Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Yup -- Satan IS in Heaven

This can be considered to be a short sequel to the post from 6/23/05 titled "Satan is in Heaven." In that post, I tried to discuss the theology that both Judaism and Christianity have about Satan, keeping in mind that in the Christian narrative, Satan is a being that was G-d banished from Heaven due to his rebellion against Him. In the Christian mindframe, Satan is the ultimate of evil. In the Jewish mindframe, Satan is the cause of evil (the tempting angel), but is not evil himself, for "good" and "evil" do not apply to beings that possess no free will.

The differences in belief between the two religions might be considered subtle differences. However, when we consider that Christianity holds the notion that humanity forever inherits the sin of Adam and Eve (Original Sin), the differences are not subtle. This sin is forever upon humanity, and ultimately a soul will suffer Hell as the only possible option if it does not accept the sin offering, which is Jesus. Christianity considers Satan to have rebelled against G-d by tempting Adam and Eve, while the Jewish view maintains that tempting Adam and Eve was a punishable offense, but was Satan's job. Near the beginning of the Torah, we see that Satan was never expelled from Heaven as a punishment for tempting Adam and Eve, but rather was brought to a lower status (Genesis 3:14-16). Genesis is telling us that Satan actually stayed in Heaven (and is still there).

Genesis 3:14-19 describes first Satan's, then Eve's, and then Adam's punishments for their respective deeds (temptation, and falling to temptation). Genesis 3:22-24 describes that Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden (Heaven) as a precaution to keep them from eating from the tree of life; Satan is not included here. There is a Christian (and a Muslim) belief that Satan was banished from Heaven due to his rebellion against G-d, but we see that he is only punished. (14-16) The difference between Christianity and Islam with regards to Jesus is that Islam does not believe that he died to redeem humanity from original sin.

This means that Satan is in Heaven, which seems to be a funny statement, especially if its logistics are not considered, but truthfully, where else would Satan be? Christianity derives its tradition that G-d banished Satan to Hell from the Book of Genesis, but nowhere in Genesis does it even allude to that. G-d did not want Adam and Eve to attain eternal life as a result of eating from the tree, so He expelled them. Satan, on the other hand, necessarily has to be an immortal being since he is the tempter, and as long as humanity exists, there is a purpose for Satan. If he is immortal (not immoral), then there is no reason for G-d to worry about his eating from the tree of life. Secondly, Judaism explains that angels are beings without free will, which can only really exist if a being is able to be tempted. This can also be inferred to arrive at the conclusion that Satan had no temptation to eat of the tree of life because he himself is the tempter. Therefore, we find in Genesis, not a basis for, but the outright explanation that, Satan is a being that resides in Heaven.


Anonymous said...

This is very interesting and a good misconception in the Genesis account that deserves a thorough explanation to acheive proper understanding (which you gave quite well). Nice work -JP

jjew said...

Thank you, JP. I never realized that right there in the beginning of Genesis, which lays down the foundation for human nature and the rest of the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible), is the clear explanation that Satan was never expelled from Heaven. I would think that you would need to do alot of inferring and rationalization to provide evidence for that point, but there it is right there, told to us in plain language.