Matthias Henze on the Origins of Belief in Demons and Evil Spirits

On March 30, 2015, at The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, University of Arizona, Professor Matthias Henze (Rice University) delivered a talk on “Demons and Evil Spirits in Early Judaism and Christianity”.

Dr. Matthias Henze talk will explore the origins of the beliefs in demons and evil spirits. The rich literature of the late Second Temple period attests to a wide array of speculations about the origin, nature, and function of demons and evil forces. There are incantations against demons and liturgies for exorcism among the Dead Sea Scrolls. While rabbinic Judaism later on dismissed such beliefs and practices, demons had a major impact on Christianity and continue to be alive and well in some Christian circles today.

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Jonathan Ben-Dov: Reinterpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s monuments via the Watcher/Fallen Angel Tradition

Professor Jonathan Ben-Dov (George and Florence Wise Chair of Judaism in the Ancient World, University of Haifa) “explores the reinterpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s monuments from Lebanon as a representation of the myth of the Watchers” in a paper delivered at Boston College on November 20, 2013, “Iconography and Myth: From Nebuchadnezzar to the Fallen Angels”.

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Larry Hurtado on Early High Christology and the New Testament God

Larry-HurtadoProfessor Larry Hurtado (University of Edinburgh) discusses his views on the development of Christology and the concept of God in the New Testament, in two podcasts on Trinities.org.

1. (Podcast 99) “Dr. Larry Hurtado on early high christology” (begins at 10:50)

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Dr. Hurtado explains the term “early high christology” and what it means when applied to his own work. He discusses various angels and men who in various ancient Jewish writings are in some way exalted and honored in God-like ways, and how these cases differ from that of Jesus. Dr. Hurtado has argued that in the early years of Christianity we suddenly see a distinctive pattern of Jesus-worship, as evidenced by the earliest books in the New Testament. Such practices don’t derive from a second or third century, Gentile Christian context, but rather from the earliest, largely Jewish Christian context.

Hurtado discusses this in light of various passages in the gospel according to John, and also the statements of 1 Timothy that God is immortal. (1:17,6:16) The New Testament, he observes, emphasizes that Jesus was a genuine human being, a man, although in his view it also presents Jesus as existing even when the world was made, in a pre-human phase of his existence. God and Jesus, in his view, are closely linked, but also distinguished in the New Testament. God exalts Jesus to divine glory, which is why we must worship Jesus, according to early Christians. Worship of Jesus, he argues, has a theocentric (God-centered) justification or basis.

He also comments briefly on James Dunn’s Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?, the idea that “worship” by definition can be given only to God, and whether we should start our christological thinking with fourth century or with first century sources.

2. (Podcast 100) “Dr. Larry Hurtado on God in New Testament Theology

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I talk with Dr. Hurtado about his book God in New Testament Theology. He talks about

  • the theocentric basis of New Testament christology
  • what the New Testament adds to the theology of the Old Testament
  • God as “Father”
  • the way Christians view God in relation to Jesus
  • whether we need to interact with God through a mediator
  • the New Testament picture of God as love and yet as dangerous, and of Jesus as both savior and judge – and both as sources of agape love
  • how the NT picture of God differs from the theologies of pagan deities
  • how recently, and even in ancient times, in popular thinking Jesus can eclipse God in Christians’ minds, becoming a friendlier, less threatening god than the Father
  • ho theos vs. theos in early Christianity, and how the NT and early texts distinguish between Jesus and the one God (aka the Father)
  • whether or not the NT authors rethink how Judaic monotheism should be understood
  • the “dyadic devotional pattern” we see in NT-era worship practice, and whether this violated the first commandment
  • the sense in which Yahweh is unique, according to the Bible
  • whether Dr. Hurtado would agree with the suggestion that Jesus is “a part of” God
  • how the NT as it were “redefines” God with reference to Jesus
  • whether or not in his view Dr. Hurtado’s work supports “social” (three-self) Trinity theories
  • that contemporary theology has tended to neglect the literature of the first three Christian centuries in favor of the “classics” of the 4th and 5th centuries
  • Dr. Richard Bauckham’s “christology of divine identity” as an attempt to make sense of the NT apart from later “ontological” ways of approaching the matter

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.

