History of Demonology
This study explains the existence, actions and the relationship between the demons and the humans. Demonology also Demons have a long history in the main religions like Christianity Islam and Hinduism. The universal believe of the existence of demons in these religions has brought about a discipline of studying demons referred to as demonology. establishes the history of demons and the evil spirit in respect to beliefs of various religions. However, this study is dynamic in nature and depends on the beliefs of each religion. Demonology has a long history in the religions but the study has been changing with modernization. Nearly in all religions, demons in the early days were not considered as evil or good. In the early history, the Greeks usually referred to spirits as daimon, which denoted divine power. The development of the study of demons has changed from generation to generation. The study of demons forms a large part of the study of Islam, Christians and Judaism due to their beliefs to possess people. The history of religion follows an anthropological approach. In Judaism and Christianity, the history of demons is dated back in the days of Adam and Eve where the evil spirit was able to confuse Adam and Eve to rebel against God.
In the history of Judaism, the demons and spirits were believed to be under the kings dominion. Demonology has not been a key feature in the theology of the Judaism religion. In the history of Christianity, Jesus casted out demons and evil spirits that possessed people. In Islamic religion the belief of existence of demons was held as they believed demons and evil spirits coexisted with people. This belief originated from the ancient creation days where some spirits disobeyed God and were condemned to hell. These spirits possess people and make them disobey and deny God.
This paper seeks to explain the history of demons with respect to the major religions. The religions that will be examined in this paper include the Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The effects that these demons have had on the life of the believers in history and in the modern life will be reviewed briefly.
History of Demonology in Christianity
Demonology is long rooted in the history of Christianity as from creation where the demon deceived Adam and Eve to disobey God. These evil spirits were casted away by God and they have since then been disturbing people trying to turn them away from their creator. The history of demonology can also be attributed to the Greek history of demons and the monks in the fourth and the fifth centuries in Christianity in Egypt. Christian and non-Christian philosophers got interested in the study of the demons and spirits. For example, Lambilichus stated that daimon did not merely exist as divine intermediary beings but also had evil powers, which could cause harm to the well-being of the people. The early monasticism in Egypt form an important part of the history of Christian demonology. The social and religious identities and the ancient Mediterranean literature shaped the monastic authors on their conflicting understanding of the demon. Various philosophers like Antony the great advanced demonological teaching about the desert monks as one that preserves its Christian values while facing opposition of the demons. The Greeks associated the monks with exorcisms, healings and divinations, which helped the people spiritually. The ancient drawings to represent demons in the ancient Egypt include women to indicate temptations, which were followed by seduction. Scholars have explained the encounters between the monks and the demons. Rationalization of demonology has led to development of discursive theories about demons and the monks.
Psychoanalyses of demons will be more useful in understanding demonic experiences. These include the visual experiences due to repression and persistent anxieties. The psychoanalyses of demonology will also be imperative in understanding the dangers of anachronism and appearance of the demons. In the ancient Greece, the Christians perceived the pagans gods as demons. However, demonology cannot be explained using only the theoretical explanations but also the vivid stories of people who have been attacked by the demons. The monastic beliefs were highly influenced by Origen who ruminated off the demonic opposition and the belief that the pagan gods were demons. The monastic perpetuated the thought that human beings and demons are rationally equal in nature and are able to figure out how to attack the people. A philosopher by the name Evagrius adapted the monastic views when developing his theory by stating that there are eight primary demons also referred to as thoughts. The human beings are able to desist from the suggestions made by the demons but if wee succumb to them we can easily be enslaved to the demons. This can make the human being vicious just as the demons. The existence of demons and demonology raised serious metaphysical concerns on the nature of the soul and composition of various bodies. Origen used demonology to explain theodicy problem, as to why and how evil spirits and beings exist in a universe by a single good God. However, Origen suggested that it is due to human beings resistance to obey and love God. In ancient Egypt, the desert was considered as the best home for the demons since it provided more solitary existence, which was less distracted by the common existence of the people.
When Jesus came, he triumphed over the demons and the demons fled on hearing the mention of Jesus name. This marked a new development of the history of demonology in Christianity. Jesus led to development of the concept martyrdom where Christians where Christians willingly submitted to ascetic practices through confession of the name of Jesus Christ. According to Antony; an early philosopher, devils first weapons are the thoughts which concern the comforts in the ordinary life of a person. For the devil to invade a person, he brings the normal comforts of life such as money, glory, love and other life relaxations. The ascetic live of a martyr is to embrace difficult labor. Antony describes demonic thoughts as thoughts of fear, hatred, and fear of death, confusion and sadness. They are not systematic but can occur divergently. For example, in the story of Job, God first permits the devil to torment Job but not to touch him physically but after Job remained steadfast, Satan was allowed to touch his bone and flesh. At first, the thoughts of calamities invaded Job but job emerges as a biblical model of monk struggle. For one to be possessed by the demons, there are primary thoughts of fear related to terrifying visions and visions of physical attacks. Antony describes Christ as the best example of a martyr who gave his own life for the sake of the world to defeat the devil. Initially, the thoughts were that Jesus was defeated when he was crucified but he arose from the dead and defeated Satan. In the ancient Egypt, certain species of the animal were associated with demons. Majority of the animals were thought to possess supernatural powers and certain animals used to be worshiped. However, some were thought to have more divine significance than others. It is through this relationship that Origen explained the element of athanasiuss demonic animals in the ancient Egypt among the Christians.
