The Origin of Satan

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Vintage Books, 1996 - Religion - 214 pages
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Who is Satan in the New Testament, and what is the evil that he represents? In this groundbreaking book, Elaine Pagels, Princeton's distinguished historian of religion, traces the evolution of Satan from its origins in the Hebrew Bible, where Satan is at first merely obstructive, to the New Testament, where Satan becomes the Prince of Darkness, the bitter enemy of God and man, evil incarnate. In The Origin of Satan, Pagels shows that the four Christian gospels tell two very different stories. The first is the story of Jesus' moral genius: his lessons of love, forgiveness, and redemption. The second tells of the bitter conflict between the followers of Jesus and their fellow Jews, a conflict in which the writers of the four gospels condemned as creatures of Satan those Jews who refused to worship Jesus as the Messiah. Writing during and just after the Jewish war against Rome, the evangelists invoked Satan to portray their Jewish enemies as God's enemies too. As Pagels then shows, the church later turned this satanic indictment against its Roman enemies, declaring that pagans and infidels were also creatures of Satan, and against its own dissenters, calling them heretics and ascribing their heterodox views to satanic influences.

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User Review  - 1a1a1a1a1a -

As with other Pagel books this one is worth reading and provides ample issues worthy of additional thought and consideration. A worthwhile endeavor for anyone interested in early church dogma. Read full review

The origin of Satan

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Pagels, whose Gnostic Gospels (LJ 1/15/79) was a best seller and a major award winner, here examines the New Testament tendency to associate the Devil with Jews resistant to the teachings of Christianity. Read full review

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About the author (1996)

Elaine Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship best known for her studies and writing on the Gnostic Gospels. Pagels graduated from Stanford University receiving a B.A. in 1964 and an M.A. in 1965. She received a Ph.D in religion from Harvard University in 1970. She is the author of The Gnostic Gospels (1979), which won the National Book Award (Religion 1980) and the National Book Critics Circle Award (Criticism 1979). Pagels is also the author of Adam, Eve and the Serpent (1988), The Origin of Satan (1995), Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (2003), Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (2007), and Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (2012).

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