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The Devil: A New Biography

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Although the Devil still 'lives' in modern popular culture, for the past 250 years he has become marginal to the dominant concerns of Western intellectual thought. That life could not be thought or imagined without him, that he was a part of the everyday, continually present in nature and history, and active at the depths of our selves, has been all but forgotten. It is th Although the Devil still 'lives' in modern popular culture, for the past 250 years he has become marginal to the dominant concerns of Western intellectual thought. That life could not be thought or imagined without him, that he was a part of the everyday, continually present in nature and history, and active at the depths of our selves, has been all but forgotten. It is the aim of this work to bring modern readers to a deeper appreciation of how, from the early centuries of the Christian period through to the recent beginnings of the modern world, the human story could not be told and human life could not be lived apart from the 'life' of the Devil. With that comes the deeper recognition that, for the better part of the last two thousand years, the battle between good and evil in the hearts and minds of men and women was but the reflection of a cosmic battle between God and Satan, the divine and the diabolic, that was at the heart of history itself.--from The Devil Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub; Ha-Satan or the Adversary; Iblis or Shaitan: no matter what name he travels under, the Devil has throughout the ages and across civilizations been a compelling and charismatic presence. In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the supposed reign of God has long been challenged by the fiery malice of his opponent, as contending forces of good and evil have between them weighed human souls in the balance. In The Devil, Philip C. Almond explores the figure of evil incarnate from the first centuries of the Christian era. Along the way, he describes the rise of demonology as an intellectual and theological pursuit, the persecution as witches of women believed to consort with the Devil and his minions, and the decline in the belief in Hell and in angels and demons as corporeal beings as a result of the Enlightenment. Almond shows that the Prince of Darkness remains an irresistible subject in history, religion, art, literature, and culture. Almond brilliantly locates the life of the Devil within the broader Christian story of which it is inextricably a part; the demonic paradox of the Devil as both God's enforcer and his enemy is at the heart of Christianity. Woven throughout the account of the Christian history of the Devil is another complex and complicated history: that of the idea of the Devil in Western thought. Sorcery, witchcraft, possession, even melancholy, have all been laid at the Devil's doorstep. Until the Enlightenment enforced a disenchantment with the old archetypes, even rational figures such as Thomas Aquinas were obsessed with the nature of the Devil and the specific characteristics of the orders of demons and angels. It was a significant moment both in the history of demonology and in theology when Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) denied the Devil's existence; almost four hundred years later, popular fascination with the idea of the Devil has not yet dimmed.


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Although the Devil still 'lives' in modern popular culture, for the past 250 years he has become marginal to the dominant concerns of Western intellectual thought. That life could not be thought or imagined without him, that he was a part of the everyday, continually present in nature and history, and active at the depths of our selves, has been all but forgotten. It is th Although the Devil still 'lives' in modern popular culture, for the past 250 years he has become marginal to the dominant concerns of Western intellectual thought. That life could not be thought or imagined without him, that he was a part of the everyday, continually present in nature and history, and active at the depths of our selves, has been all but forgotten. It is the aim of this work to bring modern readers to a deeper appreciation of how, from the early centuries of the Christian period through to the recent beginnings of the modern world, the human story could not be told and human life could not be lived apart from the 'life' of the Devil. With that comes the deeper recognition that, for the better part of the last two thousand years, the battle between good and evil in the hearts and minds of men and women was but the reflection of a cosmic battle between God and Satan, the divine and the diabolic, that was at the heart of history itself.--from The Devil Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub; Ha-Satan or the Adversary; Iblis or Shaitan: no matter what name he travels under, the Devil has throughout the ages and across civilizations been a compelling and charismatic presence. In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the supposed reign of God has long been challenged by the fiery malice of his opponent, as contending forces of good and evil have between them weighed human souls in the balance. In The Devil, Philip C. Almond explores the figure of evil incarnate from the first centuries of the Christian era. Along the way, he describes the rise of demonology as an intellectual and theological pursuit, the persecution as witches of women believed to consort with the Devil and his minions, and the decline in the belief in Hell and in angels and demons as corporeal beings as a result of the Enlightenment. Almond shows that the Prince of Darkness remains an irresistible subject in history, religion, art, literature, and culture. Almond brilliantly locates the life of the Devil within the broader Christian story of which it is inextricably a part; the demonic paradox of the Devil as both God's enforcer and his enemy is at the heart of Christianity. Woven throughout the account of the Christian history of the Devil is another complex and complicated history: that of the idea of the Devil in Western thought. Sorcery, witchcraft, possession, even melancholy, have all been laid at the Devil's doorstep. Until the Enlightenment enforced a disenchantment with the old archetypes, even rational figures such as Thomas Aquinas were obsessed with the nature of the Devil and the specific characteristics of the orders of demons and angels. It was a significant moment both in the history of demonology and in theology when Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) denied the Devil's existence; almost four hundred years later, popular fascination with the idea of the Devil has not yet dimmed.

