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The Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles - throughout history the Prince of Darkness, the Western world's most powerful symbol of evil, has taken many names and shapes. Jeffrey Burton Russell here chronicles the remarkable story of the Devil from antiquity to the present. While recounting how past generations have personified evil, he deepens our understanding of the ways in which people have dealt with the enduring problem of radical evil.
After a compelling essay on the nature of evil, Russell uncovers the origins of the concept of the Devil in various early cultures and then traces its evolution in Western thought from the time of the ancient Hebrews through the first centuries of the Christian era. Next he turns to the medieval view of the Devil, focusing on images found in folklore, scholastic thought, art, literature, mysticism, and witchcraft. Finally, he follows the Devil into our own era, where he draws on examples from theology, philosophy, art, literature, and popular culture to describe the great changes in this traditional notion of evil brought about by the intellectual and cultural developments of modern times.
Is the Devil an outmoded superstition, as most educated people today believe? Or do the horrors of the twentieth century and the specter of nuclear war make all too clear the continuing need for some vital symbol of radical evil? The Prince of Darkness will invite its readers to confront these and other critical questions as they explore the past faces of that figure who has been called the second most famous personage in Christianity.
"There is probably no one alive who knows more about the lore of the Devil than Jeffrey Burton Russell. . . . He supplies colourful accounts of the pictures medieval folklore formed of the Evil One, and discerning sketches of the insights of poets like Dante and Milton, and novelists from Dostoevsky to Flannery O'Conner. . . . A first-rate survey. . . . Close-packed as it inevitably is, it reads easily, and each of its chapters is full of accurate and skillfully arranged information."—Times Literary Supplement
"Russell recreates the arcane images of good and evil we all once understood perfectly well as children. From the moment the cover is lifted on this beautifully produced book, the world darkens. Russell presents story after story, using them like a descending staircase, drawing us down into archetypal memories of unending battles with the Evil One."—Bloomsbury Review
2. The Devil around the World
3. The Good Lord and the Devil
4. Christ and the Power of Evil
5. Satan and Heresy
6. Dualism and the Desert
7. The Classical Christian View
8. Lucifer Popular and Elite
9. Scholastics, Poets, and Dramatists
10. Nominalists, Mystics, and Witches
11. The Devil and the Reformers
12. High on a Throne of Royal State
13. The Disintegration of Hell
14. From Romance to Nihilism
15. The Integration of Evil
16. Auschwitz and Hiroshima
17. The Meaning of Evil