Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Devil

  • Jeffrey Burton RussellEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_167

Origins

The word “Devil” derives from Greek diabolos, meaning “adversary.” In Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Muslim traditions, the term applies to a single spirit of evil whose function is to oppose the will of the good God. In Zoroastrian tradition, and in the Manicheism that derives from it, the Devil, named Ahriman, is a god of evil and darkness in opposition to the god of goodness and light, Ohrmazd. The two gods struggle against each other until the end of the world, at which Ohrmazd will triumph and annihilate Ahriman. In Jewish tradition the Devil is most often identified as Satan, though he also has many other names. In the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), Satan’s role is usually unclear, and often the term “Satan” is used as a generic term for an opponent. When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek about 200 BCE, the term diabolosentered scriptural usage. Though only marginal in earlier Hebrew thought, the Devil, under various names, became of much greater...

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Bibliography

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA