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Satan, sometimes referred to as the Devil, is a character found in each of the Abrahamic religions, and satanology is the study of the person and work of Satan.

In Judaism, Satan is viewed as the adversary, and identified with evil inclination; a term for one who leads man astray, only to then turn around and bring accusation against him. Satan, in Judaism, is completely under G-d’s control, and carries out his mission with divine approval, as best characterized in the Book of Job, where Satan plays the role of an adversary testing Job’s faith.

Judaism does not recognize Satan as a proper name belonging to a particular being who is a rival to G-d. Rather, they view Satan as a noun that can be applied to any adversary who opposes and obstructs, and one that can be applied to human adversaries.

Satan is rarely mentioned in Tannaitic literature, but is found in the Babylonian Aggadah, a compendium of rabbinic texts, some of which holds that Satan is an agent of God whose role is to strengthen man’s moral character by leading man toward temptation.

Modern sects of Judaism have their own interpretations of Satan. Conservative Judaism rejects the idea that Satan is a metaphor for evil, and considers him to be a literal agent for God, while Reform Judaism embraces the Talmudic concept of Satan as a metaphor for evil and a symbolic representation of the baser human characteristics. Orthodox Judaism also accepts the Talmudic teachings of Satan, but involves Satan in religious life more often than other sects.

Christianity views Satan as a synonym for the devil.

Although the specifics vary among Christian denominations and sects, a common belief is that Satan was once Lucifer, the highest of all angels, who rebelled against God, and that the angels who allied themselves with him in rebellion are the fallen angels. Satan is also viewed as the serpent who seduced Eve in the Garden of Eden, leading to the fall of man.

Some Christian theologians and denominations hold that Satan is the personification of evil, but not an actual being. Most religions and cultures, throughout history, have had a belief in an invisible evil power. A recent Barna survey found that nearly six out of ten American Christians believe that Satan is a symbol of evil, but not a living being.

Others insist that the Scriptures teach that Satan is an actual being, one who is mentioned in eight books of the Old Testament and nineteen of the New Testament books.

Satan is known by several names in Christianity. These include Satan, Devil, Evil One, Father of Lies, Ruler of this World and God of this Age, Lucifer, Ruler of the Kingdom of the Air, the Tempter, the Accuser of the Brothers, the Dragon, the Serpent, Beelzebub, and Belial.

The Arabic equivalent of Satan is Shaitan. The term is sometimes translated as devil, and it can be applied to human beings or djinn, although it is also used to refer to Satan in particular.

In the Qur’an, Satan is known as Iblis and, similar to Christian belief, he was said to have been raised in heaven with the angels, but eventually sinned against Allah and was expelled from heaven. His chief purpose is to tempt mankind in order for mankind to become spiritually stronger. Muslims do not regard Satan as the cause of evil but as a tempter.

Another Islamic belief is that Satan is a djinn that was created from smokeless fire, just as all of the djinns were created. Being created with the power of free will, Satan chose to sin. Although the Quran states that Satan was created as an angel, he is also described as being from the djinns. This, along with the fact that he describes himself as having been made from fire, leads to Islamic disagreement over whether Satan is a fallen angel or the leader of a band of evil djinn.

Hasan of Basra, a 7th-century Islamic theologian, wrote that Satan was the origin of the djinn in the same way that Adam was the first human. Other views are that Satan hoped to be an angel, but that his actions made him a djinn, or that angels and djinns are synonymous.

In the Bahá'í faith, Satan is not regarded as an independent evil power, but as a metaphor for the lower nature of human beings. Theistic Satanism views Satan as a deity to be worshipped but atheistic Satanism, as exemplified by LeVeyan Satanism, holds that Satan is merely a symbol. Today, theistic Satanism can be found in loosely affiliated cabals.

More typical today, the Satanic Temple and others based on LaVeyan Satanism view Satan as a symbol. Satan represents, not a conscious entity to be worshipped, but a reservoir of strength or power within each human being that can be tapped.

Much of what people believe about Satan comes, not from theologians or from research, but from popular culture, as represented in art, literature, film, television, and music.





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