[b-hebrew] Is.45:7 God created evil?

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Fri Aug 5 00:11:11 EDT 2005

Dear Harold,

Thank you for the bibliographic suggestion. I have read Evans'  
article and he does give food for thought. As far as I can tell,  
Evans' argument that _satan_ is an "angelic intermediary"--neither a  
fully-developed "devil" on the one hand nor a merely human adversary  
on the other--in 1 Chron 21 neither depends upon nor requires that  
the word _satan_ also be a proper noun. Indeed, interpreting the  
passage as Evans does, but treating _satan_ as a common noun, would  
be perfectly consonant with the passage from Numbers that I cited  
earlier. I cannot detect any stronger evidence in Evans' article for  
reading _satan_ as a proper noun than the fact that it is anarthrous,  
which I think is inconclusive. Personally, I think it is strange to  
take _one_ anarthrous use of _satan_ and argue that it is a proper  
noun _precisely because it is anarthrous_, ignoring the two dozen  
other occurrences of anarthrous _satan_ that _nobody_ takes as proper  
nouns. I find Evans's suggestions about the Chronicler's "angelology"  
interesting and worthy of attention, but I don't think he makes a  
strongly persuasive case that the _Chronicler_ understood _satan_ as  
a proper noun.

Best wishes,


On Aug 4, 2005, at 8:34 PM, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:

