Sataniel

This article is about the concept of Satan. For the concept of "devil", see Devil. For other uses, see Satan (disambiguation).

Satan (Hebrew: הַשָּׂטָן ha-Satan, "the accuser,"[1]) is a character appearing in the texts of the Abrahamic religions,[2][3] who personifies evil and temptation, and is known as the deceiver that leads humanity astray. The term is often applied to an angel who fell out of favor with God, seducing humanity into the ways of sin, and who now rules over the fallen world.

Satan is primarily understood as an "accuser" or "adversary" in the Hebrew Bible, and is not necessarily the personification of evil that he would become in later Abrahamic religions. In the New Testament, Satan is a name that refers to a decidedly malevolent entity (devil) who possesses demonic god-like qualities. In Theistic Satanism, Satan is considered a positive force and deity who is either worshipped or revered. In LaVeyan Satanism, Satan is regarded as holding virtuous characteristics.[4][5]

Judaism

Hebrew Bible

The original Hebrew term, satan, is a noun from a verb meaning primarily to, “obstruct, oppose,” as it is found in Numbers 22:22, 1 Samuel 29:4, Psalms 109:6.[6] Ha-Satan is traditionally translated as “the accuser,” or “the adversary.” The definite article “ha-,” English “the," is used to show that this is a title bestowed on a being, versus the name of a being. Thus this being would be referred to as “the satan.”[7]

Thirteen occurrences

Ha-Satan with the definite article occurs 13 times in the Masoretic Text, in two books of the Hebrew Bible:

Satan without the definite article is used in 10 instances, of which two are translated diabolos in the Septuagint and "Satan" in the King James Version:

The other eight instances of satan without the definite article are traditionally translated (in Greek, Latin and English) as "an adversary," etc., and taken to be humans or obedient angels:

  • Numbers 22:22,32 "and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him."
  • 32 "behold, I went out to withstand thee,"
  • 1 Samuel 29:4 The Philistines say: "lest he [David] be an adversary against us"
  • 2 Samuel 19:22 David says: "[you sons of Zeruaiah] should this day be adversaries (plural) unto me?"
  • 1 Kings 5:4 Solomon writes to Hiram: "there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent."
  • 1 Kings 11:14 "And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite"[12]
  • 1 Kings 11:23 "And God stirred him up an adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah"
  • 25 "And he [Rezon] was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon"

Book of Job

In the Book of Job, ha-Satan is a member of the Divine Council, "the sons of God" who are subservient to God. Ha-Satan, in this capacity, is many times translated as "the prosecutor", and is charged by God to tempt humans and to report back to God all who go against His decrees. At the beginning of the book, Job is a good person "who feared God and turned away from evil" (Job 1:1), and has therefore been rewarded by God. When the Divine Council meets, God informs ha-Satan about Job's blameless, morally upright character. Between Job 1:9–10 and 2:4–5, ha-Satan merely points out that God has given Job everything that a man could want, so of course Job would be loyal to God; if all Job has been given, even his health, were to be taken away from him, however, his faith would collapse. God therefore grants ha-Satan the chance to test Job.[13] Due to this, it has been interpreted that ha-Satan is under God's control and cannot act without God's permission. This is further shown in the epilogue of Job in which God is speaking to Job, ha-Satan is absent from these dialogues. "For Job, for [Job's] friends, and for the narrator, it is ultimately Yahweh himself who is responsible for Job's suffering; as Yahweh says to the 'satan', 'You have incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.'" (Job 2:3) [9]

Second Temple period

Septuagint

In the Septuagint the Hebrew ha-Satan in Job and Zechariah is translated by the Greek word diabolos (slanderer), the same word in the Greek New Testament from which the English word devil is derived. Where satan is used of human enemies in the Hebrew Bible, such as Hadad the Edomite and Rezon the Syrian, the word is left untranslated but transliterated in the Greek as satan, a neologism in Greek.[14] In Zechariah 3 this changes the vision of the conflict over Joshua the High Priest in the Septuagint into a conflict between "Jesus and the devil," identical with the Greek text of Matthew.

