Christianity identifies the Devil ("Satan") with the Serpent who tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and describes him as a "fallen angel" who terrorizes the world through evil, is the antithesis of Truth, and shall be condemned, together with the fallen angels who follow him, to eternal fire at the Last Judgement.
The Modern English word devil descends from the Middle English devel, from Old English dēofol, that in turn represents an early Germanic borrowing of Latin diabolus. This in turn was borrowed from Ancient Greek Greek: διάβολος (diábolos), "slanderer", from 'Greek: 'διαβάλλειν (diabállein) "to slander": διά- (diá-) "across, through" + βάλλειν (bállein) "to hurl", probably akin to the Sanskrit gurate "he lifts up".
In the New Testament, Satan occurs more than 30 times in passages alongside diábolos, referring to the same person or thing as Satan.
In mainstream Judaism there is no concept of a devil as in mainstream Christianity or Islam. Texts make no direct link between the serpent that tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis and the only references to Satan are in Zechariah and in Job.
For the Hasidim of the eighteenth century, ha-satan was Baal Davar.
In the Book of Wisdom, the devil is represented as the one who brought death into the world. The Second Book of Enoch contains references to a Watcher angel called Satanael, describing him as the prince of the Grigori who was cast out of heaven and an evil spirit who knew the difference between what was "righteous" and "sinful". A similar story is found in 1 Enoch; however, in that book, the leader of the Grigori is called Semjâzâ. In the apocryphal literature, Satan rules over a host of angels. Mastema, who induced God to test Abraham through the sacrifice of Isaac, is identical with Satan in both name and nature. The Book of Enoch contains references to Sathariel, thought also to be Sataniel and Satan'el. The similar spellings mirror that of his angelic brethren Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Gabriel, previous to his expulsion from Heaven.
|“||If he was once as handsome as he now is ugly and, despite that, raised his brows against his Maker, one can understand,||”|
In mainstream Christianity the devil is usually referred to as Satan. Some modern Christians consider the devil to be an angel who, along with one-third of the angelic host (the demons) rebelled against God and has consequently been condemned to the Lake of Fire. He is described as hating all humanity (or more accurately creation), opposing God, spreading lies and wreaking havoc on the souls of mankind. Other modern Christians consider the devil in the Bible to refer figuratively to human sin and temptation and to any immoral human system.
Satan is often identified as the serpent who convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; thus, Satan has often been depicted as a serpent. Though this identification is not present in the Adam and Eve narrative, this interpretation goes back at least as far as the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation, which specifically identifies Satan as being the serpent (Rev. 20:2).
In the Bible, the devil is identified with "the dragon" and "the old serpent" in the Book of Revelation 12:9, 20:2 have also been identified with Satan, as have "the prince of this world" in the Gospel of John 12:31, 14:30; and "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" in the Epistle to the Ephesians 2:2; and "the god of this world" in 2 Corinthians 4:4. He is also identified as the dragon in the Book of Revelation (e.g.), and the tempter of the Gospels (e.g.).
The devil is sometimes called Lucifer, particularly when describing him as an angel before his fall, although the reference in Isaiah 14:12 to Lucifer, or the Son of the Morning, is a reference to a Babylonian king.
Beelzebub is originally the name of a Philistine god (more specifically a certain type of Baal, from Ba‘al Zebûb, lit. "Lord of Flies") but is also used in the New Testament as a synonym for Satan. A corrupted version, "Belzeboub", appears in The Divine Comedy.
In other, non-mainstream, 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.
In Islam the Devil is referred to as Iblis or sometimes the Shaytan (Arabic: Like the usage of the word satan in the Hebrew Bible, Shaytan is also a word used to refer to beings called demons in the Christian Bible, especially the New Testament). Etymologically, Iblis means "the desperate (of God's mercy)" in Arabic. Thus, the name "Iblis" can be seen as a sobriquet given to Shaitan after falling from Grace.
According to the Book of Enoch and the Talmud, Azazel was the chief of the fallen angels who disobeyed God by committing adultery with women and teaching mankind magic and weaponry, leading to the biblical flood of Noah.
According to the Quran, God created Iblis, along with all of the other jinn, out of "smokeless fire". The primary characteristic of the Devil, besides hubris, is that he has no power other than the power to cast evil suggestions into the hearts of men and women. The Quran says that Satan was among the angels whom God ordered to bow down to Adam after his creation, it says in 18:50:
And [mention] when We said to the angels, "Prostrate to Adam," and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. Then will you take him and his descendants as allies other than Me while they are enemies to you? Wretched it is for the wrongdoers as an exchange.
