History of Satan Since the Research Paper
- Length: 16 pages
- Sources: 10
- Subject: Mythology - Religion
- Type: Research Paper
- Paper: #21876124
Excerpt from Research Paper :
These Gods subjugated humans in a way that never happened in other primitive river-valley cultures yet seemed to follow a political will as the concept evolved. This finally culminates in the marriage between the God of Above, Nergal, lord of Summer, Growth and Heat; and the Goodness of the Below, Ereshkigal, queen of the underworld, Winter, the Cold, and of Death. We now have opposites, attracted, and yet polarized in deed, action, and even interpretation (Messadie, 1996, 90-7).
This conception then seems to flow mythologically out of the Middle East into other cultures; we have the trickster, the shadow, the evil one, and even the unknown. However, considering the geographical location of the Abrahamic religions, it is logical that there would be a cross-over from the archetype that would manifest itself within these religious traditions.
Satan in Judaism -- in traditional Judaic thought, there is no conception of the Devil in the same way as in Christianity or Islam. The Toranic tradition holds that it is the adversary, the obstacle, or the prosecutor, that embodies not the antithesis of God, but another player in the large role of the Universe, with God as the ultimate Judge. This tradition appears as "ha-satan" in Number 22:22 and Samuel 29:4.
Thus, for Judaism, there is a difference between an evil one and part of the duality of God. Judaic tradition rejects any idea that conflicts with the one true God (indivisible) because anything else precludes a total monotheistic viewpoint. Some of the cultures in the Ancient World, even contemperaneous with the early Jews, held that there was a God in heaven above who continually battled with a God of the underworld, or hell, for humanity and the promulgation of good vs. evil (e.g. The Greek Zeus/Hades paradigm).
One way to understand this major difference is in the way the Hebrew language refers to God, and the way there is a complexity of terminology. For most of the Bible, God is referred to as Elohim, which could mean God, Gods, or goodlike, or idol god. When this was translated, though, the meaning is not as ambiguous:
And God spoke all of these words, saying,
I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt,
Out of the house of bondage,
Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:1-3).
Now, if we simply replace the translations with the Hebraic word Elohim, we find something a bit different:
And Elohim spoke all of these words, saying,
I am the Lord thy Elohim, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt,
Out of the house of bondage,
Thou shalt have no other Elohim before me (Exodus 20:1-3).
This complexity about God (gods, idols, etc.) is central to the view that there is no duality; no yin/yang, no upper or lower. This, to Jews, is not monotheism. Ha-Satan is, in essence, a being (not a Fallen Angel) who acts like a prosecuting attorney in God's Court. This Prosecutor, as far back as Genesis, is a tempter, but in a way that is not evil, but that points out to God the many flaws of humanity. Ha-Satan has no power or authority; he may cajole, tempt, or influence; but no real power without God's will. This is also obvious in the story of Job and the way Ha-Satan psychologically plays the drama so that humans appear to be weak and wanting (Wray and Mobley, 2005).
Note, for instance, the dialog between Ha-Satan and God -- in which Satan must ask for permission to conduct a drama against Job to prove a point:
And the Eternal said unto < he>Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? And still he holds fast his integrity, although thou < he Satan> moves me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the Eternal, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand 's hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Eternal said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life (Job 2:3-6)
However, in a greater contextual framework, we can see that there might be not only a religious, but a moral problem with this viewpoint. If Elohim controls all things, for instance:
I am the Lord, and there is no other
I form light and create darkness,
I make weal and create woe,
I the Lord do all these things (Isaiah 45: 6-7)
Where does evil come from then? Why do bad things happen? If there is but one God who controls everything, then traditionally we have a conundrum. Too, within the Old Testament, there are other Gods mentioned (Baal, Astartek and Molech), all of whom later become synonymous with Satan. Indeed, when one analyzes the Ha-Satan in the Old Testament, one finds that it is predominantly after the Exile, after the triumph of monotheism, that Ha-Satan begins to appear with regularity, not as the arch-opponent of God, or the embodiment of evil, but as a cosmic Adversary -- the great skeptic, if you will, and one who is not responsible for human suffering, but revels in the ability to "prove" that humankind is weak and wanting (Wray and Mobley, 39). In no way does this change the ultimate hierarchy of the power of God, it simply adds another player that has a role to play in the cosmic drama.
As a sort of transitory set of texts, however, the Hebrew Apocrypha, while not necessarily accepted as scripture by much of Judaism, there is a new interpretation of Satan, represented as the one who brought death into the world ("But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world," Book of Wisdom II:24). Other parts of the Apocrypha contain references to a being cast out of heaven and a being who knew the difference between right and wrong and choose that which was sinful:
And I threw him out from the height with his angels, and he was flying in the air continuously above the bottomless (2 Enoch 29:4).
The devil is the evil spirit of the lower places, as a fugitive he made Sotona from the heavens as his name was Stanail, thus he became different from the angels, but his nature did not change his intelligence as far as his understanding of righteousness and sinful things (2 Enoch 31:4).
The Apocrypha was regularly used by the Hassid Jews of the 17th and 19th century; those particularly in Europe. There Satan was Baal Davar, a name that goes back to Babylonia, and he was an angel cast out of heaven for refusing to obey the will of God (Davidson, 1967, 67). For most of Judaic tradition though, Ha-Satan remains part of the cosmic court, part of the natural order of things; he rules nothing, he has no power, he simply is, and any temptations humans may face are not the result of Satanic influence, but of human fallability and choice (Kelly, 2006, 20-24).
Satan in Christianity- the Christian concept of Satan is multidimmensional, and not really a single paradigm, but an amalgamation of a number of different traditions, mostly taken from the Jewish tradition and the pagan cultures of the Mediterranean, then combined with literary extrapolations from the Middle Ages. For mainstream Christianity, the Devil, Lucifer, is Satan. He is a part of Heaven, a fallen angel who rebelled against God; was embodied in the "serpent" in the Book of Genesis and caused original sin, and therefore the need for Christ's coming and eventual redemtion. Christians see Lucifer as the embodinement of evil. This is where the idea of Satan in Christianity becomes ambigious -- for some, Satan is literal; for some more metaphorical. In fact, most of the history of the Christian Satan over the last millenium is a combination of a Medieval and post-Medieval reading of the scriptures combined with popular mythology and embellished for literary and cultural purposes (Russell, 1986). This may be based on a bit of the Book of Revelations which refers to the deceiver and "the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan" (Rev: 12:9, 20:2).
There is somewhat of a progression in the Christian Bible that helped the tradition of the evil one progress through the ages. We know there is an allusion in Genesis, God rebukes the serpent casting him out of paradise, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shall bruise his heel" (Genesis…