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The name is derived from Greek, diabolos, which is translated as “slanderer” or “accuser;” it is also used as a generic term for minor evil spirits. The term “satan” is often used interchangeably with “devil;” it is derived from the Hebrew word for “adversary.”

There are very few references to the devil in the Old Testament, although his responsibility for the “fall of man” in Gen. III seems clear. The devil emerges more clearly in the New Testament where Jesus speaks of “the devil and his angels” (Matt. XXV, 41). In the early church the devil was considered to be a fallen angel, a view held by Origen in the east and Augustine in the west.

Traditionally, the devil has played the role of “tempter” of Christian saints; the classic account of such an encounter is that of The Life of Anthony which was written about 360 CE by Athanasius. Anthony was attacked by day and night unceasingly for a long time and defeated the devil by prayer and acts of physical penance.

The question of the devil’s existence and why, if he does exist, does God allow him to cause such terrible trouble to mankind, has exercised the minds of theologians for centuries. Philosophically it has been held that the existence of evil — personified or not — is a consequence of the possession of free will by humanity.

The co-existence of God and the devil, known as “dualism,” is found in religions other than that of Christianity. In ancient Egypt we find Horus and Setekh (Set) and in Manichaeism, God and the devil are symbolized by “Light” and “Darkness.”

The theosophical view of “good and evil” is straightforward. Objective evil, personified by “the devil” or “satan” does not find a place in theosophy. Evil is that which opposes the Divine Plan or hinders the progress of the individual toward spiritual perfection.

In her The Secret Doctrine, Helena P. Blavatsky writes, “The devil is now called Darkness by the Church, whereas, in the Bible he is called the ‘Son of God’ (see Job), the bright star of the early morning, Lucifer (see Isaiah). There is a whole philosophy of dogmatic craft in the reason why the first Archangel, who sprang from the depths of Chaos, was called Lux (Lucifer), the ‘Luminous Son of the Morning,’ or manvantaric Dawn. He was transformed by the Church into Lucifer or Satan, because he is higher and older than Jehovah, and had to be sacrificed to the new dogma” (Vol. I, p. 70). It is little wonder that Blavatsky experienced trouble with the Christian clerics since to the casual reader the foregoing might be construed as an attempt to elevate the devil above God. The point to note is that Blavatsky did not equate Jehovah with the immanent deity, the first cause, but considered Jehovah merely the name of a tribal god.



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