Whether Iblis was actually an angel or a Jinn whom God elevated to the angelic assembly is a matter of debate among Muslim scholars. Some scholars, such as Ibn Abbas, believed that Iblis was actually an angel whom God created out of fire. He was the most worshipful and knowledgeable of angels. Thus, when the Quran identifies Iblis as a Jinn, it means that he belonged to a class of fiery creatures called Jinn, which encompasses both heavenly Jinn (fiery angels) and earthly (ordinary) Jinn. Such a notion is evocative of the biblical seraphim, a rank of angels looking like burning fire.
Long before Adam was created, traditions narrate, earthly jinn roamed the earth and spread corruption upon it. As a result, God sent an army of angels under the leadership of Iblis to fight them. Iblis' ego conflated after his victory on earth. He thought he was better than any other creature, and thus God's favorite. God's creation of Adam and his order to the angels to venerate him was a blow to Iblis' pride. While all the angels obeyed God and bowed down to Adam, Iblis disobeyed haughtily saying 38:76:
"I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay."
Consequently, God expelled Iblis from Heaven, with the latter promising to lure mankind into disbelief and evil as an act of revenge from their father, Adam. Also, some scholars call Iblis "The Peacock of Angels", referencing his foolish hubris.
On the other hand, other scholars believe that there are no such things as heavenly Jinn or fiery angels, and thus Iblis was not an angel. He was a Jinn whom God elevated to Heaven as a reward for his worship and righteousness. This explains why Iblis managed to refuse God's order, as angels do not have free will; they obey God's orders without questioning or complaining. As for the angels, they prostrated before Adam to show their homage and obedience to God. However, Iblis, adamant in his view that man is inferior, and unlike angels was given the ability to choose, made a choice of not obeying God. This caused him to be expelled by God, a fact that Iblis blamed on humanity. Hasan of Basra, an eminent Muslim theologian who lived in the 7th century A.D, was quoted as saying:
"Iblis was not an angel even for the time of an eye wink. He is the origin of Jinn as Adam is of Mankind. "
Initially, the Devil was successful in deceiving Adam, but once his intentions became clear, Adam and Eve repented to God and were freed from their misdeeds and forgiven. God gave them a strong warning about Iblis and the fires of Hell and asked them and their children (humankind) to stay away from the deceptions of their senses caused by the Devil.
According to the verses of the Qur’an, the Devil's mission until the Qiyamah or Resurrection Day (yaum-ul-qiyama) is to deceive Adam's children (mankind). After that, he will be put into the fires of Hell along with those whom he has deceived. The Devil is also referred to as one of the jinn, as they are all created from the smokeless fire. The Qur'an does not depict Iblis as enemy of God, as God is supreme over all his creations and Iblis is just one of his creations. Iblis' single enemy is humanity. He intends to discourage humans from obeying God. Thus, humankind is warned to struggle against the mischief of Iblis and the temptations he puts them in (Greater Jihad). The ones who succeed in this are rewarded with Paradise (jannath ul firdaus), attainable only by righteous conduct.
Sufi view of the Devil
Sufism teaches that people should love God without expecting anything in return. Consequently, unrequited love is regarded by Sufis as that perfect type of love because the pining lover expects nothing in return. Thus, some Sufis see Satan as the paradigm of love and the perfect lover. Despite the traditional interpretation of Satan's fall from Grace as an act of excessive pride and rebellion against God, some Sufis see it as an act of self-sacrifice for God's love. Satan refused to bow down to Adam out of his uncompromising monotheism and devotion; he refused to venerate anything or anyone but God. Al-Ghazali, a well-known medieval Sufi Muslim theologian, narrated:
Encountering Iblis on the slopes of Sinai, Moses hailed him and asked, “O Iblis, why did you not prostrate before Adam?” Iblis replied, “Heaven forbid that anyone worship anything but the One. […] This command was a test.”.
Satan believed that God ordered him to bow down to Adam to test his love for him. Satan should maintain his love for God at any cost. So, even if the cost of Satan's refusal to prostrate before Adam is falling from Grace, he should proceed with it out of his unconditional love for God. Abdul Karim Jili, a Muslim Sufi saint, believed that after the Day of Judgement, Hell will cease to exist, and Satan will be back to the service of God as one of his cherished angels.
