The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.
Dualism in the Synoptics
The paucity of pre-Christian witness to the satanological terminology in the Synoptic temptation accounts, together with the absence from the Synoptics of established Second Temple terms for supernatural Satan figures (Satanael, Mastema, Belial, Shemihazah, Azâzêl, etc), gives reason to doubt the Synoptic writers held the cosmological dualistic views of their contemporaries. An examination of dualism in the Synoptics, within their Second Temple Period context, leads in a very different direction.
The Evil Inclination
There are numerous texts about the Yetzer HaRa (the Evil Inclination, aka “Satan”) in the Jewish Talmud. The Jewish sages were in no way monolithic in their understanding of the source of our human capacity to do evil. They all agreed that humans are born with it. Here are a number of selections which present proof texts for this.
Fallen Angels: The Rabbis: Talmud And Midrash
Turning from the Fathers of the Church to the Fathers of the Synagogue, we encounter an entirely different kind of literature, with entirely different problems. The Talmud comes from the same period as the writings of the Church Fathers and dea1s with some of the same issues. Talmudic literature, like patristic literature, is largely an exposition of authoritative Scripture. But there the resemblance ends.
The Absence of Satan in the Old Testament
Although English Bibles continue the practice of capitalizing the word “satan” in passages like Job 1 and 2, those passage do not have a specific individual in mind. “Satan” in these passages should not be understood as a proper personal name.
A Conversation Between the Good and Evil Inclinations
Joanne Greenberg (1932–) is best known for writing Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1964), a groundbreaking, fictional representation of a teenage girl’s recovery from schizophrenia, based on the therapeutic relationship between Greenberg and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann; the novel was recently re-issued with a new after-word. In addition to writing daily, Greenberg, who is Jewish, teaches writing, ethics, and anthropology at the Colorado School of Mines. This conversation with Gail Berkeley Sherman took place at Greenberg’s home in August 2007 and provides an example of how the Judaic/rabbinic concept of two yetzers (i.e., an evil inclination and a good inclination within each of us) fits into the worldview of a Jew.
Christianity Claims To Be A Monotheistic Religion
The Absolute Being, then, is necessarily a Spirit. He is also necessarily Alone. He is the One and only God... Polytheism is its negation, its denial. If there are more gods than one, it is clear that none of them can be perfect, or they would not all exist; none of them is all-sufficient for the task of making and ruling the universe. It demands their united powers. And, in fact, the old Pagans never thought of their gods as perfect. Each god was a monarch reigning over a separate realm, with which the others might not interfere. Like monarchs, too, they often fought with each other for mastery, and one or other of them was beaten.
Good and Evil and Human Choice in Judaism
Most 1st-century Jews rejected a Platonic dualism between body and soul.¹ Instead, the moral battle was waged by two inner impulses. In Hebrew literature they are called the yetzer tob and the yetzer ra', the good and evil inclinations. A common Greek equivalent of yetzer is diaboulion, or both languages may speak of two ‘spirits’ (Heb: ruah; Grk: pneuma). A modern representation of the Two Impulses is the cartoon of a good and an evil angel sitting on a person’s shoulder and whispering advice. As in the cartoon, the individual makes the final decision.
The Case of Jenkins vs. Cook
So the Dean of Arches has decided that the denial either of the eternity of punishment (of course hereafter) or of the personality of the evil one is sufficient to justify a clergyman in refusing the Holy Communion to a parishioner; in other words, that the belief of an implacable God, who either has not the will nor the power to pardon, as well as belief in Satan, or in a second god inferior, it is, true to the good God, but still a God as intent to injure than as his superior is to benefit him, is part and parcel of the faith of a true Christian. We Jews may congratulate ourselves upon the different reading of our own Scriptures. Our God is mercy itself. He inflicts punishment for the expiation of sin, not from revenge. With the expatiation of the sin the punishment ceases. The object is attained, why continue the torture?
Book 16, the final book of the Theodosian Code, treats religion. The tenor and contents of this book give us a sense of how the imperial court refashioned its own religious authority in the centuries following the legalization of Christianity. Although bishops might attempt to subordinate the imperial house to episcopal authority, the emperors still maintained their role as guardians of religious equilibrium. So emperors convoked Christian councils and legislated on religion.
The Temptation of Jesus (1957)
The narratives in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 are both put in the objective form.¹ “When the tempter came to him, he said . . . Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him . . . Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain...and saith unto him... Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan... Then the devil leaveth him...” and so on.
Correspondence on Satan
Our articles on Satan¹ aroused considerable interest, and, as might be expected of an unorthodox point of view, a certain amount of criticism.
Commenting upon the decision of the Dean of Arches (that the denial either of eternity of punishment, or of the personality of the evil one, is sufficient to justify a clergyman hi refusing the Holy Communion to a parishioner) the Jewish Chronicle says:
The Temptation of Jesus (1936)
The contribution from Mr. Blakey in the September issue of The Testimony covers a great deal of ground, and is not lacking in detailed expositions of numerous side-issues, but it is unhelpful in the task of identifying the tempter of Jesus.
