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l> The Death of Satan
Go khổng lồ Chapter One SectionThe Death of SatanHow Americans Have sầu Lost the Sense of EvilBy Andrew DelbancoChapter One: The Old Enemy Comes khổng lồ the New World Once, Satung was understood to be everywhere. But when he attacked, he gave sầu the "fatal stab unseen," and his slyness--his very essence--was confirmed by the difficulty of recognizing hyên ổn. This was always true of him, as Baudelaire made clear in his famous remark that the devil"s cleverest wile is khổng lồ convince us that he does not exist. One way to lớn traông xã the approach of modernity is to follow the devil"s decline inlớn invisibility, a process that has seemed, for centuries, as ominous as it was inevitable and that began a long time ago. "It is a policy of the Devil," remarked one Englishman in the years before the first American settlements, "to persuade us that there is no Devil."i As long ago as 1600, Satan had embarked on his modern project of feigning humility.He had once been a braggart crowing in God"s throne, as in the medieval mystery plays: "Aha, that I am wondrous bright . . . / All in this throne if that I were / Then should I be as wise as he." But by the time of the high Elizabethan drama of Marlowe and Shakespeare two centuries later, he has put on a disguise or stepped behind the curtain; he has become the debonair Mephistopheles and the poisonous whisperer, Iago. Yet a millennium before, in the early Christian era và into the Middle Ages, when the air was thought lớn be so thiông chồng with demons that a needle dropped from heaven would have to pierce one on its way down, his appearance and attributes had already been subject lớn fierce debate. This was in part because there was no sacred text in the Judeo-Christian tradition hat exhibited hyên ổn with entire clarity. "We gather not from the four gospels alone any high-raised fancies concerning this Sarã," Melville remarked many centuries later, "we only know hyên from thence as the personification of the essence of evil."Scripture, of course, is full of images of evil--the serpent of Genesis; the Lucifer of Isaiah; Beelzebub in the Gospel of Luke; St. Paul"s Belial, the "prince of the power of the air," & the devil who speaks to Christ like a pimp: "All this power will I give thee, và the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; và lớn whomsoever I will I give it." But the devil as a figure of identifiable aspect exists in the Bible only sporadically and in fragments that only later were assembled inlớn a unified concept.It took centuries for this to happen. The Christian devil emerged slowly as the amalgamation of all the scriptural elements--a process that can be followed at the linguistic as well as the doctrinal level. The Hebrew word Satung, which means obstructor or adversary, is given in the Book of Job to the agent of God who is sent to thử nghiệm Job"s constancy, và lớn the obstacle against which David must prove his kingship in the first Book of Chronicles. This Satan, as one writer genially puts it, has "access khổng lồ Heaven . . . & evidently on good terms with the Almighty." When the Old Testament was rendered into lớn Greek in the third century, the Greek word diabolos (from dia-bollein, khổng lồ tear apart) was chosen khổng lồ translate this Hebrew Satan, & at the same time a different Greek word, satanas, was used in the New Testament khổng lồ denote, not a tempter sent by God to thử nghiệm men, but an enemy of God himself. This new Satung appears most vividly in the Book of Revelation as "that old serpent, called the Devil, & Sarã . . . cast out inkhổng lồ the earth." (Still another word, daitháng, was used to signify various evil spirits from the Hebrew texts, such as the detháng bride in the apocryphal Book of Tobit.) To compound the confusion, the Greek diabolos and satanas were both rendered as "Satan" in the Tudor-Stuart English translations, culminating with the standard King James version of 1604. By the later Renaissance, therefore, when the Bible had become the central vernacular text of every literate Englishman, a permanent consolidation of subtly different meanings had taken place, & Sarã had reemerged as a unified contradiction, an inherently paradoxical creature.But even before the contaminations of translation, he had already been ambiguous in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Book of Job he has a certain independence, standing apart from the other "sons of God," & answering God"s query "Whence comest thou?" with a renegade"s insolence: "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." When God takes up this gambit, & holds up his servantJob as "a perfect và an upright man, one that feareth God, and eschewethevil," Sarã concentrates his insolence into lớn a specific taunt, daring God to kiểm tra Job by tormenting him: "Put forth thine hvà now, and touch all that hath, & he will curse thee to thy face." Thus begins the conchạy thử over Job"s endurance--initiated