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Biblical Studies Satan
by
Lynn R. Huber

Introduction

The Satan of popular imagination, God’s cosmic archenemy and the source of evil, has a long and complex history. Although scholars typically locate this history within the context of ancient Jewish and Christian imaginations, these origins are complicated by a number of factors. Among these are the various uses of the Hebrew noun satan to describe both earthly and cosmic figures and the multiple aliases referring to God’s cosmic opponent in Jewish and Christian literature, including Belial or Beliar, Mastema, Beelzebul, Lucifer, and the Devil, and others. The roots of the character Satan are typically discussed in relation to the Hebrew Bible, although the image of the cosmic opponent emerges most clearly within the writings of early Judaism, in the literature of the Second Temple period (c. 515 BCE–70 CE). Many scholars associate the emergence of this figure with ancient Near Eastern influence on early Judaism. Others highlight it as a response to the problem of evil; Satan and his retinue effectively distance God from acts difficult to reconcile with beliefs about God’s nature. Still others locate the emergence of Satan and satan figures within the context of social movements, arguing that the character of Satan serves as a tool for constructing communal identity and defining opposition. Satan, or the Devil or Beelzebul, as a cosmic opponent also plays an important role within the literature of the emerging Christian movement, especially the New Testament texts. In the Gospels the cosmic battle between God and Satan imagined in early Judaism is interpreted in relation to Jesus, whose defeat of Satan is evidenced through exorcism, healing, and resurrection. Although some interpreters contend that the depiction of Jesus as exorcist reflects the historical Jesus’ understanding of his ministry as the eschatological defeat of Satan, others maintain that Jesus’ conflict with Satan should be viewed in terms of his opposition to the Roman Empire. The question of whether or to what extent references to Satan and evil powers should be read as describing political, social, and other human forces permeates scholarship on Paul and Revelation as well. Scholarship on Satan appears in a variety of forms, including wide-ranging treatments of the character of Satan across literary and historical contexts; exegetical examinations of specific texts using the terms satan, Belial, and so on; and discussions of Satan in relation to demons, the problem of evil, serpent imagery, and other elements. Many of the latter are intertwined explicitly with theological concerns and questions.

Introductory Works

A number of introductory essays, primarily dictionary and encyclopedia entries, orient the researcher to the various primary texts (Hebrew Bible, early Jewish and Christian) relevant to the study of Satan and related entities. Hamilton 1992 discusses both terrestrial and cosmic uses of the term across biblical and noncanonical traditions, and Breytenbach and Day 1999 offers a detailed introduction to the cosmic Satan in biblical and early Jewish traditions. Pierce 2010 provides a helpful delineation between figures associated or equated with Satan, such as Belial, Mastema, and others. Among these introductions, Riley 1999 is outstanding in its attention to the ancient Near Eastern traditions that undergird the early Jewish and Christian conceptions of Satan. Achenbach, et al. 2008, an article from the English version of Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, includes discrete discussions of Satan in the Hebrew Bible, early Judaism, early and medieval Christianity, art and literature, and other contexts. This article is a valuable resource for researching the history of interpretation regarding Satan. Although not a dictionary article, Fortinoy 1984 offers a helpful introduction to the study of Satan by focusing upon the etymology of the name Satan and the names of related figures. Finally, Brown 2011 is a helpful discussion of the academic study of Satan and the Devil. The thorough bibliography makes it a good starting point for those doing research on the topic.

  • Achenbach, Reinhard, Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, David E. Aune, Joseph Dan, Annelies Felber, Manfred Hutter, et al. “Devil.” In Religion Past and Present. Vol. 4. Edited by Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning, Bernd Janowski, and Eberhard Jüngel, 6–16. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008.

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    A multipart and multiauthor entry on the Devil. Entries include “Names/Terms,” “Ancient Near East and Old Testament,” “New Testament,” and “Church History.” This is an English translation of “Teufel,” in Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 4th ed., edited by Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning, Bernd Janowski, and Eberhard Jüngel, 179–195 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005).

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  • Breytenbach, Cilliers, and Peggy L. Day. “Satan.” In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2d ed. Edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 726–732. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1999.

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    A detailed introduction to Satan as a cosmic figure within Hebrew Bible, Second Temple, and New Testament texts. Includes helpful discussions of etymology. Often cited in other works.

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  • Brown, Derek R. “The Devil in the Details: A Survey of Research on Satan in Biblical Studies.” Currents in Biblical Research 9.2 (2011): 200–227.

    DOI: 10.1177/1476993X10363030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thorough history of scholarship on Satan and the Devil in Hebrew Bible, early Jewish, and New Testament traditions. Excellent bibliography. Available online through purchase.

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  • Fortinoy, Charles. “Les noms du diable et leur etymologie.” In Orientalia: J. Duschene-Guillemin emerito oblata. Edited by Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, 157–170. Acta Iranica 23. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1984.

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    An etymological and literary discussion of the names associated with Satan. Includes attention to “secondary figures,” such as Azazel, Beelzebub, Asmodee, and Belial. Very thorough.

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  • Hamilton, Victor P. “Satan.” In Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 5. Edited by David Noel Freedman, 985–989. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

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    A detailed introduction to the use of the noun satan, generally understood as “accuser,” in Old Testament, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Rabbinic, and New Testament texts. Hamilton categorizes usage into “terrestrial satans” and “celestial satans,” a helpful heuristic for understanding the range of ways the term is used.

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  • Pierce, Chad T. “Satan and Related Figures.” In The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism. Edited by John J. Collins and Daniel C. Harlow, 1196–1200. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010.

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    A clear introduction to Satan, Belial, Mastema, and the Devil in Hebrew Bible, early Jewish, and Christian traditions.

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  • Riley, G. J. “Devil.” In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2d ed. Edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 245–249. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1999.

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    Discusses the biblical idea of a “great spiritual enemy” who stands in opposition to God within the context of Greek, ancient Near Eastern, and Zoroastrian traditions. Offers a discussion of the shift in meaning that occurs when the Hebrew satan is translated with the Greek diabolos in the Septuagint.

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General Overviews

A variety of scholarly works offer overviews of the emergence and character of Satan, including related entities, across Jewish and Christian traditions. Engaging literature ranging from Gilgamesh to Augustine, Forsyth 1989 explores how the figure of the cosmic adversary, especially Satan or the Devil, functions as a character within narratives stressing opposition and conflict—combat myths. In addition to ancient Near Eastern and Greek antecedents, Forsyth 1989 addresses Jewish texts and their reinterpretation within various Christian traditions. Pagels 1995 similarly discusses a wide range of traditions but also focuses upon how traditions about Satan function within their social and historical contexts. In particular, the text examines how references to Satan are used to construct community identity in opposition to the “Other.” Both Forsyth 1989 and Pagels 1995 are cited often by other scholars, having become foundational texts in the modern study of Satan. They are recommended as important academic entry points into the topic. As overviews, Kelly 2006 and Wray and Mobley 2005 address a wide range of traditions as a context for the Jewish and Christian understanding of Satan. These two more recent works, however, are more introductory than Forsyth 1989 and Pagels 1995. Wray and Mobley 2005 in particular is suitable for teaching, as it includes introductory information on the biblical and nonbiblical traditions. Russell 1977 provides the most wide-ranging perspectives within these overviews, situating the Jewish and Christian depictions of Satan in relation to Asian traditions, including Hindu and Buddhist personifications of evil. Russell 1977 is one of a number of volumes by the same author exploring the history of Satan across cultures and time periods. Russell’s work reflects the assumptions of Jungian psychology, suggesting that the Devil is the divine’s “shadow side.” Kelly 2006 is a somewhat eccentric overview written by a longtime scholar of Satan in early Christian traditions. Although he offers some helpful descriptions of the depiction of Satan in the Hebrew Bible, in early Christianity, and in Church history (e.g., Aquinas, Schleiermacher), Kelly forgoes footnotes and sometimes embraces a casual idiom. This makes Kelly 2006 a less than helpful resource for beginning scholars, even though it might be used as an alternative perspective for scholars familiar with the sizable body of academic work on Satan already in existence and for those interested in early Christian depictions of Satan.

  • Forsyth, Neil. The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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    Detailed readings of a wide range of ancient narratives and traditions recounting cosmic opposition as a backdrop for understanding the emergence of Satan within early Judaism and Christianity. Written by a professor of English and folklorist, the bibliography is still deeply influenced by biblical, ancient Near Eastern, and classical studies.

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

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    Overview of Hebrew Bible, New Testament, early Christian, and church historical perspectives on Satan. Explores how early Christian authors appropriated various Hebrew Bible traditions in developing their own understanding of Satan.

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

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    Examines the depiction of Satan across biblical and early Christian traditions and the use of the concept of Satan as a tool for characterizing adversaries and opposition. This volume draws upon more detailed journal articles by Pagels on the “social history” of Satan.

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  • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977.

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    One of many works by the same author on Satan’s different incarnations throughout history. Although the work is wide ranging (e.g., includes Asian traditions), it contains distinct chapters introducing Satan in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.

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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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    Explores Satan as an earthly and cosmic figure in the Hebrew Bible, early Judaism, and the New Testament. Includes discussions of The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost. The book also offers basic introductions to the different biblical writings addressed, making it suitable for use in an undergraduate course.

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Ancient Near Eastern Influence

Scholars often trace the emergence of the character of Satan in ancient Jewish traditions to the influence of ancient Near Eastern literature and myths, which tell of maleficent characters, such as the Babylonian Humbaba and the Persian Aeshma. Although it is difficult to make direct connections between these characters and ancient Jewish personifications of evil, scholars find the similarities compelling. Drawing upon the insights of 19th-century scholarship on the history of religions, Forsyth 1989 offers a detailed discussion of ancient Near Eastern combat myths as the milieu out of which traditions about Satan and the Devil emerge. Attention to narrative patterns, rather than direct connections, makes Forsyth’s a unique perspective. Resisting the urge to make genealogical claims, Wray and Mobley 2005 also outlines a number of similarities between Satan traditions and the literature of the ancient Near East, but at a more introductory level than Forsyth 1989. This allows the reader to see the way these traditions are embedded within an ancient worldview broader than that of the communities from which the Hebrew Bible emerged, making this an excellent entry for students into the study of Satan. Fabry 2003 introduces the various ways that ancient Near Eastern traditions shaped ancient Jewish traditions about demons, which grow in prominence alongside the emergence of Satan. One of the most instrumental theories about the relationship between Persia and ancient Jewish depictions of Satan is that Hebrew Bible authors may have been influenced by Persian court practices, including the use of spies. An oft-cited presentation of this theory is given in Oppenheim 1968. Similarly, Collins 1975 discusses the literature of Qumran and the character of Belial as drawing upon Persian and Canaanite traditions. Ahn 2003 explores the connections between ancient Zoroastrianism and dualism in the Hebrew Bible, noting in particular the connection between Aeshma and Asmodeus, a figure related to Satan who appears in the book of Tobit. Barr 1985 provides an alternative perspective, cautioning scholars against making quick comparisons between ancient Jewish traditions and Zoroastrianism.

  • Ahn, Gregor. “Dualismen im Kontext von Gegenweltvorstellungen: Die rituelle Abwehr der Dämonen im altiranischen Zoroastrismus.” In Die Dämonen: Die Dämonologie der israelitisch-jüdischen und frühchristlichen Literatur im Kontext ihrer Umwelt. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 122–134. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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    A discussion of Iranian influence on Hebrew Bible dualism, including attention to the possible connections between the Zoroastrian Aeshma and the Jewish figure of Asmodeus. This essay is brief and offers a basic introduction to Zoroastrianism.

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  • Barr, James. “The Question of Religious Influence: The Case of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 53.2 (1985): 201–235.

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    Cautions about drawing quick and direct connections between ancient Jewish and Christian traditions and Zoroastrianism. Challenges the claims that Asmodeus, in Tobit, and the dualism of Qumran documents and references to Belial/Mastema clearly reflect Persian influence. Notes that Persian influence probably intersected with early Judaism through Hellenism.

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  • Collins, John J. “The Mythology of Holy War in Daniel and the Qumran War Scroll: A Point of Transition in Jewish Apocalyptic.” Vetus Testamentum 25.3 (1975): 596–612.

