Article

Demons

Matthew Goff

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online November 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0013
Demons

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The term “demon” is used to describe a wide variety of spiritual beings. The word derives from the Greek term daimōn which refers to all sorts of beings, by no means only ones that are evil. The conventional definition of “demon,” however, is that it refers to malignant supernatural entities who seek to harm humans. There is a rich mythology of such creatures throughout the ancient world. They were understood to cause a variety of problems that people face in everyday life, such as disease and problems in childbirth. For this reason magical practices, including incantation spells and use of amulets, constitute important evidence for the study of demons. There is a rich lore regarding demons in the ancient Near East. The evidence, however, is surprisingly sparse for such figures in the Hebrew Bible. There is a resurgence of interest in demons in Early Judaism. Jewish traditions about demons from this era inform not only conceptions of evil spirits in later periods of Judaism but also comprise an important part of the Jewish heritage of Christianity, which is evident in both the New Testament and subsequent Christian literature.

Article.  12070 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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