Satan (Hebrew: שָּׂטָן satan, meaning "enemy" or "adversary"; Arabic: شيطان shaitan, meaning; "astray", "distant", or sometimes "devil") is a figure appearing in the texts of the Abrahamic religions who brings evil and temptation, and is known as the deceiver who leads humanity astray. Some religious groups teach that he originated as an angel, or something of the like, who used to possess great piety and beauty, but fell because of hubris, seducing humanity into the ways of falsehood and sin, and has power in the fallen world. In the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, Satan is primarily an accuser and adversary, a decidedly malevolent entity, also called the devil, who possesses abhorrent qualities.
Although Satan is generally viewed as having negative characteristics, some groups have very different beliefs. In Theistic Satanism, Satan is considered a deity who is either worshipped or revered. In LaVeyan Satanism, "Satan" is a symbol of virtuous characteristics and liberty.
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. 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".
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:
- 1 Chronicles 21:1, "Satan stood up against Israel" (KJV) or "And there standeth up an adversary against Israel" (Young's Literal Translation)
- Psalm 109:6b "and let Satan stand at his right hand" (KJV) or "let an accuser stand at his right hand." (ESV, etc.)
- 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"
- 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
At the beginning of the book, Job is a good person "who revered God and turned away from evil" (Job 1:1), and has therefore been rewarded by God. When the angels present themselves to God, Satan comes as well. God informs Satan about Job's blameless, morally upright character. Between Job 1:9–10 and 2:4–5, Satan points out that God has given Job everything that a man could want, so of course Job would be loyal to God; Satan suggests that Job's faith would collapse if all he has been given (even his health) were to be taken away from him. God therefore gives Satan permission to test Job. In the end, Job remains faithful and righteous, and there is the implication that Satan is shamed in his defeat.
Second Temple period
Some scholars see contact with religious dualism in Babylon, and early Zoroastrianism in particular, as influencing Second Temple Judaism, and consequently early Christianity. Subsequent development of Satan as a "deceiver" has parallels with the evil spirit in Zoroastrianism, known as the Lie, who directs forces of darkness.
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 to refer to 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.
Dead Sea scrolls and Pseudepigrapha
In Enochic Judaism, the concept of Satan being an opponent of God and a chief evil figure among demons seems to have taken root in Jewish pseudepigrapha during the Second Temple period, particularly in the apocalypses. 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. 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 and an evil spirit who knew the difference between what was "righteous" and "sinful". 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.
In Judaism, Satan is a term used since its earliest biblical contexts to refer to a human opponent. 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.
In medieval Judaism, the Rabbis rejected these Enochic literary works into the Biblical canon, making every attempt to root them out. Traditionalists and philosophers in medieval Judaism adhered to rational theology, rejecting any belief in rebel or fallen angels, and viewing evil as abstract. 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.
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.
|“||If he was once as handsome as he now is ugly and, despite that, raised his brows against his Maker, one can understand,||”|
Satan is traditionally identified as the serpent who tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, as he was in Judaism. Thus Satan has often been depicted as a serpent. Christian agreement with this can be found in the works of Justin Martyr, in Chapters 45 and 79 of Dialogue with Trypho, where Justin identifies Satan and the serpent. Other early church fathers to mention this identification include Theophilus and Tertullian.
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.
For most Christians, Satan is believed to be an angel who rebelled against God. In the New Testament he is called "the ruler of the demons" (Matthew 12:24), "the ruler of the world", and "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4). The Book of Revelation describes how Satan was cast out of Heaven, having "great anger" and waging war against "those who obey God's commandments". Ultimately, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire.
The early Christian church encountered opposition from pagans such as Celsus, who claimed that "it is blasphemy...to say that the greatest God...has an adversary who constrains his capacity to do good" and said 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".
In Christianity, there are many synonyms for Satan. 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". In the New Testament, "Satan" occurs more than 30 times in passages alongside diabolos, slanderer, referring to the same person or thing as Satan.
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". This pun was later used to refer to Satan as well.
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".
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. According to the Qur'an, Iblis (the Arabic name used) disobeyed an order from Allah to bow to Adam, and as a result Iblis was forced out of heaven. However, he was given respite from further punishment until the day of judgment.
According to the Qur'an, God created Satan, 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 Satan 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, believe that Satan was actually an angel whom God created out of fire. He was the most worshipful and knowledgeable of angels. Thus, when the Quran identifies Satan 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. God sent an army of angels under the leadership of Satan to fight them. After his victory, Satan's ego conflated; he thought he was better than any other creature, and thus God's favorite. God's creation of Man and his order to the angels to venerate him was a blow to Satan's pride. While all the angels obeyed God and bowed down to Adam, Satan disobeyed haughtily saying 38:76:
"I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay."