Carol A. Newsom: Demons and Evil Angels in Early Judaism

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Professor Carol A. Newsom (Emory University) gives a lecture on “Demons and Evil Angels in Early Judaism”, delivered on April 22, 2013 at The University of Texas at Austin:

Although classical Israelite religion has very little to say about demons and other evil forces, but popular religion took it for granted that evil demons existed, haunting desert ruins and sometimes preying on people. In the late Persian and Hellenistic periods (4th—2nd centuries BCE) speculation about these types of figures proliferates. Incantations against demons, protective amulets, and practices of exorcism are all attested. Mythic accounts of the origin of evil spirits are developed, and the names and occasionally even the appearance of the demons are described. This talk will examine the origins and functions of speculation on demonic forces in early Judaism, a worldview with profound and lasting cultural effects. Although rabbinic Judaism largely rejected it, this worldview strongly shaped Christian religious beliefs. And while modernist Christians do not take the mythology of evil spirits literally, variations on these beliefs remain common among conservative evangelical and Pentecostal Christians throughout the world.

The lecture is available in mp3 audio format. It is also available on video, at an earlier rendition of the paper, at the Carolina Centre for Jewish Studies, November 2012:

Carol A. Newsom is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. She has written seven books and scores of articles, book chapters, translations, encyclopedia articles, and reviews. She has received several prestigious research fellowships, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Henry Luce Foundation, and has won several awards for excellence in teaching and mentoring. She recently served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is a senior fellow at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion.

Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity

Videos are available of some of the speakers at the Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity conference, St Mary’s College, Twickenham, May 23-24, 2014.

Prof Loren Stuckenbruck, “How Much Does the Christ Event Solve? Evil in New Testament Theology and Its Relation to Jewish Theology”

Prof Christopher Rollston, “The Rise of the Satan in Early Second Temple Judaism”

Dr Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer, “Evil at Qumran”

Dr Chris Tilling, “Paul, Evil, and Justification Debates”

Dr Tommy Wasserman, “Variants of Evil in the New Testament”

Dr Christopher Skinner, “Overcoming Satan, Overcoming the World: Exploring the Cosmologies of Mark and John”

Philip Harland’s Podcasts on Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean

Philip Harland has an ongoing series of podcasts on a wide range of topics relating to religions of the ancient Mediterranean which are available here. These include:

