CHAPTER 5 - Where Was Satan Before Jesus Showed Up?

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In the thoughts presented in Volume 1, we shared information that is an indictment of the fabricated concept of “Satan.” There are glaring flaws and inconsistencies in the belief that an evil creature exists who has supernatural power to affect those subjected to it. We have seen through Volume I, that the character of “Satan” at best is a divine messenger of Yahweh as in the story of Balaam. A story about the “adversary” from God standing in the way of Balaam and his donkey. The adversary here is the word sawtawn. We have also seen how the character of “Satan” is either a person acting as an accuser, or a divine dispatch from God. We see a human adversary in the Job story and again in Zechariah when resistance is evident to Joshua being made the High Priest.

Another form of Satan we are given in the Scriptures is one that is the most prevalent and the most comprehensive. In Judges 9, 1 Samuel 29, 2 Samuel 19, 1 Kings 5, and 1 Kings 11, the “satan” is always a human being who is acting in the capacity of an adversary or one who opposes another. This most typical use of the “satan” is common in the “New Testament.” A shining example of Satan being a human is found in the instance where the Messiah calls Peter “Satan.” In that instance, Peter was opposing the things of God and preferred the things of men. Thus making him a satanas, this is to say an adversary. That story can be read in Matthew 16 and Mark chapter 8.

If what we have learned so far in Satan Christianity’s Other God and Imagine There’s No Satan about Satan is accurate, then we can agree to move on and apply what we have learned to other Biblical passages. Conversely, if all we have discussed so far is closer to fiction than to fact, then we both have wasted our time on this book. For sake of argument, suppose all of what has been shared in Volume 1 of Satan Christianity’s Other God could be considered fact. Do we then stop here and accept the typical Christian concept of “Satan” as false, exploring no further? Are we simply supposed to accept we can exist in a world with no Satan, a world where man is the one with the power to choose good or evil and that this power is built right into the very fiber of the human composition? Should we then just take a leap together and claim that all the appearances of Satan, demons, and devils in the “New Testament” are misinterpretations of something else? Should we accept all that we have learned in these volumes so far, and expect that we fully comprehend how the concept of a “cosmic Satan” became so entrenched in the theology and philosophy of present day culture? Maybe for some the answer to these questions is “Yes,” and you will be able to stand confidently on what the ancient Hebrew Scriptures teach about the concept of “adversary.” After all, all doctrine is supposed to be taken from the Hebrew Scriptures and not from the New Testament. The New Testament is a compilation of letters that has brought so much confusion because of the overstating of its significance that it is derided by scholars and said to be incomprehensible. The opinion of many is that it is completely an unreliable anthology of redacted myth and conjecture. To put it bluntly, many say the New Testament is meaningless towards displaying truth.

Perhaps at this point you are able to realize that anything that disagrees with the concept of satan as it is expressed in the Hebrew Scriptures, is then incorrect and needs to be re-understood using the “Old Testament” as the filter for understanding. However, many of us will want to have other questions considered. Questions about what kind of ideas of “Satan” were around in the inter-testamental period? The inter-testamental period is commonly believed to be the period of time between the writing of the last book of the Hebrew Scriptures and the “New Testament.” Perhaps there are questions as to the validity of the “New Testament.” Questions that ask if those in the first century who wrote the letters and gospels and those who were the hearers of the writings, believed them to be Scripture on a level equal to that of the Tanak, the Hebrew Scriptures? The Hebrew Scriptures is the volume that contains the Torah the Psalms and the Prophets.

Did Hebrew People Understand Satan The Same As We Do?

If we want to find out about the evolution of Christianity’s Satan, perhaps it would be wise to question how the Hebrew worldview compared to the Greek worldview. After all, wouldn’t the first century followers of Messiah have been Jewish, and therefore their writings and stories would have been written from a Hebraic/Jewish perspective? Why then does the Greek ideology seem to flow from the words of the first century Hebrew apostles in the writings we have today? Do the different worldviews affect the result of our search to understand how “Satan” is perceived? Should we consider what “demons” were in the period leading up to the first century and if they were categorically believed to be malevolent beings, under the rule of a cosmic leader called Satan? A super-demon, working feverishly to impose misery on humankind because he and his demons are themselves assigned to misery forever. This seems to intimate a concept that the “demons” must have followed a “misery loves company” philosophy.