by a cheeky, meddling Satan who doubts the possibility that a faithful man can exist in the world, & who thereby challenges his father"s dominion. Show me this perfect man, he says, and I will reduce him khổng lồ sputtering curses. Yet once God accepts the challenge, Satung subsides for the rest of the narrative inlớn a mere agent of God"s will, as if the master has decided to humor this upstart by agreeing to his plan at Job"s expense. Evervthing Job has-his family, his possessions--will be fair game; only the man himself will be spared: "And the Lord said unto lớn Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hvà." After this dismissal, the story becomes a conversation between God và Job from which Sarã is shut out.With the scriptural canon still in flux, early Christian cosmology was continually redrawn & refined, & Satan"s habitat, hell, was as unstable a concept as the devil himself. Some of the Apostolic Fathers considered hell as an amalgamation of the Hebrew Sheol và Gehenna--the former a place of eternal torment, the latter a kind of purgatory, a way station for souls awaiting salvation; others regarded it as a permanent prison for the damned. The distinction between God"s angels of righteousness, whose office was khổng lồ punish sinners, và the demons who stood watch over them in hell was also elusive. Inevitably, as one scholar puts it, "a curious question emerged: are the demons in hell keepers or inmates? Eventually they came to lớn be both."(6)Even the moral meaning of the events in the Garden of Eden was a matter of dispute. For the Gnostics, whose intellectual prestige peaked in the second century, the serpent was not a deceiver at all, but a giver of knowledge, the source of man"s moral understanding. He was the generous creature who liberated man from the darkness imposed by a tyrannical God. (This is the beginning of a long tradition that culminates in the dark, magnetic heroes of Byron & many other lãng mạn writers. In cases where Scripture provided only hints of cosmic history-such as the tantalizing accounts of Christ"s descent inlớn hell ("I am he that liveth, & was dead . . . & have sầu the keys of hell và of death")(7)--It took centuries for the doctrine lớn become hardened inkhổng lồ orthodoxy. First introduced as a creed in the middle of the fourth century, the idea of Christ"s descent into lớn hell slowly became part of the liturgy & took on the character of a violent assault--the harrowing" (from the Old English hergian, to lớn raid) of hell--as an important feature of the Last Judgment.(8)Despite all the controversy over his nature, power, & habits, the devil, along with his subordinates and his dwelling place, has received sustained attention from only three major councils in the history of the church--in the sixth, thirteenth, & sixteenth centuries (Braga, Fourth Lateran, and Trent). A great giảm giá khuyến mãi of the European lore about Satung in fact derived from pagan traditions, from figures in Teutonic và Scandinavian folklore lượt thích Wotung và Loki, while the visual image of the devil had immediate sources in such predecessors as the Celtic horned god Cernunnos, the satyrs, and the Greek god Pan.As this visual image of Sarã emerged, there was still considerable disagreement over what exactly had precipitated his fall. According to lớn Justin Martyr & Irenaeus, the fall of Satung followed the creation of man & was occasioned by his festering jealousy of Adam as a rival in the affections of God. In the fourth century a variant idea was introduced (by Lactantius): that the object of Satan"s jealousy was not Adam, but Christ, who stood in the mind of the jealous angel as a kind of favored older brother. Both of these accounts had at their heart the problem of what we would Gọi sibling rivalry." Meanwhile other theologians, notably Oriren, were convinced that Satan fell before the creation out of pure jealousy of God himself--a chronology that eventually became the orthodox version, as narrated, for example, in Milton"s Paradise Lost. It is striking how cthua thảm in both the "Oedipal" & the sibling-rivalry versions the ancient story of Satan"s fall runs to the paradigms of modern psychoanalysis.A great khuyễn mãi giảm giá of early Christian writing is devoted, then, lớn the exposition of the nature of Satan"s pride. For some writers it is a desire to supplant the father; for others it is Satan"s need to lớn believe sầu in his own self-creation, or to lớn govern himself without higher authority, or khổng lồ achieve sầu apotheosis without walting for permission ftom God. When these ambitions are thwarted, and Satung is reduced not merely to lớn subservience but lớn exile and disgrace, the plot of evil in the Christian tradition comes lớn center on man. The story becomes a tale of revenge, and Satan"s satisfaction comes ftom his power lớn distract, inveigle, và corrupt God"s new human favorite. The story of Satan"s work in the world becomes the tale, in psychoanalytic terms, of the id breaking free from the