Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Satan (שָׂטָן Standard Hebrew Satan, from the proper name Σατανάς Sátanas, Arabic شيطان Shaitan: both words mean "Adversary; accuser") is a Judeo-Christian term which is, together with the Islamic term Shaitan, traditionally applied to an angel, demon, or minor god in many religions. The idea of this ultimate agent of evil was most likely introduced by the Iranian (Persian) prophet Zoroaster as the Prince of Darkness, whose ideas for the first time introduced Demons and Angels to humanity, and would later influence Judeo-Christian beliefs. Although, Zoroaster’s beliefs concentrated on the duality and the struggle of the ultimate good and the ultimate evil, it would be the Jews, having adapted these beliefs, who would later portray Satan as the inferior enemy of God, and not the all power evil fighting the all powerful creator of man, which is what Zoroasterians believed. Satan plays various roles in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha and the New Testament. In the Hebrew Bible, Satan is an angel that God uses to test man for various reasons usually dealing with his level of piety (i.e. the test in the Book of Job).

In the Apocrypha and New Testament, Satan is portrayed as an evil, rebellious demon who is the enemy of God and mankind. However, in both Jewish and Christian theology Satan is no longer understood as a true equal to God.

Since both religions are intentionally monotheistic, Satan is seen, rather, as a creature created by God-originally good, but now fallen of his own choosing. This prevents a true dualism in both religions. Good is the original status of all things made by God. Corruption comes later at the hand of created moral agents (consider Augustine of Hippo's notion of privation here).  Thus Satan is always under God's providential control and at times even his unwilling agent.


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