It would be helpful to consider how the Egyptian God Set may be a link to the name “Satan” as worship of Set was transformed under the Chaldean empire to the worship of "Shaitan.” Paul Carus makes note of a Set connection to Satan on pg 28 of his work from 1900 CE titled, The History Of The Devil and the Idea of Evil From the Earliest Times to the Present Day;

‘Set’, the great and strong god of prehistoric times, was converted into Satan with the rise of the worship of Osiris.

Our journey through Volume one and up until this point has been a lengthy one, and it does not prove to be coming to an end in a few short statements or quick pages of text. I am however, interested in discussing the questions that we are now presented with. When we have sufficiently considered some answers to the above mentioned questions we will be able to move on to explanations of the difficult words of the “New Testament.” Volumes 3 and 4 are available to explain those passages fully. The New Testament is a compilation of documents, which by even the most rudimentary scholarly inspection, contains so much Hebraic element and embroils so much controversy as to whether or not it is a valid “Holy” document, that one must be suspect of the present day understanding and meaning of its content as it refers to “Satan.” It is fair to question all the associated terminology surrounding “Satan” that can be found in the New Testament.

How Did We Get From There To Here?

Thankfully, we are not left to the strict confines of only the “New Testament” to find understanding of the transition of the word “satan” from its meaning as the behaviour of a person, to being interpreted as an autonomous personality. Clues are found in the Book of Enoch, which is an inter-testamental writing of the apocalyptic variety. These clues may aid us in understanding the metamorphosis that took place. Looking there and elsewhere, we will see how the concept of an adversary as portrayed through the Hebrew word “sawtawn was turned into a cosmic being, becoming a literal entity in the minds of men. It is thought that this evil being ruled parts of the earth and the air and uses supernatural power to affect the lives of humans with an ultimate goal to take over the Universe. It is said by some that the first appearance in writings of the actual term ”Satan” as being intended to speak of the malevolent being, occurs in the Book of Enoch. Somehow we should be able to see how “the adversary” concept of the Hebrew Scriptures came to be understood as the “Satan” concept of later eras.

How did we get from there to here? There must be a path that shows the transmogrification of this concept. In History of the Devil, Paul Carus talks of the transition period from ancient pre-exilic ideology to that which was present in the few centuries before Messiah arrived for the first time as a man. Carus has done an amazing job at tracing the History of the Devil, and in one chapter titled; “The Dawn of A New Era” Carus explains the evolving thought on evil and the “Devil” which took place as a result of the Hebrew people being in close and comfortable contact with the Persians and other nations of influence. An environment that would foster assimilation for even the most devout religious groups and cultures.

THE TRANSITION from the Old to the New Testament is an age of unrest. The Jews had become familiar with the civilisation of Assyria and Babylonia, and enjoyed friendly relations with the Persians. But the intercourse and general exchange of thought among the nations of Western Asia became more extended and grew livelier since Alexander the Great's time, for now Greek as well as Indian views mixed and produced a powerful fermentation in the religious beliefs of the people.

Formerly procreation of children was regarded as a duty and the acquisition of wealth as a blessing, now it became known that there were also people who sought salvation in absolute chastity and poverty.

There are especially three ideas which dominated the whole movement and acted as a leaven in the dough: the idea of the spirituality of the soul, the hope of the soul's escape from bodily existence, and the method of obtaining this liberation by wisdom (σοφία) or enlightenment (γνῶσις).[23]

Did Special Knowledge Bring Them Closer To God?

Carus was familiar with the Gnostic pursuit of knowledge as a means to salvation. He recognized the adoption, by certain religions, of the false doctrine of “the immortal soul.” As well, the almost purely Gnostic doctrine of the soul being able to leave the body to dwell in a state of liberty and freedom from the confines of a sick and dying physical form. Carus was not afraid to put his finger on the origins of some of these doctrines and point out the fact that they are not from the Scriptures but from other pagan cultures. Carus also saw the transition period, which is known as the intertestamental period by most of us today, as one of diverse concepts that became grafted into the faith of the people who came to be called the Jews. These pagan, unbiblical doctrines moved into the faith of Christianity. The period of time that consisted of the few hundred years BC up until the Apostles came on the scene, was a time in the history of the Hebrew people where further assimilation took place. By assimilation, I am referring to the process of adding the beliefs and ideas of other nations to the longstanding beliefs and ideas of the people of Yahweh. Little-by-little the intertestamental, Hebrew society began to take on the characteristics of other nations. The confusing aspect of the Hebrews’ assimilation is that it developed without abandoning all of the biblical patterns of worship and their belief in Yahweh. The Hebrew people believed they were gaining true knowledge of the Creator when in fact they were simply adding to the Faith of their fathers, while all the time thinking they were remaining true to the faith found in the Scriptures. The period I am speaking of is a time when there appeared on the scene a number of now ancient writings, which are known as apocalyptic literature. For a good example of what is meant by “apocalyptic” writing, you may want to consider the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel is probably one of the source materials for many of the apocalyptic writings composed between 200 BC and 200 AD.

