SATAN – Encyclopedic Dictionary of Bible and Theology

Etymologically it means “adversary”, “accuser” (Zac 3,2); designates an invisible personal power, enemy of God and accuser of man before God, tempter of man against God’s salvific plan. ->demon.


FERNANDEZ RAMOS, Felipe (Dir.), Dictionary of Jesus of Nazareth, Editorial Monte Carmelo, Burbos, 2001

Source: Dictionary of Jesus of Nazareth

(-> dualism, Devil, Azazel, Dragon, exorcisms). In the divine court made up of the sons of God (bene ha†™Elohim), inferior gods or angels of Job 1-2, there is one named ha-Satan (Satan or Satan), the Tempter. That court had already appeared in 1 Kings 22, 1924, where one of the spirits of Yahweh’s environment was transformed into a source of lies, to deceive King Ajab, making him fight against the Syrians, to die in Ramot Gilead. The Book of Chronicles assumes that it was Satan who made David rise up before God, to take a census of his people (cf. 1 Chr 21:1). In all these cases, as in Zec 3:1-2, Satan is a kind of prosecutor who defends the interests of God. But his own “job” can lead him not only to test and tempt men, but to oppress them, so that, at the end of a process of explanation, Satan has come to present himself as God’s enemy, appearing already So in the apocalyptic books. The serpent of Gn 3 is situated in this process. Gn 1 said that everything that exists is good: that there is deep harmony between the days of Holy Week, between things and men; everything is good, everything shines in radiant light. But at the bottom of that light, as an expression of human freedom, appears a snake that tempts and tests men. That vision of a “divine Satan”, who is part of the mystery of God, ends up being unbearable and insufficient for the apocalyptic, so that they personify the Tempter and separate him from God, conceiving him as a Fallen Angel, a celestial spirit that, through its own fault, it has broken the harmony of God’s creation and has introduced struggle and death, oppression and suffering among men. On the fall of Satan there are various hypotheses in parabiblical literature, some more linked to sexual rupture, others to disobedience.

(1) Sexual break. The tradition of 1 Enoch* 6-36 and the Book of Jubilees* understands the rise of the satanic from the invasion-fall of the Watchers, that is, of those guardian angels that God had placed to “teach the human race to make laws and justice on earth.” It is not known whether they were personal custodians, that is, guardians of each individual, as a well-documented Jewish and Christian tradition would later teach. The truth is that they are guides of men, so that they are now in the hands of celestial beings, of extraterrestrial powers that illuminate and defend them. Well, at a given moment, those same guardian angels, in charge of helping men, have desired and raped them, possessing women and generating with them monstrous hybrids of a demonic type. The angels have become satans.

(2) Disobedience. The Life of Adam and Eve (Latin Version) says that God created men in his image and, through Michael, the prince of all spirits, said to the angels: “Serve me and adore me in them” (cf. verse 14). But a series of angels did not want to serve men, but rejected God’s order and thus became their enemies (enemies of God and of men). In this way, not being able to destroy God, the perverse angels decided to destroy men; that is why they deceive and pervert them, making them fall into sin. In this line, the figure of a particularly perverse angel (called Satan, the Devil, but also Belial, Azazel or Semyaza) tends to stand out as the supreme king of anti-divine powers. That means that there is only one Devil, although there is a great multitude of demons, which are the spirits subject to his dictatorship.

(3) Vision of the Apocalypse. The book of the Bible where the figure of the satanic has been better detailed is the Apocalypse, in whose center the Dragon or ancient serpent appears (cf. Gn 2-3), which is at the base of the destructive process of Beasts and Prostitutes ( Rev 12-13). His name in Greek is Devil and in Hebrew, Satan. It means “Tempter” and seems linked to the pagan cult of the Beast (Rev 2,13). The churches, which aspire to know the depth of Satan (2,24), run the risk of identifying themselves with those synagogues (of Jews or Judeo-Christians) that have agreed with Rome (cf. Ap 2,9; 3,9) where the Satan himself dominates, enslaving men. This Satan or Devil, who is at the bottom of the persecutions against the Church (cf. 2,10), will be bound and sealed after the defeat of the Beasts (20,2); he will be released after the millennium and will fight against God again, but he will be defeated and thrown into the pool of fire and death forever (20,7-10).

Cf. H. Haag, The Devil, a Ghost, Herder, Barcelona 1973; The devil; his existence as a problem, Herder, Barcelona 1986; V. Risco, Satan, history of the devil, Trea, Pontevedra 2004.

PIKAZA, Javier, Dictionary of the Bible. History and Word, Divine Word, Navarra 2007

Source: Dictionary of Bible History and Word

With the name of Satan (the adversary, in Hebr.) or the devil (the slanderer, in Gr.), two names that have more or less the same frequency in the NT, the Bible designates a personal being, but whose action or influence is already manifested in the activity of other beings (*demons or impure spirits), already in the “temptation.

