Customer Review

259 of 282 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly what I was expecting, September 9, 2003
This review is from: The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics (Paperback)
This book is a historical study of early Christians and their relations with opposing groups. Pagel starts with a detailed interpretation of the Gospel according to Mark as a historical document, juxtaposed with a description of the rebellion that was raging amongst the Jews in Palestine at the time the account was written. She then goes on to some Old Testament interpretations of the word and concept of Satan. Following this, she takes up the remaining gospels in turn, interpreting their historical content in the political context of the times when they were written. She also considers lesser known Christian religious writings, such as the Gnostic scriptures.
Reading this book made me a lot more familiar with some of the political issues that were of concern to early Christians, and how these issues may have been reflected in the writing of the Gospels. But I was a little disappointed in the book because I felt that most of the focus was on general Christian history and politics and not on the central questions posed on the back cover concerning the origin of Satan. It seemed that the idea of using the question of the invention of Satan as the central theme of the book was almost pasted onto individual articles as an afterthought. In reading each chapter, it often felt like the chapter was meant to be a self-standing entity, and details concerning the conception of Satan were added simply to glue the book together. Many times, Pagel's comments touched on how the early Christians related to opposition, and how they might even demonize opposing groups, but how this led to the invention of the concept of Satan is still unclear to me after reading this book.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 23, 2007 11:01:12 AM PDT
Maku Lotus says:
If one is looking for a book on the origins of Satan, "A History of Satan" is very good. It -is- a translation, and a bit dry, but explains Satanic and quasiSatanic figures throughout the ancient world, leading up to the evolution of our modern Satan.

I have not read this particular book, "the rigin of Satan" but it looks as if it describes the origins of our modern Satan, from the beginnings of Christianity. A good book, no doubt, for those interested in the modern satan. For the ancient Satan, pick up "A History of Satan".

Posted on Dec 31, 2010 2:45:08 PM PST
Mr. says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Sep 14, 2011 5:28:30 AM PDT
ghostrider says:
Thank-you Erika for your review. The points you make are precisely what I needed to know about this book. It is a political statement.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2012 6:19:30 AM PDT
A Customer says:
Mr., what about where it says in the "Old Testament" or Book of the Jews that we should stone people to death for working on the Sabbath or eating shellfish? Same goes for your daughter who enters the temple while menstruating. If a husband suspects that his new bride is not in fact a virgin he should drag her over to her father's house and stone her to death on his doorstep. Sounds pretty harsh...

And then there's the parts where it says that the Earth is Flat and the center of the Universe etc. It sounds pretty out dated.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 10:55:27 AM PDT
Terence M. says:
you seem testy. while right that there is no "old testament" for these raised on the christian canon, it is hardly bigotry to use the simple two words "old testament" to distinguish one set of books from another.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2012 1:03:44 PM PDT
josey says:
can't find "a history of satan." do you know the author?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2013 6:21:25 AM PST
amen...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2014 10:58:25 AM PST
The Devil: A History of Satan from Antiquity to the Present
by P.G. Maxwell-Stuart
Amazon has a similar title by the author.Satan: A Biography

Posted on May 27, 2014 9:13:30 AM PDT
Ms. Pagels is a great Biblical historian and I enjoy her books for that reason. However, I agree with Ms. Mitchell that the origin of Satan was still unclear to me after reading the book. It is great reading of early Christian history.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2015 6:06:37 AM PST
CRGForce says:
Show me where it states that the earth is flat, other than a colloquial figure of speech such as "to the ends of the earth."
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