    DOI: 10.1163/156853375X00025Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Collins argues for Persian influence behind the holy war imagery found in the Qumran War Scroll, which depicts the battle against Belial. This is in contrast to the holy war imagery of Daniel, which draws on Canaanite chaos myths.

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  • Fabry, Heinz-Josef. “‘Satan’—Begriff und Wirklichkeit: Untersuchungen zur Dämonologie der alttestamentlichen Weisheitsliteratur.” In Die Dämonen: Die Dämonologie der israelitisch-jüdischen und frühchristlichen Literatur im Kontext ihrer Umwelt. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 269–291. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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    Offers a discussion of terms in the Hebrew Bible and wisdom literature that are suggestive of gods or demons in Mesopotamian and Canaanite mythology, putting forth that these are used to demonstrate God’s power. The influence of these traditions becomes more pronounced in intertestamental literature, along with the presence of Satan.

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  • Forsyth, Neil. The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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    Explores the patterns of ancient Near Eastern combat myths, including Gilgamesh and Enuma elish, arguing that they shape Hebrew Bible myths about Satan as the divine’s opponent. Forsyth engages a range of primary and secondary sources, making this a valuable resource.

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  • Oppenheim, A. L. “The Eyes of the Lord.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 88.1 (1968): 173–180.

    DOI: 10.2307/597911Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Suggests that roving spies of ancient Near Eastern kingly courts may have influenced Hebrew Bible depictions of Satan as an accuser (e.g., in Job).

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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 work includes a clear discussion of ancient Near Eastern traditions that bear some similarity to the depictions of Satan in biblical texts. Included is a chart cataloging the related characteristics between the various supernatural beings discussed and Satan.

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Hellenistic and Earlier Greek Influences

Hellenistic influence on the biblical depictions of Satan is intertwined with Ancient Near Eastern Influence, as Hellenism fostered the spread of ancient Near Eastern traditions and myths. In this vein, Forsyth 1989 suggests that Greek traditions about divine adversaries have connections to Canaanite and Ugaritic myths. This attention to Greek myth is part of Forsyth’s larger argument that the character of Satan emerges within ancient narratives of conflict and combat. Russell 1977 similarly suggests that Greek myth and literature shaped the character of Satan in broad ways. Focusing more closely upon the name/word Satan, Gershenson 2002 offers an etymological discussion of the Hebrew satan in relation to Greek myth. Also providing an etymological discussion is Lattimore 1962, which explores the meaning of the Greek term diaballo, which is translated as “devil,” a common term applied to Satan in early Christian traditions. Petersen 2003 gives a helpful context for thinking about the emergence of Satan in the ancient world by discussing the Greek conception of the demon, which eventually becomes associated with evil and Satan.

  • Forsyth, Neil. The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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    Argues that Greek combat myths reflect interaction with ancient Near Eastern traditions, all of which are drawn into ancient Jewish and early Christian notions of Satan. Addresses Pherecydes and Hesiod’s Theogony, in particular.

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  • Gershenson, Daniel. “The Name Satan.” Zeitschrift für alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 114.3 (2002): 443–445.

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

    This brief article explores etymological similarities between the Greek translation of the Hebrew noun satan and the Greek saturos (“satyr”) and titan (“Titan”). The piece is suggestive, even if its argument in favor of a Greek origin behind the term Satan is incomplete.

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  • Lattimore, Richmond. “Why the Devil Is the Devil.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106.5 (1962): 427–429.

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    A discussion of the Greek etymology of the word devil, highlighting the metaphorical underpinnings of the word, which is derived from the Greek diaballo, “to set across.”

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  • Petersen, Anders Klostergaard. “The Notion of Demon: Open Questions to a Diffuse Concept.” In Die Dämonen: Die Dämonologie der israelitisch-jüdischen und frühchristlichen Literatur im Kontext ihrer Umwelt. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 23–41. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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    Petersen examines the various meanings encompassed within the Greek category of demon. Also addresses how early Christian appropriation of this category to characterize “malignant mediatory beings” has become the dominant reading in the history of interpretation.

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  • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977.

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    Explores the emergence of the character in ancient literature, including attention to the understanding of evil in classical Greek thought and myth. Discusses various Greek gods as antecedents to the character of Satan.

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Hebrew Bible

Early-20th-century scholarship on Satan in the Hebrew Bible is marked by an interest in how the cosmic character of Satan develops throughout the texts. This interest appears, for instance, in Kluger 1967, which traces the development of Satan from one of the sons of God to an independent demon through the Hebrew Bible. Even though Kluger’s work is dated, it offers a helpful introduction to early-20th-century scholarship on Satan. Day 1988 challenges the attempt at finding a developmental unity in Hebrew Bible uses of the noun satan, arguing that it is used in a variety of ways to characterize both terrestrial and cosmic beings and must be understood contextually. This game-changing work still offers a helpful exegetical analysis of texts using satan in a cosmic, or nonhuman, sense. Tate 1992 summarizes the argument in Day 1988, offering a more concise discussion of the texts. Consequently, this article is a good starting point for those beginning research on Satan in the Hebrew Bible. Similarly, the dictionary entry Breytenbach and Day 1999 gives a concise introduction to the various uses of satan in the Hebrew Bible. Although late-20th-century scholarship generally approaches the use of satan in the Hebrew Bible in discussions of specific books, there have been some attempts at finding points of connection between these different uses. For instance, Kreutzer 2005, attending primarily to ha-satan (“the satan”) in Zechariah and Job, suggests that the term should be understood as a type of literary category, that of the “antagonist” vis-à-vis a protagonist. Like Kreutzer, Rudman 2008 emphasizes Zechariah, arguing that satan in various Hebrew Bible texts is a figure associated with chaos. These two essays provide a helpful balance to the tendency toward reading texts in isolation.

  • Breytenbach, Cilliers, and Peggy L. Day. “Satan.” In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2d. ed. Edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 726–732. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1999.

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    A concise yet thorough introduction to the cosmic uses of satan in the Hebrew Bible. Includes clear discussions of etymology.

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  • Day, Peggy L. An Adversary in Heaven: Satan in the Hebrew Bible. Harvard Semitic Mongraphs. Atlanta: Scholars, 1988.

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    Influential study of satan in the Hebrew Bible. Day surveys scholarship from the end of the 19th century until the 1970s, discusses etymology, addresses the use of the noun in reference to terrestrial figures, and offers analyses of four Hebrew Bible passages in which satan describes a cosmic being.

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

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    Translation of the author’s 1948 thesis Die Gestalt des Satans im Alten Testament; also published as Part 3 of C. G. Jung’s Symbolik des Geistes: Studien über psychische Phänomenologie (Zurich: Rascher Verlag, 1948). Focusing upon satan as a cosmic figure, Kluger traces the development of Satan in the Hebrew Bible, using Jungian psychology as a lens. Dated, yet provides insight into past perspectives on these texts.

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  • Kreutzer, Florian. “Der Antagonist: Der Satan in der Hebräischen Bibel—Eine bekannte Größe?Biblica 86.4 (2005): 536–544.

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    Focusing upon the uses of ha-satan in Zechariah and Job, Kreutzer maintains that this term should be understood mainly as “one who stands in opposition” and that satan fills the literary role of an antagonist to the protagonist.

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  • Rudman, Dominic. “Zechariah and the Satan Tradition in the Hebrew Bible.” In Tradition in Transition: Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 in the Trajectory of Hebrew Theology. Edited by Mark J. Boda and Michael H. Floyd, 191–209. T & T Clark Library of Biblical Studies. New York: T & T Clark, 2008.

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    A literary analysis of Satan in Zechariah, along with Job and 1 Chronicles. In contrast to the dominant reading of these texts, Rudman argues that satan represents a figure associated with chaos.

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  • Tate, Marvin E. “Satan in the Old Testament.” Review and Expositor 89.4 (1992): 461–474.

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    Concise discussion of the four uses of satan as cosmic figure in the Hebrew Bible. Includes discussions of linguistic issues aimed at the nonspecialist. Concludes that the concept of Satan as divine archenemy is not in the Hebrew Bible, although these texts, along with others (e.g., Genesis 3), have contributed to such a concept.

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First Chronicles

The meaning of satan in 1 Chronicles 21, in which satan prompts David to take a census of Israel, thereby angering God, is much debated. This text, a redaction of 2 Samuel 24:1, traditionally has been interpreted as an early reference to Satan as archfiend, as the noun satan appears without a definite article, suggesting it is a proper noun. Both Japhet 1993 and Stokes 2009 reject this reasoning and suggest the term refers to a generic figure. In contrast, Beentjes 2007 interprets the lack of a definite article as an indication that the text refers to a human adversary, offering a different perspective on the text.

  • Beentjes, Pancratius C. “Satan, God, and the Angel(s) in 1 Chronicles 21.” In Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings—Origins, Development and Reception. Edited by Friedrich V. Reiterer, Tobias Nicklas, and Karin Schöpflin, 139–154. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2007.

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

    Beentjes suggests the possibility that satan of 1 Chronicles might refer to a military foe of David. While this essay only briefly discusses satan, it challenges the dominant scholarly view that this reference is to a cosmic figure.

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  • Japhet, Sara. I & II Chronicles: A Commentary. Old Testament Library. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993.

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    Argues that the absence of a definite article before the noun satan indicates that the figure is a generic adversary who acts against Israel. A clear and persuasive discussion.

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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 128.1 (2009): 91–106.

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    Balanced discussion of whether satan in 1 Chronicles should be understood as a reference to Satan as archfiend. Highlights the story of Balaam in Numbers 22 as a key parallel for understanding the text and concludes that satan describes a heavenly punisher. Includes discussion of satan in the Hebrew Bible in general.

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Job

Even though ha-satan appears only in the first two chapters of Job, this reference is one of the best known. Pope 1965, a respected commentary on the Book of Job, interprets the reference to ha-satan as reflecting Persian influence. Specifically, this character in God’s council alludes to the use of spies in the royal courts of Persia. This view is also articulated in Oppenheim 1968 (cited under Ancient Near Eastern Influence). Kinet 1983 offers only a very brief discussion of satan in Job, noting that the reference functions as a way of shifting blame for Job’s plight away from God. Weiss 1983 presents a more detailed reading, exploring the different functions of the character within the narrative. This work is very accessible, even though it offers a close reading of the text. Nielsen 1992 provides a unique yet thought-provoking perspective on satan in Job, suggesting that the author depicts satan and Job as metaphorical sibling rivals.

  • Kinet, Dirk. “The Ambiguity of the Concepts of God and Satan in the Book of Job.” In Job and the Silence of God. Edited by Christian Duquoc and Casiano Floristán, 30–38. Consilium. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1983.

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    Very brief discussion of Satan. Suggests that Satan is a late addition to the narrative that shifts blame away from God.

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  • Nielsen, Kirsten. “Whatever Became of You, Satan? Or, a Literary-Critical Analysis of the Role of Satan in the Book of Job.” In Goldene Äpfel in silbernen Schalen: Collected Communications to the XIIIth Congress of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament, Leuven 1989. Edited by Klaus-Dietrich Schunck and Matthias Augustin, 129–134. Beiträge zur Erforschung des Alten Testaments und des antiken Judentums 20. Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and New York: Lang, 1992.

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    An earlier version of the argument made in Nielsen 1998 (cited under Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels), arguing that the depiction of Satan in Job draws upon the patriarchal tradition of sibling rivalry. In this case, both Satan and Job serve as rivals for God’s (the father’s) blessing.

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  • Pope, Marvin H. Job: Introduction, Translation, and Notes. Anchor Bible 15. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965.

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    Avoids a full discussion of the origin of Satan but addresses Satan’s role in the first two chapters of Job. Notes that the reference to Satan may reflect Persian influence on Job and discusses the character of Satan as a reflection of Persian spy and divine court traditions.

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  • Weiss, Meir. The Story of the Job’s Beginning: Job 1–2, a Literary Analysis. Publications of the Perry Foundation for Biblical Research in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1983.

