Studies Demons
by
Matthew Goff

Introduction

The term “demon” is used to describe a wide variety of spiritual beings. The word derives from the Greek term daimōn which refers to all sorts of beings, by no means only ones that are evil. The conventional definition of “demon,” however, is that it refers to malignant supernatural entities who seek to harm humans. There is a rich mythology of such creatures throughout the ancient world. They were understood to cause a variety of problems that people face in everyday life, such as disease and problems in childbirth. For this reason magical practices, including incantation spells and use of amulets, constitute important evidence for the study of demons. There is a rich lore regarding demons in the ancient Near East. The evidence, however, is surprisingly sparse for such figures in the Hebrew Bible. There is a resurgence of interest in demons in Early Judaism. Jewish traditions about demons from this era inform not only conceptions of evil spirits in later periods of Judaism but also comprise an important part of the Jewish heritage of Christianity, which is evident in both the New Testament and subsequent Christian literature.

General Overviews

Two works set the stage for the study of demons within the domain of biblical studies—the large collection of essays Demons (Lange, et al. 2003) and the encyclopedia Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (van der Toorn, et al. 1999). They both cover demonic figures not simply in the Bible but also in related contexts such as the ancient Near East. People interested in demonological research should consult these items first. There is no comprehensive, scholarly online resource for demons, but there are several websites that are beneficial for the study of demons, although these sites should be used with caution. The formats of these websites tend to be like that of an encyclopedia. They in general provide basic information on various named demons, without containing extensive analysis. DeliriumsRealm and Monstropedia are often quite helpful and should be the first online sources consulted. Demons Central and Weird Encyclopedia contain useful material but typically provide less information the others reviewed here. Lange et al. 2003 and van der Toorn et al. 1999 are leading bibliographic resources.

  • DeliriumsRealm.

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    A good online resource with numerous alphabetical entries on demons. The articles often consist of citations of relevant passages from ancient texts or later demonological treatises, such as Johan Weir’s Pseudomonarchia daemonum (1583).

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    • Demons Central.

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      This website includes a “demonic encyclopedia” that covers many demonic figures. The entries are in general much briefer than those of the other demon-related websites covered in this bibliography.

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    • Lange, Armin, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, eds. Demons: The Demonology of Israelite-Jewish and Early Christian Literature in Context of their Environment. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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      This book contains numerous essays on demons in the ancient Near East, ancient Israel, Early Judaism, Greco-Roman literature, the New Testament, Gnosticism, and Jewish texts written after the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE). Some of the essays in the book are written in German.

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    • Monstropedia.

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      “Monstropedia” describes itself as a “monstrous encyclopedia” and “the original open-source bestiary.” Some articles are taken from Wikipedia or at least appear reliant on this source. The articles in general are informative and useful but many are quite brief. The website includes a range of entries on named demons, which are listed in the category “angels and demons.”

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      • van der Toorn, Karl, Pieter W. van der Horst, and Bob Becking, eds. Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2d ed. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Grand Rapids, MI: Brill/Eerdmans, 1999.

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        A core resource for the study of demons in the ancient world. The book contains a wide range of helpful entries on divine beings (not only evil demons) in Mediterranean, Israelite, and ancient Near Eastern religious traditions.

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      • Weird Encyclopedia.

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        This website includes a long alphabetical list of named demons that appear in a variety of religious traditions, with a very brief description of each one.

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      Ancient Near East

      This section divides the topic of demons in the ancient Near East into two groups—demons in Ancient Mesopotamia and elsewhere in the Ancient Near East. Mesopotamia merits its own category because the demonological lore of this region is particularly rich and because of the importance of Mesopotamian traditions for understanding the Hebrew Bible. The exile of Judeans to Babylon in the 6th century BCE was a watershed event in the history of Judaism. The exile created a context in which Mesopotamian traditions made a deep impact on the religion of ancient Israel.

      Ancient Mesopotamia

      Belief in demons was abundant in ancient Mesopotamia. Black and Green 1992 is a good introduction to the topic. Magic was considered an important means to keep demonic forces at bay. Abusch 2002, and Abusch and van der Toorn 2000 are useful sources for Mesopotamian magic. Geller 2007 and Nash 1990 provide good examples of methods people used to combat evil forces. Mesopotamian myths about demons and other legendary creatures are important antecedent traditions for demonological speculation in ancient Israel and later Judaism. This is the basic point of van der Toorn 2003. See Annus 2010 (cited under First Enoch and the Book of Giants) and Frölich 2010 (cited under The Dead Sea Scrolls) for scholarship that interprets Jewish demonological lore in terms of older Mesopotamian traditions.

      • Abusch, Tsvi. Mesopotamian Witchcraft: Towards a History of Understanding Babylonian Witchcraft and Literature. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.

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        This learned volume focuses on ancient Mesopotamian ritual texts that were written to counter witches. Special attention is paid to the āšipu, a religious official who specialized in incantations designed to combat evil spirits and to Maqlū, a text which describes a ritual oriented against witches.

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      • Abusch, Tsvi, and Karl van der Toorn, eds. Mesopotamian Magic: Textual, Historical, and Interpretative Perspectives. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

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        Consisting of papers originally presented at a conference sponsored by the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS), 6–9 June 1995, this book contains essays that cover a range of topics that relate to magic in ancient Mesopotamia. Magical practices were often employed to combat demonic forces.

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      • Black, Jeremy, and Anthony Green. Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.

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        A leading resource for the demonology of ancient Mesopotamia. Its dictionary entries cover a wide range of demons and other mythological creatures.

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      • Geller, Markham J. Evil Demons: Canonical Utukkū Lemnūtu Incantations. State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts 5. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2007.

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        A text, transliteration, and translation of a series of incantations from ancient Mesopotamia that were designed to oppose the power of evil spirits. Among the many demons mentioned in these spells is Ardat Lilî, a forerunner of the Lilith of Jewish tradition (see the section Lilith).

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      • Nash, Tom. “Devils, Demons, and Disease: Folklore in Ancient Near Eastern Rites of Atonement.” In The Bible in the Light of Cuneiform Literature: Scripture in Context III. Edited by William W. Hallo, Bruce William Jones, and Gerald L. Mattingly, 57–88. Lewiston, NY: Mellen, 1990.

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        This article examines how illness was attributed to demons in ancient Mesopotamia. It also discusses magic practiced by incantation priests to combat evil powers. These topics have affinities with atonement rituals in the Hebrew Bible, suggesting that ancient Israel to some extent draws on Mesopotamian traditions regarding magic.

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      • Toorn, Karel van der. “The Theology of Demons in Mesopotamia and Israel. Popular Belief and Scholarly Speculation.” In Demons: The Demonology of Israelite-Jewish and Early Christian Literature in Context of their Environment. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 61–83. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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        This article reviews the limited evidence for demons in the Old Testament. The author argues that they should be understood in the context of demon traditions attested in ancient Mesopotamia. It is suggested that the development of monotheism in ancient Israel led to a decline of belief in demonic spirits.

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      Other Ancient Near Eastern Cultures

      Belief in spiritual beings is found not only in Mesopotamia but also throughout the ancient Near East. The articles reviewed here are helpful recent studies on the lore about demons in several important regions of the ancient Near East, including Persia (Lincoln 2009), the Levant (de Moor 1983, de Moor 1987), and Egypt (Lucarelli 2010, Szpakowska 2009). In these cultures, many spiritual beings are considered malevolent and harmful to humans. The work of some scholars, such as Lucarelli 2010 and de Moor 1983, use the “demon” nomenclature for spiritual beings who are beneficent.

      • de Moor, Johannes C.. “Demons in Canaan.” Jaarbericht van het Vooraziatisch-Egyptisch Gezelschap (Genootschap) Ex oriente lux 27 (1983): 106–119.

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        A review of the evidence for belief in spiritual beings in Canaan during the Late Bronze Age (c. 1200 BCE). The author draws on Ugaritic literature from this period (see de Moor 1987) and amulets that discuss malevolent spirits associated with illness. Supernatural beings that are benevolent are also examined.

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      • de Moor, Johannes C.. An Anthology of Religious Texts From Ugarit. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1987.

