Satan and Angels

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Satan before the Lord
Satan is a religious figure found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam and similar to figures found in Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions. He is generally depicted as an evil adversary of God. Although the word Satan is derived from the Hebrew word for "Accuser," Satan is not given as high a profile in Judaism as he is in Christianity.

Often depicted with little horns, cloven hooves and a goatee, Satan is known by a number of different names, including the Devil, the Prince of Darkness, Diablo, the Father of Lies, Lucifer (meaning “light bearer”), Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Belial, Mastema, and the Lord of Lies. In the Bible he is referred to as the Evil One and the Prince of the World. Muslims know him as Iblis or Shaytan. Among the various spirits that have been summoned by his commands are demons, gods, idols, demigods, angels, sprites, ghosts, goblins, imps, fairies, fauns, jinns, nymphs, and poltergeists.

Satan is generally characterized as being powerful but not nearly as powerful as God, which begs the question, “Why doesn’t God just destroy him?” and “Why was he created in the first place?” The answer for this some scholars say is more of a literary question than a theological one: He is a convenient literary devise for personifying evil.

About 70 percent of Americans said they believe in the Devil in a 2007 Gallup Poll. A separate 2013 YouGov survey found that more Protestants than Catholics fear the devil. According to one survey 60 percent of American Evangelical Protestants say they have been tempted by the devil while only 26 percent of American Catholics said the devil had tempted them. Even so, progressive Pope Francis has spoken about the Devil and is rumored to have performed a public exorcism in May 2013. [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, October 8, 2013]

Websites and Resources: Bible and Biblical History: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible ; King James Version of the Bible ; Bible History Online ; Biblical Archaeology Society ; Judaism Virtual Jewish Library ; Judaism101 ; ; Chabad,org ; BBC - Religion: Judaism ; Internet Jewish History Sourcebook Christianity: BBC on Christianity ; Christian Classics Ethereal Library ; Sacred Texts website ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Christian Origins ; Elaine Pagels website ;

Early History of the Devil

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Lucifer cast from heaven , 1887
The concept of the devil seems to have originated with Zoroastrianism, which originated in Persia. The Jews were under Persian rule for two centuries beginning in 539 B.C. No doubt they were exposed to the Zoroastrian devil Ahriman.

Zoroastrians regard the existence of evil as necessary and that men achieve goodness through battling it. They also view life as struggle between the Ahura Mazada and the devil Ahriman (Prince of Chaos and Darkness) and believe that man has a free will to choose between God and the devil and that Ahura Mazada has given man intelligence to carry out the fight which provides man with the insight that the good life is sometimes hard but the consequences of evil are worse. Ahriman’s power is almost equal to that of Ahura Mazda.

The battle between good and evil is also expressed in the conflict between the good spirit Spenta Mainyu and the evil spirit of Angra Mainyu, both offspring of Ahura Mazda. Their battles are sometimes seen as metaphors of the choice between truth and lies. Humans can tip the balance in the favor of good by practicing “good thoughts, good words and good deeds.” The history the world is seen in terms of conflicts between good and evil that take place over four 3000-year periods. In the first two God and the devil prepare their forces. In the third they fight it out, In the forth the devil is def

Around 200 B.C. Satan began to emerge as a major figure in his own right among some Jewish sects. It was during this period that he developed into God's major opponent and was identified with the serpent that tempted Eve and the "Son of the morning" ("Lucifer") described by the prophet Isaiah. Early Jews believed that when the Messiah arrived he would vanquish Satan and usher in a new era for God and his faithful followers.

Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: One of the most influential accounts of the origins of demons comes from a section of the apocryphal book of 1 Enoch known as the Book of the Watchers. Dr. Archie Wright, author of The Origin of Evil Spirits and Satan and the Problem of Evil and a visiting lecturer at Catholic University of America, told me that 1 Enoch takes its leave from the biblical flood story, which refers to angels who have sex with human beings. “In 1 Enoch [these] fallen angels, or Fallen Watcher Angels, rebelled against God and his creation activity and created their own offspring with human women which are referred to as the Giants.” The problem with the Giants is that they ate a lot and, having run out of less offensive sources of protein, eventually set their sights and appetites on human beings. As a result, said Wright, “God sent the Flood to destroy the Giants, but they were only destroyed physically; their spirits survived and are identified as evil spirits or demons.” [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, April 16, 2022]

The Fallen Angels, the parents of the now disembodied Giants, were imprisoned by God in a Pit or Abyss (a kind of small-scale version of hell). They will only be released at the end of time. As for the demons they continued to roam the earth tormenting human beings in a new form. According to the second century B.C. Book of Jubilees, said Wright, 90 percent of the evil spirits were imprisoned with their fathers while 10 percent were free to work with a mysterious figure named as Mastema, an individual later identified with the devil. This Mastema, however, works in much the same way as the Satan of Job: he tests humanity with the assistance of evil spirits but he “is not an autonomous being.”

