Manual The Origin Of Satan

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At stake in this passage is the office of high priest. There is no doubt that holding office within the empire was predicated on loyalty to the king, and this likely involved declarations of loyalty, at appointment and perhaps also periodically confirmed.

The Satan and Demons - Question and Response

No certain attestations for a ceremony currently exist. Better attested for the Achaemenid era is another phenomenon that implies at least a modicum of ceremonial setting: the king gave gifts, often luxurious clothing and jewelry, as marks of honor, status, and loyalty.


  1. How Did All This Happen?.
  2. MORE BY ELAINE PAGELS.
  3. The Biblical Origins of Satan!

The known evidence for Achaemenid structures of oversight provide a new way to read Zech 3. In pre-exilic times the Davidic king chose the high priest.

The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics

In the Achaemenid era, that would mean the priest would be chosen by the Great King. In practical terms, however, most of such kingly duties were fulfilled by royal surrogates, the satraps. In other words, Zech 3 would represent a court of a lower scale than in the pre-exilic period; the king is now only involved by proxy, and so is YHWH.

Often the vision in Zech 3 is described as an investiture or consecration ceremony for Joshua.


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  • Yet the terminology argues against this. Surely these are abnormal for a priestly consecration. First, the scene does not correspond with the biblical literature on consecration. There is no oil, nor sacrifice, nor priestly regalia see below. Further, the ceremony involves elite rather than priestly clothing. This makes a priestly ordination unlikely. Rather, it fits in with known antecedents for being honored by the Achaemenid king. The terms here ought to be understood, therefore, as emblems of honor and victory rather than in terms of royal coronation.

    If the scene in Zech 3 is understood as a satrapal appointment to office, then the robe and turban make sense as marks of royal favor rather than of a priesthood usurping royal rights. As noted above, both elite robes and jewelry were well-known markers of royal Persian favor. If Zech 3 is read as a scene of satrapal confirmation, then the figure of the Satan would correspond to the accusers who read the written accusation against Tiribazus in Diodorus.

    They were separate individuals who nevertheless had the role of both reading the accusation and commenting on its legal force. At a sub-satrapal level such as Yehud, the satrap represented the king. One can, however, still understand a process whereby the satrap consulted other officials for objections to new appointments be-fore confirming them and acquiring their oaths of loyalty. Such criteria would need some form of interrogation to be established. The word Satan at first referred to the Romans, who persecuted early Christians, who were largely Jewish.

    After the Romans had slaughtered all of the Jews in the years CE, the word Satan came to refer to Jews themselves, who the Romans quite ridiculously chose to blame for the death of Jesus. Still later, the word came to condemn those who diverged from mainstream views into "heresy. Once again excellent scholarship concisely presented. A great read. Jun 09, Kathleen rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction , history , religion.

    Book Lust What I expected here was a book about the early development of the concept of Satan and Hell from the Jewish and early Christian perspectives. What I got was a long description of how early Christians broke up into different groups and saw each other as evil. While there was a running thread about how opposing groups blamed each other's misguidance on demons, there really was not much on "the origin of Satan.

    She maps this Othering by using the occasional touchstone of who it is the writing in question says has been motivated by Satan I had some more problems while reading the book's conclusion. Pagels makes some broad generalizations about the way people think today.

    She writes: Those who participate in this comic drama [God vs. Satan] cannot lose. Those who die as martyrs win the victory even more gloriously and are assured that they will celebrate victory along with all of God's people and the angels in heaven. Throughout the history of Christianity, this vision has inspired countless people to take a stand against insuperable odds in behalf of what they believe is right This apocalyptic vision has taught even secular-minded people to interpret the history of Western culture as a moral history in which the forces of good contend against the forces of evil in the world.

    How absurd and small-minded. I see the history of Western culture as a battle for power and survival, and not much more. For some reason, this subtitle appears nowhere on the book - not on the front cover, and nowhere inside the book. It's just as well; it's quite a condemnatory subtitle, while the book itself certainly is not condemnatory. Verdict : I can't recommend this to anyone. I'll look elsewhere for a history of the character of Satan.

