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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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.

Elaine Pagels on The Influence of the Book of Revelation on Modern Conceptions of Evil

Professor Elaine Pagels (Princeton University) delivered a talk on April 11, 2014, at the Facing History and Ourselves’ Day of Learning, “Confronting Evil in Individuals and Societies”.

Pagels explains that many interpretations of evil throughout history are inspired by the Book of Revelation, and she uses artistic depictions to describe the events of the story. She then illustrates examples of people using the imagery from the Book of Revelation at different times of war to justify their position and vilify their enemy.

elaine-pagels-evil

 

John E. Hare: Kant in the Book of Job

Professor John E. Hare, the Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School, delivers a paper on “Kant, Job and the Problem of Evil”. The paper was given on Friday March 21, 2014, at the Contemporary Moral Theory and the Problem of Evil Conference held at the University of Notre Dame on March 21-22, 2014.

John Hare’s paper deals with Kant’s brief 1791 work , Uber das Misslingen alter philosophischen Versuche in der Theodicee [“On the miscarriage of all philosophical trials in theodicy‘”].

The paper begins at 10:10 in the video.

 

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”