Many scholars try to assign a late date for the composing of Daniel as they lump it in with the rest of the apocalyptic writings, however the book of Daniel has been agreed to be more authentic and actually written very close to the period that the stories from the text of Daniel are set in. There are many chronological benchmarks in Daniel that cause it to be believed to be written at a much earlier date than books such as Enoch and the “Book of Noah.” However, these latter writings were not composed by those men who the writings are named after. And scholar after scholar has affirmed the unauthenticated nature of those works. It has been affirmed that works such as Enoch were derived from the writings of authors who lived a great number of years after the time of Enoch for instance. In “The Old Enemy, Satan and the Combat Myth” the author informs us that;

In post exilic times among the disenfranchised sects of Palestine, a group of writings, chiefly visions of the transmundane world, was composed and attributed to Enoch. [24]

We have gone into great detail in an earlier chapter about the situation and results of the Hebrew people being in exile in Babylon and Persia (see Chapter 7 of Volume I), so we will let what has been said stand on its own. Presently, we are aiming to discuss the situation and the results of stimulus and influences encountered in the intertestamental period that furthered the development of a concept of “Satan.” A concept that diverted significantly from the Biblical adversary concept with the understanding of the “yetzer ha ra[25] of man. That being, a concept that explained man has a good inclination and an evil inclination; and it is from the evil inclination that evil proceeds. These subtle but profound alterations to true monotheistic Biblical faith occurred in the years and centuries after the “Jews” were sent back to Jerusalem to build the Temple. This period was a period when Hellenized Jews composed literature to try to explain things that were hard to explain. Things that many saw as evil but did not feel comfortable suggesting these “evils” came from Yahweh. From there a mythical devil began to develop into a literal personal being.

What Did These Devils Do?

Things such as epileptic seizures or storms that wiped out crops, things such as the death of a child or the color and behaviour of another race of people all were explained through the creative writings of the intertestamental period authors. Anything that the writers saw as being difficult to understand and explain was credited to the evil spirits. The influences of mystic religious philosophy that came from Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, India, Persia, Greece, and other nations, all played a role in how the apocalyptic writers explained ancient Biblical stories and present day occurrences. Common-place events and situations, which today are easily explained and understood through scientific principles. The understanding of the ancients for things like volcanic activity or lightening shooting across the sky that we take for granted because of science, were believed by many of the uninformed ancient peoples to be the acts of an angry God. Gods that came to be seen as demons by people of other religions and cultures.

The Powerful Force Of Changing Philosophies Affected Many Religions

I cannot express too much, how pervasive and devastating the influence of Ancient Near Eastern culture was on the faith of the Hebrews. This devastating effect has become a fulcrum point for rabbinic Judaism, Kabbalistic Philosophy, Islamic Religion, Roman Catholic Religion, and Protestant Christianity. The intensely profound and deeply rooted practices and beliefs of the Ancient Near Eastern cultures are so intricately woven together with the major faiths of the world that these major faiths believe they are enjoying a true and pure “Holy” faith, when in fact they are experiencing an extremely subtle mix of faith practices. This unholy mix contains parts of a faith delivered by Yahweh to His people combined with parts of pagan practices seen in pagan cultures. These pagan cultures were not given a revelation of Yahweh as a nation at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Israelite nation, when appointed for chastisement by Yahweh, continued to suffer the consequences of assimilation. This is really no surprise and as I mentioned before, the God of the Universe had told His people through the prophet Moses that they will eventually turn from him, do wickedness, and then be scattered to the ends of the earth. While scattered they will lose their identity and worship other gods. The eventual apostasy of His chosen nation was all expected to happen according to the Creator as recorded in Deuteronomy.