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    Translated from the 1969 Hebrew version, ha-Sipur ʻal reshito shel Iyov. A literary analysis of the first two chapters of Job, including attention to how the character of Satan functions within these chapters. Includes attention to differences in the Masoretic text and the LXX regarding Satan’s coming before the Lord.

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Zechariah

Like Job, Zechariah 3 uses the phrase ha-satan in describing a figure in God’s court. Petersen 1984 highlights this and discusses the text in relation to other Hebrew Bible uses of the designation. Rudman 2008 offers a somewhat different slant on the text, arguing that the reference to satan also alludes to one who brings chaos. Schöpflin 2007 compares Zechariah 3 with Job, arguing that ha-satan should be understood in relation to punishing angels in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Ezekiel 9:1–10:7).

  • Petersen, David L. Haggai and Zechariah 1–8. Old Testament Library. London: SCM, 1984.

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    Addresses the reference to ha-satan in chapter 3 in relation to other uses in the Hebrew Bible. Suggests that here, satan functions as a prosecuting attorney in the divine court. Clear discussion of the text.

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  • Rudman, Dominic. “Zechariah and the Satan Tradition in the Hebrew Bible.” In Tradition in Transition: Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 in the Trajectory of Hebrew Theology. Edited by Mark J. Boda and Michael H. Floyd, 191–209. Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament studies. New York: T & T Clark, 2008.

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    A literary analysis of Satan imagery in Zechariah. Suggests that this figure, like that in Job and 1 Chronicles, is associated with chaos. Offers a detailed reading of Zechariah.

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  • Schöpflin, Karin. “YHWH’s Agents of Doom: The Punishing Function of Angels in Post-Exilic Writings of the Old Testament.” In Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings—Origins, Development and Reception. Edited by Friedrich V. Reiterer, Tobias Nicklas, and Karin Schöpflin, 125–137. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2007.

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    Addresses the character of ha-satan in Job and Zechariah in relation to “angels of doom” (i.e., angels that cause harm or judgment on behalf of the divine) elsewhere in Hebrew Bible literature. Although the argument could be more detailed, Schöpflin offers a suggestive context for thinking about Satan.

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Early Judaism

The various texts of Second Temple, or early Judaism, including Jubilees, 1 Enoch, Tobit, and the writings associated with the Qumran community, are populated with a host of demonic characters and fallen angels. Within this context it is often difficult to make specific distinctions among these characters, satan in the Hebrew Bible and the Satan who emerges more clearly in early Christian writings. Rather, characters such as Mastema, Belial, and Asmodeus can be understood as sharing a number of family resemblances to Satan, including being depicted as adversaries of God. In light of this complexity, Schreiber 2007 offers an introduction to the different characters typically depicted as God’s opponents in early Jewish literature as well as describing the different motifs associated with satanic figures in the Hebrew Bible and early Judaism. This essay is clearly written and includes a strong bibliography, making it a very helpful resource. Capelli 2005 traces the depictions of satan figures across a number of Second Temple Jewish texts, including Sirach and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. This essay is notable for its attention to the different characteristics and traits often ascribed to satan figures. Collins 1995 discusses the origin of evil in various early Jewish writings, which often includes attention to the particular characters associated with Satan. Although focused on the documents found at Qumran, this essay provides an entry point for studying evil and the personification of evil in early Judaism. Pagels 1991 examines the different satan figures in early Jewish literature, with attention to how these characters function as part of communal conflict. This essay provides the background for the more general treatment of the same subject in Pagels 1995 cited under General Overviews, New Testament, and Early Christianity). Addressing the fact that many satan figures in early Jewish literature are described as once having been positive figures or angels, Olyan 1993 and Culianu 1981 include discussions of these within their studies of angels in early Judaism. This provides a sense of how characters often described as demonic are closely bound with other cosmic figures in early Jewish traditions. Although not specifically about Satan, the discussion of demons in Ben-Amos 2005 offers a helpful background for understanding the different satan figures in early Judaism, providing insight into the liminal nature of the demonic and beliefs about the agency of the demonic. The discussion of the term archon (“ruler”) in Aune 1999 is recommended because it serves as a useful reminder that designations other than proper names are often used in reference to evil figures.

  • Aune, David E. “Archon.” In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2d ed. Edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 82–85. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1999.

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    An introduction to the use of the Greek term archon (“ruler”), which was sometimes used in early Judaism and Christianity to describe an evil spiritual ruler, such as Satan or Mastema. Includes references to when the term is used in this way.

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  • Ben-Amos, Dan. “On Demons.” In Creation and Re-Creation in Jewish Thought: Festschrift in Honor of Joseph Dan on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday. Edited by Rachel Elior and Peter Schäfer, 27–37. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

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    A discussion of demons and the range of figures associated with the demonic, including the demonic worldview and hierarchy, in early and Rabbinic Judaism. Includes brief discussions of Asmodeus (king of demons), Belial, and Satan in the context of demonology.

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  • Capelli, Piero. “The Outer and the Inner Devil: On Representing the Evil One in Second Temple Judaism.” In “The Words of a Wise Man’s Mouth Are Gracious” (Qoh 10, 12): Festschrift for Günter Stemberger on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday. Edited by Mauro Perani, 139–152. Studia Judaica. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2005.

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    A discussion of the characteristics (e.g., hostility, trickster elements) associated with Satan in early Jewish literature, including Sirach, Jubilees, and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Argues, in particular, that the latter’s understanding of Satan is a Jewish, not Christian interpolation.

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  • Collins, John J. “The Origin of Evil in Apocalyptic Literature and the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In Congress Volume, Paris, 1992. Edited by J. A. Emerton, 25–38. Supplements to Vestus Testamentum. Leiden, The Netherlands, and New York: Brill, 1995.

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    Discusses the origins of evil, including Satan, in a range of early Jewish texts. Particularly interested in how 1 Enoch and Jubilees relate to the understanding of evil at Qumran, yet is still a helpful introduction to early Jewish traditions.

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  • Culianu, Ioan P. “The Angels of the Nations and the Origins of Gnostic Dualism.” In Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions. Edited by R. van der Broek and M. J. Vermaseren, 78–91. Études préliminaries aux religions orientales dans l’Empire romain. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1981.

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    Arguing that Gnostic thought predates Christianity, Culianu links the character of Satan to the Jewish tradition of associating angels with nations. In this case, Satan is identified with Edom or Rome.

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  • Olyan, Saul M. A Thousand Thousands Served Him: Exegesis and the Naming of Angels in Ancient Judaism. Texte und studien zum antiken Judentum. Tübingen, Germany: J. C. B. Mohr, 1993.

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    A study of the names of angels in early Judaism. Features a discussion of Mastema, including a comparison to Satan, as a case in which an angelic figure is associated with actions that challenge popular conceptions of God. Provides a helpful background for understanding the emergence of cosmic figures that act in opposition to the divine.

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  • Pagels, Elaine. “The Social History of Satan, the ‘Intimate Enemy’: A Preliminary Sketch.” Harvard Theological Review 84.2 (1991): 105–128.

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    An earlier version of the chapter on Satan in early Judaism found in Pagels 1995 (cited under General Overviews, New Testament, and Early Christianity), this article contends that the emergence of Satan in early Jewish literature functions as a way of establishing communal identity vis-à-vis competing Jewish groups. Very clear. Engages a wide range of early Jewish texts. Available online through purchase.

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  • Schreiber, Stefan. “The Great Opponent: The Devil in Early Jewish and Formative Christian Literature.” In Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings—Origins, Development and Reception. Edited by Friedrich V. Reiterer, Tobias Nicklas, and Karin Schöpflin, 437–457. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook. Berlin and New York: Walter De Gruyter, 2007.

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    A helpful introduction to and discussion of the character of Satan, also referred to as Belial, Devil, Mastema, and so on, in early Jewish, or Second Temple, literature and early Christian literature. Describes how motifs from the Hebrew Bible are appropriated in later texts.

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Fallen Angels

Many early Jewish and Christian depictions of Satan or satan figures draw upon texts that describe the fall of angels or rebellion in heaven. These traditions, especially Book of the Watchers in 1 Enoch and Jubilees, typically draw upon the depiction of the Nephilim in Genesis 6:1–4. Scholarship on the Watchers, Nephilim, and other fallen angels is quite extensive. The following resources, however, provide an entry point for exploring the connections between fallen angels and Satan. A good place to begin research on this topic is Reed 2010. This introductory piece describes how Satan traditions develop alongside stories about the Watchers and are eventually absorbed into depictions of Satan. These issues are developed in detail in Reed 2005, which explores the Book of the Watchers’ influence into late-antique and even medieval Judaism and Christianity. Reed 2005 is best suited for those doing advanced work on the topic. Like Reed 2010, Dochhorn 2007 introduces the theme of fallen angels in early Jewish literature, including 1 Enoch and the Life of Adam and Eve, suggesting that these stories play a role in the later characterization of Satan. Bautch 2007 explores the specific literary motif of the punishment of fallen angels, including Azazel in 1 Enoch and Satan in Revelation. Hanson 1977 explores the fall of angels in 1 Enoch in relation to other ancient Near Eastern myths about rebellion, setting these stories within their historical milieu.

  • Bautch, Kelley Coblentz. “Heavenly Beings Brought Low: A Study of Angels and the Netherworld.” In Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings—Origins, Development and Reception. Edited by Friedrich V. Reiterer, Tobias Nicklas, and Karin Schöpflin, 459–475. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook. Berlin and New York: Walter De Gruyter, 2007.

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    An introduction to the theme of God’s punishment of fallen angels in early Jewish New Testament literature. Contrary to the modern image of Satan or fallen angels as ruling over the netherworld, in these traditions the netherworld typically serves as a place of punishment for these entities.

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  • Dochhorn, Jan. “The Motif of the Angel’s Fall in Early Judaism.” In Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings—Origins, Development and Reception. Edited by Friedrich V. Reiterer, Tobias Nicklas, and Karin Schöpflin, 477–495. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2007.

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    Beginning with a discussion of the early Christian traditions about the fall of Satan, Dochhorn explores early Jewish texts, including Rabbinic traditions, that bear some similarity to these traditions, including the Book of the Watchers in 1 Enoch and the Life of Adam and Eve.

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  • Hanson, Paul D. “Rebellion in Heaven, Azazel, and Euhemeristic Heroes in 1 Enoch 6–11.” Journal of Biblical Literature 96.2 (1977): 195–233.

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    A careful discussion of the Semihazah and Azazel narratives in 1 Enoch in relation to other ancient Near Eastern myths about rebellion in heaven. Although not specifically about Satan, these traditions play a role in the development of the concept of Satan. This article is often cited in discussions of fallen angels. Available online through purchase.

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

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    A study of angelic descent within the Book of the Watchers in 1 Enoch. Considers how this tradition is interpreted in early Jewish and Christian traditions into the Middle Ages, including this story’s influence on traditions about Satan.

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  • Reed, Annette Yoshiko. “Fallen Angels.” In The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism. Edited by John J. Collins and Daniel C. Harlow, 628–630. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010.

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    A clear introduction to fallen angels in early Jewish literature, including attention to how these traditions are related to the emergence of the concept of Satan.

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Asmodeus

First appearing in Tobit, Asmodeus becomes known as the ruler of demons in later Jewish tradition. As Ahn 2003 and Haupt 1921 describe, Asmodeus typically is associated with the Zoroastrian demon Aeshma. In fact, Asmodeus is often noted as an indication of Persian influence on early Judaism (e.g., Barr 1985, cited under Ancient Near Eastern Influence). Owens 2007 presents a literary analysis of the character of Asmodeus in Tobit, whereas Kohler and Ginzberg 2002 traces the character’s development from Tobit into later Jewish writings.

  • Ahn, Gregor. “Dualismen im Kontext von Gegenweltvorstellungen: Die rituelle Abwehr der Dämonen im altiranischen Zoroastrismus.” In Die Dämonen: Die Dämonologie der israelitisch-jüdischen und frühchristlichen Literatur im Kontext ihrer Umwelt. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 122–134. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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    Discusses Asmodeus within the context of Persian dualism. Includes an introduction to Zoroastrianism.

