Ecclesia Diaboli: The Demonization of the Gentile Religion in Jewish and Christian Thought

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By: Aleksander Michalak, Independent Researcher, Poland, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow

My preliminary examination of several Second Temple texts, 1 Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, Joseph and Aseneth, Testament of Job, the First Epistle to the Corinthians, and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs indicates that there is already at this time a connection between demons and the cult of foreign gods, although they are not always explicitly identified with one another. Sometimes the demonic spirits are said only to lead people astray, that is, to lead people toward Gentile worship and toward idolatry, whereas in other cases it is the demonic spirits who are the objects of worship, or the pagan gods themselves. The inanimate material of the idolatrous objects is frequently juxtaposed with the demonic power that is hidden behind them. The association of the Gentiles with the demonic realm in Jubilees is understood to be the result of the subordination of all foreign nations to the rule of spirits. (more…)

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