And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.
Deuteronomy 28:64 KJV

The idea of a “Satan” was not a concept Israel ascribed to prior to experiencing exile and prospering among other nations, nations that had a dualistic philosophy. Some scholars claim the idea of “Satan” came from Egypt, some say it came from Persia and Babylon and others say it came from India. In fact, all of these cultures added concepts to the development of Satan. Where it came from is not crucial to understanding that the “satan” doctrine was not an ancient biblical doctrine. Satan is a character that has many qualities gleaned from the influence of many nations, to state that it entirely and specifically came from one geographical location or another is not possible. The following is how one writer puts it;

Like most cases, whether something was "from India" or "from Egypt" is still a raging debate, but though there may be a somewhat small link in India, the real link in this case is greater in Egypt. However, let's not make the mistake of believing that the current Satan is one figure. In reality, he's a system of characters from across the globe, a conglomeration of Sumerian to Greek and apocolyptic Jewish beliefs. The first, and most important, was from Egypt, where he was called Set.[26]

Hearing from Joseph Ennemoser once again in “The History of Magic,” he tells us the dualistic teaching of the good and evil principle as a concept, are very similar among the Chaldeans, Indians, and Egyptians as well as the Babylonians. Repeatedly historians testify that the dualistic view of a good force that is separate from an evil force was common to pagan nations. Ennemoser informs that even though a dualistic philosophy was common to some it was missing from the true monotheistic philosophy that was unique to Israel. Referring to the Babylonians that were taken over by the Persian Empire where the “Jews” were released from exile, Ennemoser says this;

From this last country the Jews, after their captivity, brought magic and theurgy with the whole Oriental demonology; that sorcery which was so sternly forbidden by Moses, awoke in the spirit of the medo-persic dogmatism, through their idea of the devil and angels, with their various ranks, striking such deep roots that it was no more to be eradicated.[27]

Basically, from the time of exile until the early first century, the false concept of demonology was developing and growing wings. Once this teaching had become mainstream and had been around long enough, it took on the facade of truth and was broadly accepted by those in the Roman Empire and beyond.

One other author who writes extensively on this topic is Gerald Messandie. In his compilation of the curious history of humanity’s supposed greatest foe, he espouses that from the middle of the 5th century BCE until 53 BC and later, the Jews were on particularly good terms with the Persians. It was from the religion of the Persians, called Zoroastrianism, the Jews picked up a number of concepts. Some of these concepts are; the immortality of the soul, angels, and Satan. The Essenes, the group believed to be the compilers of the Dead Sea Scrolls, are the ones who focused on “satan” the most. The Pharisees and Sadducees had a limited focus on this character.[28]

The views mentioned above are all nearly identical in their conclusions of the evolution of the “Satan” motif through the inter-testamental period right into Christianity. Looking now at some information about the book of Enoch will help us to see that path. Most scholars conclude the book of Enoch was written around the 2nd century BCE. Paul Carus tells us it may have been written in about 110 BC.

It is a pity that we do not possess the original, but only an Ethiopian version of the Book of Enoch, which has been translated into German by Dr. A. Dillmann, for it is of great interest to the historian. It breathes the spirit of a Judaistic Gnosticism, and it is probable that the original Book of Enoch was written in the year 110 B. C. by a Jew of the Pharisee party.[29] 

 Is Christianity A Form Of Gnosticism?

Also writing about this apocryphal book, Carus notes the unusual feel of this literary work and how on all levels it doesn’t even hold up to Gnostic doctrine.

As a side point about Gnosticism, if you find opportunity to explore the diverse attributes of the belief system of the Gnostics, you will see, that just as in Christianity, Gnosticism had and has many contrasting and contrary doctrines and beliefs throughout the various sects. Like Christianity as a whole today, the Gnostic faith can be seen to be a generally disorderly and confusing conglomeration of pick and choose concepts that define individual group status and consciousness. Carus says this:

A peculiarly interesting apocryphal work is ascribed to the patriarch Enoch.

The book of Enoch undertakes to explain in allegorical form God's plan of the world's history. The book is not yet Christian but shows many traces of doctrines professed by the sects which appeared at the beginning of the Christian era as competitors of Christianity.

While Enoch's demonology smacks of the religious myths of the Gentiles, his ideas of salvation from evil betray Gnostic tendencies.

We read, for example, in Chapter 42:

"Wisdom came to live among men and found no dwelling-place. Then she returned home and took her seat among the angels."