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        This volume contains translations of tablets discovered in the Syrian port of Ugarit, which were written between 1400 and 1200 BCE. Some of these texts attest a belief in demons. For example, an incantation spell, classified as KTU 1.82, was intended to exorcise evil spirits that were associated with illness.

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      • Lincoln, Bruce. “Cēšmag, the Lie and Zoroastrian Demonology.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 129 (2009): 45–55.

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        This brief article, with its bibliographical references, serves as a good starting place for the study of demons in Zoroastrianism, the religion of ancient Iran. The author focuses on an enigmatic figure by the name of Cēšmag, who, he suggests, should be understood as a demon rather than an evil priest.

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      • Lucarelli, Rita. “Demons (Benevolent and Malevolent).” In UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology. Edited by Willeke Wendrich. Los Angeles: University of California, 2010.

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        The ancient Egyptians had no word that corresponds exactly to “demons,” yet the term is appropriate for a diverse range of supernatural beings that appear in ancient Egyptian religion. This summary review of the topic suggests that most of them can be classified into one of two groups—wandering and guardian demons.

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      • Szpakowska, Kasia. “Demons in Ancient Egypt.” Religion Compass 3 (2009): 799–805.

        DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8171.2009.00169.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This article suggests that in ancient Egypt people classified demons into distinct categories, primarily in terms of the illnesses with which they were associated and the means by which to repel them. There is also a category of benevolent demons. Along with Lucarelli 2010, this article comprises a succinct introduction to the topic.

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      Hebrew Bible

      This section includes scholarship on the limited evidence in the Old Testament for belief in demons in ancient Israel and sources that discuss the depiction of “Satan” in the book. Over time Satan came to be understood as the leader of the demonic world. In the Hebrew Bible, however, this is not the case.

      Demons

      When approaching the topic of demons in the Hebrew Bible, whether understood as harmful or good-natured entities, the central question is why they appear so rarely. There are only a handful of isolated verses that mention beings that can be understood as demons (e.g., Isaiah 34:14, Deuteronomy 32:23–24, Habakkuk 3:5). One of the more interesting figures often considered a demon is Azazel, who appears in the Book of Leviticus. Tawil 1980 helps establish the ancient Near Eastern background of this figure. Blair 2009 concludes that no figure in the Old Testament can be reasonably classified as a demon. The author argues against the view, which is traditional in biblical studies, that there are demons in ancient Israel, even though the Bible says relatively little about them. Davies 1969 represents this traditional view. Unger 2006 does as well but from a more confessional perspective. The lack of demonological lore in the text should perhaps be attributed to the dominance of God in the mind-set of its authors. Both good and evil are ascribed to God (Isaiah 45:7), leaving little room, theologically speaking, for belief in demons to flourish. Propp 2004 is a good example of this view. It explains the paucity of demons in the Bible as a consequence of God’s covenant relationship with Israel (see also van der Toorn 2003, cited under Ancient Mesopotamia).

      • Blair, Judit M. De-demonising the Old Testament: An Investigation into Azazel, Lilith, Deber, Qeteb and Reshef in the Hebrew Bible. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.

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        The author, arguing against the viewpoint of books such as Davies 1969 and Langton 1981 (cited under Demons in Early Christianity), asserts that none of the expressions enumerated in the title of the book indicate belief in demons. The terms are in general, she suggests, better understood as mythological expressions used as poetic devices.

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      • Davies, T. Witton. Magic, Divination and Demonology among the Hebrews and Their Neighbours. New York: Ktav, 1969.

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        This is a reprint of a book published in 1898 that was one of the first scholarly studies of demons in the Hebrew Bible in the modern period. The book examines terms for evil spirits in the ancient Near East, Early Judaism, and later traditions, including Islam.

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      • Propp, William H. C. “Exorcising Demons.” Bible Review 20 (2004): 14–20, 47.

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        A discussion, written for a popular audience, of the sparse demonological texts in the Hebrew Bible. The lack of interest in demons in the Old Testament is attributed to the fact that the Bible presents misfortune as a consequence of violations of Israel’s covenant with God rather than demonic activities.

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      • Tawil, Hayim. “Azazel: The Prince of the Steepe: A Comparative Study.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentlische Wissenschaft 92 (1980): 43–59.

        DOI: 10.1515/zatw.1980.92.1.43Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This article investigates the etymology of the word “Azazel,” the name of an enigmatic figure opposed to God in Leviticus 16. The author argues that the name originally meant “fierce god” and that it functioned as an epithet of the Canaanite god of death, Mot.

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      • Unger, Merrill F. Biblical Demonology: A Study Of The Spiritual Forces Behind The Present World Unrest. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2006.

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        A well-known reprint of a book published in 1952, it argues from a confessional perspective that there is a pervasive doctrine of demonology throughout the Old and New Testaments. This doctrine emphasizes that the human being is subject to demonic forces and requires deliverance.

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      Satan

      “Satan” appears several times in the Hebrew Bible. The relevant texts are, however, relatively brief (e.g., Zechariah 3; Job 1). In biblical Hebrew the word satan is not a name but rather a common noun that can mean “adversary” or “accuser.” Day 1988, an often cited study of the relevant passages of the Old Testament, contends, as do many scholars, that the Hebrew Bible does not attest the tradition of Satan as a supernatural opponent of God. This is a later development. The term in 1 Chronicles, one of the later texts of the Hebrew Bible to be written, appears to constitute an exception when compared to other Old Testament attestations of the word. This book, in chapter 21, portrays “Satan” as a type of supernatural being (Stokes 2009). The figure of Satan in the Hebrew Bible has been examined from numerous perspectives. Forsyth 1987 has a literary approach, Kluger 1967 adopts a psychological perspective, and Gershenson 2002 approaches the topic philologically. An important topic of inquiry regarding “Satan” in the Hebrew Bible is older ancient Near Eastern mythic traditions that convey divine opposition to the ruling gods and how this material is incorporated into the Satan myth. Forsyth 1987, and Wray and Mobley 2005 both address this issue.

      • Day, Peggy L. An Adversary in Heaven: śāṭān in the Hebrew Bible. Harvard Semitic Monographs 43. Atlanta: Scholars, 1988.

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        This book examines the etymology and the meaning of the word satan in the Hebrew Bible. The author argues that the Old Testament contains no overarching concept of a Satan figure. Rather the term in some biblical texts means “adversary” and in others “accuser.”

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      • Forsyth, Neil. The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

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        This book examines Satan as a literary character in narrative texts. The author emphasizes the appropriation of older stories by later ones in the formation of the Satan tradition. One older story that informs the Satan myth is the ancient Near Eastern myth in which a god slays a primordial dragon.

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      • Gershenson, Daniel E. “The Name Satan.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 114 (2002): 443–445.

        DOI: 10.1515/zatw.2002.025Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This brief philological study suggests that the etymology of the Hebrew satan is connected to the Greek word for satyr (satyros) and the term “titan,” the opponents of the Olympian gods in Greek mythology.

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      • Kluger, Rivkah Schärf. Satan in the Old Testament. Translated by Hildegard Nagel. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1967.

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        A treatment of the concept of “Satan” in the Old Testament from a psychological perspective that is heavily influenced by Jung. The book argues that the figure of satan in the Old Testament testifies to an archetype of conflict that is associated with the Bible’s conception of God.

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      • Stokes, Ryan E. “The Devil Made David Do It . . . Or Did He? The Nature, Identity, and Literary Origins of the Satan in 1 Chronicles 21:1.” Journal of Biblical Literature 128 (2009): 91–106.

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        1 Chronicles 21 retells 2 Samuel 24, in which David initiates an unpopular census. In 1 Chronicles 21 “Satan” launches the census instead of David. The author argues that this text portrays him as an angelic, superhuman figure but not as the devil of later tradition.

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      • Wray, T. J., and Gregory Mobley. The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil’s Biblical Roots. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

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        This book surveys the development of the Satan myth. Ancient Jewish conceptions of an ultimate figure of evil drew on other older traditions, such as ancient Persian religion. The volume also discusses the widespread fear of and fascination with Satan in the contemporary world.