Dead Sea scrolls and Pseudepigrapha

In Enochic Judaism, the concept of Satan being an opponent of God and a chief evil figure in among demons, seems to have taken root in Jewish pseudepigrapha during the Second Temple period,[15] particularly in the apocalypses.[16] The Book of Enoch contains references to Satariel, thought also to be Sataniel and Satan'el (etymology dating back to Babylonian origins). The similar spellings mirror that of his angelic brethren Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Gabriel, previous to the fall from Heaven.

The Second Book of Enoch, also called the Slavonic Book of Enoch, contains references to a Watcher (Grigori) called Satanael.[17] It is a pseudepigraphic text of an uncertain date and unknown authorship. The text describes Satanael as being the prince of the Grigori who was cast out of heaven[18] and an evil spirit who knew the difference between what was "righteous" and "sinful".[19] A similar story is found in the book of 1 Enoch; however, in that book, the leader of the Grigori is called Semjâzâ.

In the Book of Wisdom, the devil is represented as the being who brought death into the world.[20]

Mastema, in the Book of Jubilees, induces God to test Abraham through the sacrifice of Isaac. He is identical to Satan in both name and nature.[21]

Rabbinical Judaism

In Judaism, Satan is a term used since its earliest biblical contexts, to refer to a human opponent.[22] Occasionally, the term has been used to suggest evil influence opposing human beings as in the Jewish exegesis of the Yetzer hara ("evil inclination" Genesis 6:5). Micaiah's "lying spirit" in 1 Kings 22:22 is sometimes related. Thus, Satan is personified as a character in three different places of the Tenakh, serving as an accuser (Zechariah 3:1-2), a seducer (1 Chronicles 21:1), or as a heavenly persecutor who is "among the sons of God" (Job 2:1). In any case, Satan is always subordinate to the power of God, having a role in the divine plan. Satan is rarely mentioned in Tannaitic literature, but is found in Babylonian aggadah.[16]

In Medieval Judaism, the Rabbis rejected these Enochic literary works into the Biblical canon, making every attempt to root them out.[15] Traditionalists and philosophers in medieval Judaism, adhered to rational theology, rejecting any belief in rebel or fallen angels, and viewing evil as abstract.[23] The Yetzer hara ("evil inclination" Genesis 6:5) is a more common motif for evil in rabbinical texts. Rabbinical scholarship on the Book of Job generally follows the Talmud and Maimonides as identifying the "Adversary" in the prologue of Job as a metaphor.[24]

In Hasidic Judaism, the Kabbalah presents Satan as an agent of God whose function is to tempt one into sin, then turn around and accuse the sinner on high. The Chasidic Jews of the 18th century, associated ha-Satan with Baal Davar.[25]

Dualism and Zoroastrianism

Some scholars see contact with religious dualism in Babylon, and early Zoroastrianism in particular, as having influenced Second Temple period Judaism, and consequently early Christianity.[26][27] Subsequent development of Satan as a "deceiver" has parallels with the evil spirit in Zoroastrianism, known as the Lie, who directs forces of darkness.[28]

Christianity

Main article: Devil in Christianity

In Christianity, terms that are synonymous with "Satan" include:

