Q: Was the idea of Satan as the enemy of God created in the 2nd century BC? Featured

Saturday, 17 June 2017 20:06

Question:

I have a question regarding an article that was posted a few days ago. In this article it talks about how Satan is linked to the serpent in Genesis. The author then goes on to state that the idea of a "prince of darkness" only came about in Satanthe 2nd and 1st centuries BC and the idea of Satan was then linked to the serpent. It also makes mention of the dragon in Revelation among various other things. If this is true then it seems that the idea of Satan is just a later add-on doctrine. Michael Heiser also wrote an article concerning the absence of Satan in the Old Testament and in particular he cited Job. Some who are skeptical would say that Jesus was following the theology of his day. I was wondering how we explain this. Here are the articles below.........

http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-interpretation/how-the-serpent-became-satan/

http://drmsh.com/the-absence-of-satan-in-the-old-testament/

Answer:

There is a technical name for what these authors are claiming.  They are claiming that Jesus and the New Testament writers accommodated their teaching to false ideas around them.  In other words, they took where people were at, did not correct their errors, but used their false ideas and their vocabulary to teach a deeper truth.  To put it more bluntly, the theory of accommodation implies that there are errors in the Bible.  The theory of accommodation is a dangerous one, as it undermines biblical authority and it is simply not true.

First of all by way of response, there is a pattern of doctrines which are less-well developed in the Old Testament, but which are more fully explained in the New Testament.  There are a number of examples.  Believe it or not, even the idea of heaven and hell, as well as Hades, is left relatively vague or more implied rather than stated in the Old Testament.  Yet, there is one very clear description of the final resurrection and judgment in Daniel 12:1-4.  Once we see the New Testament teaching, many Old Testament passages about the final resurrection, heaven and hell become more clear.  This would include Ezekiel 47:1-12 and Zechariah 14.  It is not that the truth changed, or that the Old Testament is wrong, but simply that God revealed the truth progressively.  The doctrine of angels is another one which is suggested and occasionally directly mentioned in the Old Testament but which is much more fully developed in the New.

One can argue that the idea of Satan is also presented in the Old Testament, but in a less-well-developed and less-clear form that in the New Testament.  Just like with the biblical teaching on heaven and hell, it is not that the truth has changed, but that God reveals things more clearly to us through Jesus.  Yet, Satan is certainly not absent from the Old Testament.  The claim that the idea of the devil was invented in the first or second century BC or that it was incorporated into Judaism and later Christianity as a later invention is simply not true.  Jesus did not learn from his contemporaries!!!  He not only knew the truth, he IS the truth (John 14:6, John 1:17).  If Jesus tells us that Satan is real, then he is real.  Jesus should know, since he is the Son of God.  He (Satan) is not an accommodation from false beliefs of Jews in the second century.

Satan is present in Genesis in the form of a serpent.  In Genesis 3:15 we have a messianic passage regarding the serpent and his relationship of enmity with the Messiah, as fulfilled when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert and with the final destruction of the Serpent, or the Devil, as recorded in Revelation 20:10.  Revelation makes a clear connection between the Serpent and Satan.  They are one and the same.  Satan is lurking behind the scenes in many places in the Old Testament, but he is present more visibly in scriptures such as Job 1 and Daniel 10, where angels on Satan's side are found in battle with the archangel Michael.  In Job 1:6-12 we meet Satan by name.  To say that Satan--a personal and evil opponent of God and his will--was invented in the 2nd century is belied by the facts.  Job is one of the earliest written books in the Old Testament.  Of course, Satan is found in Job 1, where he engages in a discussion with God over his servant Job.  He also tempts David to test the Lord in 1 Chronicles 21:1.  Is this mention of Satan somewhat more vague and less personal than his encounter with Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11? Perhaps, but the two encounters are of the same sort.  The pattern is that the New Testament makes more clear what is strongly implied in the Old.  Satan's servants are found in Daniel 10:12-21.  These are the angels of Persia and of Greece who are opposing Michael the Archangel.  These authors claim that there are no personal spiritual enemies of God in the Old Testament.  What about Daniel 10?

Scholars like to make a name for themselves by undermining our belief in the reliability of the Bible.  One does not gain fame by stating the obvious, which is that the entire Bible is inspired by God.  There is a grain of truth in what these folks are saying, but only that--a grain of truth.  It is true that the doctrine of the devil/Satan/the Serpent is more clearly delineated by Jesus and in the New Testament than in the Old.  However, the claim that he was a mere invention--taken from another religious tradition or invented for some religious purposes in the 2nd or 1st century BC is outrageous and it is simply not true.  The Bible is inspired by God and all of it is true.  Please do not be intimidated by those who want to undermine your faith in the reliability of the Bible.

The author of the first article claims that the Satan in Zechariah 3:1-2 is a servant of God--doing his will.  This is a fine-sounding argument, but this person Satan is called accuser and is rebuked by God.  This is clearly the same accuser as in Revelation 12:10.  It is Satan--the deceiver and accuser of God's people.  They are one and the same.

The author of the second article above claims that the word Satan in Job 1 is not a reference to a single person who is a deceiver/accuser.  Really?  Read this passage for yourself.  Would anyone simply reading this passage not see Satan as a person who is a deceiver/accuser (Revelation 12:10)?  This is scholarly rhetoric, and it is an ad hoc hypothesis.  You can safely reject this argument.  "The Lord said to Satan, 'Where have you come from?'"  This sounds like a conversation between people to me.  The author's attempt to prove his point by use of or lack of the indefinite article falls flat when we read Genesis 3 or Job 1.

Part of the argument by the people you reference has to do with vocabulary.  They will say that the phrase "prince of darkness" is not found in the Old Testament.  Yet it is found between the testaments and then in the New Testament.  Therefore, they say, it is a later invention.  This is in part true, but it really proves nothing.  Here is the question:  Is the idea of a unique, powerful, personal enemy of God and accuser of his people present in both the Old and the New Testament?  The answer is a clear yes!  What names are used for this person is not essential to the argument.  Many false ideas have been promoted by scholars who make a big deal out of the different names God is know by in the different parts of the Old and New Testaments.  Here is the bottom line:  In the entire Bible there is one God. "Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one God."  Whether he is known as Father, God, YHWH, Adonai, Elohim or the God of Heaven, he is God.   Whether the Accuser and Deceiver is know as a roaring lion, Serpent, Satan or Devil, he is real and he is opposed to our love for God.  I reject the hypothesis of these men as disproved by the scriptures.

John Oakes
www.evidenceforchristianity.org
Read 190 times Last modified on Wednesday, 21 June 2017 23:26

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