Mark Leuchter on the Devil and Evil

On February 24, 2014, Professor Mark Leuchter (Temple University) presented “The Devil Made Me Do It: The Ancient Mythology Behind Personal Moral Struggle in Early Judaism” at Temple University.

The lecture delves into the familiar image of the “angel” and “devil” on either shoulder, each arguing for the individual to make a particular moral choice, which is derived from ancient Jewish ideas of a moral struggle against an individual’s “evil inclination.” This trope is often seen as derived from the Jewish encounter with ancient Greek philosophy, but the roots of this concept are far older, and reflect a centuries-long development of ancient Israelite mythology regarding the Divine Warrior’s struggle against the forces of chaos and evil. Over time, this mythology evolved into different iterations until the battleground became internal and personal, with the struggle against evil directed to the enemy within.

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