    The Origin of Satan by Elaine Pagels | Penguin Random House Canada

    Jan 24, Peter Mcloughlin rated it really liked it Shelves: bce-toce , general-history , owned-books , classical-world , intellectual-history , fringes-of-science , religion-or-not , bad-things. Ideological movements may or may not have a God or Gods, but all ideological movements have a devil.

    Us vs. Such movements need an othering symbol of evil.

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    Zoroastrians were the first to employ this dynamic so effectively to discipline followers. This is a really good thing to keep followers in line. This is exactly the kind of things that helped grow a countercultural movement and help consolidate its power and disci Ideological movements may or may not have a God or Gods, but all ideological movements have a devil.

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    This is exactly the kind of things that helped grow a countercultural movement and help consolidate its power and discipline adherents to orthodoxy once it becomes an established faith. It is almost as if the idea of Satan is a political innovation taken from a religious context and used to establish worldly power. Pagels sometimes reads a little too much of the present into the past but she does have a really good eye for political dynamics of power in early Christianity. And she writes in a clear down to earth manner that makes it easily digestible. Believers and nonbelievers can get takeaways from her books.

    Apr 28, Mike Davis rated it really liked it Shelves: history , philosophy , religion. A well written and researched book by a National Book Award winning author, this work chronicles the evolution of the concept of obstruction through the changes given to it and to the ultimate use of the idea of Satan as a malevolent being. The early use of the word 'satan' is followed using both biblical and first century historical writings including ancient texts found in recent years dating to the time of the chosen gospels. Ultimately, what many use today is not what the original authors in A well written and researched book by a National Book Award winning author, this work chronicles the evolution of the concept of obstruction through the changes given to it and to the ultimate use of the idea of Satan as a malevolent being.

    Ultimately, what many use today is not what the original authors intended. Pagels may make some uncomfortable with her findings which lean on other theologians and scholars works as well, but the book is a fine addition to any library for those who still seek to find deeper understanding amidst the superficiality of popular dogma.

    'The Origin of Satan' author Elaine Pagels discusses the religious figure's modern conception

    Oct 03, Andy rated it really liked it. This is a wonderful read for anyone that is interested in the early history of Christianity. As other reviews have pointed out, the title of the book is a bit misleading. This book has little to do with the Satan the being, and instead focuses on Christianity's evolving idea of good vs evil. From early ideas about the Jews, through persecution by non-believers, and on to enemies from within the faith heretics. Elaine Pagels walks us through early Christian writings, with great care and respect This is a wonderful read for anyone that is interested in the early history of Christianity.

    Elaine Pagels walks us through early Christian writings, with great care and respect. She shows a very human story of what it was like for the early Christians. Many of the ideas covered in this book echo struggles we have with today as we deal with clashes between societies both secular and theocratic; between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism; and even between cultures.

    Sep 10, Ian rated it liked it Shelves: philosophy-metaphysics-psychology.

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    Although I take an interest in religion and philosophy, I am by no means a religious scholar, so I'm afraid much of Pagels arguments went over my head. My key takeaways, which may or may not be wholly accurate: The traditional gospel writers made careful writing decisions to point the blame for Jesus' crucifixion on the Jews, more so than their Roman occupiers. They strove to infer that the Jewish society of those times who questioned Jesus such as the Pharisees were infiltrated by evil, and th Although I take an interest in religion and philosophy, I am by no means a religious scholar, so I'm afraid much of Pagels arguments went over my head.

    They strove to infer that the Jewish society of those times who questioned Jesus such as the Pharisees were infiltrated by evil, and this became symbolized by "Satan" himself. Slightly later in Christian history, the early church authorities essentially played the same tactics to discredit those who interpreted Jesus' words somewhat differently, such as the Gnostics.

    It was the devil himself who put strange and unorthodox ideas into some church members heads in order to divide and conquer the new religion.