  • The most common English synonym for "Satan" is "Devil", which descends from Middle English devel, from Old English dēofol, that in turn represents an early Germanic borrowing of Latin diabolus (also the source of "diabolical"). This in turn was borrowed from Greek diabolos "slanderer", from diaballein "to slander": dia- "across, through" + ballein "to hurl".[29] In the New Testament, "Satan" occurs more than 30 times in passages alongside Diabolos (Greek for "the devil"), referring to the same person or thing as Satan.[30]
  • Beelzebub, meaning "Lord of Flies", is the contemptuous name given in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament to a Philistine god whose original name has been reconstructed as most probably "Ba'al Zabul", meaning "Baal the Prince".[31]
  • Satan is traditionally identified as the serpent who tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; thus, Satan has often been depicted as a serpent. Justin Martyr, who was born around 100 C.E., was the first to postulate this association. According to Kelly, Justin makes this association "casually", without giving an explanation for his reasoning. In Chapters 45 and 79 of Dialogue with Trypho, Justin identifies Satan and the Serpent, asserting that he tempted humankind for "an unspecified sinful reason" and was cursed as a result.[32] However, after Justin, the idea was promulgated by his student Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, and somewhat later by Tertullian.[33]
  • The Book of Revelation twice refers to "the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan" (12:9, 20:2). The Book of Revelation also refers to "the deceiver", from which is derived the common epithet "the great deceiver".[34]
  • Other terms identified with Satan include "the prince of this world" in the Book of John 12:31, 14:30; "the prince of the power of the air" also called Meririm, and "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" in the Book of Ephesians 2:2; and "the god of this world" in 2 Corinthians 4:4.[35]
  • From the fourth Century Lucifer is sometimes used in Christian theology to refer to Satan, as a result of identifying the fallen "son of the dawn" of Isaiah 14:12 with the "accuser" of other passages in the Old Testament.

In traditional Christian understanding of the holy Hebrew scriptures, the

The early Christian church encountered opposition from pagans such as Celsus who claimed "it is blasphemy...to say that the greatest God...has an adversary who constrains his capacity to do good" and says that Christians "impiously divide the kingdom of God, creating a rebellion in it, as if there were opposing factions within the divine, including one that is hostile to God".[37]

In other Christian beliefs (e.g. the beliefs of the Christadelphians) the word "satan" in the Bible is not regarded as referring to a supernatural, personal being but to any "adversary" and figuratively refers to human sin and temptation.[38]

Islam

Main article: Devil (Islam)

Shaitan (شيطان) is the equivalent of Satan in Islam. While Shaitan (شيطان, from the root šṭn شطن) is an adjective (meaning "astray" or "distant," sometimes translated as "devil") that can be applied to both man ("al-ins", الإنس) and Jinn, Iblis (Arabic pronunciation: [ˈibliːs]) is the personal name of the Devil who is mentioned in the Qur'anic account of Genesis.[39] According to the Qur'an, Iblis (the Arabic name used) disobeyed an order from Allah to bow to Adam and as a result was forced out of heaven and given respite until the day of judgment from further punishment.

When Allah commanded all of the angels to bow down before Adam (the first Human), Iblis, full of hubris and jealousy, refused to obey God's command (he could do so because he had free will), seeing Adam as being inferior in creation due to his being created from clay as compared to him (created of fire).[40]

It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis (Lucifer); He refused to be of those who prostrate."
(Allah) said: "What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?" He said: "I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.
Qur'an 7:11–12

It was after this that the title of "Shaitan" was given, which can be roughly translated as "Enemy," "Rebel," "Evil" or "Devil". Shaitan then claims that if the punishment for his act of disobedience is to be delayed until the Day of Judgment, that he will divert many of Adam's own descendants from the straight path during his period of respite.[41] God accepts the claims of Iblis and guarantees recompense to Iblis and his followers in the form of Hellfire. In order to test mankind and jinn alike, Allah allowed Iblis to roam the earth to attempt to convert others away from his path.[42] He was sent to earth along with Adam and Eve, after eventually luring them into eating the fruit from the forbidden tree.[43]

Yazidism

An alternate name for the main deity in the tentatively Indo-European pantheon of the Yazidi, Malek Taus, is Shaitan.[44] Rather than Satanic, however, Yazidism is better understood as a remnant of a pre-Islamic Middle Eastern Indo-European religion, and/or a ghulat Sufi movement founded by Shaykh Adi. The connection with Satan, originally made by Muslim outsiders, attracted the interest of 19th century European travelers and esoteric writers.