30 review for The Devil: A New Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)

    Rozkoszny i niebezpieczny, fascynujący i przerażający, znany i obcy – Diabeł w pracy Philipa C. Almonda miewa różnorodne oblicza, ale autor podkreśla, że jego znaczenia dla kultury Zachodu nie można ignorować. W „Diabeł. Nowa biografia” czytelnik znajdzie liczne odniesienie historyczne, literackie, teologiczne, zaznajomi się z dziesiątkami tytułów diabelskich monografii oraz innymi dziełami, które poruszają tę tematykę. To nie jest łatwa lektura, niemniej stanowi intrygujące dopełnienie dla wszy Rozkoszny i niebezpieczny, fascynujący i przerażający, znany i obcy – Diabeł w pracy Philipa C. Almonda miewa różnorodne oblicza, ale autor podkreśla, że jego znaczenia dla kultury Zachodu nie można ignorować. W „Diabeł. Nowa biografia” czytelnik znajdzie liczne odniesienie historyczne, literackie, teologiczne, zaznajomi się z dziesiątkami tytułów diabelskich monografii oraz innymi dziełami, które poruszają tę tematykę. To nie jest łatwa lektura, niemniej stanowi intrygujące dopełnienie dla wszystkich, których interesuje idea Diabła w kulturze, przemiana, jakiej dostąpił przez wszystkie wieki swojego istnienia oraz jego znaczenie w popularnym dyskursie przyszłości. „Niniejsza książka jest próba uświadomienia współczesnym czytelnikom, że od zarania naszych dziejów aż po dziś historii ludzkości nie da się opowiedzieć, a życia ludzkiego nie można było przeżyć w oderwaniu od historii Diabła. Świadomość ta pozwoli nam zarazem zrozumieć, że przez ostatnie dwa tysiące lat walka dobra ze złem, tocząca się w sercach i umysłach ludzi, była jedynie odzwierciedleniem kosmicznej walki Boga z Szatanem – tego, co boskie, z tym, co diabelskie – która stworzyła całą naszą historię.” Fascynująca książka dla koneserów tematu.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    What Philip C. Almond offers in The Devil: A New Biography is “a new ‘life’ of the Devil, one that locates his life within the broader Christian story which it is inextricably a part.” Almond’s biography gives the reader a secular history of Old Nick and as such it is written from a non-believer’s perspective, but this isn’t to suggest it is hostile to its subject matter. Often when secularists have written of Faith, any Faith, there is a sense of hostility overtly presented, or it is very near What Philip C. Almond offers in The Devil: A New Biography is “a new ‘life’ of the Devil, one that locates his life within the broader Christian story which it is inextricably a part.” Almond’s biography gives the reader a secular history of Old Nick and as such it is written from a non-believer’s perspective, but this isn’t to suggest it is hostile to its subject matter. Often when secularists have written of Faith, any Faith, there is a sense of hostility overtly presented, or it is very near the surface. Not so with Philip Almond’s The Devil. If the author isn’t, precisely, sympathetic to the belief system then he is at minimum articulate and non-judgement. The author’s ‘biography’ charts the Devil from its earliest manifestations through Judaic, Biblical, and extra-Biblical traditions [theological, cultural, and philosophic]. Even those raised within the Christian tradition will find something here. Primarily, nonetheless, this is a history for those who were raised in a secular environment. The reason secularists would find this text particularly useful is that much of the Western cultural traditions are bound up with Christianity and the Devil is a major feature of the Faith. Therefore, if you wish to understand the Dark Ages, Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Europe it will be necessary, essential, to know of the tradition[s] of the Devil. This book fills the vacancy left by strident secularism and the prissy New Atheists. Stylistically, it is breezy and jargon free. Because of this the reader needn’t spend much time with anything but the text proper. Highly Recommended for readers of European cultural/religious history and Colonial/Post-Colonial histories. Readers of mythology will also find a great deal to recommend itself here as well. Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Titus Hjelm

