Alley Adventures #1 – Downtown Devil in Hong Kong
The Devil (from Greek: διάβολος or diábolos = slanderer or accuser) is believed in many religions, myths and cultures to be a supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly, ranging from being an effective opposite force to the creator god, locked in an eons long struggle for human souls on what may seem even terms (to the point of dualistic ditheism/bitheism), to being a comical figure of fun or an abstract aspect of the individual human condition.
While mainstream Judaism contains no overt concept of a devil, Christianity and Islam have variously regarded the Devil as a rebellious fallen angel or demon that tempts humans to sin, if not commit evil deeds himself. In these religions – particularly during periods of division or external threat – the Devil has assumed more of a dualistic status commonly associated with heretics, infidels, and other unbelievers. As such, the Devil is seen as an allegory that represents a crisis of faith, individualism, free will, wisdom and enlightenment.
In mainstream Christianity, God and the Devil are usually portrayed as fighting over the souls of humans, with the Devil seeking to lure people away from God and into Hell. The Devil commands a force of evil spirits, commonly known as demons.The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) describes the Adversary (ha-satan) as an angel who instigates tests upon humankind.Many other religions have a trickster or tempter figure that is similar to the Devil. Modern conceptions of the Devil include the concept that it symbolizes humans’ own lower nature or sinfulness.
Devil descends from the Middle English devel, from Old English dēofol, that in turn represents an early Germanic borrowing of Latin diabolus. This in turn was borrowed from Ancient Greek diábolos (διάβολος), “slanderer”,from diaballein “to slander”: dia- “across, through” + ballein “to hurl”. In the New Testament, “Satan” occurs more than 30 times in passages alongside diábolos, referring to the same person or thing as Satan.
In the Book of Wisdom, the devil is represented as the one who brought death into the world.The Second Book of Enoch contains references to a Watcher angel called Satanael,describing him as the prince of the Grigori who was cast out of heavenand an evil spirit who knew the difference between what was “righteous” and “sinful”.A similar story is found in 1 Enoch; however, in that book, the leader of the Grigori is called Semjâzâ. In the apocryphal literature, Satan rules over a host of angels. Mastema, who induced God to test Abraham through the sacrifice of Isaac, is identical with Satan in both name and nature.The Book of Enoch contains references to Sathariel, thought also to be Sataniel and Satan’el. The similar spellings mirror that of his angelic brethren Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Gabriel, previous to his expulsion from Heaven.
In Islam the Devil is referred to as Iblis or sometimes the Shaytan (Arabic: Like the usage of the word satan in the Hebrew Bible, Shaytan is also a word used to refer to beings called demons in the Christian Bible, especially the New Testament). According to the Qur’an, God created Iblis, along with all of the other jinn, out of “smokeless fire”. The primary characteristic of the Devil, besides hubris, is that he has no power other than the power to cast evil suggestions into the hearts of men and women.
In the Bahá’í Faith, a malevolent, superhuman entity such as a devil or satan is not believed to exist. These terms do, however, appear in the Bahá’í writings, where they are used as metaphors for the base nature of man. Human beings are seen to have free will, and are thus able to turn towards God and develop spiritual qualities or turn away from God and become immersed in their self-centered desires. Individuals who follow the temptations of the self and do not develop spiritual virtues are often described in the Bahá’í writings with the word satanic.The Bahá’í writings also state that the devil is a metaphor for the “insistent self” or “lower self” which is a self-serving inclination within each individual. Those who follow their lower nature are also described as followers of “the Evil One”.