Otherwise, on this point the Bible, unlike late Judaism and most of the literatures of the ancient East, shows extreme sobriety, limiting itself to instructing us about the existence of this character and his tricks, as well as the means by which to guard against them.

I. THE ADVERSARY OF THE DESIGN OF GOD ON HUMANITY. The OT only rarely speaks of Satan, and it does so in such a way that, safeguarding the transcendence of the one God, he carefully avoids everything that could have inclined Israel to a dualism, to which he too easily inclined. Rather than as an adversary properly speaking, Satan appears as one of the angels of Yahweh’s court, who performs in the heavenly court a function analogous to that of the prosecutor, in charge of enforcing justice and the rights of God on earth. However, under this pretended service of God, a hostile will can already be glimpsed in Job 1-3, if not to God himself, at least to man and to his * justice: he does not believe in disinterested love (Job 1,9 ); without being a “tempter”, he counts on Job succumbing; he secretly wants it and feels that he would enjoy it. In Zec 3:1-5, the accuser becomes a true adversary of God’s loving designs on Israel: in order for Israel to be saved, the angel of Yahweh must first silence the adversary in the name of God himself: Imperet tibi Dominus ( see Jds 9).

Now, on the other hand, the reader of the Bible knows that a mysterious character played a major role in the origins of mankind. Genesis only speaks of the serpent. Creature of God “like all the others” (Gen 3,1), this serpent is, however, endowed with a science and an ability that surpass those of man. From her entrance on the scene, she is presented above all as the enemy of human nature. Envious of man’s happiness (cf. Wis 2,24), she reaches her goals already using the weapons that will always be hers, cunning and * lies: “the most cunning of all the animals of the fields” (Gen 3, 1), “seducer” (Gen 3,13; Rom 7,11; Ap 12,9; 20,8ss), “murderer and liar from the beginning” (Jn 8,44). Wisdom gives this serpent its true name: it is the devil (Wis 2:24).

II. THE ADVERSARY OF CHRIST. Already in this first episode of her story, however, she glimpses the vanquished humanity that one day she will also triumph over her adversary (Gen 3:15). The *victory of man over Satan is, in fact, the very end of the mission of Christ, who came to “reduce to impotence the one who had the empire of death, the devil” (Heb 2,14), to “destroy his works” (lJn 3,8) or, in other words, to substitute the kingdom of his Father for the kingdom of Satan (lCor 15,24-28; Col 1,13s). The evangelists also present their public life as a fight against Satan. The fight begins with the episode of the *temptation, in which, for the first time since the scene of paradise, a *man, representative of humanity, “son of Adam” (Luke 3:38) finds himself face to face. face with the devil This struggle is affirmed in the liberation of the possessed (cf. *demons), proof that “the kingdom of God has come” (Mk 3,22ss) and that that of Satan has come to an end (cf. Lk 10, 17-20); it is affirmed even in the mere cures of *sick people (cf. Act 10,38). It also continues, more underhanded, in the confrontation that puts Christ in opposition to the unbelieving Jews, true “sons of the devil” (Jn 8,44), “spawn of vipers” (Mt 3,7ss; 12,34; 23 ,2. 3). He reaches his paroxysm in the hour of passion. Luke relates this to temptation (Lk 4,13; 22,53) and John underlines the role of Satan (Jn 13,2.27; 14,30; cf. Lk 22, 3.31) only to proclaim his final defeat. Satan seems to run the game; but in reality he “has no power over Christ”: everything is the work of the love and obedience of the Son (Jn 14:30; cf. * redemption). At the precise moment in which he believes himself certain of his victory, the “prince of this world” is “overthrown” (Jn 12,31; cf. 16,11; Ap 12,9-13); the empire of the world that he had once dared to offer to Jesus (Lk 4,6) now belongs to Christ dead and glorified” (Mt 28,18; cf. Phil 2,9).

III. THE ADVERSARY OF THE CHRISTIANS. Although the resurrection of Christ consecrates the defeat of Satan, the combat will not end according to Paul but with the last act of the “history of salvation”, the “day of the Lord”, when “the Son, having reduced to the impotence to all principality and all power and to *death itself, hand over the kingdom to his Father, so that God may be all in all” (I Cor 15,24-28).

Like Christ, the Christian will also have to deal with the Adversary. This prevents Paul from going to Thessalonica (]Thess 2,18), and “the thorn stuck in his flesh”, an obstacle to his apostolate, is “a messenger of Satan” (2Cor 12,7-10). The Gospel had already identified him with the *enemy who sows the tares in the field of the father of the family (Mt 13,39), or who uproots the seed of the word of God from the hearts of men, “lest they believe and save”’ (Mk 4,15 p). Peter, in turn, represents him as a hungry lion that constantly prowls around the faithful looking for someone to devour (lPe 5,8). As in paradise, he essentially plays the role of a tempter who strives to lead men to sin (]Thess 3,5; lCor 7,5) and thus oppose them to God himself (Act 5,3). Even more: Paul, behind this personified power which he calls * sin, seems ordinarily to suppose the action of Satan, father of…

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