Friday 22 April 2011

The Adversary: Enemy or Test

In response to my last post on fallen angels, I was asked what I thought about the Advisory in the Book of Job being the same as Lucifer/Sammuel/Christian Satan, and whether their purpose is the same, whether they are the same or not (my paraphrase of the question).  My response was very long so I decided to post it as a new entry in addition to as a reply.

At least in how he portrayed in Job verses how he portrayed in Christianity (at least after a certain point), he is very different.  Christianity portrays Satan/Lucifer as the epitome of evil wanting nothing more than to destroy the souls of man and to take God's place.  The Advisary in Job seems much more as a servant of God there to give the other side, the legal term of "Devil's Advocate".

Satan in the New Testament is very different than HaSatan, the Adversary, in Job.  I have read Jewish sources that describe him similar to the New Testament as well, so I don't think the version in the NT was made up later and stuck in or edited in, but there's no way to prove that either way.  Satan in the New Testament is definitely fallen, not a servant of God like in Job.  And the demons are said to serve him, demons being another topic.  The idea of Satan has definitely evolved and taken in other ideas since then, though.  There is a large mythos of Satan in Christianity that is much larger than what is in scripture.

Lucifer, of course, is hard to pin down, since the gulf between the Roman Light Bearer and the Christian Satan, Father of Lies, Lord of Air and Darkness, is so great.  Lucifer was the planet Venus as the Morning Star, a name used for Jesus in Revelations.  In fact the Roman Lucifer, Greek Phosphorus, is much more like the figure of Jesus in Christianity than Satan.

Sammuel is similar, and some of the stories overlap, but "feels different" to me than Lucifer/Satan (the feel from reading, not from working with).  He is definitely proud like Satan and Lucifer are shown, but it feels like the pride of a general, rather than a king.  Sammuel never desired to rule, just to have his way.  And Lucifer/Satan tend to be seen as the opposite of God in our dualistic modern society, whereas Sammuel was the opposite of Adam.  Rather than the being the evil enemy fighting God, Sammuel is the dark side of humanity, our Twin.

Azazel, the leader of the Watchers, is also often associated with Lucifer/Satan.  It's hard to separate the fall of the Watchers from the idea of a rebellion and war in heaven, an idea that definitely came later for a few short verses.

And there's Iblis in Islam, who is the "devil" figure in Islam.  He more than likely came from an older Mesopotamian story, but I haven't studied him much.  The interaction of Jews, Christians, and Muslims throughout history, plus the interactions before Jesus and Mohammad, have cause bleed over and borrowing between cultures.

And of course, Melek Ta'us is equated with Ilbis by Muslims and has been taken to be Lucifer/Satan by many Christians, so the Yezidi are often called Devil worshippers by Muslims and Christians alike.

Of course, all three are often associated with the serpent in the Garden of Eden, depending on who you ask or which myth you read. And the lines of other myths have blurred over time as well.  Whether the original names referred to same being or not, they have merged with time.

There is power in the use of a name, and in the belief of humans.  Maybe we've created a being to go along with our myths or maybe not.  But I'm pretty sure the original beings were separate and distinct.  Or, which is always a possibility, that all of these similar myths are echoes of a far earlier myth.

As far as purpose, is the purpose of HaSatan the same as the Christian Satan?  I don't think so.  Christians tend to not see Satan as a test to overcome as much as an enemy to defeat.  Though the role in the New Testament seems much closer to that of in Job than the modern view.

~Muninn's Kiss

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