More Historical Info about Demons and Hell

Re: What Do You Mean, “Demon”?

darkwing wrote:
However, there are several problems, e.g.:
MagickFromtheMysts wrote:
For example – prior to about the 16th century, the words “demon” and “angel” actually referred to the same thing.

Can you provide reference for this? And from which language and what the word is?Because there were already words distinguishing those two in other languages prior to 16th century AD. For example, Arabian Islamic tradition distinguished “malaikah” vs “jinn” and “shaitan” since the 6th century AD.And I don’t think the Jewish tradition’s “malakh” is equated with “shedim” since about 2nd century AD.


Ok so the etymology for the word Demon is actually the answer.

demon (n.)
c. 1200, from Latin daemon “spirit,” from Greek daimon “deity, divine power; lesser god; guiding spirit, tutelary deity” (sometimes including souls of the dead); “one’s genius, lot, or fortune;” from PIE *dai-mon- “divider, provider” (of fortunes or destinies), from root *da- “to divide.”

Used (with daimonion) in Christian Greek translations and Vulgate for “god of the heathen” and “unclean spirit.” Jewish authors earlier had employed the Greek word in this sense, using it to render shedim “lords, idols” in the Septuagint, and Matthew viii.31 has daimones, translated as deofol in Old English, feend or deuil in Middle English. Another Old English word for this was hellcniht, literally “hell-knight.”

The original mythological sense is sometimes written daemon for purposes of distinction. The Demon of Socrates was a daimonion, a “divine principle or inward oracle.” His accusers, and later the Church Fathers, however, represented this otherwise. The Demon Star (1895) is Algol.


So essentially, demons were once neither positive nor negative. They were bringers of fate – the reference to them as being both the divider and provider of destiny or fortunate events, means that they were regarded as both positive and negative in aspect, depending on how they rolled the dice for you. The other phrases: tutelary deity, divine power – shows that people regarded daemons as personal. They are what our modern day guardian angel concept comes from. When you see how the word changes from a provider of provenance to a “hell knight”, it becomes even more clear – over time, especially with Christianity gaining a stronger foothold, the attitude changed. Anything other than the Hebrew God that meddled with a person’s fate, for good OR for ill, was not of God. I said that demons and angels were once considered the same thing, with their actions from a personal perspective defining them as acting for the good, or for the ill of the person receiving the results, and you can see the literal truth of that through the etymological record.

darkwing wrote:
MagickFromtheMysts wrote:
For further clarification of language, over the last 700 years, the word “devil” has become a colloquialism that can encompass anything. The word is derived from the Sanskrit word “Devi,” meaning Goddess.

Can you also provide reference for this?Because it is not correct. The word “devil” came from the Greek “diabolos”, which became Old English “deoful”, which became Middle English “devel”. This can also be seen from German “teufel” and Dutch “duivel”. Moreover, the “diabolos” is still seen in French “diable”, Spanish “diablo”, and Italian “diavolo”. None of these is related to the Sanskrit “devi”.


So here, you are correct in the etymology of the word. When I was doing my research for this article, I came across several references to Devil having Devi, Devala, Devata, and Deva, as a root word. Upon further investigation, at your suggestion, I note two things. Those sites are slanted to the extremes of “new age” thinking, and where there was comment, the original posters said they came to the conclusion that Devi and Devil were cognates because “it sounds the same,” which shows a clear lack of understanding of the nature of lingual shifts and etymology.

I apologize for that small bit of shoddy research on my part. Though, if it will get me back a brownie point, it WAS 3am.

darkwing wrote:
MagickFromtheMysts wrote:
What fascinates me about this is that in the bible, Satan is an angel of light.

If you’re talking about 2 Corinthians 11:14, the verses said: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV). This is generally accepted that Paul facing against with false preachers, as can be seen from the verses before that: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 KJV).


I was not actually speaking of any New Testament scriptures. Given the origins of the belief in Satan, I felt it was important to stick to the root, and not discuss the resultant tangled overgrowth.

The original Hebrew term Satan literally means “to obstruct, to oppose.” Ha-Satan literally means The Accuser, or The Adversary. The addition of the definitive article HA denotes a title bestowed upon a being, rather than the name of that being. Thus, Ha-Satan means THE Satan. In Judaism, a satan is always referred to with a human component. In other words, someone inspired by God to stand against something – an action, a group of people, a leader, and put stumbling blocks in their way – but THE Satan is always an angel, bound by God to obstruct humans to force them to prove their faith or lack of to their Judge, Yahweh. Ha-Satan was always referred to as an Angel of the Lord.

Numbers 22:22,32 “and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him.”
32 “behold, I went out to withstand thee,”

2 Samuel 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
1 Chronicles 21:21 Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel.

Zechariah’s vision of recently deceased Joshua the High Priest depicts a dispute in the heavenly throne room between Satan and the Angel of the Lord (Zechariah 3:1–2).

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5:5

Thus, in both the Hebrew bible, and in the Christian bible, there is agreement in the texts. Satan is man’s adversary, not God’s, and He stands in God’s Throne room – where no “unclean” (evil) being can reside.

