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Satan

Satan [Heb.,=adversary], traditional opponent of God and humanity in Judaism and Christianity. In Scripture and literature the role of the opponent is given many names, such as Apolyon, Beelzebub, Semihazah, Azazel, Belial, and Sammael. Nicknames include the Tempter, Evil One, God of This World, Father of Lies, and Prince of Darkness. But in the New Testament it is Satan, with its Greek equivalent diabolos (the Devil), which came to dominate, displacing or demoting other names and figures.

In the Hebrew Bible, Satan plays only a minor role as an ambiguous figure in the heavenly court. In Job his function is described as a kind of public prosecutor for God, suggesting his role as adversary may have been in terms of jurisprudence. The transformation of Satan from subordinate official to independent adversary and rebellious angel occurred during the Jewish apocalyptic movement, which came under the influence of the dualistic cosmologies of the ancient Middle East. The New Testament, grown from the same soil, speaks of Satan as the author of all evil (Luke 10:19), the personal tempter of Jesus (Matt. 4), and the rebel cast to earth together with his angels (Rev. 12:7–9). But these and many other passages in the Bible said to allude to Satan were shaped into coherent theological narratives only over time, often in response to Christian heresies.

During the Middle Ages Satan acquired his familiar attributes in folktale—his hooves, his sulfurous odor, his horns, and, paradoxically, his polished, gentlemanly manners. Much of his appearance and many of his actions, however, can be traced back to the pre-Christian deities of Europe, such as the two-headed god Janus and a variety of Panlike nature and fertility deities. The Christian elaboration of the figure of Satan, fueled by the Dominicans and the papal bull of 1484, probably reached a peak during the 15th, 16th, and 17th cent.

In Islam, Satan is also known as Iblīs, the evil jinn who in refusing to bow to Adam disobeyed God and became "one of the disbelievers." The Qur'an, however, implies that even as the ruler of hell, Iblīs remains God's servant and is ultimately eligible for redemption.

In intellectual circles in the West today the tendency is to demythologize Satan. Certain scholars argue that by the time the Old Testament book of First Chronicles was completed Satan had been transformed from an angel who questioned God to a being dedicated to subverting God. It has been further argued that this changing concept of Satan paralleled a process of demonizing one's opponents and attributing evil motives them. The Essene sect in the late centuries BC portrayed other Jewish sects who disagreed with them as allied with the forces of darkness and themselves as "sons of light." Early Christians adopted this approach and demonized Jews who did not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. In later centuries pagans and fellow Christians who had opposing beliefs were characterized by Christians as evil and to be opposed or eradicated.

See W. Woods, A History of the Devil (1974); J. B. Russell, Satan (1981); N. Forsyth, The Old Enemy (1987); E. Pagels, The Origin of Satan (1995).

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Satan

Satan (Heb., ‘adversary’; Arab., al-Shaytan). In Jewish, Christian, and Islamic tradition, the chief enemy of God.

Judaism

In the older books of the Hebrew Bible, the word sātān is a common noun (e.g. 1 Samuel 29. 4), and is a human adversary (1 Kings 11. 14, 23, 25). Apart from the figure of the serpent in Genesis 3, there is no figure to correspond to the later tradition. This begins to emerge after the Exile, perhaps under Zoroastrian influence. In Job, ‘the Satan’ is a heavenly figure who tests Job, but always with God's permission (e.g. chs. 1 and 2). In the amoraic period, he becomes a significant individual. He is said to have been responsible for all the sins in the Bible (PdRE 13. 1), and the reason for blowing the shofar on Rosh ha-Shanah is ‘to confuse Satan’ (BRH 16b). In later Judaism (especially kabbalah) he becomes known by other names, e.g. Samael.

Christianity

The cognate term ‘the devil’ (Gk., diabolos), which has become the usual word in Christian tradition, alternates with ‘Satan’ in the New Testament (see also BEELZEBUB). Here the Jewish picture is elaborated.

The identity of Satan as a fallen angel is asserted by Revelation 12. 7–9. The devil, ‘Lucifer’, fell through pride, because he would not submit to God. Satan's defeat by Christ on the cross led to ‘Christus Victor’ theories of atonement, revived and made important in the 20th cent., by G. Aulén: the conquest of personified evil reinforced many Christians in their resistance to totalitarian dictators.

