Better to Reign in Hell, Than Serve In Heaven: Satan's Metamorphosis From a Heavenly Council Member to the Ruler of Pandaemonium

Better to Reign in Hell, Than Serve In Heaven: Satan's Metamorphosis From a Heavenly Council Member to the Ruler of Pandaemonium

by Allan Edwin Charles Wright


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In this monograph, I argue that Satan was not perceived as a universal malevolent deity, the embodiment of evil, or the “ruler of Pandaemonium” within first century Christian literature or even within second and third century Christian discourses as some scholars have insisted. Instead, for early “Christian” authors, Satan represented a pejorative term used to describe terrestrial, tangible, and concrete social realities, perceived of as adversaries. To reach this conclusion, I explore the narrative character of Satan selectively within the Hebrew Bible, intertestamental literature, Mark, Matthew, Luke, Q, the Book of Revelation, the Nag Hammadi texts, and the Ante-Nicene fathers.

I argue that certain scholars’ such as Jeffrey Burton Russell, Miguel A. De La Torre, Albert Hernandez, Peter Stanford, Paul Carus, and Gerd Theissen, homogenized reconstructions of the “New Testament Satan” as the universalized incarnation of evil and that God’s absolute cosmic enemy is absent from early Christian orthodox literature, such as Mark, Matthew, Luke, Q, the Book of Revelation, and certain writings from the Ante-Nicene Fathers. Using Jonathan Z. Smith’s essay Here, There, and Anywhere, I suggest that the cosmic dualist approach to Satan as God’s absolute cosmic enemy resulted from the changing social topography of the early fourth century where Christian “insider” and “outsider” adversaries were diminishing. With these threats fading, early Christians universalized a perceived chaotic cosmic enemy, namely Satan, being influenced by the Gnostic demiurge, who disrupts God’s terrestrial and cosmic order. Therefore, Satan transitioned from a “here,” “insider,” and “there,” “outsider,” threat to a universal “anywhere” threat. This study could be employed as a characterization study, New Testament theory and application for classroom references or research purposes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781622734696
Publisher: Vernon Art and Science
Publication date: 10/29/2018
Series: Series in Philosophy of Religion
Pages: 178
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.38(d)

About the Author

I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta in the academic study of religion. I completed my undergraduate degree with High Honours and my Master's degree at the University of Regina, both specializing in early Christian and New Testament studies. My main area of focus is early Christianity and theoretical studies. I have been teaching various religion classes (Ex. Introduction to Western Religions and Introduction to Eastern Religions) for the last four years. I have LAO attended and participated in various academic religion conferences.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Near Eastern Narratives which Influenced the Development of Satan.








Chapter 2: Satanic Figures within the Hebrew Bible and Intertestamental Literature

Hebrew Bible

Intertestamental Literature

Chapter 3: New Testament Representations of Satan






The Book of Revelation


Chapter 4: Second and Third Century Representations of Satan

The Nag Hammadi Texts and the Demiurge

Ante-Nicene Fathers





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