    The subtitle of The Devil promises a ‘new biography’ (possibly an allusion to Henry Ansgar Kelly’s Satan: A Biography, CUP, 2006), although the book never quite explicitly argues what exactly makes it novel. Indeed, it is more of an attempt to straddle that elusive ground between the scholarly and the popular, and as such offers few new insights to those familiar with the field. The Devil tries to do a lot—perhaps too much—in the short space it has. It offers a condensed intellectual history (wi The subtitle of The Devil promises a ‘new biography’ (possibly an allusion to Henry Ansgar Kelly’s Satan: A Biography, CUP, 2006), although the book never quite explicitly argues what exactly makes it novel. Indeed, it is more of an attempt to straddle that elusive ground between the scholarly and the popular, and as such offers few new insights to those familiar with the field. The Devil tries to do a lot—perhaps too much—in the short space it has. It offers a condensed intellectual history (with an emphasis on elite theology, and little about social history) which can work well for the academically inclined lay reader. The book’s problem is that it is too dense for the casual reader, and too indistinctive for the scholar.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sanne

    A very detailed and thorough biography on the devil. The only point I disliked was the fact that it stopped rather abruptly after the seventeenth century, and the epilogue only summarised the remainder of the time period. Apart from that, it's rather well-documented and clearly written. One other minor point is that some of the sources are less than academic and should have been used with slightly more caution than Almond used them with. A very detailed and thorough biography on the devil. The only point I disliked was the fact that it stopped rather abruptly after the seventeenth century, and the epilogue only summarised the remainder of the time period. Apart from that, it's rather well-documented and clearly written. One other minor point is that some of the sources are less than academic and should have been used with slightly more caution than Almond used them with.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    The book is not really a “biography” rather it is about the history of thought about the Devil from the beginning of Christianity until about two hundred fifty years ago when according to the author he became much less important in Western culture. While, I learned a lot from this book it not the easiest book to read. It is intended to be a scholarly book and it is put out by an academic publishing company. Some of the West’s greatest theologians, religious leaders and philosophers tried to under The book is not really a “biography” rather it is about the history of thought about the Devil from the beginning of Christianity until about two hundred fifty years ago when according to the author he became much less important in Western culture. While, I learned a lot from this book it not the easiest book to read. It is intended to be a scholarly book and it is put out by an academic publishing company. Some of the West’s greatest theologians, religious leaders and philosophers tried to understand the nature of the Devil. Also in Demonology as any other aspect of study there are contrasting points of views. An example of a belief that has been of subject of controversy in Demonology is whether than Devil is purely spiritual or whether he has a corporal existence. However, until I read this book I really had no idea of whom the Devil was. Of course, I knew he was a supernatural force of evil and I read about him in literature. I played the Devil in school in play The Devil and Daniel Webster but I did not know about his origins. I was raised in a very liberal Reform Jewish environment where I was told that Jews did not believe in angels, demons/Satan and miracles. According to this book, the Devil/Satan/Lucifer was an angel