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  • Haupt, Paul. “Asmodeus.” Journal of Biblical Literature 40.3–4 (1921): 174–178.

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    Brief introduction to the character of Asmodeus in ancient Jewish and early Christian literature. Asserts the Iranian background for this character, comparing Asmodeus with Aeshma, the Persian demon of rage.

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  • Kohler, Kaufmann, and Louis Ginzberg. “Asmodeus.” In Jewish Encyclopedia. Edited by Joseph Jacobs. 2002.

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    Print version of the encyclopedia originally published in 1901–1906. A brief introduction to the character of Asmodeus in Jewish tradition, including Talmudic traditions.

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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. Edited by Friedrich V. Reiterer, Tobias Nicklas, and Karin Schöpflin, 277–290. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2007.

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    Literary exploration of the character of Asmodeus in Tobit. Argues that although Asmodeus may seem to be a minor character, the demonic figure nonetheless plays an important role within the narrative.

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Azazel

Azazel is a demon figure who appears in Leviticus and in early Jewish texts, most notably 1 Enoch. As Helm 1994 notes, the character of Azazel eventually is drawn into traditions about Satan and satanic figures. This essay, along with Shea 2002, offers an introduction to the character’s appearance in a variety of texts and traditions. Janowski 1999 focuses more on etymological and historical backgrounds of the name Azazel, although the bibliography makes this a useful source. Hanson 1977 focuses upon Azazel within the context of 1 Enoch, arguing that traditions about fallen angels reflect the influence of other ancient Near Eastern myths of cosmic rebellion on early Judaism.

  • Hanson, Paul D. “Rebellion in Heaven, Azazel, and Euhemeristic Heroes in 1 Enoch 6–11.” Journal of Biblical Literature 96.2 (1977): 195–233.

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    A careful discussion of the Semihazah and Azazel narratives in 1 Enoch in relation to other ancient Near Eastern myths about rebellion in heaven. This article is often cited in discussions of fallen angels.

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  • Helm, Robert. “Azazel in Early Jewish Tradition.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 32.3 (1994): 217–226.

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    Addresses the various references to Azazel, a fallen angel/demonic figure first mentioned in 1 Enoch, in early Jewish literature, including 1 Enoch, Apocalypse of Abraham, and the Mishnah. Notes that this figure eventually merges with the satanic.

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  • Janowski, Bernd. “Azazel.” In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2d ed. Edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 128–131. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1999.

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    Detailed discussion of the etymological and historical background of the character of Azazel. Includes bibliography.

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  • Shea, William H. Azazel in the Pseudepigrapha.” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 13.1 (2002): 1–9.

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    Examines the uses of Azazel in 1 Enoch and the Apocalypse of Abraham. Briefly engages the significance of Azazel in Adventist theology, although the textual analysis is detailed and employs literary critical methods.

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Belial (Beliar, Belior)

As one of the more popular aliases for Satan, especially in early Jewish literature, Belial has received a significant amount of scholarly attention. Lewis 1992 offers a good introduction to Belial, noting the various uses of the term and the texts in which Belial appears. This work also addresses the scholarly debate over the origin of the name. Discussions of the name’s etymology and meaning are also found in Rosenberg 1982 and Thomas 1963, although both of these articles present arguments for a specific meaning, one that violates the covenant and “swallower”/“abyss,” respectively. Sperling 1999, another basic introduction, offers one of the most common definitions of the name, “wickedness.” Belial as a moniker for Satan, or God’s cosmic archenemy, is found most frequently in the literature of Qumran (see Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls). Martone 2004 addresses the issue of Belial’s meaning contextually, discussing Belial in the Hebrew Bible in comparison to uses in the Qumranic literature. Osten-Sacken 1969 offers a detailed treatment of Belial at Qumran and is often referenced by other scholars. Steudel 2000 updates Osten-Sacken in light of more recently available Qumran texts and nuances the claim, made by Osten-Sacken and others, that there is a discernible pattern of development in the dualism at Qumran.

  • Lewis, Theodore J. “Belial.” In Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 1. Edited by David Noel Freedman, 654–656. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

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    An overview of the use of Belial as a proper name for Satan. Discusses the etymology of the name and its use in early Jewish literature, especially that of Qumran.

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  • Martone, Corrado. “Evil of Devil? Belial between the Bible and Qumran.” Henoch 26.2 (2004): 115–127.

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    An exegetical study of the term Belial in the Hebrew Bible and the writings from Qumran, asserting that the former uses the term more abstractly, as “worthlessness,” whereas the latter marks an emerging trend toward personification. Still, the term should be translated contextually and not simply as a proper name.

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  • Osten-Sacken, Peter von der. Gott und Belial: Traditiongeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Dualismus in den Texten aus Qumran. Studien zur Umwelt des Neuen Testaments 6. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1969.

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    Detailed discussion of Belial in relation to holy war traditions and dualism at Qumran. Attends to layers of development in Qumran documents, especially in the War Scroll and Treatise on the Two Spirits. Noted for arguing that cosmological dualism, as reflected in Belial traditions, precedes ethical dualism at Qumran.

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  • Rosenberg, Ruth. “The Concept of a Biblical ‘Belial.’” In Proceedings of the Eighth World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, August 16–21, 1981. Edited by World Congress of Jewish Studies, 35–40. Jerusalem: World Congress of Jewish Studies, 1982.

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    A detailed literary examination of the uses of Belial in Hebrew Bible texts, with an eye toward understanding the use of this term as a name of a cosmic force in early Judaism. Suggests that the term denotes opposition to divine covenant and that one does not deserve to come up from Sheol.

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  • Sperling, S. D. “Belial.” In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. Edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 169–171. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1999.

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    An introduction to the designation Belial (sometimes Beliar or Belior), literally “wickedness,” used as name for Satan in early Jewish and Qumranic literature. Also notes the uses of this term in the Hebrew Bible, where it does not function as a personification of evil.

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  • Steudel, Annette. “God and Belial.” In The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fifty Years after Their Discovery; Proceedings of the Jerusalem Congress, July 20–25, 1997. Edited by Lawrence H. Schiffman, Emanuel Tov, and James C. VanderKam, 332–340. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2000.

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    A study of the various ways Belial is used in the Qumran documents, including the Damascus Document, Midrash on Eschatology, and others. Underscores the subordinate nature of Belial to God at Qumran and the development of dualism within this context.

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  • Thomas, David Winton. “Beliyya’al in the Old Testament.” In Biblical and Patristic Studies in Memory of Robert Pierce Casey. Edited by J. Neville Birdsall and Robert W. Thomson, 11–19. Freiberg, Germany, and New York: Herder, 1963.

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    An etymological analysis of the use of Belial in the Hebrew Bible. Provides a background for the use of the term as a proper name in early Judaism and Christianity. Highlights the term’s meaning as “swallower” or “abyss.”

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Mastema (Mastemah)

Etymologically derived from the Hebrew noun satan, Mastema appears in Jubilees as the prince of demons who is present at a number of retold biblical events, including the sacrifice of Isaac. Van Henten 1999 introduces the etymology of the name, which means “hostility” as well as referencing the various uses of the term throughout early Jewish literature. VanderKam 2003 and van Ruiten 2007 focus primarily on the depiction of demons in Jubilees and discuss Mastema within this broader context. Both are helpful for understanding the overall text of Jubilees. Likewise, Segal 2007 addresses Mastema within the context of Jubilees, exploring the ways the text “rewrites” biblical traditions, including places where Mastema is inserted into the early tradition. This essay illuminates the way in which biblical texts are incorporated into mythologies about Satan and satan figures. Bergsma 2009 provides a helpful introduction to Mastema in Jubilees by comparing this figure with 1 Enoch’s depiction of demons.

  • Bergsma, John S. “The Relationship between Jubilees and the Early Enochic Books (Astronomical Book and Book of the Watchers).” In Enoch and the Mosaic Torah: The Evidence of Jubilees. Edited by Gabriele Boccaccini and Giovanni Ibba, 36–51. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.

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    A discussion of Jubilees’ relationship to Enochic literature, including attention to how the former develops the character of Mastema in ways that diverge from Enoch’s Book of the Watchers. Highlights Jubilees’ tendency to limit the power of demons through the depiction of Mastema.

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  • Henten, J. W van. “Mastemah.” In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2d ed. Edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 553–554. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1999.

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    An introduction to the various uses of Mastemah, which literally means “hostility.” Notes the use of the term in the Hebrew Bible (Hosea) and in early Jewish literature, where it is used as a proper name. Includes bibliography.

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  • Ruiten, Jacques van. “Angels and Demons in the Book of Jubilees.” In Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings—Origins, Development and Reception. Edited by Friedrich V. Reiterer, Tobias Nicklas and Karin Schöpflin, 585–609. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2007.

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    An examination of angels and demons in Jubilees, including the prince of demons Mastema, who is identified with Satan. Van Ruiten draws connections between the demonology of Jubilees and that of other biblical and nonbiblical texts.

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  • Segal, Michael. The Book of Jubilees: Rewritten Bible, Redaction, Ideology and Theology. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 117. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2007.

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    An investigation into the layers of tradition included in Jubilees. Discusses Mastema throughout, with special attention to the struggle between this prince of demons and the Angel of Presence and to places where the author of Jubilees “replaces” the character of God in the Hebrew Bible with Mastema.

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  • VanderKam, James C. “The Demons in the Book of Jubilees.” In Die Dämonen: Die Dämonologie der israelitisch-jüdischen und frühchristlichen Literatur im Kontext ihrer Umwelt. Edited by Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, 339–364. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

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    An introduction to demons in Jubilees, including attention to Mastema as the leader of demons. Discusses the various ways Jubilees draws upon Genesis. Includes thorough bibliography.

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Samael (Sammael)

As Adelman 2009 explains, Samael is employed as an alias for Satan primarily in Rabbinic traditions. Adelman 2009 provides a guide to this character’s development from early Jewish traditions and in Rabbinic sources, helpful even for those unfamiliar with these sources. Blau 2002, although dated, offers a basic overview of places where references to Samael can be found. Finally, Culianu 1981 discusses the tradition of associating angels with nations and how Samael’s association with Edom or Rome leads to his identification with Satan.

  • Adelman, Rachel. The Return of the Repressed: Pirqe De-Rabbi Eliezer and the Pseudepigrapha. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2009.

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    Includes significant discussion of Samael within Pirqe De-Rabbi Eliezer, which associates the character with the serpent in the Garden of Eden and attention to how Satan and Samael come to be identified with each other. Very helpful resource.

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  • Blau, Ludwig. “Samael.” In Jewish Encyclopedia. Edited by Joseph Jacobs. 2002.

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    Print version of the encyclopedia originally published in 1901–1906. Although somewhat dated (e.g., the use of mankind), this brief entry notes a number of places in Jewish tradition, especially Talmudic tradition, where Samael appears.

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  • Culianu, Ioan P. “The Angels of the Nations and the Origins of Gnostic Dualism.” In Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions. Edited by R. van der Broek and M. J. Vermaseren, 78–91. Études préliminaries aux religions orientales dans l’Empire romain. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1981.

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    Discusses the character of Samael, often characterized as the angel of Edom, within the context of Jewish belief regarding angels of the nations. Includes discussion of Samael in Rabbinic sources.

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Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Like most things related to Qumran, the community’s understanding of Satan, primarily identified as Belial, is debated. One of the primary areas of debate revolves around how to assess the influence of Dead Sea documents not specifically produced by or for the community, especially 1 Enoch and Jubilees, on the community’s understanding of evil and, consequently, Belial (see Belial [Beliar, Belior]). Although Alexander 1999 grants a significant amount of influence to these texts, Collins 1995 and Reimer 2000 challenge this view. These pieces are helpful for getting a sense of the debate as well as of how one’s understanding of Belial in the community is shaped by how one assesses the importance of selected texts. The question of these texts’ significance relates to a second issue of debate: how to reconcile apparent differences in the dualistic perspectives found in the texts at Qumran. For some, such as von der Osten-Sacken 1969, there is a discernible development from cosmological toward ethical dualism at Qumran. Von der Osten-Sacken offers a careful discussion of the various uses of Belial in the War Scroll and the Treatise on the Two Spirits and is an important title in the history of scholarship on Qumran. Its text will, however, be helpful primarily to advanced scholars. Steudel 2000 is able to incorporate more recently available texts in its discussion of Belial at Qumran and offers a somewhat more accessible approach to the topic. Still, Steudel includes an important bibliography. For an introduction into the background of Belial at Qumran, Collins 1975 is a good place to start, although Davies 1978 provides a critique of this piece. (Collins responds briefly to this critique in “Dualism and Eschatology in 1 QM: A Reply to P. R. Davies,” Vetus Testamentum 29.2 (1979): 212–216; one might read these three pieces together to get a sense of the complex perspectives on the role of Belial at Qumran.) In a somewhat different vein is Penney and Wise 1994, which addresses a manuscript fragment found at Qumran that contains an incantation for exorcising Beelzebul, offering insight into how the inhabitants may have understood the personification of evil in more concrete terms.