Satan in the Bible

There is little mention of the devil in the early books of the Old Testament. The serpent in the Garden of Eden was later identified with the devil, but as he is written in Genesis he is only a snake. When he appears in the later books he takes on different names. He pops up in Numbers as well but as a bit player in the heavenly court. Satan first appears as a real character in the Book of Job, where he is a member of God’s angels who roamed around the world testing the faith of the chosen people. Here he is a legal figure and an adversary who engages God in a wager about the righteousness of Job. Satan isn’t evil, he’s just a lawyer. In Samuel the devil “incited David.” For the most part he is a minor figure.

In the New Testament Satan is mentioned numerous times but the details of what he is like and his background are sketchy. In the Gospels, Satan is depicted as an adversary of Jesus, who was tempted by the Devil on several occasions.The devil tested Jesus in three ways during his 40 day, 40 night fast. First he asked a hungry Jesus to use his powers to make bread from stones. Second he told him to win fame by throwing himself off the roof of the Temple and getting angels to save him. Third, he took Jesus to a high a place and promised him all things.

On the third test, a passage in Chapter 4 of the Book of Matthew explains: “The devil taketh him up into an exceedingly high mountain and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and saith unto him: all these things I will give the if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Jesus refused, saying "Get away, Satan! It is written: 'The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.'" Mount of Temptation (near Jericho) is traditional place where this event is said to have occurred.

Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: In the Old Testament; readers of Genesis will find neither apples nor Satan in the Garden of Eden. The smart-talking serpent wasn’t identified as the Devil until centuries later. Demons are more regular guest stars in the New Testament. While ancient Greeks and Romans thought daemons were ambiguous supernatural entities, those that appear in the Gospels are antagonistic. They possess the bodies of hapless ancient Mediterraneans, align against Jesus and his followers, send a herd of pork chops off a cliff, and steel themselves for a showdown at the end of the world.

Satan in the Early Christian Era

Our definition of Satan was put together in the early years of the Christian church, long after Jesus died and the Gospels were written, by early Christian thinkers and theologians. After four centuries of debate they defined Satan as a former angel’some said the first angel and leader of all angels — who led a rebellion in heaven and was cast down to hell.

By some accounts Satan lead the rebellion out of envy or pride and it took place before the creation of Adam, as it was Satan who was held responsible for tempting mankind into sin. In the Revelations and other passages in the New Testament he is portrayed as holding a grip on mankind until the End of the World when he will be vanquished by Christ during his second coming and he and other sinners will be condemned to eternal suffering.

Many of the monks in the early Christian era who went to the desert to live alone, were emulating Christ confrontation with the devil during the Temptation. Those that recounted their encounters with Satan often described him as lion, serpent, wolf or some other animal despised by humankind.

Satan in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Our image of Satan was shaped mainly by the literature and art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The first known rendering of the Devil as a distinct creature appeared in manuscript from the 9th century called the “Utrecht Psalter”. He is depicted as a half-naked man holding a pitchfork.

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The Devil by Michael Pacher
By the 10th century, Satan was a notorious figure in medieval Europe. He was pictured in manuscripts, tapestries and painting; chiseled onto the facade of churches and vividly described in books and religious texts. He appeared in a number of different forms, often with hairy legs and cloven hooves derived from the Greek god pan, a pitchfork previously associated with the Roman god Neptune and an animal head like the Egyptian god Anubis.

Fearful Christians believed that Satan lurked everywhere and was the source of a countless number of maladies and hardships. They believed he waited for people to let their guard down before making an attack. One reason people to this day say “God bless you” after someone sneezes is that people from Middle Ages believed that devil waited outside of people’s body and used sneezes as an opportunity to get in.

Satan is generally given a higher profile in Calvinist Protestantism than in Catholicism. Protestants tend to ascribe things like pride, lust and envy to Satan. Milton’s “Paradise Lost” helped shape the image of devil in the minds of English speakers. Not only is he evil he is also charming, clever, self-confident, proud and independent. Placed in almost any other context he would be a hero.

A popular medieval story recounts the purported experience of Theophilus of Cilicia, a 6th century ecclesiastic figure who made a pact with the devil to exchange his soul for a powerful and profitable position in the church. When the devil appeared and demanded payment the Virgin Mary intervened on Theophilus’s behalf and descended into hell and pulled him away from the devil and vouched before God that he had repented. The story helped elevate Mary’s status and was an inspiration for Marlow’s “Doctor Faustus” and Goethe’s “Faust” , whose witty, garrulous devil Mephistopheles also shaped our modern concept of Satan.

