As many scholars have maintained, the Sabbath dispute stories in the Gospels lack historical verisimilitude. Few if any 1st century Jews were so strict in their observance of the Sabbath day as to reprimand deeds of healing upon it. In fact, according to the Gospels themselves, most took no issue with Jesus' Sabbath activity at … Continue reading No rest for the wicked: Jesus as Satan’s Sabbath-breaking son
When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through arid regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along … Continue reading Nazareth witch trials: the problem of the returning spirit
In a comment on my post Did Christ strike the serpent's head, my friend abondarenko01 questioned my claim that the Leviathan myth could generate the link between Satan and snakes in early Christian texts like Luke 10:19, Romans 16:20, Mark 16:18, Acts 28:3-6, and 1 Corinthians 15:32. He notes that while Leviathan is an aquatic … Continue reading Putting Satan in his historical-political place
ὁ Θεὸς ἔκτισε τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐπ᾿ ἀφθαρσίᾳ καὶ εἰκόνα τῆς ἰδίας ἰδιότητος ἐποίησεν αὐτόν· φθόνῳ δέ διαβόλου θάνατος εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τόν κόσμον, πειράζουσι δὲ αὐτὸν οἱ τῆς ἐκείνου μερίδος ὄντες. God created man for incorruptibility and he made him to be the image of his own being. But by the envy of the Devil death … Continue reading When Cain was the Devil
Before moving on from the topic of Satan I think it is important to consider other depictions of the figure in the New Testament. While I argued last time that the Leviathan myth better explains the portrait of Satan as a many-headed dragon in the Apocalypse and various other early Christian texts having to do … Continue reading Satan, the serpent, and the myth of the rebellious angels
In my last post I argued that the early Christian portrait of Satan as a serpent (cf. Revelation 12-13, Luke 10:18-19, Romans 16:20) was primarily built upon the ancient Near Eastern Leviathan myth as appropriated by the writers of the Hebrew Bible (cf. Isaiah 27:1). I conceded, however, based largely upon Wisdom 2:24 and Revelation … Continue reading Was Eve deceived by Satan?
The Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this... I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring's heel.' (Genesis 3:15 NET) Christians have classically identified Genesis 3:15 as the Protoevangelium, the first announcement … Continue reading Did Christ strike the serpent’s head?
A marriage of heaven and earth When ancient peoples looked up into the heavens what they beheld was a reflection of themselves. They saw a mirror, a fantastical, otherworldly mirror, no doubt, but a mirror nonetheless. This mirror reflected the heavenly upon the earthly, the spiritual upon the physical, and the theological upon the historical. … Continue reading Which fell first: Satan or Babylon?
Apocalyptic hope After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, the Jewish people witnessed and experienced the conquest of the known world by successive pagan empires. Under these idolatrous oppressors, the Jewish people grappled with confusion and hopelessness as their convictions about the sovereignty of their God were viscerally challenged and subverted. Was YHWH unable … Continue reading Psalm 82 and the Christian apocalypse: the Greco-Roman Ragnarök
Last time I looked at the ways early Christians conceptualized Christ's example as one who was tempted but without sin. I considered whether the first Christians were interested in Christ's example in a comprehensive sense, or whether their emulation of him fit within a more specific context. I concluded that Christians were more interested in … Continue reading How and why did Satan tempt early Christians?