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Dochhorn, Jan, Rudnig-Zelt, Susanne, u./and Benjamin Wold [Hrsg./Eds.]
Das Böse, der Teufel und Dämonen – Evil, the Devil, and Demons. Dualistische Züge in der Religionsgeschichte Israels, des antiken Judentums und des Christentums – Dualistic Characteristics in the Religion of Israel, Ancient Judaism and Christianity.
Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2016. XIV, 297 S. = Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament. 2. Reihe, 412. Kart. EUR 84,00. ISBN 978-3-16-152672-5.
Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte
This volume contains a collection of essays on evil and personifica-tions of it in the Old Testament, Early Judaism, the New Testament, and some later texts. The editors have brought together a number of authors who convened in Amsterdam at EABS 2012 and later again in Kiel (2013). Their essays are now published in WUNT II and contain interesting perspectives on evil and the various personifications thereof. Because a number of articles deal with the reception history of demonic figures, the volume as a whole gives a good impression of developments in the ideas of evil figures. A notable absentee is the figure of Antichrist, who became prominent from the 2nd century CE onward, and thus grew to be a popular character in later apocalyptic texts such as the Apocalypse of Ps.-Methodius and various medieval plays such as the Ludus de Antichristo. So the collection is not exhaustive, but this does not mean that it does not contribute to the study of the religious conceptions of evil in Israel, in early Judaism, and in nascent (and even later) Christianity.
The volume contains five sections dealing with the Old Testament, Qumran, the New Testament, Late Antiquity and Middle Ages, and General Perspectives. What strikes the reader immediately, is the tremendous variety of ideas about evil characters found in the sources these essays deal with. Susanne Rudnig-Zelt discusses the devil and Old Testament monotheism. Her conclusion is, that YHWH is frequently depicted as the main deity among others, and that Satan is granted more (Job 1–2) or less (Zech 3; 1Chron 21:1) freedom to act on his own behalf. Marcus Saur studies the ideas of evil in Old Testament wisdom literature. He argues that earlier proverbs reflect popular ideas of evil, whereas later texts contain more substantial speculation. Even in the book of Job, however, it is God who is ultimately responsible for the workings of evil. According to Saur, this is the price to pay for monotheism (36).
The section on Qumran begins with two fine essays by Matthew Goff. In the first of these, Goff focuses on perceptions of evil in Enochic literature. The part played by the Watchers is of crucial importance. The narrative of the Book of the Watchers traces evil back to the fall of the Watchers and the children they generated with human women. These children were supposed to have taken on the form of evil spirits, and this particular tradition has been quite influential in the formation of the concept of daimones, not as a neutral term, but as negative »demons«. In his second essay, Goff deals with Lilith and other female demons. In his view, the legend of Lilith was not at all widespread in early Judaism, and the female figure of 4Q184 should not be identified with her. Instead, she should be seen as a poetic elaboration of Prov 7. Miryam T. Brand asks how the concepts of Belial and free will are related in Qumran texts. In her reconstruction, the Rule of the Community (1QS) fences the Qumran community off from the outside world by identifying that outside world as the ›lot of Belial‹. Stricter than in CD, in 1QS Belial functions as the boundary marker of the group. The outside world is seen as ruled by Belial, whereas the in-group has to withstand Belial’s attempts to lead the community members astray. Since the members do have free will, they are able to fall for the traps Belial sets for them.
The New Testament section begins with an article in which Michael Morris analyses the usage of Psalm 91 as an apotropaic prayer in 11Q11. Morris relates this tradition to the way in which the psalm is used in the temptation narrative of Matt 4:1–11 and Luke 4:1–13. According to him, the apotropaic understanding of the psalm, that focuses on the arrow of verse 6 as a demon that brings disease, also forms the background to Luke 10:19–20. Benjamin Wold then continues with an analysis of yet two more Qumran texts, viz. 4Q123a and 11Q5. Pace David Flusser Wold argues that these texts do not speak about an evil inclination within the human being, and interprets them as intended to ward off evil spirits from outside. Wold opens the possibility that Matt 6:13 may, in similar fashion, reflect an apotropaic prayer, though he also indicates that due to the ambi-guity of τοῦ πονηροῦ (masculine or neuter?) the evidence is indecisive. In the next contribution, Erkki Koskenniemi points at a question that is hardly ever asked: how did the early Christian missionaries speak about evil? Coming from a Jewish background where Satan is usually referred to as the origin of evil, these missionaries hardly had any point of comparison in the pagan discourse, since polytheism had no comparable concept of evil. According to Koskenniemi, personal evil was not a very important subject in the preaching of the gospel. In-stead, it focused on judgement and salvation. Jan Dochhorn deals with the crux interpretum 1Cor 5:5. In a carefully crafted argument Dochhorn states that the ›destruction of the flesh‹ Paul here refers to should be seen as preemptive punishment of the incestuous sinner, that should result in the ›salvation of the spirit‹, i. e.: his spirit or soul. Paul envisages Satan as instrumental in the punishment of the sinner, and thus as an instrument of God himself. Furthermore, he ap-parently sees the ›destruction of the flesh‹ as a moment of judgement, to be followed by the Final Judgement at which the person will still be present in the form of a pneuma. Oda Wischmeyer studies how the epistle of James speaks about good and evil. Good comes from God and refers to God, whereas evil is present in the form of ἐπιθυμία, and is thus part of human nature. According to Wischmeyer, James depicts an ›Entmythologisierung des Bösen‹ (168), by taking evil for granted, but focusing more on fear for evil as a religious drive. Dochhorn ends the New Testament section with a second contri-bution, in which he reconstructs how Cain was seen as a son of the Devil in several Jewish texts. Dochhorn sees this tradition as background of 1John 3:12.
In the section on Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages two fascinating textual corpora are taken into consideration. Hector M. Patmore focuses on the Targum Jonathan and its reception of a number of Old Testament texts that deal with evil (2Sam 22:5; Isa 13:21; 34:14; Hab 3:5). Patmore argues that this Targum moves away from demonic figures rather than introducing them into the text. He sees this as fitting the pattern of a text compiled in Palestine in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Jörn Bockmann deals with the medieval liter-ature on St. Brendan, the Irish abbot who lived from ca. 484–578. In the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis and ›the journey‹, two texts on Brendan, the abbot is said to meet Judas during his sea travel. The saint intercedes on Judas’ behalf and forces the devils who continually torture Judas to leave him alone not just for the sabbath, but for that one night as well.
The final two essays give some general perspectives. Ole Davidsen argues that religious accounts of the world are usually narra-tive in character and for that reason automatically divide the world in dualistic categories. Davidson sees religion as an attempt to overcome the dichotomy of good and evil by framing these two categories within an all encompassing system. Ryan E. Stokes’ article is the last of the volume. Stokes indicates that modern categories such as ›demons‹ and ›devil‹ were used in a variety of ways in ancient sources, and the modern ways scholars can use these terms may therefore stand in their way when attempting to understand the rich religious discourse of these primary sources.
All in all, this volume is an important contribution to the study of evil in the source texts of ancient Israel, early Judaism, and emerg-ing Christianity. More work is to be done, surely, and the work of these scholars paves the way for the next step in the study of conceptions of evil as boundary markers in religious thought systems.