Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Birth of Satan: Tracing The Devil's Biblical Roots

Wray, T.J. and Gregory Mobley, The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots. New York: Palmgrove MacMillan, 2005.

The authors trace the evolution of the biblical origins of evil from its roots in the Hebrew Bible to the influence of later works like Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante's Divine Comedy. The book jams piece after piece of helpful information into a very manageable 180 pages and assume little or no background knowledge from the reader, especially in regard to Ancient Near East mythology. In spite of the many scholarly references, the book will probably leave authors coming from a scholarly perspective feeling a little lacking. There is discussion of the book of Revelation without reference to the work of David Aune, of the Gospels and Dead Sea Scrolls but no Geza Vermes and discussion of apocalypticism without one mention of John Collins in either the text or bibliography.

Nonetheless, the authors succeed in delivering an engaging and informative introduction to the biblical Satan (and evil in general) that bridges some of the gap between the scholarly and popular contexts. For a beginner student, or someone with little background but even a passing interest in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern studies, this book will be very revealing and, dare I say it, enjoyable.

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