We read of the Messiah, commonly designated "the son of a woman," sometimes "the son of man," and once "the son of God," that he existed from the beginning:[30]

Enoch, that is the book of Enoch, is thought to have attempted to define and explain deep mysteries, which were otherwise not concretely explainable to religious minded individuals. Incorporating ancient mysticism as a means to describe angelic and demonic activity was a specialty of the writer, or writers of Enoch. The book was mistakenly believed by some to be written by the character Enoch. It was given the name of the biblical character in Genesis who was known to walk with God and was believed to be taken up to Heaven without dying a physical death. We discussed the errors in that particular belief about Enoch previously in Chapter 1.

And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
Genesis 4:17 KJV

A Name Means Everything … If It’s Famous

The attachment of names of “famous” persons to writings, so as to lend credibility to them, was a common and acceptable practice at the time. No one really questioned a writer who wrote a book and named it after another, even if the other person had long been dead. Today if I called this book you are reading right now, “The Bill Gates Revelation of Satan,” I would be legally accountable for such a claim. Using the name of a famous person to validate a written document is not acceptable today; however, in the early Common Era (CE) and Before Common Era (BCE) periods, one could put any name he or she wanted on a writing and falsely claim some famous dead person had written it. Such is the body of literature known as the Pseudepigrapha, a group of writings written under pseudonyms or “false names.”

The book of Enoch gained notoriety in its day because of the title of the book and because of information one could extract that seemed to explain things that were difficult to explain. Things such as the fall of Satan from Heaven were encountered in the writings of “Enoch.” As one of numerous apocalyptic works, Enoch did what all apocalyptic works seemed to do, that was to harmonize Moses and his law with the philosophical ideas of the time. Jude, a one-chapter letter reluctantly placed in the “New Testament” by the Catholic men who decided on the contents of the present “New Testament” canon, is said to be quoting from the book of Enoch when remarks about the “devil” are made in his letter.

Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
Jude 1:9 KJV

We will address the statements in Jude about Satan more fully in Volume 4. For the moment though, please know the quote found in Jude that is said to be from Enoch is probably a quote from Psalms 107.

Psalms 107:10-12 LITV
Those who live in the darkness, and in the shadow of death, being prisoners in affliction and iron,  because they rebelled against the Words of God, and despised the counsel of the Most High; and He humbled their heart by toil; they stumbled, and none were helping;

What was believed by a noted, early “Christian” leader to be a quote from the book of Enoch, gave the book of Enoch even greater credibility among early Christians. The Book of Enoch however, concisely states that Michael led the accusations against the Satan, called Azazel and Shemihazah, as is seen from Enoch 1:9-10.

"And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. And they said one to another: 'The earth made without inhabitant carries the voice of their cryings up to the gates of heaven. And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, "Bring our cause before the Most High."' And they said to the Lord of the ages: 'Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, and God of the ages, the throne of Thy glory standeth unto all the generations of the ages, and Thy name holy and glorious and blessed unto all the ages!

Thou hast made all things, and power over all things hast Thou: and all things are naked and open in Thy sight, and Thou seest all things, and nothing can hide itself from Thee. Thou seest what Azazel hath done, who hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were preserved in heaven, which men were striving to learn: And Shemihazah
, to whom Thou hast given authority to bear rule over his associates. And they have gone to the daughters of men upon the earth, and have slept with the women, and have defiled themselves, and revealed to them all kinds of sins. And the women have borne giants, and the whole earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness" (I En. 9:1-10, translated by R.H. Charles, 1912).

Apocalyptic writings such as the Books of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, and the Apocalypse of Baruch came at a time when the Hellenistic Jewish system of worship was being established. At that time the prime movers in the developing new faith wanted to coalesce their Hellenic view on God and theology with the view that Moses had passed down. Moses’ view was a view that truly was the theology of Yahweh. The early Gnostic Christian view was a cloudy mixture of good with bad. A view that distorted a Hebraic biblical idea by infusing it with a Greek mystical revision.

The intervening years before the Common Era or there-about, were years when the concepts and beliefs that would become “Christianity” were formed. The apocalyptic works played a major role in furthering concepts such as the existence of “Satan” and the impact of the “fallen angels.” The “Fallen Angels” became known as demons in the minds of postexilic “Jews” and continued to be known as such after the time of Messiah by Christians. An article in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia speaks about the Hellenization of the early “Christian” era. This early, first century, religious structure, which formed Christianity, would be more properly referred to as the Gnostic era that is an offshoot of various ancient religious philosophies. In the ISBE article on Apocalyptic Literature, we are told of the desire to harmonize the true ancient faith of Moses with the Hellenized philosophy that was present in that day. This point is important so I will restate it.

