This book presents a short introduction to the Devil as a figure in Western Judeo-Christian thought and culture. The Devil is primarily a religiously inspired figure, although in recent times he’s had some “crossover” appeal in various cultural and artistic manifestations. Simultaneously, his importance within the religious context has had something of a decline.
The Devil is a very fascinating character, and his theological significance springs almost naturally from the Christian concepts of evil and the original sin. These concepts were latently present in the Bible from the beginning, but were systematically developed over the centuries. The belief in the Devil has ebbed and flowed over the millennia, and it has probably been at its apex in the later part of the middle ages. This book is sympathetic to the idea that the Devil is an important and integral part of Christian belief system, and not a marginal and dispensable figure.
This book is very well written and very enjoyable, especially for a scholarly treatment. Part of it is probably due to the fascination that the Devil elicits in his own right, but it is also in large part due to the author’s ability to engage the modern readers into the topic that many may find archaic and outdated. His enthusiasm for the topic is evident form every page of this book.
I would have liked to see more of a discussion on the different names that the Devil has been appearing under over the centuries. The book provides the etymology of the words Satan and its Greek/Latinized version that came to us as “Devil.” However, there is very little discussion of other names and identities that have been associated with the person of Devil: Lucifer, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, etc. Most of these other names have originally referred to either gods or sundry demons, bit over the time have become synonymous with the Devil himself. It would be interesting to find out the cultural and theological forces that are at work in this confluence of various names.
This book explores both the religious significance of the Devil, as well as its influence on arts and culture. It tries to give an objective and scholarly account of the history of the idea of the Devil, while at the same time remaining open to the actual veracity of various beliefs. Whether you are a committed Christian who wishes to know more about this seldom discussed theological topic, or just someone who wants to learn about what Christians have actually believed about this figure thought the centuries, this book will definitely help you gain more understanding.