Islam

Al-Shaytān is, in the Qurʾān, the adversary. The term describes Iblīs (Gk., diabolos, ‘devil’) and his descendants as they cease to be simply rebellious jinn, and become subverters or tempters of humans (eighty-eight times in thirty-six chapters).

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Satan

Satan the Devil, Lucifer. Recorded from Old English, the name comes via late Latin and Greek from Hebrew śāṭān, literally ‘adversary’, from śāṭan ‘plot against’.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word usually denotes a human enemy, but in some of the later books is found as the designation of an angelic being hostile to humankind.
get thee behind me, Satan a rejection of temptation; originally, with biblical allusion to the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:23 in which he rebuked Peter for denying the prophecy that Jesus would be put to death in Jerusalem.
Satan rebuking sin a proverbial expression; recorded from the early 17th century in the form, ‘when vice rebuketh sin’; the meaning is that when this happens, the worst possible stage has been reached. In later use, the emphasis is an ironic comment on the nature of the person delivering the rebuke.

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Satan

Satan

The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions are monotheistic faiths, which means their followers believe there is only one God. That God has a powerful adversary known as Satan, or the Devil. Satan's role changed over time, as the three religions developed. At first he was a creature under God's control with the task of testing people's faith. In time, however, Satan came to be seen as the prince of darkness, ruler of all evil spirits, enemy of both God and humankind, and source of treachery and wickedness.

adversary enemy; opponent

From Adversary to Devil. The name Satan comes from a Hebrew word meaning "adversary." It first appears in the Hebrew Bible,


* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

or Old Testament. In the book of Job, God allows this adversarysometimes called Samael in Jewish literatureto heap misfortunes on Job to see whether Job will turn against God. Judaism was influenced by the dualistic Persian religion in which good and evil struggle with each other for control of the universe and for power over human hearts and minds. The Jewish Satan took on some characteristics of Ahriman, the Persian god of evil and ruler of demons.

After about 300 b.c., Satan came to be seen as God's enemy, the source and center of all evil in the world. The serpent that tempted Adam and Eve in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, was identified with Satan. Since that time, artists and writers have often portrayed Satan as a snake or dragon or as a monstrous combination of man and dragon. By the time the books of the Bible known as the New Testament were written, Satan's role as the Devil was well established among Christians.


The Myth of the Fatten Angel. Jewish and Christian traditions offer similar explanations for the Devil's origin. Because God would not create a being of pure evil, Satan was originally an archangel, one of God's most divine or blessed creations. His name is given sometimes as Samael but more often as Lucifer, a bright angel called son of the morning.

Some accounts say that God cast the archangel out of heaven because he would not honor Adam, the first man created by God. When the jealous archangel refused to acknowledge "a lowly thing made of dirt," God punished his pride by throwing him down into hell. There, as Satan, the fallen archangel ruled over a kingdom of devils, former angels who had followed him in his fall.

dualistic consisting of two equal and opposing forces

In Islamic tradition, Satan is known as Shaytan or Iblis. Like the Jewish and Christian Satan, he is a fallen angel who was punished for refusing to bow down before Adam. But Allah permits Iblis to tempt humans to test their faith.

Other versions of the archangel's fall say that he was thrown out of heaven because of his pridehe dared to compete with God in glory. According to a Hebrew myth, on the third day of creation, Lucifer walked in the Garden of Eden covered with brilliant, glittering jewels set in gold. He had become so filled with pride that he planned to rise above the heavens and become God's equal. God cast Satan down, and his glory turned to darkness and ashes. The Old Testament book of Isaiah describes the archangel's fall:


How art thou fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer son of the morning!
How art thou cast down to the ground,
Which thou who didst weaken the nations!

Christian legends frequently depict Satan as a tempter who tries to lure the faithful into abandoning their faith. Stories such as the legend of Faust show people making bargains with the Devil. They generally give their soulsfor which he is always hungryin exchange for a gift such as wealth, love, or power. Such bargains always end in terror and despair, unless God steps in to save the poor sinner's soul from Satan.


epic long poem about legendary or historical Heroes, written in a grand style

One of the best-known and most influential literary portraits of Satan can be found in Paradise Lost, an epic by the English poet John Milton published in 1667.