who turned against God. Before the world and humans were created God and Angels existed. Lucifer/Satan turned against God of his own free will and choice evil. About a third of the angels sided with Satan. These angels became demons. There was some controversy in early Christianity whether the Devil could ever repent but most demonologists seem to think this was not possible. Demons floated throughout the air and could possess humans. Many Christians thought the serpent who tempted Eve was Satan in the Old Testament. The book describes Satan’s role in the New Testament much of which I did not understand since I am not that familiar with the New Testament since I am not Christian. However, I learn that Christians believed that during Christ’s second coming Satan and his followers will be sent forever to hell. Nowadays when people speak of “demonizing” one’s political opponents it is usually meant as a metaphor and not meant to be taken at face value. However, the early Christians felt that Devil working through opponents of Christianity and this where the idea of "demonizing" the opposition started. Magic slowly becomes connected to Satan. St. Augustine believed that all magic was the work of the Devil. If my understanding of the book is correct Thomas Aquinas and some later Christians said the Devil was only involved in magic if Satan was called to assist with the magic being performed. Satan worshiping starts developing in about the twelve century. Then the book describes how witches were understood by the Catholics and later by the Protestants. Witches originally could either be male or female but in time were seen as mostly female. Witches were believed to have made a pact with Satan and renounced Christianity as part of their agreement with Satan. Witches were believed to kill children and then smear the children’s fat onto an object so they could fly. The Devil was believed to have had sex with the witches. There are some pretty hot sex scenes described between the Devil and the Witches. There was controversy on whether the Devil could have sex with men. Early Demonologists felt that since the Devil was a fallen angel he still possessed some angelic traits. Therefore, he would not want to commit sodomy (i.e. anal and non-reproductive sex). However, later Demonologists disagreed and felt the Devil could be bisexual. Again there was various controversies about Witches and their nature. When the Reformation came to Europe there were Protestants and Catholics have differing ideas about how to handle both Witches and persons who were possessed by the Devil. Even though most Protestants at the start of the Reformation believed in the Devil, the Reformation contributed to an intellectual climate where the belief in Devil could be challenged. Many Protestants believed miracles stopped happening after the year 300(this belief in part was to undercut the authority of the miracles of the Catholic Church). With this questioning of miracles and a stronger belief in science major thinkers such and Spinoza and Hume started to question the existence of the Devil. I was a bit disappointed that the book stopped at 1700 because I was left with many questions about what happened to the Devil after that time. How did Witches become acceptable in children’s stories? The early description of Witches seem to me to be for only for Adults. How did “magic” become acceptable as children’s entertainment? Also the author left me the impression that Devil was like the Greek or Roman Gods; no one believes in him now. I don’t think this is true. The Devil has standing in some Christian Churches and in Boston I know there are some Devil worshiping societies. I wished the author could give some kind of roundup of the Devil’s present standing in the world. Thus, I the book The Devil: A New Biography has some highly interesting materials it is an academic book and not a light or easy read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Justyna