In the Bahá'í Faith, a malevolent, superhuman entity such as a devil or satan is not believed to exist. These terms do, however, appear in the Bahá'í writings, where they are used as metaphors for the lower nature of man. Human beings are seen to have free will, and are thus able to turn towards God and develop spiritual qualities or turn away from God and become immersed in their self-centered desires. Individuals who follow the temptations of the self and do not develop spiritual virtues are often described in the Bahá'í writings with the word satanic. The Bahá'í writings also state that the devil is a metaphor for the "insistent self" or "lower self" which is a self-serving inclination within each individual. Those who follow their lower nature are also described as followers of "the Evil One".
Yazidis believe that God created the world and entrusted it to the care of seven Holy beings, among whom was Melek Taus (King Peacock in English). When God ordered his Holy beings to prostrate before Adam, Melek Taus refused to carry out God's order out of his devotion to him. As a result, God made him the leader of all angels and his deputy on earth. An alternative name for the main deity in the tentatively Indo-European pantheon of the Yazidi, Melek Taus, is Shaitan. Rather than Satanic, however, Yazidism is better understood as a remnant of a pre-Islamic Middle Eastern religion, and/or a ghulat Sufi movement founded by Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir. The connection with Satan, originally made by Muslim outsiders, attracted the interest of 19th-century European travelers and esoteric writers. The Yazidi narrative of Melek Taus bears a striking resemblance to the Islamic account of the Devil (especially the one held by some Sufis as mentioned before). Also, some Muslim scholars named the Devil the Peacock of Angels, a term almost equivalent to Melek Taus, King Peacock.
Figures similar to the Devil in other religions
Angra Mainyu (also: Aŋra Mainiiu) is the Avestan-language name of Zoroastrianism's hypostasis of the "destructive spirit". The Middle Persian equivalent is Ahriman (Anglicised pronunciation: //). According to the most common Zoroastrian notion, he is the twin spirit of Spenta Mainyu, the positive emanation of the almighty and all-knowing Ahura Mazda.
Mara (Sanskrit: māra; Chinese: 魔; pinyin: mó; Tibetan Wylie: bdud; Khmer: មារ; Burmese: မာရ်နတ်; Thai: มาร; Sinhalese: මාරයා), is a tempter figure in Buddhism, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making mundane things alluring, or the negative seem positive.He is the demon that tempted Gautama Buddha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara's daughters. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unwholesome impulses, unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life.
Apep (// or //) or Apophis (//; Ancient Greek: Ἄποφις; also spelled Apepi or Aapep) was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma'at (order/truth). He appears in art as a giant serpent. His name is reconstructed by Egyptologists as *ʻAʼpāpī, as it was written ꜥꜣpp(y) and survived in later Coptic as Ⲁⲫⲱⲫ Aphōph.
The deity Set was originally associated with both positive and negative roles: a protector of Ra on the solar boat from the Serpent of Chaos, and an usurper who killed and mutilated his brother just to assume the throne. However, he was later demonized and he became quite unpopular. According to Herman te Velde, the demonization of Set took place after Egypt's conquest by several foreign nations in the Third Intermediate and Late Periods. Set, who had traditionally been the god of foreigners, thus also became associated with foreign oppressors, including the Assyrian and Persian empires. It was during this time that Set was particularly vilified, and his defeat by Horus widely celebrated. Set's negative aspects were emphasized during this period. Set was the killer of Osiris, having hacked Osiris' body into pieces and dispersed it so that he could not be resurrected. The Greeks later linked Set with Typhon because both were evil forces, storm deities, and sons of the Earth that attacked the main gods.
Nevertheless, throughout this period, in some outlying regions of Egypt Set was still regarded as the heroic chief deity.
Set has also been classed as a Trickster deity who, as a god of disorder, resorts to deception to achieve bad ends.
In some religions and traditions, these titles are separate demons; others identify these names as guises of the devil. Even when thought of as individual demons, some are often thought of being under the Devil's direct control. This identifies only those thought of as the devil; List of demons has a more general listing.
- Asmodeus, Asmeday (Hebrew), Aesma-daeva (Avestan: King of Nine Hells, King of Demons
- Azazel, Asael (Hebrew): King of Devils
- Baphomet, a demon supposedly worshiped by the Knights Templar
- Beelzebub, ba'al zevuv בעל זבוב (Hebrew): Lord of the flies (Matthew 10:25)
These are titles that almost always refer to devil-figures.