In Isaiah 45:7, we see that Hashem is the creator of everything, as the text says, “bringing forth light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil, I am G-d who does all these things.” In the Jewish bible, everything is under the jurisdiction of G-d and under His power – all forces, even evil forces. Everything comes from G-d, He created everything, good and evil. That being the case, Satan is not a rival of G-d, he is a messenger of G-d and unable to do anything outside of G-d’s will.

Hebrews do not perceive Satan to be evil at all. They perceive him to be NECESSARY. Without friction, without challenges, without obstacles, we would not grow, we would not achieve all that we have the potential to do. Trials develop us, they develop our minds, our emotions, and our personalities, but most of all, they develop us spiritually. This is a vital thing. Satan creates circumstances in which free will arises and must be addressed through decision making – and then learning from the consequences of those choices.

For more on this concept, I highly recommend this Rabbinical writing about the subject:

darkwing wrote:
MagickFromtheMysts wrote:
Around the 1300’s, people realized that some of the things Jesus said in the bible were about organized religion – specifically that it wasn’t the way to God… So… they rewrote the bible (again), and created the ideas of hell and the devil to scare people back into the pews. Hell isn’t even in the bible at all.

Can you also provide reference for this especially the 1300’s?Since the ideas of eternal punishment and hell was already existed since before the Crusade (11th century), e.g. from writing of Clement of Rome and Apocalypse of Peter, which was one of the reasons people went on Crusade (forgiven from sins and saved from punishment).


Ok, so this answer requires a journey, so it’s gonna go long. Bear with me. In some respects, especially about the beliefs about Hell, you are essentially correct, so this is going to be mostly confirming your statements, but it’s to show my thought processes about my comments regarding the Gnostic revival in the 1300s causing papal decrees which made changes to religious law, taking advantage of things that the Church had already added to their mythos (through the twisting of the meaning of the texts). The issue is that the Cathars figured out that hell wasn’t in the bible… and they started teaching that. It went downhill from there for them.

So, to start.

The concept of a hell of torment, and the complexities of purgatory, limbo, and the inferno, isn’t in the New Testament prior to 110CE.

The myth of hell that we know today had its start in the early years of the Church. Back then, only Jews were members. The issue arose that Jewish people believed that Yeshua was the Messiah, in the traditional sense of that word. He arose to free them from Rome’s oppression. A messiah is anointed by God to rout an occupying army, and establish and earthly Kingdom of God – the Kingdom of Israel, as a Theocracy.

“Salvation” then meant being saved from the Roman army and being part of the kingdom of God, and that salvation was for Jews ONLY. From the religious texts, it’s clearly evident that Yeshua was thoroughly Jewish, bringing a message to Jews exclusively, had Jewish disciples. He never thought to start a new religion, and never considered converting non-Jews to become Jews.

After his death, his followers were deeply wounded. They had truly believed that he was the Messiah, that he would return to rout the Romans, and redeem Israel. Salvation, in this context, has nothing to do with a place of torment. You’re either Jewish or you’re not. You are either saved, or your not. You either get to live in the Kingdom of God, because you’re Jewish and thus saved, or you live outside the kingdom, and when you die, nothing horrible happens, you just… cease to exist, while the redeemed Jews get eternal life.

The problem arose because Yeshua’s disciples didn’t understand his teachings. His message for the 12 Tribes of Israel was that the kingdom of god is INSIDE YOU. For the Jews to be “born again/born from above,” that is, receive salvation, Yeshua was VERY clear. You must grow to be compassionate, loving, non-judgmental, peaceful and forgiving. The person who grew to spiritual maturity would display these qualities, and would thus live in the kingdom of god that was within. THIS was salvation, for Yeshua.

The disciples misunderstanding his message and continuing to believe that he would return to drive the romans out of Israel to establish a kingdom there is how belief in hell began. The gentiles who were converting to this spiritual path couldn’t relate to the Kingdom of Israel at all. They weren’t interested in converting to Judaism, did not wish to follow Mosaic law, and much of the history, such as Yeshua being a descendent of David, meant nothing to them.

Salvation began to have a different connotation, one which gentiles could understand and accept. Anyone who believed that Yeshua was the anointed one would be regarded as part of the Kingdom of God Yeshua was going to return and establish, and would have everlasting life. Through Yeshua’s death and resurrection, death had been defeated, and believers would live eternally.

There was STILL no concept of Hell. People who weren’t saved simply died and were no more. However, by the second century, the church, in their zeal to convert followers, began cherry picking passages in the old testament that referred to fire and judgment, and began telling people that if they didn’t convert to Yeshua’s theology, that they would not simply die, but would be thrown into a fire to burn for eternity. They based this belief partially on pagan ideas about hell at the time. In fact, the ideas about both heaven and hell came primarily from descriptions made by Homer, Virgil, Plato, and Orphic and Pythagorean traditions.

In New Testament cannon, Yeshua does refer to Gehenna, the valley of Himnom, where people threw their garbage to be burned, corpses were sometimes deposited, and in earlier times, where human sacrifice had occurred. He brought it up to show how his people had evolved spiritually – and to show that the body is basically meaningless, and will be thrown on a garbage dump… it’s the spirit that is the important factor.

