SATAN: I don’t believe in Good and Bad. What I believe in is Truth.
CUNNINGHAM: Fine. According to Job and Nehemiah, God created you in the first three days. True?
CUNNINGHAM: According to Genesis and Ezekiel, you then tempted Eve to eat the Apple in order to prove to God that He had made an error in giving Man dominion over the Earth. At which point, according to Luke, you then “Fell from Heaven like lightning” and became God’s Adversary. And ever since that day, you have competed for Souls with God in order to try to prove the point that Man is not worthy to rule over the Earth. Isn’t that true, Mister Satan?!
– The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Stephen Adly Guirgis
I have never spent much time focusing on the figure of Satan. In Jewish tradition, Satan doesn’t have the power or fear factor as is found in Christian theology. So I was grateful to Guirgis for writing the sources directly into his speeches. To my surprise, most of those sources were from the old testament: Genesis, Nehemiah, Ezekiel and Job. So yesterday, I went through and reread those books. I was already aware of the role of the “Adversary” in Job but didn’t remember seeing a fallen angel in the other books. So I read through them. Still nothing. I saw angels here and there, I saw troubles for man, but nowhere did I see a dark angel causing trouble for man. I turned to the other resource at my fingertips: google. On websites, usually run by fundamentalist Christian groups, I found the correct passages named.
Genesis: Creation. We are all familiar with Adam and Eve, the snake, the apple, the expulsion from Eden. Sure. Now, I was unaware that the snake was Satan. I have read as much in Christian texts but I had never been aware that Genesis itself could prove it. The quote pointed to: Genesis 3:1 The serpent, which was the most cunning of all the creatures the LORD God had made, asked the woman… Now, I’m sorry but I don’t get it. The text says, the serpent is a creature, not an angel, not a spirit but a creature made by God.
Nehemiah. A book I admit I haven’t spent much time reading in the Past. Nehemiah wrote about his visits to Jerusalem about Jews after the Persian exile and destruction of the temple. So what does he have to say about Satan. Well, according to Christian theology, You alone are the Lord:/You created the heavens,/the highest heavens with all their host…You give life to them all, and the heavenly host worships you. (Nehemiah 9:6) And once more, I don’t get it. I just don’t. Yes, this is about the creation of angels (the host of heaven) but is there anything about a darker side, about a specific adversarial angel? Nope.
I appointed a towering cherub as your guardian; you were on God’s holy mountain and you walked proudly among stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day of your birth until iniquity came to you…I brought you down in disgrace from the mountain of God, and the guardian cherub banished you from among the stones that flashed like fire. Ezekiel 28:14-16
The “you” in this passage is mankind. A towering cherub, sure, that could be a strong angel before the fall. The cherub was placed to watch over man. Man was innocent until iniquity came. Iniquity, another name for Satan? Nope, not really. Was the guardian cherub banished after man’s fall? Nope, the guardian cherub did the banishing.
Do you see my difficulty? Do you see my confusion? I just can’t follow these sources. In trying to figure out the character of Satan I want to understand these passages as an explanation, but when the Satan of the play answers ‘True’ to the lawyer Cunningham, I doubt. From my reading of these texts there is no truth found there. It never says what Cunningham describes it saying. I just don’t see it.
I wonder if I grew up Christian if I would read these texts differently. Are there Christian glasses one can put on where you see an altered text? Please, Christian readers, help me. Do you see Satan in these words? I want to believe in the Devil. I do. But I just don’t see it.
Oh, and in case you are curious all biblical translations come from The Oxford Study Bible so it’s not that I’m reading a ‘Jewish’ translation.