This volume completes Russell's history of the concept of the Devil from antiquity to the present. (The series includes The Devil, Cornell, 1977; Satan, LJ 10/15/81; and Lucifer , LJ 11/15/84.) The concept, fragmented somewhat by the Reformation and even more by the rise of rationalism, became in the 19th century a powerful symbol of rebellion against aristocracy and "an ironic metaphor of the corruption and foolishness of humanity." In the 20th century genocide has made the Devil theologically and philosophically an issue. Russell largely succeeds in being the objective historian who carefully pursues the persistence of this concept in popular culture, art, literature, philosophy, and theology. An excellent and important intellectual history. Carolyn M. Craft, English, Philosophy, & Modern Language Dept., Longwood Coll., Farmville, Va.
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"Jeffrey Burton Russell is not only a conscientious historian, he is also an introspective essayist who acknowledges his own continuing struggle to understand the nature and the source of evil."―Robert Coles, New York Times Book Review
"It is more than the history of demonological imagination as it has been displayed for half a millennium in theological controversies, in poetry, novels, paintings, and witch trials: it is the history of European man trying to cope with the terrifying riddle of radical evil. . . . Both an extremely rich scholarly work and an exiquisite exercise in a topic that is unlikely ever to die off in our civilization."―Leslek Kolakowski, Journal of Modern History
"This book moves with sustained seriousness and brilliance across five centuries, from Luther's time to our own . . . and, although it has all the virtues of great intellectual history, it is explicitly rooted in a profound moral analysis of our own era."―M. D. Aeschliman, National Review
"No few sentences can adequately convey the book's richness of content and seriousness of purpose. Russell has without doubt bequeathed us a magnificent synthesis of Western culture's modern, tortuous grappling with the ideas of radical evil and the devil."―Brian Easlea, American Historical Review
"An excellent and important intellectual history."―Library JournalSee all Editorial Reviews