The intention of the apocalyptic writings was to harmonize the Greek version of God’s religion with the Hebrew version of God’s religion. Man began changing God to fit his own perceptions of what God and true religion should look like. The Hebrew religion was altered by Greek philosophers and theologians via the apocalyptic writings.

This desire for harmonization became a reality as great thinkers of the period postulated and prognosticated their views on the spirit world. Their views were almost without fail, extensions of Greek thought. The views contained massive amounts of the elements that taught adherents about an ever-present spirit-world of good and an opposing spirit world of evil that was perpetually teeming with active demons and devils. Not limiting the concept to a spirit world that was completely orchestrated by and in submission to God. The Greek view, which is essentially a Persian view, was one that has the cosmic characters representing good and evil, embroiled in a cosmic battle. The ultimate intent of the evil being or beings is to win individuals to their side as if all of humanity are pawns in a futuristic battle.

Although this is a simplistic description of the broad philosophical views of the first century people, it is consistent with the history. The history shows the transition from concepts of the reality of evil that is the result of the evil inclination in man, to a view that professes the existence of beings of evil with a will of their own. The former view recognized evil took place without the existence of an ultra evil, fallen spiritual being. Hellenism designed and applied an external source to an internal problem. Much the same way the Jews in Persia applied a concept of an opposing source as the reason for their exile instead of believing it was Yahweh causing their exile in response to their repeated sin choices. A harmonizing of two contrasting philosophies became an infection for the people who had previously experienced the true faith of Israel. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia speaks clearly about such a pestilent harmonizing. Take special note below of the highlighted portions in the following quote.

The opposition to Hellenism and the apprehension of it naturally tended to draw together those who shared the feeling. On the one side was the scribist legal party, who developed into the Pharisaic sect; on the other were the mystics, who felt the personal power of Deity. These afterward became first the Chasidim, then later the Essenes. These latter gradually retired from active participation in national life. As is natural with mystics their feelings led them to see visions and to dream dreams. Others more intellectual, while they welcomed the enlightenment of the Greeks, retained their faith in the one God. To them it seemed obvious that as their God was the true God, all real enlightenment must have proceeded from Him alone. In such thinkers as Plato and Aristotle they saw many things in harmony with the Mosaic law. They were sure that there must have been links which united these thinkers to the current of Divine revelation, and were led to imagine of what sort these links necessarily were. The names of poets such as Orpheus and Linus, who survived only in their names, suggested the source of these links - these resemblances. Hence, the wholesale forgeries, mainly by Jews, of Greek poems. On the other hand, there was the desire to harmonize Moses and his law with the philosophical ideas of the time. Philo the Alexandrian, the most conspicuous example of this effort, could not have been an isolated phenomenon; he must have had many precursors. This latter movement, although most evident in Egypt, and probably in Asia Minor, had a considerable influence in Judea also.[31]

As indicated by the ISBE, the harmonizing of opposing views that proved to be so insidious to the Jews was that of a Hellenistic worldview combined with a Hebraic worldview. If we believe the Scriptures, clearly these two views are not to be joined. As with all apostasy, it was the intention of man to reconcile seemingly irreconcilable views. The only way man could reconcile the two views was to fabricate a spiritual system of good and evil, of Satan, and of demonology. The Hellenized form of Christianity was replete with non-definable feelings and emotions as well as concepts that were otherwise unexplainable. Unexplainable that is had they not fabricated and fused the Hellenized worldview to the spiritual concepts of a Hebraic worldview. This adaptation provided some level of comfort in a world where so much was unexplainable. It was kind of like telling a child that a baby is brought by a stork and they then are comforted and no longer need to search for an explanation to their question of “where do babies come from.”

The world became this way for man because of the confusion that grew in the minds and hearts of many who were closely associated with an ancient pagan, religious society. Instead of denouncing the concepts that were not Biblical, many accepted them and they were continuously foisted upon the masses. The ideas then became acceptable and grew to be thought of as true. Although sad, it is really not surprising how the concept of “satan,” “Heaven,” and “Hell” became so accepted through the course of time. Like any migratory philosophy or idea, it becomes apparent that it was a slow paradigm shift effected through compromise and misguided application of ethereal spiritual concepts. I don’t intend to debate the matter of homosexuality here however, as an example of the subtle shift in a culture’s philosophy that takes place when the culture is readily exposed to a “new” philosophy on a matter, we will consider the following.

