This is the antagonist of all that is good, the challenger of God himself and the master of the underworld. Well, in the Bible at least, right? Maybe not! There are a lot of misconceptions and a lot of other later additions to what and who Satan is.
His image has changed throughout the years, as with everything else in the world, but how much so? What were the original characteristics of the Devil when he first came into the world? Below we have some of these facts about the devil, so please check them out.
5. Satan’s role changed drastically with the New Testament
The image we have about the Devil or Satan is more of a New Testament thing. In fact the Devil does appear in the Old Testament, in the Book of Job. However his name there is He-Satan, and this actually stands for something like “the challenger”. This means that Ha-Satan is in fact an angel sent by God to test and give people challenges and obstacles.
This way, when people choose the good side, it’s more important and much more valuable, making it worthy of God’s praise. In this sense, Satan is really an agent of God, working under his command, rather than against him.
4. The Devil has many names. But for what reason?
Like many religions around the world, and many traditions in fact, none are completely original. While some elements are new, many are borrowed from other, older religions or traditions. This is a process known as religious syncretism.
This is also the case when it comes to the Devil and his many names. Besides Satan, we also may have heard of the name Ba‘al Zəbûb or Beelzebub which is understood to mean “lord of the flies”. This name derives from an older name “Ba’al” which is the name of an ancient deity as old as Babylon and their religion of Zoroastrianism.
It is also believed that during the meeting of the Jews and Babylonians, the role of Satan from an angel who followed God’s orders and gave people obstacles, changed to a more adversarial one.
3. The Devil’s New Look
It is widely known that Satan didn’t look like we’re used to see him today. Meaning that the horns, hooves, pitchfork, tail, red skin, the whole shebang, are all made up afterwards. This a tactic used by priests or whoever, to turn people away from their old gods and belief systems. In fact, the way Satan looks is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.
Now, in order to make it easier for people to make the change in belief, the image of the Devil was mixed with that of local deities. For example, the pitchfork is believed to be a trident, which represents the Roman god Neptune. The hooves and horns are a representation of the god Pan from the Greeks. It sort of a religious syncretism but in reverse.
2. Selling Your Soul
Having the option to sell your soul to the Devil is also a relatively new one. This legend can trace it’s origins to the German story of Faust. Here Faust sells his soul to Satan in exchange for immense riches, lovely women and everything else a man would want out of a mortal life.
In the canonical stories, Satan plays the role of a tempter. And even if he want souls, he doesn’t give people amazing powers and riches. He just takes them if they are offered.
1. Is Satan’s image in a continuous change?
As far as we’ve seen, the Devil changed a lot of things about him throughout his existence. He changed his role in the world, his appearance, his name, everything. So it could be possible that he’s still in a continuous period of transition and the image we have of Satan today, could not be his final form.
It is very possible that the new interpretations we give him, in movies, books and so on, can someday be part of who Satan actually is.