    Coś zupełnie innego, niż się spodziewałam. Szkoda

  7. 4 out of 5

    MeriBeth

    An intensive and extensive survey of the history of the Devil in Western thought, The Devil: A New Biography is geared more toward scholars and academics then the lay reader. It delves deep into the traditions surrounding the personification of evil from the earliest days to the eighteenth century. The author decides to end his 'biography' of the Devil at roughly 1700 as he claims that the Devil is no longer important after the development of more modern scientific thought and investigation. As An intensive and extensive survey of the history of the Devil in Western thought, The Devil: A New Biography is geared more toward scholars and academics then the lay reader. It delves deep into the traditions surrounding the personification of evil from the earliest days to the eighteenth century. The author decides to end his 'biography' of the Devil at roughly 1700 as he claims that the Devil is no longer important after the development of more modern scientific thought and investigation. As with any book that deals with the Devil as source of evil, there is much in the way of traditional Christian theology in the book yet it also goes into the Jewish tradition of the ha-Satan, the Adversary, from which the Christian Devil developed with additions from the historic Pagan religions of Europe. I will be frank, this book is a slog. It is often repetitive - especially when quoting sources from the King James Bible - and could use a bit of tightening up in the editing front. Yet, it is very much an academic book, a scholarly book, you have to be willing to deal with the almost lecturing tone of the writing, familiar to so many from higher level college textbooks, which can become very tedious and boring. Unlike many books I read and plan to review, this one took me forever to finish as I repeatedly set it aside just to let me brain recover from the weighty text. Also, with the history stopping in the eighteenth century, it seems unfinished as there is no attention paid to the transformation of witches and magic into children's characters nor to the more modern interpretations of the Devil despite the occasional appearance of quotations from films such as the Exorcist. Thus, if you are a religious scholar or a historian focused on the Witchcraft Persecutions, you might be interested in this book but the average reader is more likely to give up after a few pages as it is such a heavy and tedious read right from the start. Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    This is a thorough if somewhat dry account of how the Devil as a literary and religious figure has evolved through human history: From ha-Satan, the angel tasked with judging and testing the faith of mortals in Judaism, over Semjaza the leader of the fallen angels during the "war in heaven" to the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Until I read Philip C. Almond's book back in 2016, I myself had no idea whatsoever that it took a very long time before anyone drew parallels between the three figures me This is a thorough if somewhat dry account of how the Devil as a literary and religious figure has evolved through human history: From ha-Satan, the angel tasked with judging and testing the faith of mortals in Judaism, over Semjaza the leader of the fallen angels during the "war in heaven" to the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Until I read Philip C. Almond's book back in 2016, I myself had no idea whatsoever that it took a very long time before anyone drew parallels between the three figures mentioned above let alone considered them the same entity! Then we have the chapters about mediaeval witch trials, which point out how much of the witch trials were done on the basis of complete guesswork, the inquisitors projecting their own prejudices onto the accused as well as assorted moral panics. The author has some amusing comments about how Wiccans and modern occultists attempt to reconstruct some lost suppressed occult practices that the witch trials' accusations might possibly be demonised versions of, forgetting to ask whether those even existed in the first place. Also valuable are the chapters about modern psychology's origins in Renaissance-era theological debates about whether demonic possession was even possible in the first place, demonic possession being pre-modern European cultures' standard explanation for the phenomena today known as epilepsy and schizophrenia. As I mentioned above, "The Devil: A New Biography" might not be as engaging or entertaining a read as the cover art and subject matter imply. However, if you are interested in not just knowing how much basis popular depictions of the Devil, demons, Hell etc actually have in the Bible but also where they in fact came from instead this book can definitely be recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Olaf

    Interesting read on how the view and use of the devil has been prominent in Western Culture. Almond succeeds in navigating the reader around the lot of different perspectives on the devil through the ages. Ome minor point of critique: It is suggested that there would also be a part about how the devil is represented in modern culture. The covertext and also the opening quote from the Exorcist movie suggest that a bit. This is not the case. This book shows the activity of the devil from his early Interesting read on how the view and use of the devil has been prominent in Western Culture. Almond succeeds in navigating the reader around the lot of different perspectives on the devil through the ages. Ome minor point of critique: It is suggested that there would also be a part about how the devil is represented in modern culture. The covertext and also the opening quote from the Exorcist movie suggest that a bit. This is not the case. This book shows the activity of the devil from his early conception in the Old Testament and his other 'fall' at the end of the eighteenth century, where his existence by intelectuals of that age is denied. This part is well-written and very interesting, so you should read this, but I think there could be an interesting follow-up to see more about the devil in modern culture.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mira

    DNF: I had high hopes for this book when I first picked it up. I liked the idea. But, when I actually started reading the book I realised that the author only looks at the Devil through the lens of Christianity, which is nothing new to me. I know all these stories and theories. Not only those found in Christianity, but in all of the Abrahamic religions. And the book become tedious real fast, especially to someone who knows these stories and an atheist, such as myself. A much better book on the su DNF: I had high hopes for this book when I first picked it up. I liked the idea. But, when I actually started reading the book I realised that the author only looks at the Devil through the lens of Christianity, which is nothing new to me. I know all these stories and theories. Not only those found in Christianity, but in all of the Abrahamic religions. And the book become tedious real fast, especially to someone who knows these stories and an atheist, such as myself. A much better book on the subject would be History of the Devil by Paul Carus.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Greer