superego--with the result that the ego is left broken & permanently in pain.Despite the fluldity in early Christian thinking about Sachảy, there was always, along with this central idea that man"s sin rccapitulates Satan"s pride, another constant element that unified these views into something we may Điện thoại tư vấn a tradition: the idea that Sachảy is a being without a center. This idea emerged at a time when the Christian community was small and riven, huddling in the face of persecution and-since the faith was fragile and new--intensely wary of heresy. Satan bears the marks of these stresses. He is, at bottom, a deceiver; he is falsehood, doubt, despair. He is the embodiment of fear. As a picture of his physical appearance begins khổng lồ take shape (in the third and fourth centuries), he is often a creature of mingled parts--"a beast," according to lớn Athanasius, "lượt thích to lớn a man to the thighs but having legs và feet like those of an ass." Sometimes handsome, he is also able to lớn disguise himself as "giants, wild beasts, and creeping things."(9)One of his favorite haunts is the theater, where makeup và costumes and the whole spectacle of feigning are devoted to the exhibit for profit or pleasure. He is an enthusiastic gambler, enticing men to moông xã God"s providence by betting their fortunes on blind chance Wherever he can, he subverts và inverts the structures & customs of ordinary life; he và his followers ride horses sitting backward in the saddle. Sometimes he is singular & sometimes plural--dispatching an army of demons with thin, windy voices who take on false appearance (schemata) & enter the bodies of their victims. Thus begins the tradition that demons bloodless và cold, a legend invoked by women who claimed lớn have sầu been raped by the devil và khổng lồ have sầu known their assistant by the coldness of his flesh. In some traditions the devil has a three-pronged penis capable of filling a woman"s vagimãng cầu, anus, và mouth simultaneously; he is not so much a rapist as a superequipped seducer who finds willing partners ahy vọng women whose desires are beyond the competence of ordinary men. "You are the Devil"s doorway," Tertullian said of Eve.(10)All these bewildering attributes are finally reducible to lớn one: Sarã has no essence. He is the torturer & flatterer, the usurer and the bearer of bribes, the satyrlượt thích angel with the giant và multiple phallus, who knows the wantonness of women; but he can also transkhung himself into lớn a lascivious temptress with silken skin. He is, in effect, a dark counterpart to Christ: an embodied contradiction, a spirit who chooses, at will, the form of his incarnation. As one of his most learned students, the historian Jeffrey Burton Russell, has put it in a nicely oxymoronic phrase, he is "pure--though purely corrupt--spirit."(11)At the heart of early Christian diabolism, then, is the difficult idea of a devil who is simultaneously corporeal and inessential. He is contemptible và petty, yet if one reads about hyên in Patristic texts, one is struông xã above all by how vividly he inhabits the writers" imagination. He is a brilliant presence in the illuminated manuscripts và mosaics & oils--a semi-human creature with the features of a dog, or a half-ape, or some times he is a human figure with tail or horns, or simply an ordinary man with devious eyes. In all these forms he is a living actor in the world, a creature with whom men entered into contracts and pacts. (This notion proved lớn be a convenient basis for the persecution of Jews & others whose religious practices could be interpreted as satanic covenants.) Sachảy leaves his mark on the very landscape--in craters left by meteorites, in sandbars upon which ships run aground, even in odd roông xã formations, canyons, and gorges that seem carved out of benign nature with the purpose of malevolent distortion. One still encounters place names today that derive sầu from a time when the devil was a mischievous wanderer at play in the world-Devil"s Peak, Devil"s Slide, Devil"s Gorge.When America was founded, Europe had moved khổng lồ the edge of modernity, and the devil as an imaginable creature was coming under the pressure of a new skepticism. The westward movement of European civilization was, in the first instance, a triumph of empirical science và a blow khổng lồ a cosmology that held the world to be flat and the oceans untraversible. Distances that could once only have been imagined could now be measured; places that could only have been surmised could now be seen. It was inevitable that this reorganization of reality would reach what Cotton Mather, at the end of the seventeenth century, called "the invisible world," the place from which the devil made his visitations.Before the invention of the astrolabe & quadrant, by which latitude could be roughly calculated và a coursed plotted out of sight of l&, European mariners could any dream of ocean voyages. Before these instruments came aboard Portuguese ships in the early I400S, long-distance