Satanic Pregnancies

On the question what exactly is a satanic pregnancy, Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: For connoisseurs of horror movies, this question is quite easy to answer. It’s a staple of the genre; from The Omen’s Damian, to Rosemary’s Baby, the idea that Satan can procreate with human women via sexual intercourse is well established. This is not only the stuff of movies. The Roman Catholic Church teaches at its annual exorcism course in Rome that people can be possessed in the womb and transgenerational possession is a thing. It’s theoretically possible, therefore, that a child could be possessed by a demon even if Catholic teaching would call for an exorcism rather than the end of a pregnancy. [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, February 02, 2020]

Historically, there have been a number of occasions on which people — either the mother herself or those around her — have designated a particular pregnancy as satanic. One of the most famous examples occurred in 17th century France when an attractive and charismatic priest named Urbain Grandier became a parish priest in the town of Loudun. According to the reports, Grandier was a ladies’ man who regularly disregarded his vows of celibacy. One nun, Mother Superior Jeanne des Anges (“Joan of the Angels”), claimed that she had been seduced by Grandier, who was actually a demon. The seduction was made possible by the fact that he pretended to be an angel and appeared to her as a radiant being. Jeanne claimed that Grandier the Angel-Priest-Demon had gotten her pregnant and her accusations were soon supported by similar allegations of sexual impropriety by other Ursuline nuns.

A pact allegedly signed between Grandier and the devil was produced and submitted as evidence at the trial. It was a veritable who’s who of the demonic world: apart from Grandier, other signatories included Satan, Leviathan (a primordial sea creature mentioned in the Bible), and Astaroth (the so-called Great Duke of Hell who teaches his acolytes mathematics). Following a lengthy investigation conducted primarily through torture, Father Grandier was burned at the stake. As for Jeanne’s pregnancy after a lengthy period of convulsions, speaking in tongues, and distress it simply went away. Later analysts have diagnosed her condition as a psychosomatic pregnancy and many have speculated that she was just obsessed with Grandier from the beginning. All of which shows that there is such a thing as too good-looking.

A second example comes to us from 18th century New Jersey. In 1735 Englishwoman Deborah Leeds became pregnant with her 13th child. She had emigrated to Pine Barrens, New Jersey, at the beginning of the century to live with her husband Japhet. There are multiple slightly conflicting accounts of the demonic origins of the child. In some Mrs Leeds invoked the devil as she gave birth, in others she predicted and even invited demonic parentage because she was unhappy at the prospect of another child, and in another the child was cursed by a local pastor. In any case the most popular version of the birth maintains that the child was born a "monster" and that Mrs. Leeds looked after it until her death at which point the child flew off into the swamps of New Jersey. In the ensuing 200 years Deborah Leeds’ child has become an iconic figure: the New Jersey Devil. There have been numerous sightings of the “Jersey Devil” in woodland areas and, in 1890, a fisherman claimed to have seen the devil’s spawn serenading a mermaid (Those mythical creatures really have to stick together). It seems likely that the original “New Jersey Devil” was simply a disabled child whose condition was unfairly interpreted by locals as “demonic.” If this analysis is correct and “devil child” is simply a take on “atypical birth” you have to wonder if “flew off into the swamps” is a euphemism for “murdered by family members or locals.” In any case this child is immortalized in local legend and as the friendly looking mascot of the NHL team the New Jersey Devils.

Satanic Children

Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: Some medieval stories articulate the idea that in the wrong hands a child can become demonic immediately after birth. The 1487 text Malleus Maleficarum (or “Hammer of Witches”) by the Alsatian academic, priest, and witch-hunter Heinrich Kramer tells a story in which a husband spied on his wife and daughter dedicating his newly born child to Satan. Immediately after the ritual he observed his newborn shimmying up a chain that was used to hold pots and knew that something was amiss. According to Kramer, witches did not only sacrifice babies, they also turned them into prodigious athletes. [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, February 02, 2020]

It’s not only women that can get involved in demonic progeny. Both Jewish and Christian medieval folklore contains stories of succubi, beautiful women who would seduce human men at night. In some instances, succubi would use the semen stolen from men to impregnate human women. Their offspring, known as cambions, were supposedly deformed. The most famous alleged victim of a succubus was Pope Sylvester II (946-1003). According to one somewhat defamatory 12th century legend, this French priest had a long-term relationship with a succubus called Meridiana, whom he met after learning the occult arts from an Arabic book he encountered in Spain. In some versions of the story the two were in love and in addition to helping him become pope, Meridiana tried to shield him from physical harm. The only contemporary biography of Pope Sylvester II associates his achievements with divine powers, but even so Meridiana and Sylvester II have quite the online following.

