Sunday, March 22, 2015

On The Origin And Identity Of Demons (Part 2)

TWH: Can we really say that the Hebrews did not have a concept of demons apart from the introduction of the "demonic" into their system of thought around the third century B.C.? I don't think so. Satan is the ruler of demons. It is not that he is different than demons; no, he is one of them. He functions as their leader, their ruler, and even the object of their worship. The presence of Satan in Genesis 3 shows us that the Hebrews were aware of his existence and negative presence in the world well before the third century. Now, whether or not they had an exhaustive or comprehensive knowledge of the demonic is a different matter.

The Scriptures are not designed to be exhaustive. In other words, they do not discuss or treat every matter or topic pertaining to all that exists. They are designed to be sufficient, not exhaustive. When someone makes an argument that something does not exist because they do not find comprehensive evidence of it in written form, especially in a particular corpus, they might be overstepping their analysis. In my opinion, the Scriptures support an early Hebraic understanding of fallen beings. The account of Job and the Pentateuch (specifically Genesis) shows us that.

With Bultmann the world began to question the historicity of the demonic. Demons became the byproduct of culture instead of real spiritual beings whose existence was recorded to some extent in culture. Did the Gentile world have any impact on the Jewish understanding of the demonic? I'm sure it did. Can demons and the demonic be attributed to the intersection of the Gentile world with the world of the Hebrews? I don't think so, not in the least. It might sound simple, but one reason is my conviction concerning the nature of Scripture. They are not mere historical records; they are historical, but they are more. They are revelation from the Creator to the created. Because they have their direct and ultimate origin in God, they carry with them his truthfulness. It is impossible for God to lie; therefore, it is impossible for revelation that comes from him to be a lie.

Coming up shortly, I know Antonio and I are going to discuss one hotly debated Old Testament passage, namely Genesis 6, and what it offers to this discussion of demons and the demonic. I'm looking forward to that. So be sure you come back.

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