    The occasion for this book is the rising popularity of film, news accounts, and books about the influence the Devil has had and continues to have over human lives. The author emphasizes his contribution is a "new biography" of the Devil, taking into account the two thousand year history of that biography. A variety of topics are broached: the "birth" of the Devil, meaning his fall from God's court; the conflicts between the Devil and Jesus the Christ, with a special focus on how the Devil offers The occasion for this book is the rising popularity of film, news accounts, and books about the influence the Devil has had and continues to have over human lives. The author emphasizes his contribution is a "new biography" of the Devil, taking into account the two thousand year history of that biography. A variety of topics are broached: the "birth" of the Devil, meaning his fall from God's court; the conflicts between the Devil and Jesus the Christ, with a special focus on how the Devil offers the Son of Man comfort if he will only bow down and worship said Devil; as the end of days approaches for each one of us, the Devil takes full advantage of his access to human communities. Notice how the Devil can be seen stalking convalescent hospitals, where the old and infirm are especially vulnerable to his terror laced diatribes. Many have seen and continue to see the Devil in Nancy Pelosi's refrigerator. Notice how the Devil does his work on the nation's highways and byways, causing endless suffering, decapitations, and death. Notice that when industrial furnaces are lit, the Devil can be seen laughing. Such furnaces are merely toys for inviting unwary spectators to their deaths. Notice how the Devil rejoices every time another lockdown occurs due to Covid-19.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Interesting tracking of the idea of the Devil thru western history. Will probably use this as a textbook for my History of Satan course, but wish he tracked fewer authors but with greater detail. Wish there were more discussion of depictions of the Devil in art. Would love a reader to pair with this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Interesting history on the idea and concept of the devil from a Christian perspective, covers ideas of witchcraft, exorcism and the philosophical opposition that came about in the Enlightenment, ideas of rationalism, materialism etc. A good introduction to the subject from the various Christian perspectives.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Housley

    Interesting information. Needs a good editor.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Książka niezła i sprawnie napisana, ale raczej w sposób akademicki. Dla osób zainteresowanych tematem diabła, ale nie dla szukających taniej sensacji.

  16. 5 out of 5

    V

    (3.5 stars)

  17. 4 out of 5

    b e a c h g o t h

    The first 50 or so pages of this I LOVED and then, I dunno, it dropped off for me. More facts and facts than elegant non-fictional story telling. Ugh.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    Radically under impressed. Not recommended.

  19. 4 out of 5

    James Cannon

    How can you make this topic dry? Somehow this author does. Avoid.

  20. 4 out of 5

    P

    This is a history of how the idea of the Devil has been invented and reinvented in Christian societies and theology. As such, it does a good job, and is a fairly entertaining read. I would have appreciated a wider context beyond Christianity, though.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Will

    Almond's big provides a theological history of the devil, from its origins in Jewish traditions, through its evolution in Christianity, the the point that Christianity ceased to rely on the concept of Satan as the embodiment of evil. A core of the book focuses on early Christian discussions of the devil, and there are interesting discussions of the issue of free will: if the devil was created to be evil, then how an the idea be anything but the creation of a malevolent God? Almond discusses theo Almond's big provides a theological history of the devil, from its origins in Jewish traditions, through its evolution in Christianity, the the point that Christianity ceased to rely on the concept of Satan as the embodiment of evil. A core of the book focuses on early Christian discussions of the devil, and there are interesting discussions of the issue of free will: if the devil was created to be evil, then how an the idea be anything but the creation of a malevolent God? Almond discusses theological debates on this subject, as well as explanations for how the devil can be both punisher and punished. Another large portion of the book is taken up in the discussion of witchcraft in the middle ages, and the manner in which the devil was increasingly seen to be re-entering the world through witches and warlocks. The book finishes with a brief discussion of how the world became demystified with the enlightenment and renaissance, and society no longer relied on the Devil as a concept. Although certainly an interesting book, I don't feel the book does exactly what it claims to at the outset. The book begins with a quote from The Exorcist, and I had assumed the book would look at concepts of the devil across religions and time periods, rather than focusing only on early Christianity and the Middle Ages. I found that to be a bit disappointing, but still, the book is well written and obviously well researched. However it is written more for students of theology than those (like me!) with a bit more of a passing interest in the subject.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Ward