Consequently, God expelled Satan 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 Satan "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 Satan was not an angel. He was a Jinn whom God elevated to Heaven as a reward for his worship and righteousness. This explains why Satan 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, Satan, 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 Satan 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."
It was after Satan's disobedience of God that the title of "Shaitan" was given to him, 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, then he will divert many of Adam's own descendants from the straight path during his period of respite. 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. He was sent to earth along with Adam and Eve, after eventually luring them into eating the fruit from the forbidden tree.
Sufi view of Satan
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, narrates:
Encountering Eblis on the slopes of Sinai, Moses hailed him and asked, “O Eblis, why did you not prostrate before Adam?” Eblis 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, believes 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.
An alternative name for the main deity in the tentatively Indo-European pantheon of the Yazidis, Melek Taus, is Shaitan. However, rather than being Satanic, Yazidism can be understood as a remnant of a pre-Islamic Middle Eastern Indo-European religion, and/or a ghulat Sufi movement founded by Shaykh Adi. Conversely the similarity and parallels that Melek Taus has with the entity known as Satan that Christians and Muslims believe in is well noted by scholars and researchers. The connection with Satan, originally made by Muslims, attracted the interest of 19th-century European travelers and esoteric writers.
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." 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.
Theistic Satanism, commonly referred to as "devil worship", holds that Satan is an actual deity or force to revere or worship that individuals may contact and supplicate to, and represents loosely affiliated or independent groups and cabals which hold the belief that Satan is a real entity rather than an archetype.
Among non-Satanists, much modern Satanic folklore does not originate with the beliefs or practices of theistic or atheistic Satanists, but a mixture of medieval Christian folk beliefs, political or sociological conspiracy theories, and 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.
Atheistic Satanism, most commonly referred to as LaVeyan Satanism, holds that Satan does not exist as a literal anthropomorphic entity, but rather as a symbol of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be permeated and motivated by a force that has been given many names by humans over the course of time. In this religion, "Satan" is not viewed or depicted as a hubristic, irrational, and fraudulent creature, but is rather seen as being Prometheus-like in terms of attributes, symbolizing liberty and the like.To adherents, he also serves as a conceptual framework and an external metaphorical projection of the Satanist's highest personal potential. In his essay "Satanism: The Feared Religion", the current High Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter H. Gilmore, further expounds that "...Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates. The reality behind Satan is simply the dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things. Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will".
LaVeyan Satanists embrace the original etymological meaning of the word "Satan" (Hebrew: שָּׂטָן satan, meaning "adversary"). According to Peter H. Gilmore, "The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being"
- http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13219-satan "Term used in the Bible with the general connotation of "adversary", being applied (1) to an enemy in war (I Kings v. 18 [A. V. 4]; xi. 14, 23, 25), from which use is developed the concept of a traitor in battle (I Sam. xxix. 4); (2) to an accuser before the judgment-seat (Ps. cix. 6); and (3) to any opponent (II Sam. xix. 23 [A. V. 22]). The word is likewise used to denote an antagonist who puts obstacles in the way, as in Num. xxii. 32, where the angel of God is described as opposing Balaam in the guise of a satan or adversary; so that the concept of Satan as a distinct being was not then known."
- Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, page 290, Wendy Doniger
- Leeming, David Adams (2005). The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford University Press. p. 347. ISBN 978-0-19-515669-0.
- Contemporary Religious Satanisim: A Critical Reader, Jesper Aagaard Petersen – 2009
- Who's ? Right: Mankind, Religions and the End Times, page 35, Kelly Warman-Stallings – 2012
- ed. Buttrick, George Arthur; The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, An illustrated Encyclopedia
- Crenshaw, James L. Harper Collins Study Bible (NRSV), 1989
- Stephen M. Hooks – 2007 "As in Zechariah 3:1–2 the term here carries the definite article (has'satan="the satan") and functions not as a ... the only place in the Hebrew Bible where the term "Satan" is unquestionably used as a proper name is 1 Chronicles 21:1."
- Coogan, Michael D.; A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its context, Oxford University Press, 2009
- Rachel Adelman The Return of the Repressed: Pirqe De-Rabbi Eliezer p65 "However, in the parallel versions of the story in Chronicles, it is Satan (without the definite article),"
- Septuagint 108:6 κατάστησον ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν ἁμαρτωλόν καὶ διάβολος στήτω ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ
- Ruth R. Brand Adam and Eve p88 – 2005 "Later, however, King Hadad 1 Kings 11:14) and King Rezon (verses 23, ... Numbers 22:22, 23 does not use the definite article but identifies the angel of YHWH as "a satan."