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      Early Judaism

      Jewish literature written after the Hebrew Bible but before the emergence of rabbinic Judaism (roughly between the 5th century BCE and 1st century CE) attests a flourishing of demonology. This is one component of a larger intellectual shift in the transformation of the religion of ancient Israel into ancient Judaism. The period in which this takes place is often called Early Judaism or Second Temple Judaism. Not only are demons prominent in this period, but angels are as well, and there is a rise of interest in the supernatural world in general. This section is broken down into three subsections: The Dead Sea Scrolls, First Enoch and the Book of Giants, and Other Early Jewish Texts.

      The Dead Sea Scrolls

      Our understanding of ancient Jewish demonology is greatly enriched by the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many of these texts were not officially published until the 1990s. The literature from Qumran attests a pervasive concern with evil, often understood as demonic spirits who are responsible for sin and disease. Alexander 1999 and Frölich 2010 provide useful overviews of the relevant literature from Qumran. Both studies emphasize the role of Enochic tradition for understanding ancient Jewish demonology (see First Enoch and the Book of Giants). Davidson 1992 also explores First Enoch by comparing the descriptions of angels in that book to that of documents written by the Dead Sea sect. Reimer 2000 critiques Alexander 1999 on this point. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain several incantations and hymns designed to ward off or expel demons. Penney and Wise 1994 provides the preliminary publication of one particular text from Qumran that offered ways to expel demons. Eshel 2003 deals with this composition as well, along with other texts that mention demons. Reimer and Lyons 1998 engages Penney and Wise 1994, in particular focusing on the question of how the term “magic” should be used when trying to understand ancient Jewish demons. The Dead Sea Scrolls also significantly increase our understanding of Belial, an Early Jewish precursor to Satan. Martone 2004 examines all the relevant texts from Qumran regarding Belial. Mastema is another important figure who is better understood thanks to the emergence of the scrolls. Kister 1999 discusses him (see also Other Early Jewish Texts).

      • Alexander, Philip S. “The Demonology of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In The Dead Sea Scrolls After Fifty Years: A Comprehensive Assessment. 2 vols. Vol. 2. Edited by Peter W. Flint and James C. VanderKam, 331–353. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1999.

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        An important summary article of demonology in the literature of Qumran. He concludes that the Book of Watchers of First Enoch (see First Enoch and the Book of Giants) was written in part to provide an etiology of demonic powers. See also Frölich 2010 and Reimer 2000.

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      • Davidson, Maxwell J. Angels at Qumran: A Comparative Study of 1 Enoch 1–36; 72–108 and Sectarian Writings from Qumran. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1992.

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        The writer compares texts of First Enoch with major Qumran documents, including the Hodayot and the Community Rule. Demons are never a central topic of the book. The author examines the function of angels, addressing issues such as their role in the final judgment and the relationship between angels and the righteous.

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      • Eshel, Esther. “Genres of Magical Texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In Demons: The Demonology of Israelite-Jewish and Early Christian Literature in Context of their Environment. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 395–415. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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        The author, who wrote her dissertation on demons in Early Judaism, discusses two categories of Jewish texts that are available in the Dead Sea Scrolls: (1) incantations that were intended to exorcise or drive away demonic spirits and (2) hymns that are apotropaic, designed as protection from evil spirits.

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      • Frölich, Ida. “Theology and Demonology in Qumran Texts.” Henoch 32 (2010): 101–129.

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        A review of Qumran texts that contain demonological material. The author, like Alexander 1999, discusses texts that relate to the Watchers myth known from First Enoch. She extends this perspective by arguing that this material reflects influence from Mesopotamian traditions of magic used to combat demonic forces.

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      • Kister, Menahem. “Demons, Theology and Abraham’s Covenant (CD 16:4–6 and Related Texts).” In The Dead Sea Scrolls at Fifty: Proceedings of the 1997 Society of Biblical Literature Qumran Section Meetings. Edited by Robert A. Kugler and Eileen M. Schuller, 167–184. Atlanta: Scholars, 1999.

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        This article focuses on a passage of a text of the Dead Sea Scrolls, from the Damascus Document (CD 16:4–6), which states that when a person takes an oath to turn to the Torah, Mastema will turn away from him.

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      • Martone, Carrado. “Evil or Devil? ‘Belial’ Between the Bible and Qumran.” Henoch 26 (2004): 115–127.

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        The Hebrew term belial, like satan, is not a proper noun in the Old Testament. Rather it is a general word for wickedness or worthlessness (e.g., Proverbs 16:27; Nahum 1:11). In later texts the word belial refers to Belial, an opponent of God who is associated with the presence of evil in the world.

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      • Penney, Douglas L., and Michael O. Wise. “By the Power of Beelzebub: An Aramaic Incantation from Qumran.” Journal of Biblical Literature 113 (1994): 627–650.

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        This article is the preliminary publication of 4Q560, an incantation text that contains an apotropaic magic formula used to ward away evil spirits to whom diseases and problems in childbirth are attributed (see also Eshel 2003).

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      • Reimer, Andy M. “Rescuing the Fallen Angels: The Case of the Disappearing Angels at Qumran.” Dead Sea Discoveries 7 (2000): 334–353.

        DOI: 10.1163/156851700509986Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This article engages the understanding in Alexander 1999 of demons in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The essay critiques Alexander’s view that the demonology of the Qumran scrolls reflects the Enochic tradition that demonic spirits originated from the sinful angels described in the Book of Watchers.

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      • Reimer, Andy M., and W. J. Lyons. “The Demonic Virus and Qumran Studies: Some Preventative Measures.” Dead Sea Discoveries 5 (1998): 16–32.

        DOI: 10.1163/156851798X00217Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        A critique of the use of the category “magic” in scholarship on the Dead Sea Scrolls, focusing especially on Penney and Wise 1994. Faulty conceptions of magic, the authors assert, make it impossible to study objectively demons and exorcism.

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      First Enoch and the Book of Giants

      First Enoch, though relatively unknown in the Western world, is an apocalypse that was very important in terms of how ancient Jews understood the origin of evil. Collins 2001 is a foundational study for understanding ancient Jewish conceptualizations of the introduction of evil in the world. First Enoch reinterprets the narrative of Genesis 6 (especially vv. 1–4) to relay a myth in which angels descend to earth and marry human women. They produce offspring who are cannibalistic giants that cause havoc in the world. Goff 2010 is a recent study that focuses on the crimes of these giants. Annus 2010 is good for understanding how the depiction of these giants in First Enoch relies on Mesopotamian traditions; see also Frölich 2010 (cited under The Dead Sea Scrolls). Hanson 1977 takes a similar but broader approach, understanding the giants and their angelic fathers in terms of a mythic trope of “Rebellion in Heaven” found throughout the ancient Near East. The iniquities of the giants trigger the flood. They are punished and their physical bodies are destroyed. Their spirits, however, remain and in this form they disturb and harass humankind. First Enoch proposes an etiology of evil spirits and contains the most developed explanation of their existence in ancient Judaism. Wright 2005 emphasizes that Enochic traditions are important for understanding Jewish demonology (see also Alexander 1999, cited under The Dead Sea Scrolls). Reed 2005 adopts a similar perspective, while focusing on how Enochic tradition influences later period of Judaism and Christianity, including how demons were understood. The Book of Giants discovered at Qumran appropriates the Watchers myth of First Enoch and provides another narrative account of the offspring of the sinful angels. The text is therefore also a useful source for ancient Jewish belief in demons (Stuckenbruck 2003, Stuckenbruck 2004).

      • Annus, Amar. “On the Origin of Watchers: A Comparative Study of the Antediluvian Wisdom in Mesopotamian and Jewish Traditions.” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 19 (2010): 277–320.

        DOI: 10.1177/0951820710373978Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        A detailed examination of the angels described in the Enochic Book of the Watchers and their children the giants. The author argues that the composition’s portrayal of these creatures shows knowledge of the apkallus, who are primordial beings in Mesopotamian myth. In some traditions they are associated with demons.

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      • Collins, John J. “The Origin of Evil in Apocalyptic Literature and the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In Seers, Sibyls and Sages in Hellenistic Roman-Judaism. By John J. Collins, 287–299. Supplements for the Journal for the Study of Judaism 54. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 2001.

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        This article, originally published in 1995, appears in a collection of essays by the author. The paper is not on demons but is useful for people interested in the subject. The author, an expert on Jewish apocalypticism, reviews major myths of the origin of evil attested in Early Jewish literature.