Bahá'í Faith

In the Bahá'í Faith, Satan is not regarded as an independent evil power as he is in some faiths, but signifies the lower nature of humans. `Abdu'l-Bahá explains: "This lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan — the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside."[45][46] All other evil spirits described in various faith traditions such as fallen angels, demons and jinns are also metaphors for the base character traits a human being may acquire and manifest when he turns away from God.[47]

Satanism

Main article: Satanism

Satanic groups have various opinions about Satan, ranging from the conviction that he exists and ought to be worshipped (theistic Satanism), to Anton Szandor LaVey's symbolic interpretation, which emphasizes individual will and pleasure-seeking. In Theistic Satanism, Satan is considered a positive force and deity who is either worshipped or revered.[48] In LaVeyan Satanism, Satan is regarded as holding virtuous characteristics.[49]

Much modern "Satanic" lore does not originate from theistic or LaVeyan Satanism, but from traditional Christian folk beliefs coupled with contemporary urban legends. An example is the Satanic ritual abuse scare of the 1980s — beginning with the memoir Michelle Remembers — which depicted Satanism as a vast conspiracy of elites with a predilection for child abuse and human sacrifice. This genre frequently describes Satan as physically incarnating in order to receive worship.

See also

Notes

References

  • Caldwell, William. "The Doctrine of Satan: I. In the Old Testament," The Biblical World, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Jan., 1913), pp. 29–33 in JSTOR
  • Caldwell, William. "The Doctrine of Satan: II. Satan in Extra-Biblical Apocalyptical Literature," The Biblical World, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Feb., 1913), pp. 98–102 in JSTOR
  • Caldwell, William. "The Doctrine of Satan: III. In the New Testament," The Biblical World, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Mar., 1913), pp. 167–172 in JSTOR
  • Coogan, Michael D.; ‘’A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its context’’; Oxford University Press 2009
  • Crenshaw, James L. ‘’Harper Collins Study Bible’’Harper Collins, 1989
  • Empson, William. Milton's God (1966)
  • ‘’The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, An illustrated Encyclopedia’’;ed. Buttrick, George Arthur; Abingdon Press 1962
  • Jacobs, Joseph, and Ludwig Blau. "Satan," The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906) online pp 68–71
  • Kelly, Henry Ansgar. Satan: A Biography. (2006). 360 pp. ISBN 0-521-60402-8, a study of the Bible and Western literature
  • Kent, William. "Devil." The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) Vol. 4. online older article
  • Osborne, B. A. E. "Peter: Stumbling-Block and Satan," Novum Testamentum, Vol. 15, Fasc. 3 (Jul., 1973), pp. 187–190 in JSTOR on "Get thee behind me, Satan!"
  • Rebhorn Wayne A. "The Humanist Tradition and Milton's Satan: The Conservative as Revolutionary," Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, Vol. 13, No. 1, The English Renaissance (Winter, 1973), pp. 81–93 in JSTOR
  • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity (1987) excerpt and text search
  • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Satan: The Early Christian Tradition (1987) excerpt and text search
  • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages (1986) excerpt and text search
  • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World (1990) excerpt and text search
  • Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History (1992) excerpt and text search
  • Schaff, D. S. "Devil" in New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1911), online
  • Scott, Miriam Van. The Encyclopedia of Hell (1999) excerpt and text search comparative religions; also popular culture
  • Wray, T. J. and Gregory Mobley. The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots (2005) excerpt and text search

External links

  • Catholic Encyclopedia
  • Jewish Encyclopedia
  • Internet Infidels – The Implausibility of Satan by Paul Doland
  • Sacred Texts site hosts texts—scriptures, literature and scholarly works—on Satan, Satanism and related religious matters
  • A Generational Theistic perspective on Satan, Lucifer and Satanas-Luciferi

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