- HarperCollins Study Bible (NRSV)
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- Jeffrey Burton Russell, The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive ...1977, page 102 "This conflict between truth and the lie was one of the main sources of Zarathushtra's dualism: the prophet perceived Angra Mainyu, the lord of evil, as the personification of the lie. For Zoroastrians (as for the Egyptians), the lie was the essence ... "
- Peter Clark, Zoroastrianism: An Introduction to Ancient Faith 1998, page 152 "There are so many features that Zoroastrianism seems to share with the Judeo-Christian tradition that it would be difficult to ... Historically the first point of contact that we can determine is when the Achaemenian Cyrus conquered Babylon ..539 BC"
- Winn, Shan M.M. (1995). Heaven, heroes, and happiness : the Indo-European roots of Western ideology. Lanham, Md.: University press of America. p. 203. ISBN 0819198609.
- Henry Ansgar Kelly Satan: a biography 2006 "However, for Hadad and Rezon they left the Hebrew term untranslated and simply said satan.. in the three passages in which a supra-Human satan appears: namely, Numbers, Job, Zechariah
- Jackson, David R. (2004). Enochic Judaism. London: T&T Clark International. pp. 2–4. ISBN 0826470890.
- Berlin, editor in chief, Adele (2011). The Oxford dictionary of the Jewish religion (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 651. ISBN 0199730040.
- 2 Enoch 18:3. On this tradition, see A. Orlov, "The Watchers of Satanael: The Fallen Angels Traditions in 2 (Slavonic) Enoch," in: A. Orlov, Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology (Albany: SUNY, 2011) 85–106.
- "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
- See The Book of Wisdom: With Introduction and Notes, p. 27, Object of the book, by A. T. S. Goodrick.
- [ Introduction to the Book of Jubilees, 15. Theology. Some of our Author's Views: Demonology, by R.H. Charles.
- Based on the Jewish exegesis of 1 Samuel 29:4 and 1 Kings 5:18 – Oxford dictionary of the Jewish religion, 2011, p. 651 "Satan is rarely mentioned in tannaitic literature; later, chiefly Babylonian, aggadah enlarges the scope of his influence and activities. Perhaps because of the influential presence of Satan as a name or character in the New Testament and the"
- Bamberger, Bernard J. (2006). Fallen angels : soldiers of satan's realm (1. paperback ed.). Philadelphia, Pa.: Jewish Publ. Soc. of America. p. 148,149. ISBN 0827607970.
- Robert Eisen Associate Professor of Religious Studies George Washington University The Book of Job in Medieval Jewish Philosophy 2004 p120 "Moreover, Zerahfiiah gives us insight into the parallel between the Garden of Eden story and the Job story alluded to ... both Satan and Job's wife are metaphors for the evil inclination, a motif Zerahfiiah seems to identify with the imagination."
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- Kelly, Harry Ansgar (2007). Satan: a Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-521-84339-3.
- Revelation 20:10
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- The Beginning and the End - Ibn Kathir - Volume I, also the Koranic commentary of the same author
- [Quran 17:62]
- [Quran 17:63–64]
- [Quran 7:20–22]
- Adapted from A History of God, Karen Armstrong
- Adapted from No god but God, Reza Aslan
- "The Greater Satan", Javad Nurbakhsh
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- Al insan Al Kamel (the perfect human), Abdul Karim Jili
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- Satanism and Demonology, by Lionel & Patricia Fanthorpe, Dundurn Press, 8 Mar 2011, p. 74, "If, as theistic Satanists believe, the devil is an intelligent, self-aware entity..." "Theistic Satanism then becomes explicable in terms of Lucifer's ambition to be the supreme god and his rebellion against Yahweh. [...] This simplistic, controntational view is modified by other theistic Satanists who do not regard their hero as evil: far from it. For them he is a freedom fighter..."
- "Interview_MLO". Angelfire.com. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
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- Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the Media, by Bill Ellis, University Press of Kentucky p. 125 In discussing myths about groups accused of Satanism, "...such myths are already pervasive in Western culture, and the development of the modern "Satanic Scare" would be impossible to explain without showing how these myths helped organize concerns and beliefs". Accusations of Satanism are traced from the witch hunts, to the Illuminati, to the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic in the 1980s, with a distinction made between what modern Satanists believe and what is believed about Satanists.
- Satan in America: The Devil We Know, by W. Scott Poole, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 16 Nov 2009, pp. 42–43
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- Contemporary religious Satanism: a critical anthology, page 45, Jesper Aagaard Petersen, 2009
- High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Satanism: The Feared Religion". churchofsatan.com.
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- 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), Mainline Protestant; vol 3 pp 414–417 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
|Look up Satan in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Satan|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Satan.|
- Catholic Encyclopedia — "Devil"
- Jewish Encyclopedia — "Satan"
- The Internet Sacred Texts Archive hosts texts—scriptures, literature and scholarly works—on Satan, Satanism and related religious matters
- The Brotherhood of Satan’s perspective on Satan and Lucifer.