See also Adam and Eve; Ahriman; Angels; Devils and Demons; Faust; Heaven; Hell; Job; Persian Mythology; Semitic Mythology; Serpents and Snakes.

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Satan

Satan Name for the devil. Satan first appeared in the Old Testament as an individual angel, subordinate to God. Gradually, however, Satan took on a more sinister role. In the New Testament, he was the devil who tempted Jesus Christ. Satan emerged in medieval Christian theology as the chief devil, ruler of hell and source of all evil.

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Satan

Satan the Devil. OE. — late L. Satān (Vulg.) — Gr. Satán — Heb. śātān adversary, plotter, f. sāatan oppose, plot against.
Hence satanic XVII, satanical, Satanism, Satanist XVI.

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Satan

Sa·tan / ˈsātn/ the Devil; Lucifer.

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Satan

Satanbaton, batten, fatten, flatten, harmattan, Manhattan, Mountbatten, paten, patten, pattern, platen, Saturn, slattern •Shackleton • Appleton •Hampton, Northampton, Rockhampton, Southampton, Wolverhampton •Canton, lantern, Scranton •Langton, plankton •Clapton •Aston, pastern •Gladstone •Caxton, Paxton •capstan • Ashton • phytoplankton •Akhenaten, Akhetaten, Aten, Barton, carton, Dumbarton, hearten, Parton, smarten, spartan, tartan •Grafton •Carlton, Charlton •Charleston • kindergarten •Aldermaston •Breton, jetton, Sowetan, threaten, Tibetan •lectern •Elton, melton, Skelton •Denton, Fenton, Kenton, Lenten, Trenton •Repton •Avestan, Midwestern, northwestern, Preston, southwestern, western •sexton •Clayton, Deighton, Leighton, Paton, phaeton, Satan, straighten, straiten •Paignton • Maidstone •beaten, Beaton, Beeton, Cretan, Keaton, neaten, Nuneaton, overeaten, sweeten, uneaten, wheaten •chieftain •eastern, northeastern, southeastern •browbeaten • weatherbeaten •bitten, bittern, Britain, Briton, Britten, handwritten, hardbitten, kitten, Lytton, mitten, smitten, underwritten, witan, written •Clifton •Milton, Shilton, Stilton, Wilton •Middleton • singleton • simpleton •Clinton, Linton, Minton, Quinton, Winton •cistern, Liston, piston, Wystan •brimstone • Winston • Kingston •Addington • Eddington •Workington •Arlington, Darlington •skeleton •Ellington, wellington •exoskeleton •cosmopolitan, megalopolitan, metropolitan, Neapolitan •Burlington • Hamilton • badminton •lamington • Germiston • Penistone •Bonington • Orpington • Samaritan •Carrington, Harrington •sacristan • Festschriften •Sherrington • typewritten •Warrington • puritan • Fredericton •Lexington • Occitan • Washington •Whittington • Huntington •Galveston • Livingstone •Kensington •Blyton, brighten, Brighton, Crichton, enlighten, frighten, heighten, lighten, righten, tighten, titan, triton, whiten •begotten, cotton, forgotten, ill-gotten, misbegotten, rotten •Compton, Crompton •wanton • Longton •Boston, postern •boughten, chorten, foreshorten, Laughton, Morton, Naughton, Orton, quartan, quartern, shorten, tauten, torten, Wharton •Alton, Dalton, Galton, saltern, Walton •Taunton • Allston • Launceston •croton, Dakotan, Minnesotan, oaten, verboten •Bolton, Doulton, molten •Folkestone • Royston •Luton, newton, rambutan, Teuton •Houston • Fulton •button, glutton, Hutton, mutton •sultan •doubleton, subaltern •fronton • Augustan • Dunstan •tungsten • quieten • Pinkerton •charlatan • Wollaston • Palmerston •Edmonton • automaton • Sheraton •Geraldton • Chatterton • Betterton •Chesterton • Athelstan •burton, curtain, uncertain •Hurston

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