trade had been limited khổng lồ the range of oar-driven galleys that hugged the shore, và sailors had a well-founded horror of the open sea. With their square-rigged ships & navigational cunning, first the Portuguese, then the Spanish broke out of this imprisonment, & eventually forced new continents into the European consciousness. Beyond range of the naked eye from the European mainlvà there had long been a watery expanse of forbidding legend--an imaginary geography interrupted only by the uninhabitable isles of the Hesperides and the Antipodes, which were thought khổng lồ balance Africa on the other side of the vast, unknown ocean. There was some unconfirmed evidence of other lands lớn the west--garbled accounts of the hot springs of Greenl&, & the occasional washing ashore of strange tree branches onto lớn beaches in the Canaries, the Azores, và even the Hebrides. Columbus, who took the minority view that a westward voyage would lead him directly to the East Indies, did not fully realize that he had found a new continent until his fourth voyage, in I498. Amerigo Vespucci, who remained in posthumous competition with Columbus until the United States settled on a name ("Columbia" was used interchangeably with "America" even inkhổng lồ the nineteenth century), was convinced from the start that he had found a new world. He reported that the "Indians" were cannibals, and, in a double insult khổng lồ the propriety of their women và the virility of their men, he claimed that the females were so lascivious that they enlarged the penises of their lovers by subjecting them lớn the bites of venomous insects.

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<12>Despite such horrors và titillations, the discovery of the New World constricted the European imagination as much as it enlarged it. Driven by an appetite first for gold, then for salable commodities--fish, fur, skins, timber, spices, slaves--Europeans found that the quasi-magical world which ghosts và devils inhabited was growing smaller as the charted world grew larger; as early as the first decade of the sixteenth century a young geographer at Lorraine had added a plausible maps of America lớn his edition of Ptolemy. The mythic ocean of the tropics-green and boiling--which had existed in the imaginations of sailors who had no means lớn venture south of the twenty-fifth parallel, soon disappeared, to be replaced by the hospitable South Atlantic of Magellan & domain authority Gama. Though the Spanish & Portuguese were the first khổng lồ traverse the Atlantic east to west, & to lớn report the wealth & savories of the southern American continent, it was left lớn the Dutch, English, and French khổng lồ devise a way to settle the more northern regions, which Jacques Cartier, as he said of Labrador in the I530S, was "inclined to lớn regard . . . as the God gave lớn Cain."<13> The invention that drove this process was not a navigational instrument or new arrangements of masts và sail; it was the idea of the joint-stochồng company, by which the risk of outfitting ships for ocean transport could be spread ahy vọng many investors and the slyên ổn chance of gain thereby made alluring.Not long ago, this story of the rational Western mind bringing order lớn the dream-chaos of an unknown country was commonly presented as a story of heroism. Now it is more usually told as the upheaving of European hypocrisy onto lớn clean shores--the invasion of a virgin continent by a culture whose record was "deforestation, erosion, siltation, exhaustion, pollution, extermination, cruelty, destruction, & despoliation."<14> As modern historians look baông chồng on the volley of events from about 1490 to lớn 1640, they have tended, especially in recent years, khổng lồ see in them a shriveling of the reverent imagination & the onset of an instrumental attitude toward nature. And it is true that by the end of the sixteenth century the New World was already being regarded less as a wondrous park of God"s profusion và more as a storehouse of commodities. If the first discoverers brought back enchanting stories of armless men & fountains of youth, those who followed later (entrepreneurs lượt thích Sir Walter Raleigh và Captain John Smith) began lớn look at the landscape and the natives with the cold eye of the soldier and surveyor. From our distance of time, one way khổng lồ watch this process is lớn register the systematic extinction of one fanciful species after another in the European mind. Columbus, at the kết thúc of the fifteenth century, came from a world where centaurs, satyrs, cyclopes, và dragons were still believed to inhabit the forests of Europe, và he was sure he had found the tracks of lions và griffins on the islvà of Jamaica. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, when Lewis & Clark were dispatched inlớn the Louisiamãng cầu Territory by President Jefferson, the imaginary bestiary had been almost totally depleted, & their charts và inventories include no animals that we have not seen in the zoo.