    An interesting book that details the historical evolution of thinking about the devil within a Christian framework. I found the early chapters most interesting as they dealt with a lot of theological ideas around how the devil was created and his role in history. The middle section was less satisfying as it devolved into a detailed, almost fetishistic account of whether or how the devil could have sex with humans, complete with details about the characteristics of the devil's genitals and accoun An interesting book that details the historical evolution of thinking about the devil within a Christian framework. I found the early chapters most interesting as they dealt with a lot of theological ideas around how the devil was created and his role in history. The middle section was less satisfying as it devolved into a detailed, almost fetishistic account of whether or how the devil could have sex with humans, complete with details about the characteristics of the devil's genitals and accounts (obtained through torture of women accused of being witches) of sexual rites and rituals. Although the graphic nature of this section underscores in some ways the utter misogyny and perversion of the sex-focused witchhunts, it still felt overly graphic and sensationalistic. The final chapters on the evolution of thinking regarding the apocalypse and the end of the devil's role in history were also interesting.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Received from NetGalley Whew - this is not an easy read! I now know the true meaning of "exhaustively researched". Since I am not an academic, I will only be able to review this from the point-of-view of the UNintended audience. The first 30% was a bit of work for me to navigate. After moving into the witch hysteria of the Middle Ages, the author's style seeped in, and while perhaps not his intention in this scholarly work, made it more readable for me. Likewise, the author does provide as sense Received from NetGalley Whew - this is not an easy read! I now know the true meaning of "exhaustively researched". Since I am not an academic, I will only be able to review this from the point-of-view of the UNintended audience. The first 30% was a bit of work for me to navigate. After moving into the witch hysteria of the Middle Ages, the author's style seeped in, and while perhaps not his intention in this scholarly work, made it more readable for me. Likewise, the author does provide as sense of security that his information is unbiased - as much as it can be for a topics such as faith and interpretation. I noticed lots of repetition, that seemed to easily fixable with some tighter editing. Also, after facing pages of quotes from the King James Bible and various other archaic writings, occasional paraphrasing could have gone a long way. I'm glad I stuck it out, since I gained quite a bit of knowledge of Catholicism and the machinations that run the big show.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Drew Martin

    Demons, devils, and other hellish creatures are central to the Halloween season. You could read The Devil: A New Biography any time, but when I saw it on the shelf at my local library, I thought now was as good a time as any. That said, there’s never a good time to read this book. It has nothing to do with the subject from a religious point of view, and everything to do with the book itself. I wasn’t certain what I would get, but I had a few expectations. Unfortunately, I’m adding this book to t Demons, devils, and other hellish creatures are central to the Halloween season. You could read The Devil: A New Biography any time, but when I saw it on the shelf at my local library, I thought now was as good a time as any. That said, there’s never a good time to read this book. It has nothing to do with the subject from a religious point of view, and everything to do with the book itself. I wasn’t certain what I would get, but I had a few expectations. Unfortunately, I’m adding this book to the “so bad I couldn’t finish” shelf. I have my reasons, and here they are... To read the rest of this review go to https://drewmartinwrites.wordpress.co...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Axel

    As many other reviews state, this book has a tendency of being on the edge of overly repetitive at times. However, the insight it detailed gives about the lores and smaller stories put inside the first books of the Bible, stories such as the ones from Kasper etc. give a great and fresh interest in further studying of the history of Christianity and older Jewish history. I recommend this book to the reader with an interest in religion and history, and dares themselves to explore the more cult fil As many other reviews state, this book has a tendency of being on the edge of overly repetitive at times. However, the insight it detailed gives about the lores and smaller stories put inside the first books of the Bible, stories such as the ones from Kasper etc. give a great and fresh interest in further studying of the history of Christianity and older Jewish history. I recommend this book to the reader with an interest in religion and history, and dares themselves to explore the more cult filled parts of Christianity, and it's roles in medieval times. From the story of the old Israel to the many pseudonyms of the angel we today know as the Devil. An excellent read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jane Lecter

    This was very interesting and I definitely want to do some further reading on this. I thought the book was very well put together in terms of the timelines tying up with the different chapters. My only problem was how quickly the author jumped around different quotes and references. I found myself rereading a lot of parts in order to work out what was being quoted.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary Gail O'Dea

    This book was well reviewed, but I found it too repetitive to hold my interest.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jason Gardner

    See my review at https://eisdoxan.wordpress.com/2014/1... See my review at https://eisdoxan.wordpress.com/2014/1...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Omar

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hana

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