He NEVER referred to an everlasting torment for the people who chose not to follow him. However, by the time the bible was translated into English, the idea of hell was so entrenched in Christian theosophy, when people read the word Gehenna, they translated it as Hell and moved on. I, and most religious scholars, feel that if Yeshua does see what has been done to his message, he’s probably rather distressed about it, being as mythos now has him front and center throwing babies into hell.

Now… from that bit of evolution, how did we get to the 1300s? Well, between the 8th century and the 14th century, biblical scholars began speaking out about the fact that bibles were only written in Latin. The intention behind this was that ordinary Christians of the Roman Empire should be able to read the word of God. “Ignorance of the Scriptures is Ignorance of Christ.” During this period, the bible is understood only by the learned, most of whom are priests. They prefer to corner the source of Christian truth, keeping for themselves the privilege of interpreting it for the people. Translation into vulgar tongues is discouraged.

The strongest medieval demand for vernacular texts comes in France from a heretical sect, the Cathars. The suppression of the Cathars is complete by the mid-13th century. But in the following century the same demand surfaces within mainstream western Christianity, and eventually the demand for vernacular bibles led to the reformation of the church, and the schism that created the Protestant branch of Christianity.

Why do I choose the 1300s and the massacre of the Cathars specifically? Because the Cathars were gnostic. They believed that the kingdom of God IS inside you, just as Yeshua taught. They let women give the only sacrament that Cathars believed in: Consolamentum – a practice that only occurred once in a lifetime – as that life was ending. When someone performed the ritual of liberation, the receiver had a heavy, though obviously short, obligation for purity. Many would, afterwards, forgo food and water as their penance, hastening their death. Women were also teachers. Cathars believed that reincarnation existed, and that your goal through reincarnation was to eventually reach an angelic state by becoming like Christ. Cathars strongly opposed the Catholic church, seeing it as corrupt. They believed that Yeshua was an angel of light, and that Yahweh was actually Satan, and as Yahweh created physicality, including mankind, bodies and all worldly things were unclean, tainted, evil… and the Church embracing monarchies, meddling in politics, converting people through fear, and making money hand over fist, really sat wrong with them… and unfortunately, they were extremely vocal about it. Last, but definitely not least – The Cathars created their own bible. It began as a vernacular bible, but they sought out gnostic gospels, apocryphal texts, and pseudopigrapha which had, through previous Church counsels, been removed and declared heresy – and they added translations of these texts into their vernacular text.

The Catholic Church, obviously, took issue with this much “heresy.” At first, they sent legates to “gently” steer the Cathars back to the way things were done. They were rebuffed – not only by the Cathars themselves, but also by many bishops of the region, the nobles who protected them, and the common people who respected them.

The next step was to start excommunicating the nobles. This didn’t go well… the man they sent to do the dirty deed was found dead very shortly after. That caused the Pope to call for a crusade. The Avignon Crusade lasted 20 years.

This war pitted the nobles of the north of France against those of the south. The widespread northern enthusiasm for the Crusade was partially inspired by a papal decree permitting the confiscation of lands owned by Cathars and their supporters. This not only angered the lords of the south but also the French King, who was at least nominally the suzerain of the lords whose lands were now open to despoliation and seizure. Philip Augustus wrote to Pope Innocent in strong terms to point this out—but the Pope did not change his policy. As the Languedoc was supposedly teeming with Cathars and Cathar sympathizers, this made the region a target for northern French noblemen looking to acquire new fiefs. The barons of the north headed south to do battle.

The Cathars spent much of 1209 fending off the crusaders. The Béziers army attempted a sortie but was quickly defeated, then pursued by the crusaders back through the gates and into the city. Arnaud-Amaury, the Cistercian abbot-commander, is supposed to have been asked how to tell Cathars from Catholics. His reply, recalled by Caesarius of Heisterbach, a fellow Cistercian, thirty years later was “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius”—”Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own”. The doors of the church of St Mary Magdalene were broken down and the refugees dragged out and slaughtered. Reportedly at least 7,000 innocent men, women and children were killed there by Catholic forces.

Elsewhere in the town, many more thousands were mutilated and killed. Prisoners were blinded, dragged behind horses, and used for target practice. What remained of the city was razed by fire. Arnaud-Amaury wrote to Pope Innocent III, “Today your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex.” “The permanent population of Béziers at that time was then probably no more than 5,000, but local refugees seeking shelter within the city walls could conceivably have increased the number to 20,000.”

Ultimately, it was this act of… essentially Genocide, followed by the creation of the Inquisition, all over the rights of people to read their holy books in their own tongues, that ended with the schism in the Church, the reformation, and the creation of the Protestant path. People who were doing research in secret, and the knowledge that the Cathars managed to smuggle out to the world, brought about a rebirth of Gnostic thought, and began to build the idea into Christianity that the Pope, the Church, was corrupted. By the early 1500’s, the reformation was in full swing, and due to the advent of the printing press, dozens of new bibles, from all the little sects that began popping up during the reformation, were produced and distributed.

As I said – Religion be crazy… and sometimes just devastating.


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