The Devil At The Dawn Of Christianity

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The devil at the dawn of Christianity bore little resemblance to the ruler of hell, the antichrist and agent of evil that he is known as in present day. Satan makes few overt or implied appearances in the Old Testament. For the important role of God’s greatest adversary, early Christians had to flesh out great parts of Satan’s story in order to develop him into his present, fearsome persona. The Christian story of the Devil is heavily influenced by earlier Greek mythology, and early Christian writings about the Devil co-opted local mythology in order to gain new converts and discredit popular pagan beliefs. In the Old Testament story of Job, Satan is one of God’s angels. In order to become the Satan of evil, he must fall from God’s grace and vacate his position in His court. Greek mythology told the story of an epic battle in heaven between Zeus, god of heaven, and Typhon, the most fearsome of the giants, with “100 dragon heads, coiling serpents for legs and hundreds of hands” (Littleton, 149). Zeus succeeded in casting Typhon out of heaven forever, and the beast is said, variably, to either be destroyed in Mt. Etna, or banished to Tartarus, the deepest level of the underworld. In Revelations 12: 7-9, Michael and the angels fight Satan, described as “the great dragon… that old serpent”, and cast him out of heaven and into hell. Early versions of 2 Peter, telling the same story, even use the word Tartarus, which is later replaced with hell in King James and other popular
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