« AnteriorContinuar »
THE POPULAR SATAN AND THE SATAN IN JOB.
83 Take care lest, with such a conception of God and Providence, you bring the Bible into irrecoverable discredit, and condemn your religion to irreversible contempt.
But now let us descend to minor things. This Satan is no Satan at all. The Satan of the churches and the creeds, the Satan of superstition, is a totally different being, as you will see if you run your eye down the items that stand in these parallel columns :
SATAN OF THE PRIESTS.
Satan moves and works in hell.
SATAN OF THE BOOK OF JOB.
Satan is one of the sons of God.
Satan goes up and down on earth.
It is a series of contrasts-contrasts most broad and striking. "The Satan of the Book of Job" is the contradiction of “The Satan of the Priests," and "The Satan of the Priests" is the caricature of "The Satan of the Book of Job." Scarcely have the two anything in common but the name.
And even this they have not really in common. Satan in ordinary phrase denotes a fallen angel, the origin of all evila person of an angelic nature, though fell, ruthless and cruel in disposition and in act. This is Satan as held and taught by the popular teachers of Christendom, whether Papal or Protestant, Episcopalian or Presbyterian, Conformist or Nonconformist.
And what is Satan in the book of Job? He is no person at all; but a picture in a gallery of pictures; an image in a work of imagery; a character in a poem; an actor in a drama; an officer in a court-a court which exists nowhere in rerum natura, but in print, in manuscript, in painted Missals, now for many thousand years, but which originally existed in the teeming brain of some unknown Arabian poet. And what part does that poet make his Satan play? He is the Accuser,
the end of 3000 year Ormuzd, so that his changed into darkness. "the prince of darkne thoughts, of violent pa myself, as popularly u that of Ormuzd is sacr second period, that to reigned alone, pursuin reproducing in a visi the prototypes of all c ment in heaven and ‹ of the creative thoug created the world of held by Emesha Sejof the divine attrib Ormuzd himself, thu bers of the Bible, Hebrew seven (sabba light. They are acco seven planets as kno pands, Ormuzd cre (four sevens or a lu. of the primæval sta a divinity) are secc Latium) preside ov &c., and guard i Dews, or fallen a Among these, Mi As opponents to t (Deus, Latin for ( English devil), wh and to extend tl manifested by tl world of bodies. into confusion (
THE BOOK OF JOB A SACRED DRAMA.
ing, or rather a cluster of meanings, born and bred of philosophic speculation, vulgar superstitions and ecclesiastical selfseeking, combined with child-like dread.
For the view that I have now put forward and supported, I could easily find sanction in the writings of eminent theological critics. One must suffice. Renan denies that the Satan of the book of Job is even the principle of evil; much less, then, is he the leader of the rebel angels. These are Renan's words: "The Satan which figures in the prologue is no way the Ahriman of the Avesta; he does nothing but by the command of God; he is an angel more disposed to mischief than the others; fault-finding, and given to scandal; he is not the spirit of evil, existing and acting in and of himself."*
Indeed, the book of Job represents no other reality than the highest of an earthly kind, namely, thought, religious thought, systematically and poetically expressed in what with some latitude may be called a Shemitic drama, whose object is to explain why good men suffer, and sometimes suffer heavily, under the ruling hand of God. In the sublime work, Satan is simply one of the dramatis persone. The whole being so manifestly in form a poem, the wonder is that certain parts did not shew minds of ordinary discernment that God does not come on the stage in a part which ill comports with his acknowledged attributes, and consequently could never have been meant to represent the Creator himself in his proper character. How incompatible with such a view are, for instance, the questions put to the Satan, which imply ignorance on the part of the questioner, first as to the Satan's knowledge, and then as to the real character of the man of Uz. On such points, surely, the Omniscient needed no information; least of all did he need such information as he might expect to receive from "the father of lies."
* Etude sur le Poème de Job, p. xxxix.
WHO MOVED DAVID TO NUMBER THE PEOPLE?
THE FOUR REMAINING PASSAGES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN WHICH THE WORD SATAN IS USED CONSIDERED: CONCLUSION.
Neither the name nor the idea of Satan in any sense entered into the thought and phraseology of the Hebrews so long as they retained their genuine characteristics. Independently of the instances referred to as occurring in the book of Job, the word occurs in the Old Testament writings only four times; viz. 1 Chronicles xxi. 1; Psalm cix. 6; Zechariah iii. 1, 2. All these instances appear in writings of late or very late date. I will take them in the order in which they stand above.
1 Chronicles xxi. 1: "And Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel." Here probably we have in the term Satan an instance of the depraving influence exercised on the thought and the diction of the Shemitic Jews by the dualistic theory of Zoroaster. If so, then Satan in this case is the Hebrew form for the Aryan Ahriman. I am the more inclined to think that the word Satan here denotes "the devil," because, contrary to what it is in the book of Job, it is without the article, both in the Hebrew and the Greek. Yet the force is taken out of this scriptural testimony (such as it is) by the parallel passage found in the much earlier history of Samuel, where, with loyal regard to the true Hebrew idea of the origin of good and evil, David, on the occasion spoken of in the text of Chronicles, is said to have been moved of God. The words run thus (2 Sam. xxiv. 1): "The anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel, and he (not Satan) moved David against them to say, 'Go and number Israel.'” This has sometimes been called a contradiction as to fact; it is also a contradiction as to theology.
The passage in the Psalms (cix. 6) is full of the bitter animosity of the Shemitic spirit, but makes no reference
THE BITTER ELEMENT IN SHEMITISM.
whatever to the Satan of the schools and cloisters.
version the words run thus:
"Set thou a wicked man over him,
And let Satan stand at his right hand;"
where the law of parallelism requires the word "Satan" to receive its meaning from the corresponding term in the previous line, namely, "a wicked man." Accordingly, King James' translators put "an adversary," as probably the better rendering, in the margin. With greater propriety, Wellbeloved's translation, revised by Smith and Porter, gives the meaning in these words:
"Give him in charge," they say, 66 to a wicked man,
And let an accuser stand at his right hand.”
The heading of the psalm, supported only by conjecture, makes David its author. The style is too rank for his classic pen. The author is unknown.
The foregoing makes it clear that no reference to the mythological Satan is made in this passage.
I am thus brought to the last of the four passages in which the word Satan appears in the Old Testament. It is found in Zechariah iii. 1-8. Throw open your Bible, dear youth, and read the whole passage, which extends from i-viii. Observe that you have here to do with a series of visions (i. 1, 8, iii.). It follows that here, too, I am not an objective reality. Indeed, I am simply a form in a picture. And that form denotes, not a person, but a character. Not Satan am I, but the accuser in a process of law, the scenes of which are depicted to the prophet's eye for the instruction of the people in regard to God's providence toward the Jews, now (in part) returned from exile.
The simple facts are these. Zechariah, anxious to work with God for the thorough redemption of the Jews from slavery, aims most wisely at effecting a moral reformation, well knowing that such a change was the only means of securing God's permanent favour and the permanent welfare