Gibbon’s record of the Albigensian heresy and persecution is comparatively brief. “It was in the county of the Albigeois, in the southern provinces of France, that the Paulicians were most deeply implanted; and the same vicissitudes of martyrdom and revenge which had been displayed in the neighbourhood of the Euphrates were repeated in the 13th century on the banks of the Rhone. The laws of the Eastern Emperors were revived by Frederic II. The insurgents of Tephrice were represented by the barons and cities of Languedoc. Pope Innocent III. surpassed the sanguinary fame of Theodora. It was in cruelty alone that her soldiers could equal the heroes of the Crusades, and the cruelty of her priests was far excelled by the founders of the Inquisition—an office more adapted to confirm, than to refute, the belief of an evil principle. The visible assemblies of the Paulicians, or Albigeois, were extirpated by fire and sword: and the bleeding remnant escaped by flight, concealment, or Catholic conformity. But the invincible spirit which they had kindled still lived and breathed in the Western world. In the state, in the church, in the cloister, a latent succession was preserved of the disciples of St. Paul, who protested against the tyranny of Rome, embraced the Bible as the rule of faith and purified their creed from all the visions of the Gnostic theology.”¹
The Origin of Sin and Evil
Many believe that there is a being or monster called the Devil or Satan who is the originator of the problems which are in the world and in our own lives, and who is responsible for the sin which we commit. The Bible clearly teaches that God is all-powerful. We have seen in Study 2-1 that the angels cannot sin. If we truly believe these things, then it is impossible that there is any supernatural being at work in this universe that is opposed to Almighty God. If we believe that such a being does exist, then surely we are questioning the supremacy of God Almighty. Hence the importance of the matter. We are told in Hebrews 2:14 that Jesus destroyed the Devil by His death; therefore unless we have a correct understanding of the Devil, we are likely to misunderstand the work and nature of Jesus.
The God of Order versus the Devil's Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence
In the preceding Chapters we have endeavoured to demonstrate that there is no such being as the Devil, and have opened up the true meaning attached to the terms “devil,” “satan,” “demon,” and have shown that these are applicable to conditions in which the primary idea represented in each has appended to it some particularity justifying the distinct appellation.
Dualism in philosophy, is that system which explains the phenomena of the universe by assuming two primal principles instead of one (Monism). In theology, Dualism explains evil by assuming two original principles or beings, one good, the other evil. The doctrine of two primal causes, one good and the other evil, constantly warring with each other, lay at the foundation of the system of Zoroaster (q.v.). It was also developed later in Manicheism (q.v.); and among the Sclavonians, who, during the interval between their undisturbed faith in their national mythology and their conversion to Christianity, added to the worship of the good being that of a supremely evil one, viz. Czernebog (the Black God) (London Review, April 1855, page 11). It was in this Sclavonic soil that the Oriental dualism found a congenial home, and from it seems to have originated the dualism of the Cathari and other sects during the Middle Ages. SEE CATHARI.
Catharism (/ˈkæθərɪzəm/; from the Greek: καθαροί, katharoi, “the pure [ones]”) was a Christian dualist or Gnostic revival movement that thrived in some areas of Southern Europe, particularly northern Italy and southern France, between the 12th and 14th centuries. Cathar beliefs varied between communities, because Catharism was initially taught by ascetic priests who had set few guidelines. The Catholic Church denounced its practices including the Consolamentum ritual, by which Cathar individuals were baptized and raised to the status of ‘perfect’.
Manichaeism (/ˌmænᵻˈkiːɪzəm/; in Modern Persian آین مانی Āyin-e Māni; Chinese: 摩尼教; pinyin: Móní Jiào) was a major religious movement that was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani (in Persian: مانی, Latin: Manichaeus or Manes; c. 216–276 AD) in the Sasanian Empire.
Zoroaster (/ˌzɒroʊˈæstər/ or /ˈzɒroʊˌæstər/, from Greek Ζωροάστρης Zōroastrēs from Persian: زرتشت Zartosht)—also known as Zarathustra (/ˌzɑːrəˈθuːstrə/; Avestan: ���������������������������������������� Zaraθuštra), Zarathushtra Spitama, or Ashu Zarathushtra — was the founder of Zoroastrianism. He was a native speaker of Old Avestan and lived in the eastern part of the Iranian Plateau, but his exact birthplace is uncertain.
Zoroastrianism, or more natively Mazdayasna, is one of the world’s oldest religions, “combining a cosmogonic dualism and eschatological monotheism in a manner unique […] among the major religions of the world.” Ascribed to the teachings of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra), he exalted their deity of wisdom, Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord), as its Supreme Being. Leading characteristics, such as messianism, heaven and hell, and free will are said to have influenced other religious systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam. With possible roots dating back to the second millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism enters recorded history in the 5th-century BCE, and including a Mithraic Median prototype and Zurvanist Sassanid successor it served as the state religion of the pre-Islamic Iranian empires from around 600 BCE to 650 CE. Zoroastrianism was suppressed from the 7th century onwards following the Muslim conquest of Persia. Recent estimates place the current number of Zoroastrians at around 2.6 million, with most living in India and Iran. Besides the Zoroastrian diaspora, the older Mithraic faith Yazdânism is still practised amongst the Kurds.