Series 1: Paul and His Communities

Podcast 1.1 Paul in his own words

Podcast 1.2 The situation at Thessalonica

Podcast 1.3 Paul’s response to Jesus-followers at Thessalonica

Podcast 1.4: Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 1

Podcast 1.5: Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 2

Podcast 1.6: Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 3

Podcast 1.7: Paul and the situation in Galatia

Podcast 1.8: Paul’s response to the Galatians

Podcast 1.9: Paul and the situation at Rome

Podcast 1.10: Paul’s response to the Romans

Podcast 1.11: Legacies of Paul – Women’s leadership, part 1

Podcast 1.12: Legacies of Paul – Women’s leadership, part 2

Series 2: Early Christian Portraits of Jesus

Podcast 2.1: Introduction to the Gospels as Portraits of Jesus

Podcast 2.2: Mark’s portrait of Jesus – Suffering Son, part 1

Podcast 2.3: Mark’s portrait of Jesus – Suffering Son, part 2

Podcast 2.4: Matthew’s portrait of Jesus – New Moses, part 1

Podcast 2.5: Matthew’s portrait of Jesus – New Moses, part 2

Podcast 2.6: Luke’s Portrait of Jesus – Prophet Elijah, part 1

Podcast 2.7: Luke’s Portrait of Jesus – Prophet Elijah, part 2

Podcast 2.8: John’s Portrait of Jesus – Son and Word, part 1

Podcast 2.9: John’s Portrait of Jesus – Son and Word, part 2

Podcast 2.10: Hebrews’ Portrait of Jesus – Highpriest Melchizedek, part 1

Podcast 2.11: Hebrews’ Portrait of Jesus – Highpriest Melchizedek, part 2

Series 3: Diversity in Early Christianity: “Heresies” and Struggles

Podcast 3.1: Introduction to Diversity – A Schism in John’s Community, part 1

Podcast 3.2: A Schism in John’s Community, part 2

Podcast 3.3: Docetic and Judaizing Opponents of Ignatius

Podcast 3.4: Docetic and Judaizing Opponents of Ignatius, part 2

Podcast 3.5: Diversity in Asia Minor – A Regional Case Study

Podcast 3.6: Sources for the Study of Diversity – Gnostic, Apocryphal, Patristic

Podcast 3.7: Jewish Followers of Jesus, part 1 – Ebionites

Podcast 3.8: Jewish Followers of Jesus, part 2 – Pseudo-Clement

Podcast 3.9: Marcionites and the Unknown God

Podcast 3.10 Introducing Gnostic Worldviews

Podcast 3.11: Secret Book of John, part 1 – The Spiritual Realm

Podcast 3.12: Secret Book of John, part 2 – Salvation from the Material Realm

Podcast 3.13: The Wisdom of Jesus Christ and Middle Platonism

Podcast 3.14: The Gospel of Philip, part 1 – Ideas of Salvation

Podcast 3.15: The Gospel of Philip, part 2 – Ritual Enactments of Salvation

Podcast 3.16: The Gospel of Mary – Secret Knowledge from the Ultimate Disciple

Series 4: Honouring the Gods in the Roman Empire: Asia Minor

Podcast 4.1: Introduction to Honouring the Gods

Podcast 4.2: A City and Its Patron Deity – Artemis of Ephesus

Podcast 4.3: Salvation from the Gods – Asklepios at Pergamum

Podcast 4.4: Messages from the Gods – Apollo at Claros and Didyma

Podcast 4.5: Justice from the Gods in Lydia

Podcast 4.6: Honouring the Emperors as Gods

Series 5: The Historical Jesus in Context

Podcast 5.1: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 1

Podcast 5.2: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 2

Podcast 5.3: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 3

Podcast 5.4: Scholarly Portraits of the Historical Jesus, part 1 – Crossan

Podcast 5.5: Scholarly Portraits of the Historical Jesus, part 2 – Sanders

Podcast 5.6: Jesus, Galilee, and Israelite History, part 1 – To the Second Temple

Podcast 5.7: Jesus, Galilee, and Israelite History, part 2 – To the Time of Jesus

Podcast 5.8: Jesus, the Galilean and Judean

Podcast 5.9: Jesus in the Context of Educated Groups and Leaders

Podcast 5.10: Jesus and his Mentor, John the Baptizer

Podcast 5.11: Jesus as Teacher, part 1 – Method and Content

Podcast 5.12: Jesus as Teacher, part 2 – Present or Future Kingdom?

Podcast 5.13: Jesus as Healer and Exorcist

Podcast 5.14: Jesus as Prophet

Podcast 5.15: Jesus as Messianic King?

Series 6: Associations in the Greco-Roman World

Podcast 6.1: Introduction to Associations in the Greco-Roman World

Podcast 6.2: Social, Religious, and Burial Activities of Associations

Podcast 6.3: Judean and Christian Groups as Associations

Podcast 6.4: Associations and Greco-Roman Society (The City)

Podcast 6.5: Associations and the Roman Empire

Podcast 6.6: Approaches to Studying Ethnic Associations and Identities

Podcast 6.7: Phoenician Immigrant Associations, part 1

Podcast 6.8: Phoenician Immigrant Associations, part 2

Podcast 6.9: Judean Immigrant Associations, part 1

Podcast 6.10: Judean Immigrant Associations, part 2

Podcast 6.11 Jesus Groups as Associations and Cultural Minorities, part 1

Podcast 6.12: Jesus Groups as Associations and Cultural Minorities, part 2

Podcast 6.13: Cultural Minority Associations and Ethnic Stereotypes, part 1

Podcast 6.14: Cultural Minority Associations and Ethnic Stereotypes, part 2

Series 7: Visions of the End: Origins of Judean Apocalypticism

Podcast 7.1: Visions of the End – What is Apocalypticism?