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

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    An introduction to demons in the Qumran documents and especially 1 Enoch. Alexander addresses Satan, called Mastema or Belial within this context, noting that he is not technically a demon, but appears as a malevolent, or fallen, angel. Suggests that this imagery draws on Hebrew Bible traditions and that it does not specifically emerge out of the myth of the Watchers, which provides an etiology of demons.

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  • Collins, John J. “The Mythology of Holy War in Daniel and the Qumran War Scroll: A Point of Transition in Jewish Apocalyptic.” Vetus Testamentum 25.3 (1975): 596–612.

    DOI: 10.1163/156853375X00025Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discussion of holy war imagery found in the Qumran War Scroll, which depicts the battle against Belial. Interprets this imagery as a modification of Persian dualism and Jewish traditions. Often cited in discussions of the War Scroll and apocalypticism at Qumran.

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  • Collins, John J. “The Origin of Evil in Apocalyptic Literature and the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In Congress Volume, Paris, 1992. Edited by J. A. Emerton, 25–38. Supplements to Vestus Testamentum. Leiden, The Netherlands, and New York: Brill, 1995.

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    Suggests that the understanding of evil at Qumran is reflected in the Community Rule. Very helpful for understanding different perspectives on Qumran.

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  • Davies, Philip R. “Dualism and Eschatology in the Qumran War Scroll.” Vetus Testamentum 28.1 (1978): 28–36.

    DOI: 10.1163/156853378X00239Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers a critique of Collins 1975, noting that the redaction and dating of the text influence how one reads the dualism within it, which includes references to Belial. Available online through purchase.

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  • Osten-Sacken, Peter von der. Gott und Belial: Traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Dualismus in den Texten aus Qumran. Studien zur Umwelt des Neuen Testaments 6. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1969.

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    Detailed analysis of references to Belial in the Qumran documents, especially the War Scroll and Treatise on the Two Spirits. Dated, yet an important piece in the history of interpretation of evil and Belial at Qumran.

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  • Penney, Douglas L., and Michael O. Wise. “By the Power of Beelzebub: An Aramaic Incantation Formula from Qumran (4Q560).” Journal of Biblical Literature 113.4 (1994): 627–650.

    DOI: 10.2307/3266711Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Translates a textual fragment found in Qumran Cave 4 that offers an incantation for expelling Beelzebub. The authors suggest that the incantation may have been part of a spell book, raising questions about the association between demons and sickness and the practice of magic at and around Qumran. Available online through purchase.

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  • Reimer, Andy M. “Rescuing the Fallen Angels: The Case of the Disappearing Angels at Qumran.” Dead Sea Discoveries 7.3 (2000): 334–353.

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

    A critique of Alexander 1999, questioning the emphasis upon 1 Enoch for understanding the demonology of Qumran and suggesting that things are probably less coherent than as presented by Alexander. Also questions the identification of Satan/Mastema/Belial as an angel, noting that the tradition of Satan’s fall does not appear until the 2nd century.

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  • Steudel, Annette. “God and Belial.” In The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fifty Years after Their Discovery; Proceedings of the Jerusalem Congress, July 20–25, 1997. Edited by Lawrence H. Schiffman, Emanuel Tov, and James C. Vanderkam, 332–340. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2000.

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    A brief yet thorough and clear explanation of the use of Belial in the Qumran community’s documents, including documents not available to the author or von der Osten-Sacken 1969.

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New Testament

    In the New Testament, Satan or, more commonly, the Devil appears clearly as an enemy of God, Jesus, and the faithful. Most discussions of Satan in the New Testament situate the character within the context of the Hebrew Bible or early Jewish traditions, or both. This connection is highlighted in Pagels 1995, which addresses the emergence of early Christian depictions of Satan within the context of early Judaism and through the various writings of the New Testament. This book is particularly important because it examines the tendency in early Christian writings toward using references to Satan as a form of polemic. Pagels 1995 is one of the most widely referenced works on Satan in the New Testament and early Christianity and is highly recommended. For beginning research on Satan or the Devil in the New Testament, Aune 2008 offers a short discussion that includes references to pertinent texts and terms. Riley 1999 is an especially helpful starting place for research, as this article notes many of the indirect ways that Satan is described in the New Testament (e.g., “ruler of the powers of the air,” “ruler of the world”). Garrett 2008, a work that explores the function of angels and powers within the New Testament (including fallen angels and evil powers), includes a chapter that offers an overview of the different ways that New Testament authors understand Satan’s and Jesus’ relationship to evil. In this way, Garrett 2008 explores the significance of Satan in the New Testament in an expansive, albeit thoughtful, way. Garrett 2008 engages popular modern views on Satan in its discussion, so his work would be good for teaching undergraduates or lay audiences. Although less detailed than Garrett 2008, Wray and Mobley 2005 includes discussions of many of the major references to Satan in the New Testament. Because its bibliography is fairly limited, however, this text is best used as an introduction for students and nonspecialists. Page 1995 can also be useful for identifying New Testament references, as it addresses virtually every possible reference to Satan in both the Old and New Testaments. Page 1995 is also a resource for understanding specifically Christian interpretations of Satan, as the author’s stated intention is to provide guidance for those who read the Christian Bible as authoritative. Sorensen 2002 and Twelftree 2007 provide a different type of overview, as they focus on exorcism within the New Testament context. In so doing, they necessarily address early Christian and New Testament understandings of Satan, as exorcism was interpreted as a visual indication of Jesus’ inauguration of God’s kingdom.

  • Aune, David E. “IV. New Testament, Devil.” In Religion Past and Present. Vol. 4. Edited by Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning, Bernd Janowski, and Eberhard Jüngel, 9. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008.

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    Concise accounting of the references to the Devil in the New Testament, especially in Revelation and the synoptic Gospels. This is a translation of the same section in “Teufel,” Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 4th ed., edited by Hans Dieter Betz, Don S. Browning, Bernd Janowski, and Eberhard Jüngel, 179–195 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005).

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  • Garrett, Susan R. No Ordinary Angel: Celestial Spirits and Christian Claims about Jesus. Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

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    Chapter 4 offers an engaging discussion of the emergence of Satan in the New Testament as an “archfiend of God” and as an answer to the problem of evil. Explores the New Testament perspectives as an outgrowth of early Jewish perspectives and in relation to popular modern views.

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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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    Offers readings of essentially every reference to Satan or the Devil in the Bible, including those that have been interpreted by Christians as references to Satan (e.g. Genesis 3). Addresses these texts from an explicitly Christian framework and for a Christian audience.

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

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    Discusses Satan imagery and traditions within the Gospels, Paul, and Christian apologists, highlighting the tendency to identify opponents with Satan. Suggests that this reflects early Christian attempts at maintaining solidarity in light of persecution and at creating distance from other groups.

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  • Riley, G. J. “Devil.” In Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2d ed. Edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 245–249. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1999.

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    Highlights the different New Testament texts in which the Devil or Satan appears as well as noting the different designations used to describe or allude to Satan (e.g., “ruler of the powers of the air”). Very helpful.

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

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    History-of-religions analysis of exorcism in the New Testament within the context of ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman traditions about possession and spirits. Addresses the role of Satan within the emergence of early Christian exorcism as a confluence of these different traditions.

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

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    An investigation into the understandings of exorcism presented in the New Testament, including how these relate to Jesus’ defeat of Satan. Discusses historical Jesus and Q, developing ideas presented in Twelftree 1993 (cited under Historical Jesus and Q). Ends with a personal reflection on exorcism, but this does not necessarily detract from the work. Thorough bibliography.

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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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    Includes a chapter that outlines significant references to Satan or the Devil in the writings of the New Testament, especially the Gospels, Paul’s Letters, and Revelation. Particularly helpful for nonspecialists and students.

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Historical Jesus and Q

    The question of how the historical Jesus understood his ministry in relation to the power of Satan is one that many scholars continue to explore, especially given the role that exorcism and healing seemingly played in his ministry. Evans 2005 provides a useful starting point for investigating this question, interpreting Jesus’ exorcisms and proclamation of the kingdom as a sign that he understood his ministry in terms of the defeat of evil. Evans 2003 specifically examines Jesus’ references to himself as the “son of man” within the context of this cosmic battle. Likewise, Twelftree 1993 reads Jesus’ exorcisms in terms of Satan’s defeat, although this book-length work is able to offer more detail than Evans 2005. Otto 2004 (originally published in 1934) articulates a similar view. This work is important for its role in the history of interpretation of Jesus’ understanding of Satan. Marcus 1999 argues that Jesus’ ideas about his ministry developed over time, asserting that Jesus began his ministry believing that Satan still held sway but eventually saw it in light of Satan’s fall. This essay is detailed and includes significant bibliographic references, making it well suited for academics. Horsley 2011 argues against scholars who would characterize Jesus’ opposition to the satanic solely in terms of cosmic or spiritual entities. Rather, noting that ancient thinkers did not typically distinguish between political and spiritual realms, Horsley suggests that Jesus’ parables and exorcisms were aimed at defeating both cosmic and political evils. This book reflects contemporary academic interest in the idea of empire and early Christianity’s relation to empire.

  • Evans, Craig. “Defeating Satan and Liberating Israel: Jesus and Daniel’s Visions.” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 1.2 (2003): 161–170.

    DOI: 10.1177/147686900300100203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Suggests that Jesus’ use of the phrase son of man, from Daniel, reflects his understanding of engaging in cosmic battle with Satan.

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  • Evans, Craig. “Inaugurating the Kingdom of God and Defeating the Kingdom of Satan.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 15.1 (2005): 49–75.

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    Argues that Jesus’ miracles and exorcisms validated the proclamation of the kingdom of God and defeat of Satan. Reads these in light of Hebrew Bible and early Jewish traditions about God’s reign.

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  • Horsley, Richard A. Jesus and the Powers: Conflict, Covenant, and the Hope of the Poor. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011.

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    Horsley contends that the distinction between supernatural (e.g., satanic) and political forces is modern; in the ancient world the forces of Satan and of the Roman Empire would have been seen as related. Addresses the parables of Jesus concerning Satan and exorcisms as both cosmic and political.

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  • Marcus, Joel. “The Beelzebul Controversy and the Eschatologies of Jesus.” In Authenticating the Activities of Jesus. Edited by Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans, 247–277. New Testament Tools and Studies 28. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1999.

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    An examination of the historical Jesus’ understanding of his ministry vis-à-vis Satan, using the tools of rhetorical analysis. Asserts that the Beelzebul reflects an early part of Jesus’ ministry. Includes ample bibliography in the footnotes.

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  • Otto, Rudolf. “The Kingdom of God Expels the Kingdom of Satan.” In The Historical Jesus: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies. Vol. 2. Edited by Craig A. Evans, 147–155. Critical Concepts in Religious Studies. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.

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    Originally published in German, as Reich Gottes und Menschensohn: Ein religionsgeschichtlicher Versuch (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1934). Otto places Jesus’ language of the defeat of Satan in the context of Iranian dualism, as appropriated in early Jewish writings. Although dated, this work provides insight into how Jesus’ defeat of Satan has been understood by many 20th-century biblical scholars.

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  • Twelftree, Graham H. Jesus the Exorcist: A Contribution to the Study of the Historical Jesus. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1993.