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      • Goff, Matthew. “Monstrous Appetites: Giants, Cannibalism and Insatiable Eating in Enochic Literature.” Journal of Ancient Judaism 1 (2010): 19–42.

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        A study of the sons of the angels in First Enoch and the Book of Giants. These giants become evil spirits that plague humankind. The article argues that the nature of their heinous deeds, which include cannibalism, shapes their punishment, since as spirits they cannot eat.

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      • Hanson, Paul D. “Rebellion in Heaven, Azazel, and Euhemeristic Heroes in 1 Enoch 6–11.” Journal of Biblical Literature 96 (1977): 195–233.

        DOI: 10.2307/3265878Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        An often-cited article in scholarship on the Book of Watchers. Azazel, who is associated with the scapegoat ritual in Leviticus 16, is often understood as a demonic figure (Blair 2009, cited under Demons; Helm 1994, cited under Other Early Jewish Texts). The author argues that the portrayal of this figure in Leviticus influenced the composition of the Book of the Watchers.

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      • Reed, Annette Yoshiko. Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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        An important study of the reception of the Book of the Watchers of First Enoch in Judaism and Christianity. The book examines how the composition’s account of the offspring of the sinful angels was understood in the history of both religions as an etiology for demonic spirits.

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      • Stuckenbruck, Loren T. “Giant Mythology and Demonology: From the Ancient Near East to the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In Demons: The Demonology of Israelite-Jewish and Early Christian Literature in Context of their Environment. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 313–338. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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        A detailed exposition of the Book of Giants. One of the giants is named Gilgamesh, which evokes a hero of the same name in Mesopotamian epic. This suggests that polemic against pagan traditions may have shaped Jewish belief in demons during the period.

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      • Stuckenbruck, Loren T. “The Origins of Evil in Jewish Apocalyptic Tradition: The Interpretation of Genesis 6:1–4 in the Second and Third Centuries BCE.” In The Fall of the Angels. Themes in Biblical Narrative 6. Edited by Christoph Auffarth and Loren T. Stuckenbruck, 87–118. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 2004.

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        A helpful study of how the ambiguity of Genesis 6:1–4 produced varying interpretations of the passage in ancient Judaism. The article focuses on the giants, the children of the angels in the Enochic myth of the watchers, concentrating on their physical destruction in the flood (see Wright 2005).

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      • Wright, Archie T. The Origin of Evil Spirits: The Reception of Genesis 6.1–4 in Early Jewish Literature. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

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        This volume examines the interpretation of Genesis 6:1–4 in Early Jewish literature, in particular the Enochic Book of the Watchers. It is an important study of the tradition that the origin of the evil spirits is linked to the giants who were produced by the sexual union between wicked angels and women.

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      Other Early Jewish Texts

      This section contains scholarship on Early Jewish texts in which demons are prominent aside from First Enoch and writings that were unknown before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Prominent among the material in this category is the Book of Jubilees, which provides an impression of demons active in the world, led by a figure by the name of Mastema. VanderKam 2003 comprises an excellent survey of the theme of demons in this book. Ibba 2009 also examines Jubilees, analyzing its account of demons in relation to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Demons are found in a range of other Early Jewish texts. The literature from this period that describes Azazel is helpfully surveyed in Helm 1994. Grabbe 1987 is also interested in this figure, focusing on not only Azazel but also how the ceremony with which he is associated (see Leviticus 16) is interpreted in later Judaism and Christianity. Asmodeus, a demon who derives from Persian tradition, appears in the Book of Tobit. Owens 2007 is one of the few modern studies of this issue. The influence of other traditions on Jewish demonology is also the concern of Toepel 2005, which argues that Hellenistic conceptions of astronomy are evident in Early Jewish literature. Conceptions of demons are also in a text known as the Biblical Book of Antiquities, as Jackson 1996 discusses. The figure of Satan is surprisingly rare in the Jewish literature of this period. Gammie 1985 examines this issue in terms of the book of Job, in which Satan is prominent. The author looks at why the word “Satan” is not used in this book when the Bible was translated into Greek in Antiquity.

      • Gammie, John G. “The Angelology and Demonology in the Septuagint of the Book of Job.” Hebrew Union College Annual 56 (1985): 1–19.

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        This article examines Satan in the Book of Job in the Septuagint, an ancient translation of the Old Testament into Greek. “Satan” is rendered into Greek with ho diabolos (“the devil”). The translator may have shunned the name “Satan” to avoid association with evil figures such as Belial.

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      • Grabbe, Lester. “The Scapegoat Tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 18 (1987): 152–167.

        DOI: 10.1163/157006387X00120Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        An insightful analysis of the scapegoat ritual of Leviticus 16 and how the atonement ceremony in this chapter is understood in Judaism and Christianity. The author argues that Azazel becomes an important demon in Judaism, but not in Christianity.

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      • Helm, Robert. “Azazel in Early Jewish Tradition.” Andrews University Seminar Papers 32 (1994): 217–226.

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        A survey of the key passages in ancient Jewish literature for understanding the figure of Azazel. Material from First Enoch is covered, as is the Apocalypse of Abraham. The author argues that Azazel is a demon in both texts. This figure is examined in rabbinic texts including the Mishnah and the Targums.

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      • Ibba, Giovanni. “The Evil Spirits in Jubilees and the Spirit of the Bastards in 4Q510 with Some Remarks on other Qumran Manuscripts.” Henoch 31 (2009): 111–116.

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        This article argues that the Book of Jubilees teaches that evil spirits are prevalent in the world and that they corrupt humankind. Some Qumran texts describe such powers as “spirits of the bastards,” a negative reference to the offspring of the angels in the Enochic Book of the Watchers.

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      • Jackson, H. M. “Echoes and Demons in the Pseudo-Philonic Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 27 (1996): 1–20.

        DOI: 10.1163/157006396X00012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        The Liber antiquitatum biblicarum (The book of biblical antiquities) is a retelling of biblical narratives. In the text’s version of 1 Samuel 3 God’s calling out to Samuel may be the voice of a demon. In its account of 1 Samuel 16 David is portrayed as an exorcist.

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      • Owens, J. Edward. “Asmodeus: A Less Than Minor Character in the Book of Tobit. A Narrative-Critical Study.” In Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings—Origins, Development and Reception. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2007. Edited by Friedrich V. Reiterer, Tobias Niklas, and Karin Schöpflin, 277–290. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2007.

        DOI: 10.1515/9783110192957Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This article examines the role of the demon Asmodeus in the apocryphal Book of Tobit. The author understands him as characterized by lust and jealousy. Asmodeus is a demon in ancient Persian religion. Tobit’s use of the figure is the most explicit example of Jewish borrowing of Persian demonological traditions.

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      • Toepel, Alexander. “Planetary Demons in Early Jewish Literature.” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 14 (2005): 231–238.

        DOI: 10.1177/0951820705053850Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This article argues that the Hellenistic astronomical tradition that planets can be considered potentially malevolent beings is attested in Early Jewish literature. The author claims that this is evident in the Qumran texts 4Q552–553 (4QFour Kingdoms) and the Testament of Rueben.

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      • VanderKam, James C. “The Demons in the Book of Jubilees.” In Demons: The Demonology of Israelite-Jewish and Early Christian Literature in Context of Their Environment. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 339–364. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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        The Book of Jubilees retells the book of Genesis and part of Exodus. Demons are prominent in Jubilees. Their role in Jubilees is surveyed by the author, an authority on the composition. In this work the demons are led by Mastema, a precursor to the Satan of later tradition.

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      Greco-Roman

      Greco-Roman literature attests a wide range of speculation about spiritual beings. Brenk 1986 functions well as an introduction to the portrayal of demons in a wide range of classical literature (philosophy, epic, etc.). An important scholarly topic regarding demons in the Greco-Roman world is how exactly the term should be understood. Demons cannot be simply classified as malevolent spirits. The Greek word daimōn has a much broader semantic range than the modern term “demon.” Albinus 2003 is a good examination of the term daimōn. The author suggests that “demons” should be regarded as intermediary beings who help bridge the gap between the human and divine realms. Petersen 2003 adopts a similar perspective. Jensen 1966 also stresses the intermediary function of demons, but he restricts his focus to Pythagorean and Platonic thought. Smith 1978 also constitutes an important effort to understand demons. It focuses less on defining the word “demon” than Albinus 2003. Rather, Smith delineates the category of spiritual being they represent. The “demonic” for Smith represents a way for people to form boundaries and kinds of identity. Ogden 2002 and Cotter 1999 are both useful sourcebooks of primary texts regarding magic that shed light on demonological speculation in the ancient world. Cotter 1999 includes material that relates to miracles, whereas Ogden 2002 includes more material that relates to witchcraft and ghosts.

