By Elaine Pagels

From the non secular historian whose The Gnostic Gospels received either the nationwide publication Award and the nationwide e-book Critics Circle Award comes a dramatic interpretation of devil and his position at the Christian culture. With magisterial studying and the elan of a born storyteller, Pagels turns Satan's tale into an audacious exploration of Christianity's shadow part, during which the gospel of affection provides option to irrational hatreds that proceed to hang-out Christians and non-Christians alike.

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25 Justin mentions these in whom strong compulsions—for instance, for robust drink—have been damaged. Many others, Justin says, “have replaced their violent and tyrannical dispositions,” triumph over through the impressive forbearance, endurance, and unwavering honesty they've got present in their 26 Christian associates. Celebrating the recent society shaped by means of those “reborn” 27 humans, Justin now sees the previous society as evil—a society that, for instance, abandons babies to die or to be raised by means of opportunists, who educate them as prostitutes and promote them at the slave 122 / THE starting place OF devil 28 markets “like herds of goats or sheep. ” As a privileged philosophy pupil, Justin may have displayed ethical indifference; in its place he's offended approximately these deserted childrens, and castigates ethical relativists who satisfaction themselves on their philosophical sophistication: “The worst evil of all is to claim that neither solid nor evil is something in itself, yet that they 29 are only-matters of human opinion. ” Justin’s existence now has an ethical path. He contrasts the common lifestyles he as soon as lived as passive prey to demons, with the spiritinfused existence he lives now: we've got realized to discover God . . . and we think it's most unlikely for the evil or green with envy individual, or the conspirator, or for the righteous person—to get away God's detect; and each individual is going to everlasting punishment or salvation in response to the worth of his works. 30 In his new existence, Justin sees his position within the universe significantly more desirable; the stand he is taking and the alternatives he makes not just come to a decision his everlasting future yet interact him at the present as an energetic combatant within the common fight among God’s spirit and 31 devil. but Justin realizes the irony—and the terror—of his new state of affairs: receiving divine illumination has ripped him out of all that used to be ordinary, alienated him from his friends and family, and uprooted him from a lot of his tradition. such a lot scary, it has stripped him of all safety. His baptismal exorcism put him against the gods he had worshiped all his lifestyles and in possibly deadly clash with almost each person he had ever known—above all, with governmental professionals. He now belongs to a bunch that the Roman majority and executive magistrates regard with suspicion and contempt, regardless of the entire 32 evangelists’ efforts to calm their fears. these publicly accused of allegiance to Christ are vulnerable to arrest and interrogation, frequently below torture; to "confess" ability quick condemnation to loss of life, by way of beheading, if one has the great fortune to be a Roman citizen, or, if now not, by way of lengthy torture and public spec- SATAN’S EARTHLY state / 123 tacle, together with condemnation advert bestias—that is, being torn aside by means of wild animals within the public activities area. Justin is aware of circumstances during which believers or their slaves, together with ladies and youngsters, were tortured till they “admitted” seeing Christians have interaction in atrocities, together with ritual consuming of human flesh and consuming blood from freshly slaughtered babies.

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