Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $4.82 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics Paperback – April 30, 1996
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
. . . ground-breaking . . . Many times in the course of reading her explications I found myself saying, "Of course, why hasn't someone said this before?" By showing how the sectarian demonization of the "intimate enemies"--Jews and heretics--shaped early Christianity, the book helps us to understand the power of irrational forces that still need to be confronted in contemporary society. -- S. David Sperling, professor of Bible, Hebrew Union College --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Pagels, whose Gnostic Gospels (LJ 1/15/79) was a best seller and a major award winner, here examines the New Testament tendency to associate the Devil with Jews resistant to the teachings of Christianity.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
As he first appeared in the Hebrew Bible, Satan is not necessarily evil, much less opposed to God. But an adversary not described as a particular character. He then evolved into a far more malevolent figure and given names like Satan, Beelzebub, Semihhazah, Azazel, Belial, and the Prince of Darkness.
Later, in Hebrew scripture, the devil or the evil ones became a way of characterizing one's actual enemies as the embodiment of transcendent forces and that the forces of evil could act through certain people. Some of these evil forces could be chief priests and scribes in opposing factions.
Thus the Jews demonized other Jews, the Christians demonized Jews, the Romans and the Pagans. Early church leaders demonized other Gnostic leaders.
The gospel writers saw the Jewish leaders as doing Satan's work to destroy Jesus. The Essenes saw a cosmic battle between angels and demons, God and Satan. They demonized their fellow Jews. Had Satan not existed, the Essenes would have invented him.
Pagels in the later chapters gives us a description of some of the early church fathers, like Origin, Tertullian, Irenaeus and Justin, and how their lives shaped Christianity.
The entire book is a brief synopsis of the Bible and life in the ancient world. Anyone with an interest in those things would benefit from reading this book.
The evolution of the notion of Satan progresses from an angel who tests people for God, posing questions and proposing alternatives to the righteous in contravention of God's will, into the embodiment of evil, whether as a being or a force within one's heart and mind. Pagels explains this strictly from both Biblical and "heretical" texts, with a keen eye on political developments of the time. First, in the Hebrew Bible, Satan (or Bielzebub or by any array of names) is an angel. Slowly, he becomes the force behind sectarian disagreements, from intra-Jewish ones to opponents of Jesus' supposed vision for the Jews. He also serves as the source of evil to be found in GOYIM, or those who are not of the nation of Israel. Second, as Christianity progressively becomes dominated by gentiles, the notion of the devil's evil work moves from a) vilification of non-believing Jews, Romans, and Pagans, to b) the condemnation of those Christians who promote rival interpretations to one's own, ending in c) a question of what is in one's own heart and what causes one to sin.
All of these notions, Pagels argues persuasively, came to dominate the consciences of the various branches of monotheism over the next 2,000 years. With the accusation (or "demonization") of the "other" as irredeemably evil and not on the side of God and his righteous, it creates a kind of solidarity and certainty in the face of sometimes overwhelming odds - and an excuse to treat others as less than human in a cosmic war. This makes her argument, in my view, essential reading.
Nonetheless, I was looking for an examination of Satan himself, not only as a socio-political phenomenon, but as imagery, characterization, etc. As he appears in this book, Satan is a kind of morphing gravity well, a murky socio-political force. While very interesting, I was disappointed and will have to seek the other perspective elsewhere.
REcommended with enthusiasm. It is a great review of early Christianity and crucial to understanding the monotheistic mind.
This book was so engaging and useful, I bought a hardback copy. This is my go-to book for Satan and other ideas dealing with the Bible.
I was too a bit puzzled by the statement, "Ishmael, although he was Abraham’s son, the progenitor of the Arab people..."
How did that slip by? Who really thinks that Ishmael was the Arabs' progenitor?
Most recent customer reviews
Aside from doing a sort of double-take when I realized what this was bore little...Read more