      • Albinus, Lars. “The Greek δαίμων between Mythos and Logos.” In Demons: The Demonology of Israelite-Jewish and Early Christian Literature in Context of Their Environment. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 425–446. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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        The Greek term daimōn is multivalent and denotes various spiritual beings. They are not necessarily evil. The author emphasizes that “demons,” using the broad definition of the word, can be understood as beings who mediate between the realm of the gods and the human world.

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      • Brenk, Frederick E. “In the Light of the Moon: Demonology of the Early Imperial Period.” In Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt 2.16.3. Edited by Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase, 2068–2145. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1986.

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        A highly recommended and erudite survey of the “daimonic” in Greco-Roman literature. A wide range of material is covered, including epic and philosophical literature and authors such as Lucian, Apuleius, and Plutarch. The themes of exorcism and demons in the New Testament are also examined.

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      • Cotter, Wendy. Miracles in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook. London: Routledge, 1999.

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        This book provides access to literature that constitutes the Greco-Roman cultural background of Jesus’ miracles in the New Testament. It contains classical texts of accounts of supernatural healing and miracles. The author lays out the major texts for understanding demons in Greco-Roman Antiquity, Jewish apocalypses, and Early Christian literature.

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      • Jensen, Søren Skovgaard. Dualism and Demonology: The Function of Demonology in Pythagorean and Platonic Thought. Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1966.

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        An examination of demonology in two important forms of ancient Greek philosophy—Pythagorean and Platonic thought. In these philosophical systems “demons” denotes an intermediary class of beings that allows for interaction between the human and supernatural realms (see Albinus 2003; Petersen 2003).

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      • Ogden, Daniel. Magic, Witchcraft and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Sourcebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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        This volume contains a wide range of Greco-Roman texts that describe ways that people interact with, manipulate, and seek protection from supernatural forces. Demons, and how to bind them or ward them off, are a frequent topic in this material.

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      • Petersen, Anders Klostergaard. “The Notion of Demon: Open Questions to a Diffuse Concept.” In Demons: The Demonology of Israelite-Jewish and Early Christian Literature in Context of Their Environment. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 23–41. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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        This essay examines the myriad beings to which the term “demon” can be applied—good and evil spirits, gods, and the souls of humans. The term, the author suggests, denotes a category of beings that bridge the gap between the human and divine worlds (see also Albinus 2003 and Jensen 1966).

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      • Smith, Jonathan Z. “Towards Interpreting Demonic Powers in Hellenistic and Roman Antiquity.” In Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt 2.16.1. Edited by Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase, 425–439. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1978.

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        An important study that endeavors to define the nature of the “demonic.” Focusing on the ancient world, the author understands the demonic as a “locative category,” a taxonomic term that helps establish boundaries and identity in a given society (see also Petersen 2003).

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      New Testament and Early Christianity

      The scholarship regarding demons in the New Testament and Early Christianity is vast. It can be divided into five broad categories: the synoptic gospels, Paul (especially his notion of “the principalities and powers”), the Antichrist, Satan in the New Testament and Early Christianity, and Demons in Early Christianity.

      The Synoptic Gospels

      The New Testament, not unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls, contains the perspective that evil is pervasive in the world in the form of evil spirits who harass human beings. Lichtenberger 2009 helpfully interprets the demonology of the New Testament against its Jewish background. Wright 2006 does well, focusing to a greater extent than Lichtenberger on the importance of Enochic tradition for understanding demons in the New Testament. Sorensen 2002 is distinctive among books on this subject for its broad focus on demon possession in ancient Israel and the ancient Near East for understanding these topics in the New Testament. Maclaurin 1978 also interprets New Testament demonology in terms of the ancient Near East, in relation to a specific topic, the background of the name Beelzeboul. Among the documents of the New Testament, the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) stand out for their preoccupation with demonic spirits. An important theme in these texts is Jesus’ ability to exorcise demons (e.g., Mark 5). Several studies examine the tradition that Jesus is an exorcist. Twelftree 2007 is a broad examination of the relevant material from the gospels. Other studies address this issue by focusing on particular texts. Sterling 1993, for example, addresses a specific pericope from the synoptic gospels and Garrett 1989 concentrates on Luke-Acts. The exorcism narratives of the gospels are typically healing stories as well, reflecting the common premodern view that diseases should be attributed to the machinations of demonic powers. An important issue is thus the extent to which Jesus’ healing powers and authority over demons should be understood as forms of magic. Garrett 1989 explores how the themes of magic and the demonic are combined in the books of Luke and Acts. The broad survey of demons and healing in the New Testament in Yamauchi 1986 affirms that the authors of the New Testament considered demons to be real, actual spiritual beings.

      • Garrett, Susan R. The Demise of the Devil: Magic and the Demonic in Luke’s Writings. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989.

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        A helpful study of demons and magic in Luke and Acts. The two themes, the author suggests, are intertwined in these two books. She argues that both texts reflect the view that practitioners of magic will ultimately be defeated in the new epoch ushered in by the resurrection of Christ.

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      • Lichtenberger, Hermann. “Demonology in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament.” In Text, Thought and Practice in Qumran and Early Christianity: Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, Jointly Sponsored by the Hebrew University Center for the Study of Christianity, 11–13 January 2004. Edited by Ruth A. Clements and Daniel R. Schwartz, 267–280. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 2009.

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        This article reviews demonological texts in the New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The author concludes that the New Testament view that people are threatened by evil forces has broad similarities with older Jewish forms of demonology that are now available in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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      • Maclaurin, E. C. B. “Beelzeboul.” Novum Testamentum 20 (1978): 156–160.

        DOI: 10.1163/156853678X00209Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This article discusses the term Beelzeboul, which occurs several times in the synoptic gospels. In texts from Ugarit (see de Moor 1987 under Other Ancient Near Eastern Cultures) the root zbl means “prince.” The phrase “Beelzeboul” probably draws on the tradition that Baal exerts dominion over angelic beings and rules over the underworld.

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      • Sorensen, Eric. Possession and Exorcism in the New Testament and Early Christianity. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2002.

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        This book emphasizes the role of Israelite, Early Jewish, and ancient Near Eastern influences on conceptions of demonic possession and exorcism in the New Testament and later Early Christian literature. The author argues that these older traditions were reformulated to accommodate the Greco-Roman milieu in which Christianity developed.

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      • Sterling, Gregory. “Jesus as Exorcist: An Analysis of Matthew 17:14–20; Mark 9:14–29; Luke 9:37–43a.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 55 (1993): 467–493.

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        The article examines the story of Jesus healing a boy possessed by a demon. The variants of the three versions of the tale in the synoptic gospels are discussed in detail. The author concludes that the narrative is based on an authentic episode from the life of the historical Jesus.

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      • Twelftree, Graham H. In the Name of Jesus: Exorcism among the Early Christians. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

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        A study of exorcism in the New Testament and Early Christian literature. The dearth of accounts of demon possession or expulsion outside of the synoptic gospels suggests that exorcism was not widespread among Christians of this period. Rather the importance of exorcism in Early Christianity varied and fluctuated over time.

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      • Wright, Archie T. “Evil Spirits in Second Temple Judaism: The Watcher Tradition as a Background to the Demonic Pericopes in the Gospels.” Henoch 28 (2006): 141–159.

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        The author argues that the demonology of the gospels reflects direct reliance on traditions attested in the Enochic Book of the Watchers (see Wright 2005 under First Enoch and the Book of Giants). The author focuses on Mark 5, in which Jesus exorcises an unclean spirit from a man.

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      • Yamauchi, Edwin. “Magic or Miracle? Diseases, Demons and Exorcisms.” In The Miracles of Jesus. Edited by David Wenham and Craig Blomberg, 89–183. Gospel Perspectives 6. Sheffield, UK: JSOT, 1986.