Satanic babies are not just a thing of the past. A series of horrifying events reveal the way that ideas about the demonic continue to influence the world. In September 2017, a Pittsburgh woman stabbed her 8-day-old son to death because he was created “by the devil.” A Tampa woman drowned her 5-week-old baby claiming that she knew he was the devil after he started talking to her. These more recent examples draw our attention to the tragic misunderstandings and prejudices that underly the phenomenon of demonic progeny. The historical reality is that in most of these cases either a mother is suffering from mental illness or the murder of a disabled is justified under the guise that the child is "demonic." In a few, like the story of the burning of Grandier, personal animosity and jealousy can lead to unfounded accusations.

In her defense of her recent statement, White responded that her comment had “been taken out of context” and explained that she “was praying Eph 6:12 that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Anything that has been conceived by demonic plans, for it to be cancelled and not prevail in your life.” She says that she was speaking figuratively and didn’t mean that babies are literally conceived by the devil à la Rosemary’s Baby. (Fun fact: Eph 6:12 doesn’t mention demonic plans). But White does mean that we are all engaged in a literal spiritual battle with agents of Satan. The place that struggle plays out in 21st century America is in the political arena. And just as the logic of “satanic babies” justifies the rejection of children that don’t look the way that they were ‘supposed’ to, the logic of a cosmic war between good and evil justifies the rejection of those who don’t look or believe the things that some Christians think that they should. White’s statements might be less eccentric than advertised, but they aren’t less scary.

Tales of the Devil

“The Devil Confessed That He Had Entered a Woman Because She Had Been Delivered to Him by Her Husband” by Caesar of Heisterbacb in the 13th century: When our abbot was celebrating mass last year on the Mount of the Holy Saviour near Aachen, a possessed woman was brought to him after the mass. When he had read the gospel lesson concerning the Ascension over her head and at these words, "They shall lay hands on sick and they shall recover," had placed his hand upon her head, the devil gave such a terrible roar that we were all terrified. Adjured depart, he replied, "The Most High does not wish it yet." When asked in what manner he entered, he did not reply nor did he permit the woman to reply. Afterward she confessed that when her husband in anger said, "Go to the devil 1" she felt the latter enter through her ear. Moreover that woman was from the province of Aachen and very well known. [Source: (Dist. V, Cap. XI. (Vol. I, p. 291), Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history, published for the Dept. of History of the University of Pennsylvania., Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press [1897?-1907?]. Vol II, No 4, pp. 7-11,]

In “Concernig Gerard, a Kinght, Whom the Devil Carried in a Moment from the Church of St. Thomas in India to His Own Country”, Caesar of Heisterbacb wrote: “In a village which is called Holenbach there lived a certain knight named Gerard. His grandsons are still living, and hardly a man can found in that village who does not know the miracle which I am king to tell about him. He loved St. Thomas the Apostle so ardently and honored him so especially above the other saints that he never refused any pauper seeking alms in the name of that one. Moreover he was accustomed to offer to the saint Many private services, such as prayers, fasts and the celebration of masses. [Source:Dist. VIII, Cap. LIX. (Vol.II, p.131ff), Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history, published for the Dept. of History of the University of Pennsylvania., Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press [1897?-1907?]. Vol II, No 4, pp. 7-11

“One day, by the permission of God, the devil, the enemy of all good men, knocking at the knight's gate, in the form and dress of a pilgrim, sought hospitality in the name of St. Thomas. He was admitted with all haste and, since it was chilly and he pretended to be catching cold, Gerard gave to him his own fur cape, which was not badly worn, to cover himself with when he went to bed. When the next morning he who had seemed a pilgrim did not appear, and the cape was sought and not found, his wife in anger said to the knight, " You have often been deceived by wanderers of this kind and yet You persist in your superstitions But he replied calmly, "Do not be disturbed, St. Thomas will certainly make good this loss to us." The devil did this in order to provoke the knight to impatience on account of the loss of his cape, and to extinguish in his heart his love for the Apostle. But what the devil had prepared for his destruction redounded to the glory of the knight; by it the latter was incited the more strongly, the former was confused and punished. For after a little time Gerard wanted to go to the abode of St. Thomas, and when he was all ready to start, he broke a gold ring into two pieces before the eyes of his wife, and joining them together in her presence, gave one piece to her and kept the other himself, saying, "You ought to trust this token. Moreover, I ask you to wait five years for my return, and after that you can marry any one you please." And she promised.