Homosexuality Was Unacceptable For Most Until Our Minds Were Changed

The shift in the philosophy of “Satan” is not unlike the present day arrival at the acceptance of the idea that homosexuality is ‘okay’, for lack of a better term. It was not so long ago that the majority of society believed practicing homosexuality was wrong and absolutely unbiblical. Many of us know who Ellen DeGeneres is. In 1997, Ellen, in the television sitcom titled after her name, came out of the closet. On her show and in real life she admitted to being a lesbian. Shortly after the “outing” of Ellen, the Ellen show ratings began to decline. Some would say it was due to her overt use of the gay theme in the sitcom. Whether or not this is the case, the facts are, after a very successful run the show soon went off the air. This was due almost exclusively to her public admission of her sexual orientation.

At that time, the appearance of homosexual people in television and movies was not all that common and acceptance for homosexuality in society seemed low. Over the years though, a few avante-guard television execs decided to throw a gay person in here and there to add a little controversy or spice to their program line-up. Who would have thought it; almost ten years after the culturally unacceptable entry of homosexuality to TV and Movies, the topic is steadily injected into every sitcom on TV. Many shows have a homosexual as a lead or the lead character and many shows display the homosexual idea as if it had always been an acceptable part of the culture. It was not too long ago however, that Biblical morals were touted as reason to reject this lifestyle. If you consider even a couple of benchmarks in the history of homosexuality in TV shows and movies, you might want to ask the question; “Was it you who changed your mind on the issue or was your mind changed for you?”

The first primetime television program to show two men in bed together was the program thirty something in 1989. This resulted in sponsor boycotts. Beyond that, we saw the first homosexual kiss on Television in 1993 on a PBS show called Tales of the City. The display of homosexual love raised the ire of so many uncompromising folk, that it resulted in a Congressional investigation into U.S. public TV. What was not acceptable in the past has become acceptable because of constant exposure to it from one direction or another. Admittedly, the predominant conduit for exposure has been the television, but there are numerous other sources that play into the cultural acceptance of a lifestyle that was generally unacceptable throughout much of common culture. What has become very prolific and culturally approved can be argued to be unapproved of by God. This begs to question who decides on morality, is it God or is it the cultural masses? And how is it possible for people to combat assimilation when assimilation is so strong, so persistent, and so persuasive?

It may be that the impact Apocalyptic literature of the first and second century had on the shifting concept of “satan” is little different than how media today influences collective consciousness. Indeed the media has been instrumental in seeing a massive philosophical shift in opinions about homosexuality. It is a very common understanding that the Apocalyptics were integral in the development of many concepts and doctrines that are claimed to have their origin in Christianity. Quoting from the conclusion of the ISBE article on the Apocalyptic Literature, we hear this;

There are many points in which theology of the Apocalyptic prepared the way for that of Christianity. These, however, are more naturally taken up under their special headings. Angelology is much more developed in certain apocalyptic writings than it is in Christianity, …[32]

If I were to reframe and elaborate on what is being said by the ISBE and others about the impact of the Apocalyptic writings I would say this;

The Apocalyptic writings and other of the Pseudepigraphic writings that are given the name of a notable person are not authentic. They were writings composed after the exilic period of the Hebrew people and into the early parts of the second century A.D. The writers were typically Hellenized Jews who had adopted and put into practice many of the ways of pagan worship. Becoming the Gnostics in their views and religion. These practices included but are not limited to some of the rites and patterns of pagan worship, and some of the mystic beliefs in a “supernatural” spirit world.

They Were “Gods” But Not The God

Not generally claiming any of the gods of the pagans were equal to the One God, people began to pay homage to them. By believing in some of these gods, the group that claimed to serve Yahweh was now including more than one God in an otherwise monotheistic faith. The gods that were believed to exist according to the Hellenized philosophy were supposedly unseen spirits that affected the environment and persons at certain times in various ways.

A dualistic philosophy seemed to provide an explanation for things such as the afterlife and the place the dead go to, whether it be Heaven, or it be Hell. This same philosophy identified the entity responsible for evil. The documents written by the Hellenized theologians of the inter-testamental period began to be reflected in the skewed beliefs of those involved in the culture. The views that flourished and ultimately affected multitudes of learners began to become cemented in early Christian theology. Many who would otherwise not know how or where to acquire seemingly sound theology and answers to intangibles, accepted the spoon-fed concepts that were published, practiced, and preached by the self-proclaimed teachers of the truth. Because of a broad need for explanations, coupled with a belief system that bore all the markings of syncretism and assimilation with the pagan nations, the Apocalyptic literature was formed. The jump had been successfully made, almost as if a mastermind sage of the time had secretly planned a strategy to move the masses from belief in One God to the confused dual-God philosophy.