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        The author surveys the topics of diseases, demons, and exorcism in Antiquity, covering a wide range of material from the ancient Near East, Israel, and Greece in order to understand the portrayal of Satan and evil spirits in the New Testament.

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      Paul (Principalities and Powers)

      There is scant direct appeal to demons in the Pauline and deutero-Pauline letters (see, however, 1 Corinthians 10:20; 2 Corinthians 6:15). Rather one finds the assertion that “principalities and powers” rule the world (e.g., Colossians 2:15; cf. 1:16; Ephesians 6:12). The meaning of the phrase is debated. Arnold 1992 and Lee 1970 represent the view that Paul understood the world as under the power of evil, demonic spirits, and that faith in Jesus constitutes an overthrow of their dominion over the individual believer. Carr 1981, Forbes 2001, and Forbes 2002 understand Paul as having relatively little interest in demons. Carr argues that the phrase refers to worldly authorities and Forbes understands the expression in terms of conceptions of the “elements of the world” in Greek philosophy. Wink 1986 argues for a distinction between “inner” and “outer” forms of demonic experience.

      • Arnold, Clinton E. Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1992.

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        An examination of Paul’s conception of spiritual warfare and his view that the present age is dominated by the activity of evil spirits. The book is scholarly but also includes reflections regarding demons and evil for Christians today (see also Page 1995, cited under Satan in the New Testament and Early Christianity).

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      • Carr, Wesley. Angels and Principalities: The Background, Meaning and Development of the Pauline Phrase hai archai kai hai exousiai. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511554896Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        The author argues that the Greek phase given in the title of the book, often translated “the principalities and powers,” refers not to demonic forces but rather angels and worldly authorities. The study includes exegesis of relevant Pauline texts and post-Pauline literature in the New Testament and Early Christian literature.

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      • Forbes, Chris. “Paul’s Principalities and Powers: Demythologizing Apocalyptic?” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 82 (2001): 61–88.

        DOI: 10.1177/0142064X0102308203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        The author suggests that Paul’s letters reflect little interest in demons. The apostle’s understanding of the “principalities and powers” is abstract and does not denote personified entities. This suggests that the theme of “principalities and powers” does not draw on the heritage of Jewish apocalypticism in a “de-mythologized” form.

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      • Forbes, Chris. “Pauline Demonology and/or Cosmology? Principalities, Powers and the Elements of the World in their Hellenistic Context.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 85 (2002): 51–73.

        DOI: 10.1177/0142064X0202400303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        An extension of his 2001 study, the author argues that Paul’s conception of the powers of this world should be understood not within the context of Jewish apocalypticism but rather Greek philosophy, in particular Middle Platonism.

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      • Lee, Jung Young. “Interpreting the Demonic Powers in Pauline Thought.” Novum Testament 12 (1970): 54–69.

        DOI: 10.1163/156853670X00126Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        An examination of the relevant terminology in the letters of Paul used to describe the powers and spiritual forces that are dominant in the world. In Pauline thought, the article concludes, Jesus died on the cross to rescue people from the demonic forces ruling the cosmos.

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      • Wink, Walter. Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Powers that Determine Human Existence. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986.

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        The second volume of a trilogy on the “principalities and powers” in the New Testament. The book includes discussion of Satan, demons, and angels. The author distinguishes between the “inner personal demonic,” a psychological conflict within the individual, and “outer personal demons” in which an alien entity enters the human.

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      Antichrist

      The Antichrist is important in Christian conceptions of evil. The term first appears in the New Testament letters of John, signifying not a supernatural demon but rather heretics, people alleged to be opposed to (anti-) Christ (e.g., 1 John 2:18, 22). Over time a full-blown Antichrist myth developed that typically centers around a human being (often a political leader) under the control of Satan who pretends to be Christ. This Antichrist plays a role in the eschatological travails that are to predate the final judgment in a way that draws extensively from the Book of Revelation. Bousset 1999, a reprint of the original 1895 book, sets the stage for the modern study of the Antichrist tradition by examining the topic historically and explaining how the myth drew from older Jewish traditions and developed over time. For understanding when the Antichrist myth acquired this fully developed form, see Jenks 1990, which argues that this took place in the 3rd century CE. Lorein 2003 takes a different position, asserting that the Antichrist myth can be understood as fully formed before the advent of Christianity. Peerbolte 1996 is the most extensive book to date on the utilization of pre-Christian Jewish traditions for the development of the Antichrist myth. This is also an important component of Jenks 1990 and Goff 2002. In terms of surveying the Antichrist tradition throughout the history of Christianity, McGinn 1994 remains unparalleled.

      • Bousset, Wilhelm. The Antichrist Legend: A Chapter in Christian and Jewish Folklore. Translated by A. H. Keane. Atlanta: Scholars, 1999.

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        A reprint of Bousset’s groundbreaking 1895 book, this has been a foundational work for modern study of the Antichrist tradition. The author examines the Antichrist legend historically, connecting it to mythic traditions of the ancient Near East, in particular the combat myth, in which a god kills a primordial dragon.

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      • Goff, Matthew. “Antichrist and His Predecessors: The Incorporation of Jewish Traditions of Evil into Christian End-Time Scenarios.” In Millennialism From the Hebrew Bible to the Present. Edited by Leonard J. Greenspoon and Ronald A. Simkins, 91–113. Studies in Jewish Civilization 12. Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press, 2002.

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        The article focuses on mythological conceptions of evil in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism and how they were appropriated by Early Christian authors. These writers utilized this heritage to formulate the conception of the Antichrist as an eschatological opponent of Christ.

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      • Gumerlock, Francis X. “Nero Antichrist: Patristic Evidence for the Use of Nero’s Naming in Calculating the Number of the Beast (Rev 13:18).” Westminster Theological Journal 68 (2006): 347–360.

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        Revelation 13:18 gives the number of the beast, traditionally understood as a reference to Nero. This interpretation, however, is difficult to find in patristic literature. The author highlights a 5th-century text in which the numerical value of Nero’s name is connected to his identification as the Antichrist.

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      • Jenks, Gregory C. The Origins and Early Development of the Antichrist Myth. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1990.

        DOI: 10.1515/9783110869545Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        The author argues that the myth of the Antichrist should be understood as a Christian tradition that is fully developed by the 3rd century CE. Numerous older Jewish antecedents involving Satan and eschatological tyrants are examined.

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      • Lorein, Geert Wouter. The Antichrist Theme in the Intertestamental Period. London: T&T Clark, 2003.

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        A survey of the “Antichrist” in ancient Jewish literature. The author claims, in contrast to Jenks 1990 and Peerbolte 1996, that the Antichrist tradition can be understood as emerging in Judaism before the advent of Christianity.

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      • McGinn, Bernard. Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

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        A highly recommended and readable book that charts the development of the Antichrist myth throughout the history of Christianity and its Jewish antecedents. The Antichrist legend is presented as a kind of mirror that reflects people’s conceptions and fear of evil.

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      • Peerbolte, L. J. Lietart. The Antecedents of Antichrist: A Traditio-Historical Study of the Earliest Christian Views on Eschatological Opponents. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 49. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1996.

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        This book examines a range of ancient Jewish and Christian texts in order to understand the variety of eschatological adversarial figures that contributed to the Antichrist myth of later tradition. Tropes such as false messiahs, the beast, and end-time tyrants are treated.

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      Satan in the New Testament and Early Christianity

      The popular conception of Satan as God’s ultimate adversary is indebted to his portrayal in the New Testament and Early Christian literature. Satan is often associated with demons, and he is understood as the ruler of the demonic world. Bell 2007 examines this topic (see also Page 1995) and also writes about how Christ is depicted as overwhelming Satan and his allies. Boyd 1997 and Thomas 1998 engage this latter issue as well. Boyd 1997 discusses demons with an interest in understanding how the spiritual world was conceptualized by New Testament authors. The focus on demons in Thomas 1998 is primarily in terms of ancient views of disease and healing. Pagels 1995 is a well-known book on Satan in the New Testament. The book, in particular, is good for understanding how New Testament and Early Christian authors used the Satan tradition to understand their enemies and social conflict. Russell 1981 addresses how Christians turned to conceptions of evil to make sense of the world. Frankfurter 2006 and Kelly 2006 are both good resources for understanding how interest in Satan and other evil powers first developed in ancient Christianity and then continued into later periods of the religion (see also McGinn 1994, cited under Antichrist).