“He went on a very long journey and at length with great expense and very great labor reached the city of St. Thomas the Apostle. There he was saluted most courteously by the citizens and received with as great kindness as if he had been one of them and well known to them. Ascribing this favor to the blessed Apostle he entered the oratory and prayed, commending himself, his wife, and all his possessions to the saint. After this, remembering the limit fixed, and thinking that the five years ended on that very day, he groaned and said, "Alas! my wife will now marry some other man." God had delayed his journey on account of what is to follow.

“When he looked around in sorrow he saw the above mentioned demon walking about in his cape. And the demon said, "Do you know me, Gerard?" He said, it No, I do not know you, but I know cape." The demon replied, "I am he who sought hospitality from you in the name of the Apostle; and I carried off your cape, for which I have been severely punished." And he added, "I am the devil, and I am commanded to carry you back tto your own house before nightfall, because your wife has married another man and is now sitting with him at the wedding banquet." Taking him up, the devil crossed in part of a day from India to Germany, from the east to the west, and about twilight placed him in his own house without injury

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Hell by Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem

“Entering his own house like a stranger, when he saw his own wif eating with her spouse, he drew near and in her sight taking out the half of the ring, he sent it to her in a cup. When she saw it, she immediately took it out and joining it to the part given to her she recognized him as her husband. Immediately jumping up she rushed to embrace him, proclaiming that he was her husband Gerard and saying good-bye to her spouse. Nevertheless, out of courtesy Gerard kept the latter with him that night. In this as in the preceding miracle it is sufficiently evident how much the blessed Apostles love and glorify those who love them.

Two Heretics Worked Miracles by the Aid of the Devil

Caesar of Heisterbach wrote: “Two men simply clad, but not without guile, not sheep but ravening wolves, came to Besançon, feigning the greatest piety. Moreover they were pale and thin, they went about barefooted and fasted daily, they did not miss a single night the matins in the cathedral, nor did they accept anything from any one except a little food. When by such hypocrisy they had attracted the attention of every one, they began to vomit forth their hidden poison and to preach to the ignorant new and unheard of heresies. In order, moreover, that the people might believe their teachings they ordered meal to be sifted on the sidewalk and walked on it without leaving a trace of a footprint. Likewise walking upon the water they could not be immersed; also, they had little huts burnt over their heads, and after those had been burnt to ashes, they came out uninjured. After this they said to the people, 'If you do not believe our words, believe our miracles." [Source: Dist. V, Cap. XVIII. (Vol I, pp. 296, ff.), Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history, published for the Dept. of History of the University of Pennsylvania., Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press [1897?-1907?]. Vol II, No 4, pp. 7-11]

“The bishop and the clergy hearing of this were greatly disturbed. And when they wished to resist those men, affirming that they were heretics and deceivers and ministers of the devil, they escaped with difficulty from being stoned by the people. Now that bishop was a good and learned man and a native of our province. Our aged monk, Conrad, who told me these facts and who was in that city at the time, knew him well.

“The bishop seeing that his words were of no avail and that the people entrusted to his charge were being subverted from the faith by the devil's agents, summoned a certain clerk that he knew, who was very well versed in necromancy, and said, "Certain men in my city are doing so and so. I ask you to find out from the devil by your art who they are, whence they come, and by what means so many and so wonderful miracles are wrought. For it is impossible that they should do wonders through divine inspiration when their teaching is so contrary to God's." The clerk said, "My lord, I have long renounced that art." The bishop replied, "You see clearly in what straits I am. I must either acquiesce in their teachings or be stoned by the people. Therefore I enjoin upon you for the remission of your sins that yon obey me in this matter."

“The clerk, obeying the bishop, summoned the devil, and when asked why he had called him responded, "I am sorry that I have deserted you. And because I desire to be more obedient to you in the future than in the past, I ask you to tell me who these men are, what they teach, and by what means they work so great miracles." The devil replied, "They are mine and sent by me, and they preach what I have placed in their mouths." The clerk responded, "How is it that they cannot be injured, or sunk in the water, or burned by fire?" The demon replied again, "They have under their arm-pits, sewed between the skin and the flesh, my compacts in which the homage done by them to me is written; and by virtue of these they work such miracles and can not be injured by any one." Then the clerk, "What if those should be taken away from them?" The devil replied, "Then they would be weak, just like other men." The clerk having heard this, thanked the demon, saying, "Now go, and when you are summoned by me, return."

