Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-klj7v Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-03T22:23:23.502Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Part III - The Christian's Struggle with Satan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2015

David Brakke
Affiliation:
Ohio State University
Andrew Crislip
Affiliation:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Get access

Summary

Introduction

Ancient Christians understood their ethical life as a struggle not only against their own evil will and inclinations, but also against Satan and his demons. The author of Ephesians concluded his exhortations to righteous living in the Christian household by urging his readers to clothe themselves with God's armor and stand firm against the evil spirits: “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” In the monastic literature from late ancient Egypt, demons frequently tempt monks with the pleasures of sin or try to shake their confidence in the providence of God. Evil spirits regularly appear in visual forms – for example, as wild animals, as seductive women, as black persons, or (deceitfully) as Christ or angels. But even more frequently they manifest as “thoughts” (logismoi) – insinuations of malice or doubt in the monk's mind that threaten to lead him into sin and away from fidelity to God. All Christians, whether they were monks or not, engaged in battle with the devil and evil spirits, but monks stood at the front line of that combat.

Shenoute likewise refers frequently to Satan and his demons throughout his writings. They deceive pagans into worshiping them, inspire heretics to oppose Christian truth, sow discord within the monastic community, tempt monks and lay people to sin, bring disease and other misfortunes upon everybody, and cause all manner of evil and suffering in the world. Such demonic activity occurs in all monastic literature. In contrast to his contemporaries, however, Shenoute tends to focus on Satan as the Christian's primary opponent. Shenoute certainly believes that Satan leads a multitude of demons, which afflict Christians in a variety of ways, but he most often speaks of the single great demon, Satan, who takes on a variety of forms in his relentless attacks on the Christian who tries to follow God and Christ.

The four works in this section take Satan and the Christian's struggle against him as their primary theme.

Type
Chapter
Information
Selected Discourses of Shenoute the Great
Community, Theology, and Social Conflict in Late Antique Egypt
, pp. 157 - 162
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×