- Angra Mainyu, Ahriman: "malign spirit", "unholy spirit"
- Der Leibhaftige [Teufel] (German): "[the devil] in the flesh, corporeal"
- Diabolus, Diabolos (Greek: Διάβολος)
- The Evil One
- Father of Lies (John 8:44), in contrast to Jesus ("I am the truth").
- Iblis, the devil in Islam
- Lord of the underworld / Lord of Hell / Lord of this World
- Lucifer / The Morning Star (Greek and Roman): bringer of light, illuminator; the planet Venus, often portrayed as Satan's name before he fell
- Old Scratch, The Stranger, Old Nick: a colloquialism for the devil, as indicated by the name of the character in the story The Devil and Tom Walker
- Prince of Darkness / Air
- Satan / The Adversary, Accuser, Prosecutor
- (The ancient/old/crooked/coiling) Serpent
- Shaitan, an Arabic name for Satan
- Kölski (Iceland)
- Voland (medieval France)
Claims that the god of the Old Testament is the devil
Several religious authors throughout history have advanced the notion that the god of the Old Testament is consistent in character with the devil. They make the case that the Biblical God is a divine force that wreaks suffering, death and destruction and that tempts or commands humanity into committing mayhem and genocide. Tertullian accuses Marcion of Sinope, the first great heretic of Christianity in the 1st century, that he
[held that] the Old Testament was a scandal to the faithful and accounted for it by postulating [that Jehovah was] a secondary deity, a demiurgus, who was god, in a sense, but not the supreme God; he was just, rigidly just, he had his good qualities, but he was not the good god, who was Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Church condemned his writings as heretical. John Arendzen (1909) in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) mentions that Eusebius accused Apelles, the 2nd-century AD Gnostic, of considering the Inspirer of Old-Testament prophecies to be not a god, but an evil angel. Hegemonius (4th century) accuses the Persian prophet Mani, founder of the Manichaean sect in the 3rd century AD, identified Jehovah as "the devil god which created the world" and said that "he who spoke with Moses, the Jews, and the priests is the [Prince] of Darkness, not the god of truth."
These writings refer to the Jewish God variously as "a demiurgus", "an evil angel", "the devil god", "the Prince of Darkness", "the source of all evil", "the Devil", "a demon", "a cruel, wrathful, warlike tyrant", "Satan" and "the first beast of the book of Revelation".
- Leeming, David (2005-11-17). The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 9780195156690.
- "devil". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. 29 June 2007.
- Leeming, David (2005-11-17). The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 9780195156690.
- "Definition of DEVIL". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
- Leeming, David (2005-11-17). The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 9780195156690.
- διάβολος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- "Definition of DEVIL". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
- Zechariah 3:1
- Job 1:11
- The Dictionary of Angels by Gustav Davidson, © 1967
- "But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world" - Book of Wisdom II. 24
- 2 Enoch 18:3
- "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 Satanail, thus he became different from the angels, but his nature did not change his intelligence as far as his understanding of righteous and sinful things" - 2 Enoch 31:4
- Martyrdom of Isaiah, 2:2; Vita Adæ et Evæ, 16)
- Book of Jubilees, xvii. 18
- Fritscher, Jack (2004). Popular Witchcraft: Straight from the Witch's Mouth. Popular Press. p. 23. ISBN 0-299-20304-2.
The pig, goat, ram — all of these creatures are consistently associated with the Devil.
- 2 Corinthians 2:2
- Rev. 12:9
- Mat. 4:1
- See, for example, the entries in Nave's Topical Bible, the Holman Bible Dictionary and the Adam Clarke Commentary.
- "Do you Believe in a Devil? Bible Teaching on Temptation.". Retrieved 2007-05-29.
- Tafsir al-Qur'an al-adhim (Interpretation of the Great Qur'an) – Ibn Kathir – commentary of surat al baqarah
- The Beginning and the End – Ibn Kathir – Volume I
- Adapted from islamqa.info
- The Beginning and the End – Ibn Kathir – Volume I, also the Koranic commentary of the same author
- Adapted from A History of God, Karen Armstrong
- Adapted from No god but God, Reza Aslan
- "The Greater Satan", Javad Nurbakhsh
- "The Disobedience of Iblis in Sufism – Journey to the Sea". journeytothesea.com.
- Al insan Al Kamel (the perfect human), Abdul Karim Jili
- Smith, Peter (2000). "satan". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 304. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- Bahá'u'lláh; Baháʼuʼlláh (1994) [1873–92]. "Tablet of the World". Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 87. ISBN 0-87743-174-4.