“He went to the bishop and recited these things to him in order. The latter filled with great joy summoned all the people of the city to a suitable place and said, "I am your shepherd, ye are my sheep. If those men, as you say, confirm their teaching by signs, I will follow them with you. If not, it is fitting that they should be punished and that you should penitently return to the faith of your fathers with me." The people replied, ,We have seen many signs from them. The bishop replied "But I have not seen them." Why protract my words? The plan pleased the people. The heretics were summoned. A fire was kindled in the midst of the city. Nevertheless before the heretics entered it, they were secretly summoned to the bishop. He said to them, "I want to see if you have any evil about you." Hearing this they stripped quickly and said with great confidence, "Search our bodies and our garments carefully." The soldiers, truly, following the instructions of the bishop, raised their arms and noticing under the arm-pits some scars that were healed up broke them open with their knives and extracted from them the little scrolls which had been sewed in.

“Having received these the bishop went forth with the heretics to the people and, having commanded silence, cried out in a loud voice, "Now shall your prophets enter the fire, and if they are not injured I will believe in them." The wretched men trembled and said, "We ar not able to enter now." Then the bishop told the people of the evil which had been detected, and showed the compacts. Then all furious hurled the devil's ministers, to be tortured with the devil in eternal flames, into the fire which had been prepared. And thus through the grace of God and the zeal of the bishop the growing heresy was extinguished and the people who had been seduced and corrupted were cleansed by penance.”

Music and The Devil

Certain musical exploits have been attributed to the Devil. He not only loves singing but is master of the violin. Some say he invented the instrument and promised mastery of it, bartering the skill for the pupil's soul. These legends are related to the larger belief in the supernatural origin of musical skill and individual songs." (Botkin, B. A., A Treasury of American Folklore, Crown Publishers, p. 718; Cf. The Devil and the Fiddle, Herbert Halpert, Hoosier Folklore Bulletin, Vol II (Dec., 1943). [Source:]

According to a report published in “The American Restoration Movement had two streams. The first was the Stone Movement. This was a movement which depended on a direct movement of the 'holy spirit' as proven by some form of hysterical breakdown. This was a studied and calculated form of huge gathering using all of the machinery of the arousals or awakenings which are much like witchcraft or Devil worship. That part of the musical or charismatic revivalists still appeal to the charismatic prophesiers as authority for prophets in the modern "worship" assembly. A major authority is:

Charles Daily Northwest College of the Bible Part One appeals to charismatic prophesiers as authority for music in public worship. Part One shows no exception: "prophesying" by the “Poetic Women” was "the Law" to which Paul appealed to show that women should be silent meaning sedentary. "Men" would not be caught dead if they knew the meaning of musical worship performance. Part Two. Charismatic prophetesses (Paul would say mad) Part Three the Temple "Musicians" Any singer or instrument player who stumbled into the Holy Place as a "non functioning" type of the body or church of Christ would be executed: even if he intended to clean out the garbage. People keep skinning their knees looking for authority for musical sectarianism: it does not exist. All such performance "worship" is threskia or charismatic which makes a sexual appeal to people which absolutely shuts down worship in the new place of the human spirit.

While the denominational background of this revivalist background consisted by Presbyterians who could not get the sign that they had been predestinated to be saved. They therefore lived in mortal feat. Barton W. Stone sought to produce these signs by studying a successful Methodist. The revivals at Caneridge, in Kentucky, consisted of all of the ingredients to "wind up the minds" of those not Biblically literate. The outcome was quite identical to Devil Worship in ancient and fairly modern Iraqu. These, too, consider themselves as Christians but their practices are clearly devil worship. Not doubting the Stone Movement's manipulators, the outcome is clearly not a Christian movement.

Devil at Work in the Modern World

According to Christian tradition, Satan is a pure spirit created by God with his own free will. He chose to devote his attention to tempting and preying on humanity. He is generally characterized as being of great intelligence, a liar and a seducer. Nietzsche pointed out that the Christianity popularized the devil. Over the years Satan has been used by a number of writers as a literary device and is now a fixture of films. Sometimes he is charming but spookily evil. Other times he is a bit of a clown. Although Catholics pray once a year to renounce Satan, placing too much emphasis on the devil is discouraged. The Catholic church teachers that the Devil is real and evil spirits exist. In recent years, theologians have downplayed Satan's influence and chosen psychological and psychiatric explanations for abnormal behavior.

Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: Believing in the devil is not necessarily objectionable, but identifying any individual or group with Satan may well be. As David Frankfurter has shown in his book Evil Incarnate, the accusation of demonic conspiracy is one of the most potent forms of Christian slander. It is a form of attack regularly leveled against Jews and, historically speaking, used to justify all kinds of violence against them. [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, October 17, 2018]

In an effort to stay one step ahead of the devil, priests gather every year at the Ateneo Pontifical Institute in Rome to swap stories and to learn the most up-to-date strategies in spiritual warfare. Enrollment in these classes grows larger each year and Catholic dioceses in the US report a marked increase in requests for exorcism from their congregants. [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, October 8, 2013]

The course teaches that Devilish influence in the world is of two basic types. The first is standard stuff. Tempted by the second helping of cake, the only-marginally-reduced Jimmy Choos, or the bouncy intern who really “gets” you? That’s Satan. But the second type, “extraordinary” machinations of the devil, plunge us deeply into the supernatural. On a sliding scale of bad to worse, common to rare, the Devil can possess places and objects, cause illness, or create “vexations” in a person’s life. A person can be “obsessed,” meaning he or she is preoccupied with feelings of worthlessness or thoughts of suicide. Worst of all, a person can be possessed by a demon or the Devil himself, Exorcist style.

Very few people strike Faustian deals with the Devil. After all, trading sixty years of power and fame for an eternity in hell is just poor investing. How, then, does a person let the Devil into their life? According to the exorcists, risky behaviors include: general temptation, drug use, listening to heavy metal, reading books about teen wizards, watching pornography, consulting horoscopes, and practicing yoga.

The trouble is you might not know you’re possessed. One exorcist relayed an anecdote about exorcising a 40—year-old man. Unbeknownst to him, the patient had been possessed since he was in the womb. The only symptoms of his condition were his doubts about God and an obsession with ‘self-gratification.’ This could be more widespread than previously recognized.


20120508-heaven SoulCarriedtoHeaven.jpg
Soul Carried to Heaven
Angels are messengers between God in heaven and humankind on earth. Angels often appear at key events in the Bible. They delivered messages to Abraham in the Old Testament and Mary in the New Testament as well as to Mohammed in the Koran. “Angel” is derived from the Greek word for “ambassador” or “messenger.”

In the Gospels, an angel tell Mary that she will become pregnant and give birth to Jesus; “a great throng of the hosts of heaven” sing God’s praises at Jesus’s birth. After the temptation in the wilderness , “angels looked after him” and “an angel...from heaven” comforted him during his moment of agony in Gerthsemane. On Easter morning, two angles announce the news that Jesus has risen.

Angels and saints are often depicted with halo around their heads, symbolizing God’s holiness radiating from them. The idea of the halo did not originate with Christianity. Gods and spirits in ancient Hindu, Indian, Greek and Roman art sometimes had light radiating from their heads.

Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: In the Bible angels are mostly errand boys, the word itself means "messenger." As God’s intermediaries they give tours of heaven to righteous visionaries like Daniel, deliver messages to God’s chosen ones, and sing eternal praises to God. There are many kinds of angels, from the familiar (the angels, archangels, cherubs) to the strangely inanimate (St. Paul opaquely talks about “thrones, principalities, and powers” which sounds a lot like celestial furniture). [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, August 15, 2013]

Violent Angels

Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: The first angel mentioned in the Bible is the angel that guards the entrance to the Garden of Eden with a fiery ever-turning sword. Guardian angels are in the Bible, but they’re not there to protect us. The Eden story isn’t an isolated affair. The Angel of the Lord is always packing heat. More often than not if an angel shows up to an event in the Hebrew Bible it is to harm someone. On one occasion, during the reign of King David, when the Angel of the Lord is about to destroy Jerusalem, God has to tell it to put his sword away. This is small fry for the Archangels. They lead armies into battle and are in training for the final showdown at Armageddon. [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, August 15, 2013]

They’re not as telegenic as they appear in Lifetime specials, either. Seraphim are large six-winged snakes that fly. Cherubs aren’t well-fed babies, they’re winged lions. Hardly the kinds of creatures you want watching over you as you sleep. And these are the good angels. Some supernatural beings are less obedient than others. In Genesis we learn that the “sons of God” noticed how attractive human women were and took them as wives. Later Jewish interpretations called these angelic beings the “Watchers” and blamed them for teaching humanity the evils of technology. God is so angry at the ensuing wickedness that he sends the flood to wipe almost everyone out. Perhaps the winged snakes weren’t so bad after all.

By the time we get to the New Testament, angels have settled into their roles as messengers and heavenly bouncers. They look like human beings. The two young men who talk to the disciples at the empty tomb of Jesus can be identified as angels only from their dazzling white garments. They can still be a bit testy though. The Angel Gabriel, best supporting actor of modern nativity plays, is less serene when he announces the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah. When Zechariah protests that he’s getting on a bit, Gabriel replies “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words…you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” That’s how he delivers the good news. As the poet Rilke wrote, “Every angel is terror.”

