The Real Devil foreword



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1-1-2 Greek Influence


The final Old Testament-era influence upon Jewish thinking about the Devil was that of the Greeks. Their idea that there was Tartarus [a place of darkness under the earth for the wicked], the Asphodel Fields [a kind of purgatory] and the Elysian Fields [a kind of heaven for the righteous] was picked up by Judaism- despite the fact that it contradicted plain Biblical revelation about the grave ["hell"] and the state of the dead, as we outline in section 2-5. And the Greeks had multiple legends of cosmic combat between the gods, some of them like Ophioneus taking the form of a serpent; and often with the sequence of rebellion and being cast out [as with Prometheus and Zeus, Phaethon etc.]. This all intermeshed with the other ideas the Jews were picking up of a personal Satan. The horns and hairy features of the Greek god Pan, the trident of Poseidon and the wings of Hermes all became incorporated in the common Jewish idea of this 'Satan' being, and this in turn influenced Christian misunderstandings and images of this legendary being. No wonder Origen and the early [apostate] Christian 'fathers' were accused by their critics such as Celsus of merely adapting pagan legends in this area of the Devil. Origen and many others tried to parry this [perfectly correct] accusation by trying to read back into Old Testament passages the pagan ideas which they had picked up. But as we show throughout Chapter 5, the results of this lack integrity and often involve quite pathetic interpretation and twisting of the Biblical texts.

The uninspired, apocryphal Book of Enoch features the Jewish story of the Watcher Angels being imprisoned in the valleys of the earth after they supposedly slept with the daughters of men clearly was taken from Greek myths- this was the fate of the Titans after Zeus defeated them, and it recalls the imprisonment of the children of Ouranos in valleys as punishment. But these Jewish myths about Angels came to be absorbed into popular Christianity. The only reference to Angels as "watchers" is in the book of Daniel, which also dates from the captivity in Persia / Babylon. Daniel emphasizes that the watcher Angels are obedient to God and not in rebellion against Him (Dan. 4:13,17,23). In each reference, Daniel stresses that the watching Angels are the "holy ones" and not unholy. It's as if some early form of the myths about sinful "watcher" Angels were already in existence, and Daniel sought to deconstruct them.

The period between the Old and New Testaments saw the production of a huge volume of Jewish literature advocating a personal Satan. The Book of Enoch and the story of the "watchers" became accepted as dogma amongst the Jews- i.e. that the "watcher" Angels had sinned and come to earth at the time of Genesis 6 and married beautiful women. We've commented on this specifically in section 5-3. The Jewish literature seriously contradicts itself, unlike the Biblical record. Thus the Book Of Jubilees, dating from around 104 B.C., claims that God placed "over all nations and peoples, spirits in authority, to lead them astray" (15:31). Why would the righteous God place His people under the authority of those who would lead them astray- and then judge us for going astray? Other Jewish theories of the time accept that God punished the Satan figure, but the demons got around the punishment and tempt men to sin- as if God somehow was outwitted in the supposed struggle. The Apocalypse Of Adam likewise minimizes human sin by claiming that 'Satan' in fact raped Eve, thus leading to the fall; the Apocalypse Of Moses claims that because Satan appeared as such a dazzling, shining Angel, Eve was inevitably deceived by him. Note in passing that Paul alludes to this idea in 2 Cor. 11:15- not that his allusion means that he supported the idea. Again and again, the Biblical stress upon the guilt of Adam and Eve, and the fact that we would've done the same if in their position, and we do do the same day by day, in essence... is all mellowed and de-emphasized. The Bible clearly states that the suffering and disease that there is in the earth is a result of Adam's sin; but Jubilees claims that all such illnesses were a result of evil spirits, "And we explained to Noah all the medicines of their diseases, together with their seductions, how he might heal them with herbs of the earth" (Jub. 10:12-13). Both Moses and Peter stress that God brought the flood upon "the world of the ungodly", i.e. the wicked people. The Jewish writings claimed that the purpose of the flood was to destroy sinful Angels, and that mankind suffered from the result of their destruction. Thus the Testament of Naphtali 3.5: "Likewise the Watchers departed from the order of nature; the Lord cursed them at the Flood". The Jewish writings repeatedly change the Biblical emphasis upon wicked people (especially Jews), claiming that the various Divine judgments were upon wicked Angels. Quite why people on earth should have to suffer the result of this remains a begged question.

Time and again, the Jewish apocryphal literature sought to distance God from doing anything negative in human life. Gen. 22:1 clearly states that it was God who put Abraham to the test by asking him to kill his son Isaac; Jubilees retells the story with "Prince Mastema", the Satan figure, telling Abraham to do this (Jub. 17:15-18). Likewise Ex. 4:24 recounts how "the Lord", presumably as an Angel, met Moses and tried to kill him for not circumcising his son; but Jubilees again claims that Mastema / Satan did this (Jub. 48:1-3). Pseudo-Jonathan (The Targum Of Palestine) minimizes Aaron's sin by claiming that Satan turned the gold which Aaron threw into the fire into a golden calf; and excuses the peoples' sin by saying that Satan danced amongst the people (1). The Biblical record highlights the sin of Aaron and the people; the Jewish myths excuse it by blaming it on Satan. Indeed, several times the Hebrew word mastema ['hostility, enmity'] occurs, it is in the context of urging Israel to see that they and their internal desires to sin are the true mastema. Hosea 9:7 is an example: "Because your sins are so many and your hostility [mastema] so great".

Apart from seeking to justify themselves, the Jewish authors were struggling with the issue we all do- how can a good and kind God do negative things? But they took the easy way out, presuming to rewrite His word in order to pass blame into a Satan figure of their own imaginations. These uninspired Jewish writings from between the Testaments repeatedly seek to rewrite Biblical history and statements in order to accommodate the Persian ideas. Is. 45:5-7 is clear: "I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things". But 4 Ezra 2:14 changes this to: "I have left out evil and created good, because I live, says the Lord". We have a stark choice- the inspired text of the Bible, or uninspired Jewish interpretations seeking to justify the adoption of pagan myths about Satan.




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