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<15>We have now reached the point in the career of this story where the "discovery of America" (the very phrase is now rejected as an insult to the people who had lived there before Europeans gave sầu it a European name) is regarded as something of a pornographic joke. One consequence of this has been the discrediting of a national mythology. We have sầu gone from what Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., has recently called "exculpatory history" to lớn what may be called culpable history. The names of Columbus"s ships, for instance, which every schoolchild used lớn recite as a litany of courage symbolized in three plucky little boats called Nimãng cầu, Pinta, & Santa Maria, are now exposed as nicknames for Castilian whores. Columbus, in some recent assessments, has become a semi-crazed charlatung who claimed for himself the 10,000 maravedi and the silk doublet he had posted as a reward for the first man khổng lồ spy land--even though a sleepless sailor in the crow"s nest really deserved them.<16>There can be no doubt that the European settlement was a violent process whose cost in human blood was concealed in the tropes of contemporary witnesses, not only in the reports of the first voyagers, và later the English và French, but also in erotic metaphors that in due course came from faraway poets, as when John Donne celebrated in the early 1600s his mistress"s body--"O My America, my new-found land!"--by likening his palpating hands to lớn roving explorers of the New World. In our own time such charming analogies have been indignantly rebuked. And in a mood that seems the cultural equivalent of deathbed confession, we now prefer khổng lồ speak of the l& as "widowed" rather than virgin; we know that most of its native sầu inhabitants died from smallpox or measles even before the arrival of the main force of Europeans (having been infected by the first scouting parties), và many of the rest from gunfire. Once celebrated as a triumph of the adventurous European spirit, the settlement of North America now seems khổng lồ us a bloody business enterprise decorated with the language of piety. In this revision of history we seem lớn take a kind of ghoulish pride.<17>Despite the discomfort of having a glorious history exposed as a fraud, there is much to recommover the new story. It is, on the whole, less distorted than the old, which, in the version most directly concerned with the settlement of what would eventually become the United States, featured heroic Englishmen huddled in the snow, staying alive by the warmth of their faith & the mercy of a few exceptional Indians. The fact is that the real story, lượt thích most human experience, was a mixture of cowardice và decency, & our early historians knew this better than we bởi vì. They told it not as a monotone celebration or indictment but as a contrapuntal story, & that remains the best way to tell it. They knew, as one eighteenth-century South Carolinian, David Ramsay, put it, that at its center was "such a crowd of woes, as excites an apprehension, that the evil has outweighed the good." And in some places--such as Puritung New Engl&, where the medieval Christian cosmology had been transported largely intact--they warned against "imputing to lớn the Devil too much of our own sin và guilt."<18> This caution, delivered while the invisible world continued to wane and the measurable world to supplant it, raised pressing questions for early Americans: Where was the devil to be found? Could he survive at all in the New World of rationality? And if so, in what form?© 1995 Andrew DelbancoBachồng to the top
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