In the fifteen hundred years since the Bible was put together, angels have been made over into the shoulder-length-haired, white-robed Caucasians that adorn laminated prayer cards. They’ve been identified as supernatural figures who provide assistance in times of trouble. But, biblically speaking, angels are as likely to be sending a message as delivering one. If you’re looking for spiritual assistance then you should call upon a saint. If you meet an angel you should probably run.

Satan, Angels and Hell

Satan is often portrayed as the ruler of hell but there is no reference to the in the Bible. When the devil is in hell, it is only because he is being punished himself. Candida Moss wrote in the Daily Beast: Both Satan and hell have complicated histories that are often but not always intertwined. In the oldest books of the Bible, hell feels like an afterthought. There is Sheol, a dark pit under the ground where people go after death, but it houses everyone, not just the wicked. It was the Second Temple period, and in the shadow of Alexander the Great’s conquest the supernatural population witnesses an explosion. Angels, God’s messengers and hit men, had been a relatively stable feature in the Bible. It was an angel who guarded the entry to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were evicted. And it was angels who visited Abraham, wrestled with Jacob, and slew the first born of Egypt. Demons, however, were something else and it is in this period that we find the first descriptions of demonic activity and fallen angels. [Source: Candida Moss, Daily Beast, April 16, 2022]

At no point in the Bible is Satan ever hell’s ruler. Instead, as Princeton professor Elaine Pagels has written in her book The Origin of Satan, Satan was a servant of the Lord, an angel of God. If Satan or Mastema torment humanity, it is only because God has granted them permission. Satan never acts independently of God. Satan turns on God, writes Pagels, at the same moment when Jewish groups turn on one another. The Essenes, the sectarian group responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the followers of Jesus, who faced some opposition from fellow Jews, use demonic figures as ciphers for these real-world opponents. For the Essenes, demonizing those with whom one disagrees as the sons of darkness is a way of restaging grievances on a cosmic stage.

This leader of these figures, who is variously known as Satan, Belial, and Beelzebub, is the chief rival to God. In the first century Book of Revelation (the final book of the canonical Bible), Satan is seized by an angel of God and cast into “the Abyss.” This, says Wright, is likely not the same pit in which the Fallen Angels of Genesis and Enoch were imprisoned. There Satan remains for a thousand years before a final battle and eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.

It is, according to Pagels and Wright, a small group of Christian philosophers known as the Gnostics who promote Satan from rebellious angel who can be bested by another angel to an evil deity with enviable powers. Satan in Gnostic thought is still identified as a subordinate being, but it creates its own inferior material realm in which humanity is (currently) imprisoned. Just as the Essenes had done, Christians used the devil to still a story of cosmic struggle in which first (other) Jews, then the Roman authorities who opposed them, and finally other dissident Christians were all cast as demons. The devil takes shape in antagonistic encounters between competing groups.

But throughout this period, and in fact for the first thousand years of Christianity, the devil still does not sit on a shadowy throne or reign over the tortured subjects of hell. As Dr. Meghan Henning has written in her recently published book Hell Hath No Fury, early descriptions of hell show human beings being tortured by angels, not demons. It is angels who administer “justice” in a space that, while infernal, is still clearly owned and operated by God. Any reader who recoils in horror should remember that, in the eyes of these authors, the horrors of hell are not in conflict with the Divine. This is what God’s justice looks like.

It is only truly much later, in the writings of Dante, Milton, and their successors that the popular mythology of the devil emerges. For Dante, the devil is Lucifer, the bringer of Dawn, who had once been God’s favorite. As a perfectly created being, Lucifer refused to bow down to and worship newly created humanity. Lucifer fractured the heavenly hosts and waged war against those loyal to God. He was defeated and cast into the inferno where he rules his fellow demons from the frozen tundra of the ninth circle of hell. Though bound in the bowels of hell, he was nevertheless able to project himself onto a mortal plane to tempt and deceive. Milton’s Satan is similarly consumed by envy. In the words of Thuswaldner and Russ, he “prowls through the chasm between hell and the newly created earth” scheming the demise of human beings.

What these images of the devil bring to the surface is the paradox in Christian ideas about Satan. As Philip Almond puts it in The Devil, “the devil is God’s most implacable enemy and beyond God’s control…yet, he is also God’s faithful servant, acting only at God’s command.” Satan may hate humanity and (quite effectively) scheme its demise and destruction, but he is barely God’s sparring partner, much less an equal. What all of this means is that hell is ruled by God. Satan is not the Lord of Hell, but if he is then he is just a puppet king ruling at the behest of a God who permits demonic interference but does not tolerate disobedience.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Sourcebook and “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Old Testament Life and Literature” by Gerald A. Larue, New International Version (NIV) of The Bible,; Wikipedia, National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, and various books and other publications.

Last updated March 2024

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