- Series: Cornell Paperbacks
- Paperback: 356 pages
- Publisher: Cornell University Press (August 8, 1986)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080149429X
- ISBN-13: 978-0801494291
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages (Cornell Paperbacks)
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"An attractively written survey of the way the devil appears in art, literature and treatise, during the medieval period, with many signs of an engaging sense of personal commitment to the subject, and an attempt to show its contemporary relevance."―John O. Ward, Journal of Religious History
"If, as Chesterton claimed, the devil's greatest triumph was convincing the modern world that he doesn't exist, Jeffrey Burton Russell means to rob him of his victory. Lucifer is both a scholarly assessment of the development of diabology in the Middle Ages and an impassioned plea to the 20th century to recognize and acknowledge the existence of real, objective evil. The third in a series of works tracing the history of the devil . . . it represents a formidable undertaking: the devil's history is integrally related to the problem of evil, which is in turn at the heart of Western religious thought. Each of the volumes comprises, in essence, a judicious and able tour of Christian theology from the villain's point of view. . . . In Lucifer, Russell provides a wealth of documentatlon on the extent to which the devil is simply the projection onto a living being of our fears and hostilities about the universe, our neighbors, and ourselves. . . . A pleasure to read ."―John Boswell, The New Republic
"Russell shows an admirable mastery of a vast and varied array of sources, and an equally admirable skill in summarizing them."―Norman Cohn, New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Jeffrey Burton Russell is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Top customer reviews
Russell ends this volume with the chapter on "The Existence of the Devil". Here Russell puts forward his personal opinion and makes an impassioned plea for modern theology not to throw away the idea of the devil, however one may perceive him. Russell makes a very poignant point when he states; "The subtraction of the devil has in fact led some modern theologians to evade or trivialise evil. It is curious that at a time when evil threatens to engulf us totally, when evil has already claimed more victims in this century than in all previous centuries combined, that one hears less and less on the subject from theology. Any religion that does not come to terms with evil is not worthy of attention."
Having said this though, Russell goes on to state that the devil as an entity is not real, but that "the devil is a metaphor for the evil in the cosmos....We may now be in need of another name for this force." While these two views are not totally mutually exclusive, they are in some way contradictory. Russell's stated personal opinion is on a very steep slope, and is probably how so many scholars today came to disavow any type of evil entity, Russell's view is only a very small step away from what he is warning against; denying evil totally.
So conservative Christians beware, this study of the devil is biased from the opinion that an independent entity such as the devil probably does not exist.
Overall this is a great treatise on the theological personification of evil in the Middle Ages.
On the plus side this is the historical period where Russell is an expert so you would expect it to be the strongest of the three volumes. On the minus side, in this volume, as with the others, one is constantly uneasy that the historical perspective is being underpinned by the author's own belief in a literal fallen heavenly being, and too often it is not clear whether the focus is medieval society or metaphysics.
Incidentally, anyone buying this book because of the word 'Lucifer' in the title will be disappointed that Russell does not address how the specific concept of 'Lucifer' developed from Origen and Augustine onwards. Neither here, nor in the previous volume 'Satan', does Dr Russell deal in any depth with the process by which a name which for the first 4 centuries of Christianity was used as a title of Christ (because the Latin word Lucifer appears in the Latin Vulgate as Peter's "day star"), to the point that early Christians used to name their children Lucifer (eg Bishop Lucifer of Cagliari), suddenly by the 5th and 6th centuries was being used as a title for a fallen angel (based on Isaiah 14:12 being reapplied).
The best thus far! Don't give up yet, only one books to go!!