- Shoghi Effendi quoted in Hornby, Helen (1983). Hornby, Helen (Ed.), ed. Lights of Guidance: A Bahá'í Reference File. Bahá'í Publishing Trust, New Delhi, India. p. 513. ISBN 81-85091-46-3.
- Drower, E.S. The Peacock Angel. Being Some Account of Votaries of a Secret Cult and their Sanctuaries. London: John Murray, 1941.
- See, for instance, SN 4.25, entitled, "Māra's Daughters" (Bodhi, 2000, pp. 217-20), as well as Sn 835 (Saddhatissa, 1998, page 98). In each of these texts, Mara's daughters (Māradhītā) are personified by sensual Craving (taṇhā), Aversion (arati) and Passion (rāga).
- Mara-the god of death
- Erman, Adolf, and Hermann Grapow, eds. 1926–1953. Wörterbuch der aegyptischen Sprache im Auftrage der deutschen Akademien. 6 vols. Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs'schen Buchhandlungen. (Reprinted Berlin: Akademie-Verlag GmbH, 1971).
- Dean Andrew Nicholas (2009). "The Trickster Revisited: Deception as a Motif in the Pentateuch". Studies in Biblical Literature. 117: 16–17. ISSN 1089-0645.
- Grimm, Deutsches Wörterbuch s.v. "leibhaftig": "gern in bezug auf den teufel: dasz er kein mensch möchte sein, sondern ein leibhaftiger teufel. volksbuch von dr. Faust […] der auch blosz der leibhaftige heiszt, so in Tirol. Fromm. 6, 445; wenn ich dén sehe, wäre es mir immer, der leibhaftige wäre da und wolle mich nehmen. J. Gotthelf Uli d. pächter (1870) 345
- "Vísindavefurinn: How many words are there in Icelandic for the devil?". Visindavefur.hi.is. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Marcionites". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Gnosticism". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Manichaeism by Alan G. Hefner in The Mystica, undated
- Acta Archelai of Hegemonius, Chapter XII, c. AD 350, quoted in Translated Texts of Manicheism, compiled by Prods Oktor Skjærvø, page 68.
- History of the Acta Archelai explained in the Introduction, page 11
- Albigenses by Nicholas Weber in Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907
- Martin Luther by Oswald Bayer in The Reformation Theologians: An Introduction to Theology in the Early Modern Period, edited by Carter Lindberg, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002 (partial text available at Google Books). See The Evil One; God as the Devil; God's Wrath, page 58..9.
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, 1794, Part I, Chapter VII, Examination of the Old Testament
- A Book of Blood: Biblical atrocities on Ebon Musings, undated
- Walter L. Williams, private correspondence (quoted here with permission), 19 March 2009, referring to The Essential Teachings of Jesus and Mary by Walter L. Williams, unpublished manuscript, 24 December 2008, excerpts available at The Community Of Jesus And Mary
- The Old Serpent Chained by "Son of man", Author House, 2006. (Full text of book available by clicking "Free Preview", then "Download the free eBook".)
- The Origin of Satan, by Elaine Pagels (Vintage Books, New York 1995) explores the development, the "demonization" of the character of Satan against the background of the bitter struggle between the early Church and the Synagogue to be the legitimate heir of ancient Hebrew religious tradition. She discusses how Satan becomes a figure that reflects our own hatreds and prejudices, and the struggle between our loving selves and our fearful, combative selves.
- The Old Enemy: Satan & the Combat Myth, by Neil Forsyth (Princeton, New Jersey, 1987) seeks to show how Satan emerged from ancient mythological traditions and is best understood not as a principle of evil, but as a narrative character in the context of "the Combat Myth". Forsyth tells the Devil's story from the Epic of Gilgamesh through to the writings of St. Augustine.
- The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity, by Jeffrey Burton Russell (Meridian, New York 1977) is "a history of the personification of evil" which, to make things clear, he calls "the Devil". Accessible and engaging, full of photographs illustrating the text, this is the first of a four volume series on the history of the concept of the Devil. The following volumes are, Satan: The Early Christian Tradition, Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages, and Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World.
- The Devil in Legend and Literature, by Maximilian Rudwin (Open Court, La Salle, Illinois, 1931, 1959) is a compendium of "the secular and sacred adventures of Satan."
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- The dictionary definition of Devil at Wiktionary
- Media related to The Devil at Wikimedia Commons
- Entry from the Catholic Encyclopedia