August 25th, 2010 | 5 Comments
This is the first post in a guest series by Arcamaede, who has contributed previously. Hope you enjoy it!
This is the article that just wouldn’t die. It has been several months in the making and due to ever increasing materials on the topic, it has been broken into six pieces. I highly suspect it will evolve even after publication.
This article has been inspired primarily by my own curiosity into the origins, meanings, and application of all things “ancient.” I don’t see the material herein as conclusive or by any stretch of the imagination complete. This series is a result of my efforts to learn and grow in both knowledge and understanding.
I need to state my position from the outset that I see God as a reality which human words fail to encompass or describe as He is. I understand evil arises as a product of social interactions between humans and does not have an existence outside of them. Satan is a personification embodying those destructive interactions.
Approaching evil with this assumption presents problems. A large part of the later utilization of the character of Satan will be to mitigate or absolve God from the problem of human suffering. Because of this, we’ll be segregating “moral” evil from things like floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. I’m taking a naturalistic view of these — they are neither good nor evil; they just happen.
I do not want to leave the impression that I’m trying to make evil itself a moot concept. The goal in this is to understand better the struggle that the communities that produced these ancient writings went through as they themselves struggled with evil and suffering.
The foundational challenge in this study has been untangling later conceptions of Satan from more ancient ones. There are many cases where untangling becomes difficult and speculative. We will attempt to untangle the sources of Satan over a series of five articles.
Part 2, Satan in the Old Testament, will introduce us to the “Accuser” and his role in the Divine Council.
Part 3, Co-evolution of pre-Christian Satan, will show how Jewish Scripture collides with outside influences.
Part 4, New Testament Development, will show how the New Testament presents Satan as a full-blown personification of Evil at war with a good God.
Part 5, Post 1st Century Development, demonstrates that modern theology of Satan had quite a bit of help from the early Christian Fathers.
Part 6, Modern Development, will be packed with interesting notes on how Satan became a commercial success despite an increasing doubt in his actual existence.
Hopefully these articles will come out roughly a week apart from one another (or less depending on favorable weather). Given that I’m not a professional theologian, I’m forced to sprinkle these writings between actual work, family, and other spiritual activities.
Please feel free to comment agreement, disagreement, and hopefully contribution to the development of the ideas in each article.