> Dear Chris,
>> In the quotation below and the longer text of your post, you are
>> making theological claims, not exegetical or linguistic ones.
> Here's something from Biblica on the topic of 1 Chronicles 21:1 and
> &+N ("satan") that you might find interesting:
> Paul EVANS
> Biblica 85 (2004) 545-558
> Divine Intermediaries in 1 Chronicles 21
> An Overlooked Aspect of the Chronicler's Theology*
> http://www.bsw.org/?l=71851&a=Comm17.html
> The article's title has the word theology in it, but a good bit of
> information is linguistic or exegetical. While Evans does think the
> figure in 1 Chronicles is an angelic one, and a step towards the full
> concept of Satan, he does not find the figure as fully developed as
> the NT Satan. Evans gives some extra-biblical information, including
> the Targum of 1 Chronicles 21:1, which took the figure to be Satan.
> He discusses the implications of the definite article and the issue
> of a proper name, while emphasizing the Chronicler's editorial
> tendencies with regard to angels. He thinks the Book of Job may have
> influenced the Chronicler. In his footnotes he mentions the use of
> &+N in interestamental literature as a proper name. I tried to e-mail
> the article, but it was too long for B-Hebrew.
> But let me include a few relevant quotes:
> Interestingly, the Targum of Chronicles purposefully indicates that
> N+# here did not indicate an autonomous devil. In the Targum, 1 Chr
> 21,1 reads "The Lord raised up Satan against Israel"38. While this
> appears to be a conflation between the Samuel and Chronicles texts,
> it is obviously clarifying that Satan is not an independent being but
> is controlled by Yahweh39. Once again the concerns of the Targum
> translator seem to be analogous to those of Ch.
>          Although Ch did not see God as altogether separate from evil
> he, being a product of his postexilic age, saw a more developed role
> for divine intermediaries. As mentioned above, this could have been
> the result of Ch's exposure to the book of Job where N+# was part of
> the heavenly entourage and was used by Yahweh to test human beings.
> Thus, Ch believed that in his Vorlage when God incited David to
> number the people, this was done through a mediator - N+#. In this
> way, Ch was not intending to contradict his Vorlage but to better
> explain it40. This reinterpretation by Ch is consistent with
> subsequent development of angelology in later intertestamental
> literature. These later books which retold ot narratives, (e.g.,
> Jubilees) tended to bringi n angels where there were none in the
> original OT text. Often the writer would introduce intermediaries to
> perform an act which God himself performs in the original story41. In
> a similar manner, Ch replaces the original narrative's account of God
> directly inciting David with a heavenly intermediary - N+#.
>          Although not representing a complete doctrine of Satan, as
> developed in later Jewish writings, Ch's reworking of 2 Samuel 24 was
> an important stage in its development. It is, in fact, the final
> stage in the development of N+# in the ot. Drawing on the traditions
> of Job and Zechariah Ch takes the concept one step further. In
> Chronicles N+# not only brings charges against Yahweh's people but
> incites his anointed king to bring "guilt upon Israel"49. Despite
> this development, the term is still a long way from denoting the
> archenemy of God. Instead, his appearance in Chronicles is evidence
> of Ch's post-exilic theology which saw increased roles for divine
> intermediaries. While not being the mainstay of his purpose, this
> belief in divine mediation is evident in his work and has been
> overlooked by recent commentators.
> 3 C. Breytenbach and P.L. Day write "The majority of scholars...
> understand s8a4t[a4n to be the proper name Satan", ("Satan",
> Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible [eds. K. VAN DE TOORN -
> B. BECKING - P.W. VAN DER HORST] [Leiden 1995] 1375-1376). So H.G.M.
> WILLIAMSON, 1 and 2 Chronicles (Grand Rapids 1982) 143; R. BRAUN, 1
> Chronicles (Waco 1986) 216; G. VON RAD, Das Geschichtsbild des
> chronistischen Werkes zur Geheimen Offenbarung (BWANT 54; Stuttgart
> 1939) 8-9; R. SHARF, Satan in the Old Testament (Evanston 1967) 155;
> W. EICHRODT, Theology of the Old Testament (Philadelphia 1967) II,
> 206-207.
> 8 This concurs with E. Langton who argued that in Zechariah 'Satan'
> became the title of a distinct personality, Essentials of Demonology.
> A Study of Jewish and Christian Doctrine; Its Origin and Development
> (London 1949) 53. Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, which Japhet cites as the
> source for her etymological argument, explains that N+# is one of the
> instances where "original appellatives have completely assumed the
> character of real proper names and are therefore used without the
> article" (K. GESENIUS, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar [Oxford 1988]
> 125-125, 402). JAPHET rejects Gesenius' conclusion as "yet another
> case in which exegetical considerations influence objective
> linguistic analysis" (Ideology, 147, n. 427).
> 9 So argues P.L. DAY, An Adversary in Heaven. s8a4t[a4n in the Hebrew
> Bible (Atlanta 1988) 128. An example of another popular name for the
> Devil is seen in the book of Jubilees where "Mastema" - not Satan -
> is the favorite name for the chief demon (although this "Mastema" is
> not a different character than Satan but is actually also called
> Satan as well (see R.H. CHARLES, The Book of Jubilees: or the Little
> Genesis [London 1902] 81). Similarly, at Qumran, a favorite name for
> a similar character is Belial although the name Satan is also found
> frequently (Cf. 11QPsa Plea 19,15; 4QDibHama 1-2, IV, 12; 4QBera,b.
> Also 1QH fr.4, line 6 may have N+# as a name).
> 12 The names Dia/boloj, Beelzebou/l and Belia/r are also used of the
> chief of the demons (Beelzebou/l is found in Matt 10,25; 12,27, Mark
> 3,22 and Luke 11,15; 2 Cor 6,15 mentions Belia/r). In the NT Satana=j
> is used 34 times while Dia/boloj is used 36 times. Breytenbach and
> Day argue that the use of Satana=j in the NT is simply "incidental"
> and just a "Semitism" ("Satan", 1379). However, the use of Satana=j
> is hardly what one would call "incidental"; it seems clear to this
> writer that the usage in the NT demonstrates that Satan was seen as a
> proper name and that it is only a Semitism as far as the name
> 'Ihsou=j or any other number of Hebrew names are.
>                     Yours,
>                     Harold Holmyard
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew

R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Seaver Fellow in Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list