      • Bell, Richard H. Deliver Us from Evil: Interpreting the Redemption from the Power of Satan in New Testament Theology. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2007.

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        A study of New Testament literature that focuses on how humans are redeemed from the deeds of Satan. He argues that in the New Testament demons are considered real beings who can exist in disembodied form and that they can have distinct personalities.

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      • Boyd, Gregory A. God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997.

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        This book argues that both the Old and New Testaments attest variations of a “warfare worldview” according to which the physical world is understood against the backdrop of a supernatural reality that is populated by spiritual beings, both good and evil, who struggle against one another.

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      • Frankfurter, David. Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Ritual Abuse in History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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        This book examines conspiracy myths, in which organized forms of evil plot to overthrow or destabilize the status quo, from ancient times to the modern period. The volume understands demonology as a tradition that people utilize to make sense of historical moments characterized by misery, conflict, or ambiguity.

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      • Kelly, Henry Ansgar. Satan: A Biography. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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        The author, a professor of English literature, provides an overview of Satan, from his roots in the Old Testament to his portrayals in later Christianity. The contemporary conception of Satan is a product of the “New Biography of Satan” in which he is equated with Lucifer. This trope, he suggests, originated in the early centuries of Christianity.

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      • Page, Sydney H. T. Powers of Evil: A Biblical Study of Satan and Demons. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1995.

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        An examination of texts in the Old and New Testaments that relate to demons. The author emphasizes the prominence of evil in the Bible. He understands an ongoing battle between God and the demonic forces as Satan as a defining characteristic of the human condition (see Arnold 1992, cited under Paul (Principalities and Powers)).

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      • Pagels, Elaine. The Origin of Satan. New York: Random House, 1995.

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        This well-known book examines the figure of Satan in the New Testament and its Old Testament background. The distinctive focus of the study is on the social history of Satan: how people expressed and rationalized conflicts in the early days of Christianity by allying their opponents with Satan.

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      • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Satan: The Early Christian Tradition. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981.

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        This book, part of a multivolume work on the Satan tradition throughout history, examines how Early Christian authors, including the Desert Fathers and Saint Augustine, understood problems such as theodicy and the existence of evil in the world through appeal to the figure of Satan.

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      • Thomas, John Christopher. The Devil, Disease and Deliverance: Origins of Illness in New Testament Thought. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.

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        The book guides the reader through the literature of the New Testament with regard to several topics. These include how the origin of illness is understood, which is often associated with demons, and how people respond to illness in the New Testament.

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      Demons in Early Christianity

      After the composition of the New Testament, Christian speculation about demons took a variety of forms. Ferguson 1984 is a good survey of the topic. Greenfield 1988 is as well, with regard to demonology in Byzantine literature. A recent study, Brakke 2006, has argued that the conception of the monk that emerged in Early Christianity cannot be separated from views about demons at the time. As with the New Testament, the demonology of Early Christian literature reformulates and appropriates older Jewish traditions regarding evil spirits, including the Watchers tradition (see First Enoch and the Book of Giants; Reed 2004). Langton 1981 has long been known as a source that contextualizes legends about demons in Christianity and the Bible in terms of demonological views found in the ancient world. There is also demonology in the gnostic tradition, including the view that the world was fashioned not by the true God but by demonic forces (Luttikhuizen 2004 and Williams 1992).

      • Brakke, David. Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.

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        This book is a detailed and engaging study of demons in Early Christianity. The author focuses on monasticism in Egypt during the 4th and 5th centuries CE. He proposes that demons are important in the formation of conceptions of the monk in Early Christianity.

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      • Ferguson, Everett. Demonology of the Early Christian World. Lewiston, NY: Edward Mellen, 1984.

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        This book examines demons in Early Christian literature and also in the New Testament, Greco-Roman texts, and ancient Jewish literature. The author concludes that in Early Christianity demons were understood as disobedient beings that were created and exert dominion over the world in a way that opposes the power of Christ.

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      • Greenfield, Richard P. H. Traditions of Belief in Late Byzantine Demonology. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1988.

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        A comprehensive study of beliefs in demons in late Byzantine sources. The author argues that most of the ample literature from the period which discusses demons reflects a consistent and coherent conception of them. This includes the belief that the devil and the demons were angels whose divine nature became perverted.

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      • Langton, Edward. Essentials of Demonology: A Study of Jewish and Christian Doctrine, Its Origins and Development. New York: AMS, 1981.

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        A reprint of a book published in 1949, this influential book understands the demonological speculation of Early Christianity, and the Bible, in terms of parallel material in the broader ancient world. This book is significant but somewhat outdated because of its often uncritical use of demonological material in ancient Mesopotamia and elsewhere to interpret biblical texts.

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      • Luttikhuizen, Gerard P. “The Demonic Demiurge of Gnostic Mythology.” In The Fall of the Angels. Edited by Christoph Auffarth and Loren T. Stuckenbruck, 148–160. Themes of Biblical Narrative 6. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 2004.

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        This article examines the gnostic trope that the creator god is a demonic figure. This involved a radical reinterpretation of the demiurge, the creator of the world in Plato. The author argues that some gnostics believed that the soul is controlled by the demons who rule the world.

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      • Reed, Annette Yoshiko. “The Trickery of the Fallen Angels and the Demonic Mimesis of the Divine: Aetiology, Demonology and Polemics in the Writings of Justin Martyr.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 12 (2004): 141–171.

        DOI: 10.1353/earl.2004.0027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Justin Martyr (2nd century CE) imagined Christians as surrounded by demons, understood as the children of fallen angels. He thus drew on the Enochic watchers tradition (see First Enoch and the Book of Giants). These demons, he believed, pretended to be pagan deities who incited pagans to oppress Christians.

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      • Williams, Michael A. “The Demonizing of the Demiurge: The Innovation of Gnostic Myth.” In Innovation in Religious Traditions: Essays in the Interpretation of Religious Change. Edited by Collett Cox, Michael A. Williams, and Martin S. Jaffee, 73–107. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1992.

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        Revised papers from a seminar conducted by the Comparative Religion Program, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington in 1988. An important motif in gnostic literature is the degradation of the demiurge (see Luttikuizen 2004). This figure is virtually synonymous with Satan. The author challenges the view that this tradition developed in a unilinear fashion over time.

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      Judaism After the Destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE)

      This section is not exclusively devoted to rabbinic literature but rather concentrates on Jewish demonology of the late Antique period, in keeping with the general emphasis of biblical studies on the ancient world. The most important demonological treatise of late Antique Judaism is not a rabbinic text but the Testament of Solomon. The Judaism of late Antiquity and subsequent eras is rich in magical practices, which were often used against demonic forces. Regarding the focus on the late Antique period, an exception is made for two topics that are important for conceptualizations of evil throughout the history of Judaism: the yetzer ha-ra (“the evil inclination”) and the demon Lilith.

      The Testament of Solomon

      The Testament of Solomon, parts of which were probably written around the beginning of the 2nd century CE, is a veritable encyclopedia of Jewish demonological lore. In the text the archangel Michael gives Solomon a magic ring with which he can summon and interrogate demons and call on their help in the construction of the temple. He calls forward numerous demons who are compelled to explain what specific problems they cause and the means by which they can be overcome. The most recent monograph in English on the Testament of Solomon is Klutz 2005, which functions well as an introduction to the main issues in the study of the work and the history of scholarship on it. Alexander 2003 is excellent for understanding the text in terms of the history of Jewish magic. Torijano 2002 examines the Testament as part of the book’s broader focus on the history of the reception of the figure of Solomon.

      • Alexander, Philip S. “Contextualizing the Demonology of the Testament of Solomon.” In Demons: The Demonology of Israelite-Jewish and Early Christian Literature in Context of their Environment. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 613–634. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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        An erudite study of the Testament of Solomon. This article situates the abundant demonological legends in this document within the context of Jewish magic in the late Antique period, which was often employed to ward off demonic spirits (For more on Jewish magic, see Bohak 2008 and Bohak 2009 under Jewish Magic and Aramaic Incantation Bowls).

