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From: "Alex David Groce" <adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v019.n026
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1998 09:51:55 

Sgt. Rock said:
> Actually, I'd be very interested in learning more about that. Where would
> one look to find supernatural evil in Judaism? I'm not sure I can find it in
> the Old Testament, though it's present in the New. Sure, you've got the
> talking "serpent" in the Garden, but he was just a mischievous dragon, as
> far as I can tell. You've got the "Accuser" in Job, but he seems part of the
> heavenly crowd, sort of God's prosecuting attorney. If you're talking about
> modern Jewish literature, then the supernatural evil couldn't possibly be a
> pre-Semitic survival, could it?

Hmmm...  The idols of the surrounding tribes are pretty much treated as without
power; I can't think of an instance where they actually do anything--although
the only times they would be doing anything would be in "competition" with God
and even if they were seen as actual beings or shadows of some (shadowy
itself...) being they'd still be null in that case...

> It's in the New Testament that you get the real Good/Evil polarity, the
> notion of a Judgment, and the belief that if you pass the Judgment, then
> eternal life is your reward. I don't even think they have the same concept
> of "sin" in the OT. Christ casts out demons, and speaks of an "evil one" who
> wants to destroy the harvest. From the fact that he spoke like this, I must
> assume that the concept of "Satan" was not foreign to Jews of the time. But
> what was its origin? Did it creep in somehow between the Old Testament and
> the New? This has puzzled me for a long time.

Yes.  The idea was definitely present in Jewish thought by the time of Christ.
I forget the pieced together developmental history, but it was also identified
by that time (pre-Christian) with the serpent in the garden and the Accuser in
Job.  I forget though, which groups held and which didn't hold the idea.

> Sure, Christianity did a lot of assimilating and co-opting. That's what made
> it so successful. As you point out, the assimilation is mostly on the level
> of folk-belief. However, the notion of an Evil One is pretty much part and
> parcel of official Christian belief, and the old devil has caused a lot of
> trouble for theologians.

Well, you'd think that would be right up his alley, wouldn't you? :)

> As I said above, I'm not certain that the Accuser in Job fits the Satanic
> job description. One could argue that Job is best grouped with Ecclesiastes,
> the Psalms and the Song of Solomon as not being the same type of literature
> as the Pentateuch or the Prophets--nobody sensible thinks the Song is any
> sort of historical narrative, for instance. But I note with respect your
> argument that if Satan is void, then so are the angels from among whom he
> fell. I'm not sure which direction I want to go on that one.
> I must conclude that only my cat is sure what kind of stuff Satan is made
> out of. Perhaps I can get him to post again about it some time. At this
> point, I'll just limit myself to observing that Satan being a void is a
> theological necessity, otherwise you get in Big Trouble, fall prey to
> theological dualism, and get burned at the stake. It's sort of like the
> Trinity.

I think sort of the standard description would be the stuff of good, perverted
by ill-will--you get into dualism if you suggest there's any other kind of
stuff to be made of.  Void, but active with malice.  I've been trying to think
of a Wolfe work with some supernatural evil in it--Abaia and Erebus don't fit
the description; I think there's a faint hint of it at times in Long Sun--Mucor
and the vampires aren't supernatural, but suggest it (Mucor make's me think of
the kid in the Exorcist...)  THE DEVIL IN A FOREST is actually the best I can
come up with--the little idol.  Since Wolfe thinks the Greek gods may have been
some kind of beings, it's not too far out to have an idol be demonic.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." - John 8:32
Alex David Groce (adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu)
Senior (Computer Science/Multidisciplinary Studies in Technology & Fiction)
'98-99 NCSU AITP Student Chapter President
608 Charleston Road, Apt. 1E (919)-233-7366

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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