Podcast 7.2: Origins part 1 – Ancient Near Eastern Combat Myths

Podcast 7.3: Origins part 2 – Zoroastrian apocalypticism

Podcast 7.4: Origins part 3a – Israelite Prophets 1

Podcast 7.5: Origins part 3b – Israelite Prophets 2

Podcast 7.6: 1 Enoch – An Introduction to the Earliest Apocalypse

Podcast 7.7: 1 Enoch – Fallen Angels in Early Apocalypticism

Podcast 7.8: Introduction to Daniel’s Historical Apocalypse

Podcast 7.9: Daniel’s Visions as Veiled History

Series 8: A Cultural History of Satan – Personified Evil in Early Judaism and in Christianity

Podcast 8.1: A Cultural History of Satan – Predecessors of Satan from Mesopotamia

Podcast 8.2: Predecessors of Satan from Canaan and Israel

Podcast 8.3: Predecessors of Satan from Persia

Podcast 8.4: Other Predecessors of Satan from the Hebrew Bible

Podcast 8.5: Fallen Angels in 1 Enoch (ca. 225 BCE)

Podcast 8.6: Mastema in Jubilees and Beliar in the Dead Sea Scrolls (ca. 100 BCE)

Podcast 8.7: The Devil and Beelzebub in Early Biographies of Jesus (70-100 CE)

Podcast 8.8: Internal Functions of the Rhetoric of Satan in Paul and John (ca. 50-110 CE)

Podcast 8.9: A Satanic Empire in John’s Apocalypse (ca. 80-100 CE)

Podcast 8.10: Jealous Satan, the Image of God, and the Serpent in the Life of Adam and Eve

Podcast 8.11: The Jealous Creator and the Serpent of Wisdom in Gnosticism (2nd century CE)

Podcast 8.12: Satan’s Demons and the Greco-Roman Gods in the Church Fathers (2nd-3rd centuries CE)

In Our Time: Online and Podcasts (BBC Radio 4)

In Our Time is a BBC Radio 4 programme on the history of ideas and is presented by Melvyn Bragg. Its range of episodes are classified under the headings ‘Religion’, ‘History’, ‘Culture’, ‘Philosophy’, and ‘Science’. The format consists of Bragg asking questions to, and leading a discussion with, a panel of academics. There are over 600 episodes – either for listening online and/or download – and the full archive is available here. There are numerous episodes covering topics in biblical studies and relevant areas:

Prophecy (13 June, 2013)

Gnosticism (2 May, 2013)

King Solomon (7 June, 2012)

Judas Maccabeus (24 November, 2011)

The Dawn of the Iron Age (24 March, 2011)

The City [Part 1] (25 March 2010)

The Augustan Age (11 June 2009)

St Paul (28 May, 2009)

Miracles (25 September, 2008)

The Greek Myths (13 March, 2008)

Hell (21 December, 2006)

Heaven (22 December, 2005)

Archaeology and Imperialism (14 April 2005)

Angels (24 March, 2005)

Zoroastrianism (11 November, 2004)

Babylon (3 June 2004)

The Fall (8 April, 2004)

The Alphabet (18 December, 2003)

The Devil (11 December, 2003)

The Apocalypse (17 July, 2003)

The Lindisfarne Gospels (20 February, 2003)

The Soul (6 June 2002)

In addition to the episodes listed above, there are episodes on a range of topics and individuals which will be directly relevant to certain areas of biblical studies research (e.g. Plato, Pliny, Roman satire, Wyclif, Erasmus, Milton, historiography, cultural memory).