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      • Klutz, Todd. Rewriting the Testament of Solomon: Tradition, Conflict and Identity in a Late Antique Pseudepigraphon. London: T&T Clark, 2005.

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        This book examines the Testament of Solomon. He argues that the earliest parts of the Testament were probably written between 175–250 CE. The author suggests that chapters 19–26 of the document were added later and form part of the final Christian redaction of this originally Jewish book.

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      • Torijano, Pablo A. Solomon the Esoteric King: From King to Magus, Development of a Tradition. Supplements for the Journal for the Study of Judaism 73. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 2002.

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        This study focuses on the reception of Solomon from Early Judaism to late Antiquity. The author includes treatment of relatively unknown texts, such as the Hygromanteia of Solomon (a treatise on magic and astrology), that are important for the tradition that Solomon was a magician and an exorcist of demons.

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      The Evil Inclination as a Demonic Force

      The yetzer ha-ra (“evil inclination”) is used in myriad ways in rabbinic Judaism but is generally associated with sin. The rabbis associated the yetzer with the account of the creation of humankind in the Book of Genesis (2:7). At times the term denotes a psychological attribute, a person’s inherent inclination toward evil behavior, and other times the yetzer is understood as a personified supernatural entity, on par with the demons. The scholarly literature on the evil yetzer is vast. The recent article included here (Rosen-Zvi 2008) functions well as an introduction to the copious scholarship on the subject.

      • Rosen-Zvi, Ishay. “Two Rabbinic Inclinations? Rethinking a Scholarly Dogma.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 39 (2008): 1–27.

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        The yetzer ha-ra, or evil inclination, is important in the conceptualization of sin in rabbinic Judaism. The evil inclination is at times personified and has been understood almost as a demonic power. The article disagrees with the notion that the evil yetzer is typically opposed to a good yetzer in rabbinic literature.

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      Jewish Magic and Aramaic Incantation Bowls

      An important resource for understanding Jewish demonology is magic, which includes practices such as rituals and incantations that were designed to protect people from demons. Since disease was attributed to demonic forces, magic often had a role that is akin to medicine. Trachtenberg 2004 (originally published in 1939) is a classic resource for the study of Jewish magic, but Bohak 2008 is the primary recent study of the topic (see also the review of scholarship on Jewish magic in Bohak 2009). Numerous bowls that were understood to have magical properties, chiefly from the region of Mesopotamia, have been recovered from the late Antique period. Naveh and Shaked 1998 is a standard resource for learning about these bowls. Levene 2003 has expanded the corpus of available material. These bowls often have their text, typically in Aramaic, written in concentric circles with an image of a demon drawn at the bottom. Demons, it may have been thought, would refuse to approach such bowls. Their owners may have believed that the magic bowls had the ability to entrap demons in them. Some of these bowls allude to Enochic traditions (see First Enoch and the Book of Giants), as Greenfield 1973 discusses.

      • Bohak, Gideon. Ancient Jewish Magic. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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        An important and detailed study of Jewish magic, covering both Early Judaism and the rabbinic period. Ample attention is given to the cultural context of magical practice, including borrowings of ideas between Jews and non-Jews. These practices are often employed against demonic powers.

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      • Bohak, Gideon. “Prolegomena to the Study of the Jewish Magical Tradition.” Currents in Biblical Research 8 (2009): 107–150.

        DOI: 10.1177/1476993X09339445Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        An authoritative survey of scholarship on Jewish magic written by a leading expert on the topic.

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      • Greenfield, Jonas C. “Notes on Some Aramaic and Mandaic Magic Bowls.” Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia University 5 (1973): 149–156.

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        This brief essay highlights some of the incantation bowls that contain text that alludes to the Watchers myth of First Enoch (see First Enoch and the Book of Giants).

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      • Levene, Dan. A Corpus of Magic Bowls: Incantation Texts in Jewish Aramaic from Late Antiquity. London: Kegan Paul, 2003.

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        A significant recent contribution to the study of the Aramaic incantation bowls. This book provides an edition of twenty magic bowls that are from the private collection of Dr. Shlomo Moussaieff.

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      • Naveh, Joseph, and Shaul Shaked. Amulets and Magic Bowls: Aramaic Incantations of Late Antiquity. 3d ed. Jerusalem: Magnes, Hebrew University, 1998.

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        This book, originally published in 1985, is an important resource for understanding Jewish magic during the late Antique period. The volume provides the text, translation, and commentary of amulets and bowls, both of which were considered means to ward off evil spirits.

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      • Trachtenberg, Joshua. Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

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        A reprint of a classic study published in 1939, this book covers magic over a wide range of Jewish history. The volume gives substantial treatment to the kinds of demons that exist, the deeds they were thought to commit, and the magical means with which one could subdue them.

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      Lilith

      The history of Judaism is filled with fear of and fascination with Lilith. This female demon is rooted in Mesopotamian traditions about evil spirits (see Geller 2007, cited under Ancient Mesopotamia). There are abundant traditions about Lilith in Judaism, in both rabbinic literature (see Teugels 2000) and folk religion (see Adler 1999 and Waldman 2008). She is regarded as Adam’s first wife. She fled the Garden of Eden to the region of the Red Sea, where she gave birth to numerous demons. Medieval tradition often attributed problems in childbirth to her and viewed her as a threat to newborn babies. She was thought to seduce men by sneaking into their beds at night. She also figures prominently in conceptions of evil in the kabalistic tradition (see Dan 1980). In recent years feminist scholarship has developed a strong interest in Lilith (Dame, et al. 1998). The Lilith Bibliography provides an impression of the wide range of interest in the figure of Lilith, in terms of scholarship, fiction, and art.

      • Adler, Joseph. “Lilith.” Midstream 45 (1999): 4–7.

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        A concise review of the main facets of the Lilith myth, from her origins in Mesopotamian myth to her portrayal as a fearsome demon in Jewish folklore. Important Jewish texts for understanding Lilith, such as the Alphabet of Ben Sira, are covered.

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      • Dame, Enid, Lilly Rivlin, and Henny Wenkart, eds. Which Lilith? Feminist Writers Re-Create the World’s First Woman. Northvale, NJ, and Jerusalem: Jason Aronson, 1998.

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        An anthology of essays, fiction, and poetry that focus on Lilith. The collection asserts a feminist perspective, reimaging the demon as an unbridled, subversive symbol of female power (see also Lilith Bibliography).

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      • Dan, Joseph. “Samael, Lilith, and the Concept of Evil in Early Kabbalah.” Association for Jewish Studies Review 5 (1980): 17–40.

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        This article examines “The Treatise of the Left Emanation,” written by Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob ha-Kohen in Spain. The first Hebrew apocalypse written in medieval Europe, the text contains a mythology of evil that focuses on Samuel and Lilith, demons who are understood in this text as husband and wife.

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      • Lilith Bibliography.

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        This bibliography provides an impression of the wide range of interest engendered by the figure of Lilith. The bibliography includes scholarship from historical-critical and feminist perspectives. Works of fiction, art, and poetry that have been inspired by Lilith are also listed in the bibliography.

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        • Teugels, G. M. G. “The Creation of the Human in Rabbinic Interpretation.” In The Creation of Man and Woman: Interpretations of the Biblical Narratives in Jewish and Christian Traditions. Edited by Gerard P. Luttikhuizen, 107–127. Themes in Biblical Narrative 3. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 2000.

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          This article, from the proceedings of a June 1999 conference at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, discusses rabbinic compositions that interpret passages from Genesis that describe the creation of humankind. Some of these texts were used to provide exegetical support for the Lilith myth. Genesis Rabbah, a compilation of interpretations of Genesis, understands Genesis 2:23 as meaning that Adam had a wife before Eve.

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        • Waldman, Felicia. “Local and Universal Folklore: The Story of Lilith.” Studia Hebraica 8 (2008): 96–107.

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          A discussion of the vast range of traditions regarding Lilith. This article examines Jewish texts, in both the Talmud and the Kabbalah, in which she appears. Lilith’s appropriation in non-Jewish cultures is also covered, as is the case, for example, with the female demon Lamia of Greek tradition.

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        LAST MODIFIED: 11/29/2011

        DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195393361-0013

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