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    Historical-critical investigation into exorcism in 1st-century Palestine. Argues that Jesus and his earliest followers likely viewed exorcism as part of Jesus’ defeat of Satan. Twelftree 2007 (cited under New Testament) summarizes this material; however, this work offers more detailed discussions of significant texts and detailed bibliography.

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Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels

    In the synoptic Gospels, Satan or his associates often appear within the context of exorcism or disputes about exorcism. While including significant discussion of Satan in the writings of the Hebrew Bible, Awwad 2005 aims at understanding Satan within the context of Gospel accounts of exorcism. This article draws on the work of Pagels 1995 (cited under General Overviews, New Testament, and Early Christianity) and offers an introduction for the nonspecialist or student. Twelftree 2007 also offers discussions of Satan through the lens of exorcism. This work directs specific attention to relevant pericopes in each of the Gospels. Garrett 1989 takes a related approach, looking at Satan and exorcism within the context of ancient views on magic. The focus of this work is primarily the Gospel of Luke. In addition to exorcisms, Satan also plays an important role in Gospel accounts of Jesus’ temptation. Koskenniemi 2008 addresses the temptation of Jesus in Matthew and Luke in relation to the apotropaic use of Psalms at Qumran, suggesting that these Gospels invert the tradition. Garrett 1998 also examines the role of Satan within Mark’s account of Jesus’ temptation, setting this text within the context of ancient Near Eastern and early Jewish traditions about combat and conflict. Best 1965 similarly focuses upon the Markan narrative and attends to the role of Satan in Jesus’ Passion as well as in the temptation. In contrast to Garrett 1998, which emphasizes the continuing struggle between Jesus and Satan, Best highlights the vanquishing of Satan by Jesus early in his ministry. Riches 2001 responds to differences between Garrett 1998, Best 1965, and other works by drawing upon Lévi-Strauss’s observation that narratives often employ multiple and opposing communal stories, including cosmologies. By approaching the Gospel of Mark and the character of Satan through the lens of myth, Riches offers a starting point for scholars researching Satan in Mark or other early Christian or Jewish narratives. Finally, although many scholarly treatments of Satan in the synoptic Gospels focus upon the relation of these traditions to early Jewish traditions, Nielsen 1998 suggests that the Gospels’ depiction of Satan’s relationship to Jesus employs a metaphorical system similar to that of Job. This book is somewhat idiosyncratic in its approach, comparing Job and the Gospels, and it puts forth the provocative view that Satan can be understood in terms of God’s prodigal son.

  • Awwad, Johnny B. “Satan in Biblical Imagination.” Theological Review 26.2 (2005): 111–126.

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    A general introduction; Awwad explores the use of the term satan, especially as a supernatural character, in biblical and intertestamental material. Awwad is particularly interested in how these traditions set the context for the Gospels’ portrayal of Jesus as exorcist and opponent of the supernatural Satan.

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  • Best, Ernest. The Temptation and the Passion: The Markan Soteriology. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph series. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1965.

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    Chapter 2 addresses the theme of temptation, including Satan’s role in temptation. Best argues that Mark depicts evil as coming from both the human heart and Satan. Addresses the connection between temptation and Satan in Hebrew Bible and early Jewish traditions as well.

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

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    Literary investigation into magic and the role of Satan, which Garrett notes are integrally linked in Jewish tradition, in Luke-Acts. Suggests that the struggle against Satan is key to Luke’s understanding of Jesus. Includes a thorough chapter on the history of scholarship on magic in the Gospels.

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  • Garrett, Susan R. The Temptations of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

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    Includes a discussion of the emergence of the New Testament concept of Satan from combat myth, Zoroastrian, and early Jewish traditions. Suggests that these traditions lead to a depiction of Satan as both partner and competitor of God.

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  • Koskenniemi, Erkki. “The Traditional Roles Inverted: Jesus and the Devil’s Attack.” Biblische Zeitschrift 52.2 (2008): 261–268.

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    Reads the temptation of Jesus in Matthew and Luke (Q) as an inversion of early Jewish exorcisms in which Psalms are used to ward off Satan or the demonic.

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  • Nielsen, Kirsten. Satan the Prodigal Son? A Family Problem in the Bible. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1998.

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    Originally published in Danish, as Satan: Den fortabte Søn? (Frederiksberg, Denmark: Anis, 1991). Offers a comparison between the depiction of Job as a “brother” of Satan and the depiction of Satan as Jesus’ wayward brother in the Gospels. Overall, suggests that the image of the prodigal son is helpful for understanding the New Testament depiction of Satan.

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  • Riches, John K. “Conflicting Mythologies: Mythical Narrative in the Gospel of Mark.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 24.2 (2001): 29–50.

    DOI: 10.1177/0142064X0102400202Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discussion of different readings of Mark’s cosmology, including the text’s understanding of Satan. Drawing upon Lévi-Strauss, Riches argues that narratives such as Mark contain opposing myths concerning the origin and defeat of evil. Includes helpful history of interpretation and bibliography.

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

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    Features specific chapters on exorcism, including Satan’s connection, in each of the Gospel traditions. Includes significant bibliography.

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Beelzebul

    Beelzebul is an alias of Satan’s used in the Gospels, most famously in the account of Jesus being accused of performing exorcisms in the name of Beelzebul (Mark 3:22–26; Matthew 12:24–27; Luke 11:15–19). The etymology of the term, which is variously rendered as Beelzebub and Baalzebub, eludes scholars, as described in Lewis 1992. MacLaurin 1978 offers an explanation adopted by many, asserting that the name refers to the “ruler of demons.” Although Day 1988 focuses upon references to satan in the Hebrew Bible, she includes a discussion of the term Beelzebul, arguing that, like satan, the term refers to an adversary or enemy.

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

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    Includes a brief discussion of the name Beelzebul, arguing that the term likely draws upon an Aramaic term for enemy. This, Day suggests, could explain its use as an alias for Satan.

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  • Lewis, Theodore J. “Beelzebul.” In Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 1. Edited by David Noel Freedman, 638–640. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

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    Overview of the various scholarly opinions regarding the meaning and origin of Beelzebul. Includes bibliography.

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  • MacLaurin, E.C.B. “Beelzeboul.” Novum Testamentum 20.2 (1978): 156–160.

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

    A short article on the meaning of Beelzeboul in the Jesus and Gospel traditions. Suggests that the moniker alludes to traditions about Ba’al and means the “ruler of demons.” Discusses Ugaritic and Hebrew Bible antecedents.

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Gospel of John

    In contrast to the synoptic Gospels, in which Jesus’ relationship to Satan is revealed through exorcism, John’s Gospel avoids such accounts, as noted by Piper 2000. Piper argues that the absence of exorcisms in John points to Jesus’ victory over Satan. In a different vein, Kovacs 1995 analyzes John’s use of the designation “ruler of this world” in reference to Satan as part of John’s depiction of a cosmic battle between God/Jesus and Satan. Segal 1981 also highlights this nomenclature, comparing the designation to Jewish apocalyptic and Rabbinic traditions. Segal suggests that John uses “ruler of this world” to distinguish the Jesus movement from other forms of 1st-century Judaism. John’s Gospel is often described as one of the most anti-Jewish writings of the New Testament. This assessment revolves around John’s polemical use of devil imagery in relation to Jesus’ opponents. Bieringer, et al. 2001 offers a collection of responses to this use of devil imagery and other anti-Jewish traditions in John.

  • Bieringer, Reimund, Didier Pollefeyt, and Frederique Vandecasteele-Vanneuville, eds. Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

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    Jesus’ reference to “the Jews” as “sons of the Devil” in John 8 is arguably one of John’s most troubling texts. This collection of essays offers a variety of ways of understanding this polemic. Highly recommended and suitable for a range of audiences.

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  • Kovacs, Judith L. “‘Now Shall the Ruler of This World Be Driven Out’: Jesus’ Death as Cosmic Battle in John 12:20–36.” Journal of Biblical Literature 114.2 (1995): 227–247.

    DOI: 10.2307/3266937Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An exegetical study arguing that John’s use of the title “ruler of this world” functions as part of the Gospel’s understanding of Jesus’ death as a turning point in a cosmic battle. Places the Gospel within the context of early Jewish apocalyptic and ancient Near Eastern myth. Available online through purchase.

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  • Piper, Ronald A. “Satan, Demons and the Absence of Exorcisms in the Fourth Gospel.” In Christology, Controversy and Community: New Testament Essays in Honour of David R. Catchpole. Edited by David G. Horrell and Christopher M. Tuckett, 253–278. Supplements to Novum Testamentum. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2000.

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    Contends that the absence of exorcisms in John reflects the author’s emphasis on Jesus’ victory over Satan. This victory does not preclude the continuing influence of Satan in “the world,” including in the lives of former insiders (e.g., Judas). Approaches the Gospel in relation to other Johannine literature.

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  • Segal, A. F. “Ruler of This World: Attitudes about Mediator Figures and the Importance of Sociology for Self-Definition.” In Jewish and Christian Self-Definition. Vol. 2, Aspects of Judaism in the Greco-Roman Period. Edited by E. P. Sanders, Albert I. Baumgarten, and Alan Mendelson, 245–268. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981.

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    Employing a history-of-religions approach, Segal discusses the John’s use of “ruler of this world” Satan in relation to apocalyptic Jewish traditions and in contrast to Rabbinic uses of the title. Johannine use of this title serves as part of the oppositional self-definition occurring in the early Christian community.

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Paul

    Sources on Paul often note the apostle’s reticence, especially in comparison to the Gospels, in referencing Satan and demons, preferring more abstract terms, such as “principalities” and “powers.” Dunn 1998 suggests that Paul demythologizes the powers that rule humans and the world, such as sin and death. Whereas Dunn 1998 addresses Paul’s ideas about Satan within the context of Pauline theology in general, Forbes 2001 offers a similar perspective in an article that focuses on Satan in Paul. Forbes 2002 examines the Greco-Roman philosophical context for understanding Paul’s abstract references to evil, along with his references to spiritual beings. Both Forbes 2001 and Forbes 2002 are recommended as starting points for research on this topic. Caird 2003, a reprint of lectures delivered in the 1950s, is often noted for turning scholars’ attention to Paul’s discussion of cosmic forces and evil in terms of “powers.” It is significant because of its role in the history of scholarship, although it is limited as a resource for continued research, given its oral style and the paucity of academic references. Carr 1981 is also an important work in the history of scholarship on Paul and his perspectives on Satan, or evil powers, as it argues that Paul’s use of these designations should be understood in terms of human realities. The emergence of a personified and cosmic Satan, according to this perspective, is post-Pauline. Carr 1981 is particularly geared to specialists, as it makes sophisticated exegetical arguments designed to change the terms of academic debate. Thiselton 2000, a commentary on 1 Corinthians, offers a helpful summary of this debate and advocates another perspective, that the powers of which Paul speaks are social structures. Williams 2009 also presents itself as a challenge to common readings of Paul (e.g., Caird 2003), arguing that the spirit world, including evil spirits and Satan, is central to Paul’s thought. Paul’s perspectives on powers and Satan, according to Williams, should be understood within the context of early Jewish demonology and thought about Satan.

  • Caird, G. B. Principalities and Powers: A Study in Pauline Theology. The Chancellor’s Lectures for 1954 at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2003.

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    Originally published in 1956 (Oxford: Clarendon). Addresses the Pauline language of “powers” and of the “ruler of this world” in the context of early Jewish and Christian ideas about evil and Satan. Suggests that Paul depicts Christ’s death as a defeat of these cosmic forces. Limited bibliography.

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  • Carr, Wesley. Angels and Principalities: The Background, Meaning, and Development of the Pauline Phrase hai archai kai hai exousiai. Society for New Testament Studies Mongraph series. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

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

    Argues that Paul does not operate with such a clearly articulated satan figure. Rather, Paul’s understanding of “powers,” “principalities,” and so on refers to human realities. Asserts that the idea of Christ as the one who defeats cosmic power (e.g., Caird 2003) emerges in post-Pauline literature.

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  • Dunn, James D. G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 1998.

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    Notes the uses of Satan and related names in his discussion of “other gods” in Pauline literature as well as addressing Satan in relation to the apostle’s views on evil, sin, and death. Helpful introduction to thinking about Satan in Paul.

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  • Forbes, Chris. “Paul’s Principalities and Powers: Demythologizing Apocalyptic?” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 23.82 (2001): 61–88.

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

    Suggests that Paul imagines the spirit world less in terms of demons and angels (including Satan) and more in terms of abstractions. Suggests that these abstractions set Paul apart from other Jewish apocalypticists. Includes a discussion of the instances in which Paul does reference demons, angels, and Satan. Available online through purchase.

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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 24.3 (2002): 51–73.

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

    A discussion of Paul’s references to abstractions (e.g., “powers) and actual spiritual beings in the context of Middle Platonic thought. Helpful discussion of Greco-Roman perspectives, including Plutarch and Philo, on powers and spirits.

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  • Thiselton, Anthony C. The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000.

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    Includes a significant excursus on the meaning of “rulers of this world order,” which is often associated with evil and Satan. Argues that Paul refers to systemic realities that can be understood in terms of evil. Strong bibliography and discussion of history of interpretation.

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  • Williams, Guy. The Spirit World in the Letters of Paul the Apostle: A Critical Examination of the Role of Spiritual Beings in the Authentic Pauline Epistles. Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments 231. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009.

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    Contends that spirits, including Satan and other evil spirits, play an important role in Pauline thought and soteriology and should be understood in relation to early Jewish angelology. Offers close readings of the authentic Pauline letters.

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Specific Pauline Letters

    Many of Paul’s references to Satan appear in 1 Corinthians. Fitzmeyer 2008, a commentary on the letter, discusses these uses and engages the history of scholarship on Satan in this text. Dismissing a number of other perspectives, Fitzmeyer maintains that Paul’s view of Satan is akin to that of Job: Satan functions as a character that tests the faithful. Fitzmeyer’s bibliographical references make this a helpful resource for further research. Also addressing 1 Corinthians is Smith 2008, although this monograph focuses on Paul’s command in chapter 5 to “[h]and this man over to Satan.” Aimed at academic readers, Smith 2008 situates this reference within the context of ancient curses. Focusing on 2 Corinthians and Romans, Uddin 1999 addresses Paul’s assertion that Satan is behind Israel’s unbelief in Christ. Like Fitzmeyer 2008, Uddin suggests that Paul’s understanding of Satan parallels that found in Job. Also addressing Romans is Thate 2008. The focus of this piece, Romans 16:20, is narrow, but Thate draws upon a number of traditions in this reading, making it an interesting introduction to Paul’s perspective on Satan.

  • Fitzmeyer, Joseph A. First Corinthians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Yale Bible 32. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

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    Discusses the various references to Satan, including consideration of other scholarly perspectives on Satan in 1 Corinthians. Understands Paul’s notion of Satan as analogous to that of Job, Satan fulfilling the role of one who tests the faithful.

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  • Smith, David Raymond. ‘Hand This Man over to Satan’: Curse, Exclusion and Salvation in 1 Corinthians 5. Library of New Testament Studies. London and New York: T & T Clark, 2008.

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    An exegetical study of Paul’s command to “hand over to Satan” the Corinthian living with his father’s wife, in light of an ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman curse and binding traditions. Notes that this curse reflects an understanding of Satan, like that found in Job, as one who is the source of suffering.

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  • Thate, Michael J. “Paul at the Ball: Ecclesia Victor and the Cosmic Defeat of Personified Evil in Romans 16:20.” In Paul’s World. Edited by Stanley E. Porter, 151–169. Pauline Studies 4. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004162723.i-284Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An exploration of the meaning of Paul’s reference to the crushing of Satan in Romans 16:20. Sets this within the context of early Jewish interpretations of Genesis 3, which associate Satan with the serpent. Concludes that this imagery coheres with the rest of Romans, as it has an anti-empire valence.

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  • Uddin, Mohan. “Paul, the Devil and ‘Unbelief’ in Israel (with Particular Reference to 2 Corinthians 3–4 and Romans 9–11.” Tyndale Bulletin 50.2 (1999): 265–280.

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    Sets Paul’s perspectives on Satan in the context of Hebrew Bible perspectives, comparing Paul’s notion of Satan as preventing Israel’s belief with the understanding of Satan in Job. Clearly written, with solid bibliography.

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Non-Pauline Epistles

    General resources on Satan in the non-Pauline epistles are relatively limited. Carr 1981 includes helpful discussions of some of these texts in an effort to distance Paul from the personification of evil. Addressing Hebrews, Gäbel 2007 argues that the author draws upon early Jewish traditions about the relationship between Adam and Satan. Both Bauckham 1990 and Charles 2005 address Jude. Bauckham highlights Jude’s use of the Testament of Moses for the depiction of Michael and the Devil, whereas Charles focuses upon the use of 1 Enoch in Jude’s depiction of the rebellious angels. Both include helpful bibliography and parallel texts.

  • Bauckham, Richard. Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1990.

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    Addresses Jude’s use of the Testament of Moses as a source for Jude’s depiction of Michael’s debate with the Devil. Includes thorough discussion of the Testament of Moses, which Bauckham sees as distinct from the Assumption of Moses.

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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, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

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

    Includes a brief discussion of Jude and 2 Peter in the discussion of how Paul’s language of “powers” is used in subsequent early Christian writings.

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  • Charles, J. Daryl. “The Angels under Reserve in 2 Peter and Jude.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 15.1 (2005): 39–48.

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    Concise treatment of the rebellious angels described in 2 Peter and Jude. Highlights these texts’ use of traditions from 1 Enoch.

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  • Gäbel, Georg. “Rivals in Heaven: Angels in the Epistle to the Hebrews.” In Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings—Origins, Development and Reception. Edited by Friedrich V. Reiterer, Tobias Nicklas, and Karin Schöpflin, 357–376. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2007.

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

    Argues that Hebrews 2:14–15 reflects Pseudepigraphal traditions that link Satan’s fall with a refusal to worship Adam.

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The Book of Revelation

    Satan appears in many guises in Revelation: as dragon and serpent, as one who has a throne, and as one who will be locked away for a thousand years. Aune 1997–1998 offers full discussion of these different references to Satan and is recommended for all scholars entering on the subject. Among other things, Aune’s bibliographies are very helpful. Aune’s three volumes may be too cumbersome for some to navigate, however; Beale 1999 also offers a discussion of the different uses of Satan throughout the text, placing them in the context of early Jewish thought. Discussions of Satan in Revelation often focus on chapter 12, which describes Michael’s defeat of the Great Red Dragon, who is identified with Satan. Pagels 2008 presents a useful introduction, suggesting that John, the author of Revelation, draws upon early Jewish traditions about fallen angels in this chapter. Revelation’s use of ancient Jewish and ancient Near Eastern traditions is explicated in Collins 2001 (originally published in 1976). This classic work on Revelation’s dragon/Satan imagery is still important for those doing academic work on the text. Sumney 2001 also relates Revelation 12 to earlier combat myths, although with less detail than the book-length work by Collins. Sumney 2001 might be a helpful introduction for some nonspecialists, although its overtly Christian perspective makes it problematic for teaching in non-Christian contexts. Focusing on an earlier part of the text, Friesen 2005 addresses a reference to “Satan’s Throne” in the opening chapters of Revelation, relating it to the book’s anti-imperial stance. This reflects early-21st-century scholarly interest in Revelation as a response to imperial realities. Also discussing references to Satan in the first chapters of the text, Lambrecht 2001 analyzes Revelation’s polemical use of Satan language. This essay introduces some of the issues at play in the communities to which Revelation is addressed. Thompson 1999 turns the attention to the end of Revelation, exploring the possible textual antecedents of the depiction of Satan’s imprisonment. Rowland 1998, another Revelation commentary, offers thoughtful discussion of how Satan’s power on earth is exercised by the Beast, which many scholars take as an allusion to imperial powers. This resource is accessible to nonspecialists.

  • Aune, David E. Revelation. 3 vols. Word Biblical Commentary 52. Dallas: Word, 1997–1998.

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    Aune’s three-volume commentary on Revelation includes numerous references to Satan within the text. The second volume includes an excursus on the “Eschatological Antagonist,” which addresses the image of the Antichrist. Extremely thorough bibliographies.

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  • Beale, G. K. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999.

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    Includes a literary analysis of Revelation’s Satan imagery in light of Hebrew Bible depictions of Satan as an accuser. Includes references to early Jewish and Rabbinic traditions about Satan.

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  • Collins, Adela Yarbro. The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2001.

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    Originally published in 1976 (Missoula, MT: Scholars). Collins explores ancient Near Eastern and Hebrew Bible antecedents to Revelation’s beast/dragon/Satan imagery. Suggests that traditions about Satan’s fall inform Revelation 12, whereas traditions about Satan’s courtly function are eventually subsumed by military imagery.

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  • Friesen, Steven J. “Satan’s Throne, Imperial Cults and the Social Settings of Revelation.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 27.3 (2005): 351–373.

    DOI: 10.1177/0142064X05052510Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Addresses the description of Pergamum as the location of “Satan’s Throne,” often read as a reference to the Altar of Zeus or other historical referents. Friesen maintains that the reference should be read more generally as part of Revelation’s anti-imperial and antiassimilationist rhetoric.

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  • Lambrecht, Jan. “‘Synagogues of Satan’ (Rev. 2:9 and 3:9): Anti-Judaism in the Book of Revelation.” In Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel. Edited by Reimund Bieringer, Didier Pollefeyt, and Frederique Vandecasteele-Vanneuville, 279–292. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

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    Analysis of Revelation’s polemical use of the Satan moniker. Suggests that Revelation’s author is a Jewish Christian addressing communities undergoing persecution, perhaps instigated by other Jewish groups.

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  • Pagels, Elaine. “The Social History of Satan, Part III: John of Patmos and Ignatius of Antioch—Contrasting Visions of ‘God’s People’.” In Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity. Edited by Eduard Iricinschi and Holger M. Zellentin, 231–252. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

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    Revelation’s imagery of Satan draws together Leviathan and fallen angel myths into the depiction of war in heaven. This persuades the audience that they must combat both Rome and those insiders who continue practices such as the eating of meats sacrificed to idols. Also published in Harvard Theological Review 99.4 (2006) 487–505.

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  • Rowland, Christopher C. “The Book of Revelation.” In The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 12. Edited by Leander Keck, 501–743. Nashville: Abingdon, 1998.

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    Thoughtful discussions of Satan and his relation to the Beast throughout. Very readable and accessible to students and lay persons.

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  • Sumney, Jerry L. “The Dragon Has Been Defeated—Revelation 12.” Review and Expositor 98.1 (2001): 103–115.

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    Argues that Revelation 12 draws upon combat myths and not the fall of Satan in depicting God’s defeat of Satan. Concludes with reflection on what this means for modern Christians, although this does not detract from the exegetical interpretation.

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  • Thompson, Steven. “The End of Satan.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 37.2 (1999): 257–268.

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    Addresses the description of Satan being cast into the lake of fire in Revelation 20. The article attends to the text’s literary features as well as to similar images in related traditions. In response to other scholars, Thompson argues against 1 Enoch 10 as the primary source for Revelation’s imagery.

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The Problem of Evil

    Investigations into the origin and nature of Satan are often intertwined with theological questions, especially the issue of theodicy. Given the assumption of some form of monotheism within Jewish and Christian traditions, the question of Satan’s relationship to God is often raised by scholars. Is Satan the shadow side of God, as maintained by Russell 1977, or is Satan better understood as a functionary of the divine, as suggested by Wink 1986? In either case, theological interpreters ask whether God is indicted through the actions of Satan. Girard 2001 explores how New Testament traditions about Satan function as part of humanity’s struggle with mimetic desire and violence. Satan is the “scandal” that perpetuates human violence.

  • Girard, René. I See Satan Fall Like Lightning. Translated by James G. Williams. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2001.

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    Originally published in French, as Je vois Satan tomber comme l’éclair (Paris: Grasset, 1999). A philosophical-theological investigation into how Satan in the New Testament, especially the Gospels, is a symbol of mimetic desire and the violence to which that desire leads.

