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The Origin of Satan

How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©1995 Elaine Pagels (P)2014 Audible Inc.
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Customer Reviews

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5 out of 5 stars
By Tibber on 20-07-2015

well organized and thorough

Traced the occurrences of Satan and similar through Hebrew and Christian writings both biblical and non. Did not presume much foreknowledge so it was clear.

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5 people found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Drew on 02-02-2017

Challenging

As a Christian myself, this book challenged many of the concepts I took for granted in my faith. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wishes to refine their faith and to look past what is merely tradition.

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3 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Purplegatormasterg on 14-07-2015

Eye opening

This was well researched. The narrator spoke clearly and with emotion when called. I will keep this book in my library for future listening. Well done.

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3 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Ken Hutchison on 18-01-2015

interesting

loved it,very well done,was a pleasure to listen to, will definitely check out more of her books

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3 people found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By J'oli on 06-09-2019

Must read for all practicing Christians

I was hesitant to leave a review because I didn’t think I could write objectively about the concept of religion; Christianity in particular. All I can say is this book is a stark reminder of how religion are the scales in which our spiritual eyes are blinded. I wish I had access to this book (or at least a thorough understanding of the history of Christianity) about a decade ago. It would’ve saved me a lot of anguish and unnecessary psychological angst.

Every Christian should read this especially since nowadays Christianity seems to have become a religion touted by bigots, ethnocentrism, xenophobia and hate.

Satan wasn’t always considered evil. There is no hell. And the Holy Spirit (a female spirit) couldn’t possibly have “impregnated” Mary.

The Bible, it seems, is simply an ancient book of telephone.

Looking forward to reading more books by this author.

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1 person found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jolene on 18-01-2018

Well Worth the Time

Pagels engages in an interesting analysis of the historical and theological origins of Satan. For anyone who is interested in comparative religious studies and/or 1-2nd century Christianity, this book is well worth your time.

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1 person found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Emmanuel Isaiah Smith on 08-09-2017

A thoroughly captivating production

This book, The Origins of Satan, along with its audible narration, gives a very vivid, very unique mixture of history, scriptural narrative, and personal conjecture that explores the historical and scriptural relationships between Satan, Jesus Christ, and the Jewish people. This production keeps the listener interested and engaged throughout the discourse.

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1 person found this helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By "deccy" on 20-02-2016

Superb measured analysis

I found the analysis measured and wonderfully researched. The focus on the gospel itself combined with contemporary accounts really gave a solid no-nonsense review of the subject matter. Highly recommended to all who seek to understand the origins of our current belief patterns.

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1 person found this helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Tim on 02-04-2015

Nice, but not what I was expecting

The title of this book is misleading. It should be called "we demonize the other guys." Best chapter was the one on the Pagans. I listened to the end despite realizing it was not what I was expecting. This would be more of interest to you if you want to hear about the early Christian church.

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5 people found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Dawn on 15-06-2014

Interesting

If you could sum up The Origin of Satan in three words, what would they be?

Not what I expected, need to listen again.

Would you recommend The Origin of Satan to your friends? Why or why not?

Probably, only recommend to those who are interested in learning the historical origin of Satan.

What about Suzanne Toren’s performance did you like?

Not bad, sometimes I had a hard time following her.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Man Creates Evil

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2 people found this helpful

Customer Reviews

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4 out of 5 stars
By Teresa Cooper on 27-03-2015

Satan or not Satan.

The book comes down to one fact. Whether you are Jewish, a Roman who worshipped many Gods or an early Christian. The author takes us for a walk through ancient history to watch a thread develop and evolve. Not quite what I expected from the title but still a fair look at two of the worlds oldest religions.

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3 people found this helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By dirk on 29-07-2016

misled by title

was hoping/ thinking to learn of how the concept of Satan originated and then evolved. In stead this is more a story of very early Christianity. An interesting enough story which I listened to until the end. Excellent reader.

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2 people found this helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Dave Kinsella on 25-04-2018

Good, if a Little Dry.

Audible didn't have any titles that dealt with the genesis and development of the theological idea of Satan through the ages. This title was the closest thing. It deals with the history of how Jews and Christians demonized their enemies using the Biblical imagery as their examples.

There were some real gems here though. My favourite part was actually the biography of Justin Martyr, which was not a central part of the book, but I thought it was beautiful. While I disagree with Justin Marty's conclusions I had to empathize with his search. He was a man just like me living in ancient times in a very different culture, but searching for answers to life.

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1 person found this helpful