The evolution of the Devil

Michea B
4 min readFeb 16, 2021
Image from Dante’s Inferno

For most people raised in the United States, the story of the Devil is learned from a very young age. Even children raised in secular households learn about him through fairy tales or due to friends whose family happen to be Christian (Geggel, 2016). The story is almost always the same: The Devil tempted Eve in the garden of Eden to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. The Devil then went on to torment Job, and later to tempt Jesus during his time in the desert. The Devil is the one who tempts people to do evil and stray from good. But what if people knew that the Devil as he’s known today not only didn’t exist in the Bible, but comes from the 14th century (Kohler, 1923, p. 139)? What if people knew that all the references to the Devil (or Satan) in the Bible weren’t originally referencing a specific being, but were later changed or shoehorned to fit through reinterpretation and transliteration?

The Devil is supposedly referenced many times throughout the Bible, yet it is only within the New Testament that one reads of a specific being who later becomes Satan or the Devil. The ancient Hebrews had no concept of the Devil or of Satan in their mythologies or in their scripture (Rudwin, 1931, p. 1, 17) meaning that the Old Testament examples of the Devil only exist due to people going back and changing text or stating that a portion of the text refers to the Devil and not whoever it originally refers to within the story. Even the reference to Lucifer in Isaiah 14 is in reference to the planet Venus in reference to an unnamed Babylonian king (assumed to be Nebuchadnezzar II or Nabonidus) and not a fallen angel (Wallace, 2010). When the Old Testament was translated to Latin the title Hebrew name for Venus was changed to Lucifer, who in Roman mythology was personified as a winged male carrying a torch or jar of light.

As Christianity grew, so did the need to justify the problem of evil. Church fathers began looking for ways to explain how evil didn’t come from God, but from another being, drawing from outside mythologies and eventually using the misinterpretation of Lucifer with a capital L to personify the morning star to cement the Devil and Satan (Russell, 1994 p. 129–132). Numerous theologians, apologists, and eventually St. Augustine continued to search through the approved canonical scripture as well as the apocrypha for proof of the Devil, who…

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Michea B

Queer|Pronouns he/they. Owner of Illuminatus Design. Degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies (GSWS, Psychology, English) & Theology (M:Div)