Demonology in Judaism
The issues of the demons or the evil spirits are universal in most of the religions. Among the issues of the demons are the polyanimism and monotheism and in both, they is actions of the scientific and the philosophical principles and rules to reduce the many issues of demons and the evil spirits into few or none. Demons as defined above are an evil spirit or the devil. Jews believe that there are good demons that come to help the community and also, there are other considered as god who usually do evil issues and protect the community from progressing. Demons in Jews especially in the monotheistic approach are looked at as the servant of God and hence the demonology will be linked to the angelology while the polytheistic systems will be seen as the opposing God. The polytheistic systems are different from the monotheistic systems in that monotheistic have their status as the diabolic powers.
Demonology in the Ancient Near East
The demons in the history of the Jews can be traced back in the Mesopotamia especially with the Sumerians. Most of the terms and praxis amount demons can be traced mainly with the Sumerians in the Mesopotamia who used all means to defend themselves from the evil spirits. There is no much difference between the demons and the great gods though Jews believe that the demons have less power compared to the great gods and are also believed to be the ones that turn against great gods. The demons in the Jewish religion are believed to be in either four classes or seven classes .The religion also strongly hold that the demons or the evil spirits resides in the desert and near graves and many of them are believed to be ghosts, spirits of the dead, particularly spirits of the people who died with through violence or those who were not buried in the right way. In the Jewish community, some diseases are believed to be resulting from the demonic possession. Interestingly, it is known the kind of diseases that certain demons cause. For instance, a demon called Lamashtu is believed to cause newborn babies and those kids in the womb to die.
Demonology in the Bible
The contemporary polytheism does not agree with the Israel religion on the role of the demons though the bible doesnt support it at all. The issues of the magic were not allowed among the Israelites from the beginning according to the collections of the laws that contains the commands. Most of the pagan demons were believed not to be strong and the Jews held that they were capable of protecting them. Moreover, some Jews believed that natural disasters and the diseases were not caused by the demons but rather, it was the Lord and they held that if there was an evil spirit in the city, then the lord was not done. In the religion of the Judaism, it was commonly known that God may wind up his plan but rather he makes use of the angels and spirits to accomplish his will. Therefore, Jews believed that it was always important not to ignore that some of the few issues of demons that survived in the bible or even overlook the problems associated with the explaining these issues. It is believed that demons live in the desert or ruins and this was supported by the biblical verses in Lev.16:10 and isa.13:21.The demons are believed to cause sickness, cause problems in mens mind and even deceive them. However, they strongly believe that these evil spirits are sent by the lord. The Jewish had strong convictions that God had control over these evil spirits and could use them in any time to accomplish a certain task. Further, Jewish believed that there were those spirits that were for the night and those that could act during the day and there was very little fear of the spirits of dead.
Demonology in the Muslims Religion
The Muslims have strong believed in the presence of the demons and they use all mechanism to avoid them. They believe those human beings were created from Earth while the evil spirits that they commonly refer as the jinn were created from the smokeless fire. In addition, Muslims do believe that the Angels were made from the light. In the Muslims religion, they believe that Allah gave only the human being and the jinn the ability to choose what to do and what not to do. In addition, Muslims believed that not all jinn are evil; others are good and they always bring good to the society. Therefore, Muslims believed that the jinn have the same characteristics with a human being in the ability to think and also capability of choosing what is good. However, they differ in their origin.
Origins of the Jinn
Muslims claim that Allah informed them that the jinn were created from smokeless fire and believed to be the purest fire. They also believe that jinn were created before human beings and they have the power to enter human bodies. It is also believed that some of jinn live in the abdominal area of the human and that some people have the capability to remove them. In addition, it widely known that these jinn were not very powerful and some people could capture them and use them to perform some tasks. The jinn have the ability to change their shape and could hide from a human beings ability to notice their presence and can easily cause danger and disturbance in the human life.
They also believed that jinn were spirits that could cause harm compared to other supernatural abilities. Once these kinds of spirits get into a human being, they control the actions of the person. Muslims also believed in other supernatural beings called maarid. They are believed to be made of water and that they are not harmful. Maarid do not reside in the land but rather, they live in the ocean where they have their natural environment. Muslims also believe in the presence of the deos. These are creatures that portray almost the same character as the jinn but have strong powers in their ability to perform magic and also has got great physical strength. They are known to be big like the mountains and have got very ugly body that appears between the human body and animals. These creatures have thick ox-like skin with some having fur in their body. Further, Muslims believe in shaperay that are beautiful and winged creatures that are believed to kidnap some handsome men and take them to their kingdom. These creatures are believed to have little strength and posses supernatural powers and have the ability to perform some magic. Finally Muslims also believed in the shaytan. These are believed to be jinn that have turned evil. This jinn is usually more strong than any other power and is believed to be the one that makes a human being to have evil deeds and hence disobey their Iblis.
In conclusion, demonology is the believe about the demons. Every religion has its strong believes on the origins of the demons in the religion. The demons are believed to control the human activities and they ability to serve their creator. Moreover, demons or the evil spirits interfere with the day to day usual working of the brains of the human being and hence able to control them wholly. As stated above, demons may differ in their strengths and powers in different religions. Some of the religions believe that some demons are weak in the community while the same kind of demons are believe to be very strong and active in the lives of some people in the religion. All human beings believe that demons are some spirits that control every part of life of a human being. It is also believed that the higher supernatural being have control over these spirits and that they are not meant to harm. Christianity, as seen above, strongly believes that demons can always be removed from human beings if one is possessed by them. They are commonly associated with evil things and sometimes seen as a punishment from God. All the religions have to be very careful about the root cause of the demons so as to be able to control and contain them.