Satanic prose

September 1, 2006

Henry Kelly's account of the representation of Satan (Opinion, August 18) is misleading in its suggestion that scholars "are at a loss to explain" how Satan acquired his infamy. This is ably documented in Neil Forsyth's study The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth .

Kelly understates the Old Testament ambivalence towards Satan as "the Accuser" and ignores the role of pre-Christian Jewish apocalyptic literature such as the Book of Enoch in the construction of the character of God's adversary.

"Unmasking" supposed Christian distortions of archaic traditions is a common sport today. It behoves all writers thus inclined to do justice to the scholarship they seek to summarise.

Robert A. Davis
Glasgow University

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