It was as if someone decided that indoctrinating certain people groups with pagan religious beliefs and ideas would be best accomplished through expressing these beliefs in every day life. Whether intentional or not, the oral transmission of folk tales and ancient myths that seemed to embody elements of Biblical stories proved efficacious towards altering the fiber of the societal beliefs. The transmission took a stronger form when literate and intelligent men decided to write down these concepts and teach and make them available to all who would hear them. Unbiblical theories and concepts were imbued with authority as they were given life by being put to the written page. The dynamic doctrines were then propagated by intellects who were more philosophers than they were theologians but above all, were very convincing. The uneducated populous no longer maintained strict adherence to the faith of their fathers and they accepted the ideology of the influential leaders in their mingled community. Once popularized, the ideas became cemented in the development of the religions that would be offshoots of the Biblical faith. A faith that did not include a literal Satan. Now, after unyielding influence from Greek theologians, belief in a supernatural evil spirit became a common understanding by the varying classes of the first century. A sufficiently Hellenized culture that accepted without question there was an evil being working to affect the world and to steal righteous ones from the Kingdom of God. The unaware populous thought the evil one worked his schemes so they could be enlisted forever in the kingdom of Satan. It was even difficult for first century citizens of the Roman Empire to dissect the doctrines that they were being taught to see if they were from Yahweh or from man. Confusion and distortion of Biblical doctrine flourished in that period making the cesspool of thought about demons and Satan far too murky to drink fresh water from.

The truth that Satan was a construct of man has become so mired in church doctrine and theological treatise that it is almost impossible to unearth. Almost impossible… Knowing the origin of an idea however, is undoubtedly a sure fire way to begin extricating oneself from this centuries old lie. The lie that claims Satan is real.


[23] The History Of The Devil and the Idea of Evil From the Earliest Times to the Present Day; by Paul Carus [1900] Open Court Publishing pages 137 and 138

[24] Pg 161 “The Old Enemy, Satan and the Combat Myth” by Neil Forsyth copyright 1987 by Princeton University Press

[25] Yetzer ha ra; the evil inclination in man which works against the good inclination, known as the Yetzer tov, and is to be overcome to allow the good inclination to become the dominant side of the good- evil balance in man.

[26] “The Epic History of Good and Evil”

[27] pg 221 volume One, The History of Magic; by J Ennemoser, University Book,1970

[28] “A History of The Devil” G. Messandie, 1997,Published in America in 1997 by Kodansha and originally published in France in 1993

[29] The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil  from the Earliest Times to the Present Day– Paul Carus, Open Court Publishing Co.1900 and Dover Books 2008  pg 145

[30] The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil  from the Earliest Times to the Present Day– Paul Carus,  Open Court Publishing Co.1900 and Dover Books 2008  pg 143

[31] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; excerpt from the article “Apocalyptic Literature” ISBE excerpt from “Apocalyptic Literature”


Now for a sneak peek at . . .

CHAPTER 6 - Can Satan Come from A Book That’s Not Scripture?

In our quest to establish if there exists a real “Satan” or not we may need to pursue the answer to yet another question. Most, if not all of the typical Christian belief in “Satan” comes because of the words that are contained within the pages of the “New Testament.” Although scandalously misunderstood, few will argue that the New Testament is the primary focus when developing the Christian doctrine of Satan. Therefore, the question that must be asked and then answered is; 

Is the New Testament Scripture?”

I have referred to the “New Testament” as the “Apostolic Testimony” on numerous occasions. The reason I avoid the phrase “New Testament” is because calling the Apostolic Testimony “New,” puts it in the position of replacing something that was “Old.” The terms “Old” and “New” were attached to the respective collections of writings by men not by God. The Messiah didn’t find that the Hebrew Scriptures were worthy to be called the “Old” testament and the Apostolic writings were to be called “New.” The Gospels and Apostolic Writings did not replace a more ancient volume and were not to be named the “New Testament.” They were not written with the intent that those letters would replace the antiquated Hebrew Scriptures as is implied by the title “New Testament.”

(To read more of this chapter, request your copy of Imagine There's No Satan)

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James R. Brayshaw