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  • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977.

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    One of a number of works in which Russell examines the personification of evil across history. Discusses evil in general and within various ancient Eastern and Western traditions. Although he does not draw a direct connection between these and Jewish and Christian depictions of the Devil, he implies an underlying psychological connection.

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  • Wink, Walter. Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence. The Powers 2. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986.

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    A psychological and theological investigation into the “powers” (e.g., Satan, demons, angels, gods) of the New Testament. Argues that Satan is evil symbolized and that Satan as God’s servant is an idea in need of rehabilitation. Includes interesting observations about the connections between Satan and the divine.

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Early Christianity

    Scholarship on Satan within the early Christian tradition is often found in work devoted to particular authors or texts. The following works offer more general approaches to the topic. Kelly 2002a, which is written in German, offers a basic introduction to the topic, whereas Kelly 2004 is more in-depth and includes an English translation of Kelly 2001. Pagels 1995 sets early Christian authors and apologists in the context of early Jewish and New Testament uses of Satan as a tool for “othering.” Pagels 1995 provides a good introduction and is accessible to the nonspecialist. Reed 2005 offers a detailed analysis of how traditions about the Watchers in 1 Enoch are interpreted in early Jewish and Christian traditions, including those about Satan. This is highly recommended for those doing academic work on related topics. Kelly 2002b surveys the history of evil and Satan within the Western tradition, although there is significant attention to biblical and early Christian traditions. This book is helpful for getting a sense of the big picture and would be suitable for teaching.

  • Kelly, Henry Ansgar. “Teufel, V: Kirchengeschichtlich.” In TRE: Theologische Realenzyklopädie. Vol. 33, Technik–Transzendenz. Edited by Gerhard Müller, 124–134. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2002a.

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    Introduction to references to Satan and demons within the writings of early Christian authors as well as attention to medieval and modern accounts. Includes numerous references to primary sources. English translation in Kelly 2004.

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  • Kelly, Henry Ansgar. The Devil, Demonology, and Witchcraft: The Development of Christian Beliefs in Evil Spirits. Rev. ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2004.

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    Introduction to the understanding of demons and Satan in the writings of early Christian authors, especially Justin and Origen. Includes discussion of exorcism at baptism and addresses medieval and modern beliefs about possession and witchcraft. 2004 edition includes English translation of Kelly 2001. Originally published in 1968 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday).

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  • Kelly, Joseph F. The Problem of Evil in the Western Tradition: From the Book of Job to Modern Genetics. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2002b.

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    An overview of evil and Satan across the Western tradition, beginning with biblical texts, including attention to early Christian authors and ending in the modern world. Accessible and thoughtful.

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

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    This introduction to Satan’s emergence in early Jewish and Christian traditions includes attention to the use of Satan within the writings of early Christian apologists, such as the writings of Tertullian and the Letter to Barnabas.

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

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    Traces the history of interpretation of 1 Enoch’s depiction of fallen angels through early Jewish and Christian traditions, even into the Middle Ages, including attention to how this tradition gets absorbed into Satan traditions. Very detailed.

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Ascension of Isaiah

    Although scholars debate whether Ascension of Isaiah originally emerged within a Jewish or Christian context, this text clearly draws upon early Jewish traditions about Satan and the related evil figures Samael and Beliar. As Bauckham 1998 explains, the figure of Satan in the Ascension of Isaiah appears as a resident of the heavens and not of hell, as in modern depictions of Satan. This book, an introduction to early Jewish and Christian apocalypses, is a helpful introduction to this text. Hall 1994 similarly provides an introduction to the text and includes a helpful bibliography. Hannah 1999 is more focused, arguing against those who place Ascension of Isaiah within the context of early Christian docetism. This journal article is helpful in explaining the text’s depiction of Beliar as Nero.

  • Bauckham, Richard. The Fate of the Dead: Studies on Jewish and Christian Apocalypses. Supplement to Novum Testamentum. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 1998.

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    An introduction to early Jewish and Christian apocalyptic texts. Discusses Ascension of Isaiah in a chapter on literary descents into hell.

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  • Hall, Robert G. “Isaiah’s Ascent to See the Beloved: An Ancient Jewish Source for the Ascension of Isaiah?” Journal of Biblical Literature 113.3 (1994): 463–484.

    DOI: 10.2307/3266782Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discussion of the background behind the Ascension of Isaiah. Includes a brief explanation of how Satan imagery functions within the narrative. Helpful introduction to the text and questions about its context. Available online through purchase.

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  • Hannah, Darrell D. “The Ascension of Isaiah and Docetic Christology.” Vigiliae Christianae 53.2 (1999): 165–196.

    DOI: 10.1163/157007299X00190Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Counters the tendency to assign the Ascension of Isaiah to docetic Christianity. Includes attention to the roles of evil figures within the text, such as the connection between Beliar and Nero.

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Life of Adam and Eve

    Translated into a number of languages, many versions of the Life of Adam and Eve describe Satan’s fall from heaven after a refusal to worship Adam and Satan’s subsequent deception of Adam and Eve. The text’s original provenance is uncertain, although the translations of the text seemingly reflect a Christian perspective. The different manuscripts of this tradition are collected in Anderson and Stone 1999. Both Stone 2000 and Anderson 2000 offer helpful introductions to the text and its relation to early Jewish and biblical texts. Nir 2008 explores the role of Satan in the text and argues that the struggle between Seth (Adam and Eve’s son) and a wild beast represents the clash between Jesus and Satan, as described in other early Christian literature.

  • Anderson, Gary A. “Ezekiel 28, the Fall of Satan, and the Adam Books.” In Literature on Adam and Eve: Collected Essays. Edited by Gary A. Anderson, Michael E. Stone, and Johannes Tromp, 133–147. Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudoepigrapha 15. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2000.

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    Discussion of early Christian reading of Ezekiel 28 as describing the fall of Satan, including the interpretation of this text within the Life of Adam and Eve.

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  • Anderson, Gary A., and Michael E. Stone, eds. A Synopsis of the Books of Adam and Eve. 2d rev. ed. Early Judaism and Its Literature. Atlanta: Scholars, 1999.

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    A collection of the different versions of the Life of Adam and Eve, along with English translations.

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  • Nir, Rikva. “The Struggle between the ‘Image of God’ and Satan in the Greek Life of Adam and Eve.” Scottish Journal of Theology 61.3 (2008): 327–339.

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    Examines the Satan imagery in this text, suggesting that the text’s image of the “beast” refers to Satan as well.

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  • Stone, Michael E. “The Fall of Satan and Adam’s Penance: Three Notes on The Books of Adam and Eve.” In Literature on Adam and Eve: Collected Essays. Edited by Gary A. Anderson, Michael E. Stone, and Johannes Tromp, 43–56. Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudoepigrapha 15. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2000.

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    Discussion of the depiction of Satan in different versions of the Life of Adam and Eve, including the Greek manuscript (mis)named the Apocalypse of Moses. Compares these traditions to 2 Enoch. Clear introduction to the textual traditions.

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Lucifer

    The reference to the “son of dawn” in Isaiah 14:12, rendered into the Latin “Lucifer,” has traditionally been associated with Satan. This reading, as Youngblood 1998 explains, appears in the writings of Tertullian and Origen. These early Christian interpreters seemingly read the Isaiah passage through the lens of Luke 10:18, in which Jesus proclaims, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Despite this, as Alden 1968 and Youngblood 1998 note, the literary context suggests that the reference describes the fall of a Babylonian king.

  • Alden, Robert L. “Lucifer, Who or What?Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society 11.1 (1968): 35–39.

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    Concise explanation of the moniker helel ben schachar, translated into Latin as “Lucifer,” in Isaiah. Attends to the Hebrew etymology and the mythological associations of the phrase. Reflecting an explicitly Christian perspective, the author discusses associations between Satan and light in the New Testament and makes an offhanded reference to Bar Kochba.

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  • Youngblood, Ronald F. “Fallen Star: The Evolution of Lucifer.” Bible Review 14.6 (1998): 22–31, 47.

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    A discussion of the traditional equation between Lucifer (“light bringer”), an allusion to a Babylonian king whose fall is described in Isaiah 14, and Satan. Accessible to the nonspecialist. Includes references to Lucifer in literature and art. Available online by subscription.

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Serpent Imagery

    One of the most popular modern images of Satan is as a serpent. Charlesworth 2010 explains how this is an early Christian interpretation of the Genesis story. Stone 2009 explores the later associations between Satan and the serpent, pointing to the complexity of Jewish mythic traditions in which early Jewish ideas are reworked in much later literary contexts.

  • Charlesworth, James H. The Good and Evil Serpent: How a Universal Symbol Became Christianized. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

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    An examination of ancient snake/serpent imagery, including Christian identification of the serpent, especially in Genesis 3 and John 3, as Satan. Charlesworth suggests that interpreters have been influenced by the equation of Satan and the serpent in Revelation 12.

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  • Stone, Michael E. “‘Be You a Lyre for Me’: Identity or Manipulation in Eden.” In The Exegetical Encounter between Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity. Edited by E. Grypeou and H. Spurling, 87–99. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004177277.i-284Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Stone compares medieval Armenian traditions linking Satan and the serpent to traditions found in early Jewish literature, including the Life of Adam and Eve and Wisdom of Solomon.

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Cultural Reception

    The reception of early Jewish and Christian traditions about Satan into the art and literature of the Western imagination is wide ranging. The following selections are simply the tip of the iceberg. Russell 1984 provides a starting point for scholarship on this topic, given its overarching perspective and its thorough attention to relevant primary sources. Bloom 2005 is also wide ranging and rather eclectic. It includes essays on early and medieval Christian perspectives on Satan as well as an essay by C. S. Lewis and other pieces on more recent depictions of Satan. Link 1995 and Strickland 2003 focus on the representation of Satan in medieval art. The latter is particularly recommended for its attention to Satan in relation to others understood in terms of the “monstrous.” Parker 2011 examines the popular image of the Devil as artistic muse, particularly in the Romantic period. This book is thoughtful and well written. Schreck 2001 and Partridge and Christianson 2009 bring the character of Satan into the modern world. The former focuses on Satan in film, and the latter offers a variety of perspectives on Satan in popular culture. Both would be beneficial resources for teaching.

  • Bloom, Harold, ed. Satan. Bloom’s Major Literary Characters. New York: Chelsea House, 2005.

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    An anthology of essays about the character of Satan in literature. Includes pieces on Mark Twain and Nathaniel Hawthorne and essays by Jeffrey Burton Russell and Elaine Pagels. Far from thorough, but includes some interesting essays.

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  • Link, Luther. The Devil: A Mask without a Face. Picturing History. London: Reaktion, 1995.

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    Provides an introduction into medieval artistic depictions of the Devil and includes an opening chapter on the emergence of the character of Satan in biblical and early Christian traditions.

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  • Parker, Fred. The Devil as Muse: Blake, Byron, and the Adversary. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2011.

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    Parker explores the literary depiction of Satan as muse through the works of William Blake, Lord Byron, and Thomas Mann. Addresses the biblical backgrounds as well as the character of Satan in Paradise Lost.

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  • Partridge, Christopher, and Eric Christianson, eds. The Lure of the Dark Side: Satan and Western Demonology in Popular Culture. Making of the Christian Imagination. London: Equinox, 2009.

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    A collection of essays on Satan and the demonic in modern popular culture, including the depiction of the Devil in music and film.

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  • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.

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    A survey of the character of Satan across the medieval world, beginning with Byzantium and ending with the Renaissance and Reformation. Includes helpful references and bibliography.

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  • Schreck, Nikolas. The Satanic Screen: An Illustrated Guide to the Devil in Cinema. Creation Cinema Collection 17. London: Creation, 2001.

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    Catalogues and describes depictions of Satan in film. Organizes films by decade. Includes a wide range of films, making this a helpful resource.

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  • Strickland, Debra Higgs. Saracens, Demons and Jews: Making Monsters in Medieval Art. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

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    Careful study of the depiction of the monstrous in medieval art, including attention to how representations of Satan reflect Christian theological claims. Includes a discussion of ancient physiognomy.

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LAST MODIFIED: 12/15/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195393361-0056

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