Devil in the Detail. A Comparison Between Iblis and Lucifer

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2017
17 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Devil of the Christians
2.1. Jewish Origins
2.2. The Term |Uii/
2.3. Creating a Fallen Angel from Scraps
2.4. Apocrypha and Their Role in the Devil's History
2.4.1. The Book of Adam
2.4.2. The Book Henoch

3. The Devil in Islam
3.1. Iblis in the Qur'an
3.2. Of Djinn and Shaitani
3.3. A Different Turn of Events

4. Between Two Cultures
4.1. The Role of the „First Creation"
4.2. Rebels and the Sin of Pride
4.3. The Role of the Devil
4.3.1. Temptation
4.3.2. Accusation
4.3.3. Punishment

5. Conclusion



1. Introduction

Evil as a supernatural force is a topic that unites all Abrahamitic religions. Jewish sources about a personified supreme evil as imagined today are scarce, but the image of Satan as the divine adversary and subsequently the idea of Lucifer as a fallen angel in Christian religion is better documented. The Islam knows Iblis as a rebellious angel cast out of heaven by Allah. While all these personifications of evil show some similarities, their development shows some striking differences.

This work will outline the most important steps in the creation of the images of a personified devil, starting with the Jewish religion and the earliest appearances of the term Satan. The author will then continue to compare the figures of Lucifer/Satan and Iblis in Islamic and Christian literature, based upon their development, mentioning and role.

2. The Devil of the Christians

This chapter will treat the origins and description of the Christian opponent in his two prominent roles. The devil in Christian literature has primarily made his appearance under the name Satan and Lucifer. While these names have been treated as interchangeable for centuries of church history, the origins of these two images have different roots.

2.1. Jewish Origins

The image of the devil per se has developed over a long period, beginning with rather scarce sources in the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament (subsequently mentioned as HBOT).

The Hebrew word |o*y (Satan) in its literal translation means “opponent”. The term is used in the HBOT in various fashions. While being used as a term for an angel acting as legal prosecutor in the divine council, it is by far not exclusively limited to determine a supernatural being. Political and military opponents were labeled Satan as well.1

In a strict sense, there is no mentioning in the HBOT or the Gospels of an entity named Lucifer. Yet, the Roman Catholic church developed the idea of a fallen angel under that name over the course of centuries well into the Middle Ages. The author will summarize the most important appearances of the original term ipty in the HBOT and the sources which led to the shaping of the idea of a rebellious angel.

2.2. The Term ipfr

The Term ipty makes ist appearance in the HBOT in several places. In Kings 11, we find the phrase „ jftpn yijn 'tiixn up nx n'n'^0 iok/ ntn; d^jj : Diixp xin“ it determines a political adversary of Solomon.2 In an earlier passage, Numeri, we find the passage „ ^xftn 2xjn!J xin jftin-'p D'p^x px-iryj : iny i'iyj 'j&i iinxfty 221 xipi ft iok/y ]jj2 njp'“, where the term refers to a messenger of God blocking the way for the fleeing Bileam.3 In Psalms, we finally find the line „: ij'n/fty iny iok/:i ym ifty ippp“ referring to a legal prosecutor.4 None of these usages of the term ipty has a supernatural connotation in terms of a personified evil; it means literally someone opposing a person politically, legally or physically.

Later appearances of the term ip *y eventually develop the image of a supernatural adversary of God himself, creating a role of an opponent of lesser power than God, yet strong enough to affect man in his actions.5 Here we find Satan growing into his traditional roles of tempter, accuser and punished violator of divine law, acting however only with the permission of God as to not disturb the idea of monotheism itself.6

2.3. Creating a Fallen Angel from Scraps

From what we can observe so far, the idea of a fallen angel had not yet emerged in the HBOT. The idea of Lucifer was developed in a later period, however, from Bible passages that reflect parts of the image commonly known today.

In Jesaja 14, we find the following passage:

„Wie bist du vom Himmel gefallen, du Glanzstern, Sohn der Morgenrote! zur Erde gefallt, Oberwaltiger der Nationen! Und du, du sprachst in deinem Herzen: "Zum Himmel will ich hinaufsteigen, hoch uber die Sterne Gottes meinen Thron erheben, und mich niedersetzen auf den Versammlungsberg im auRersten Norden. Ich will hinauffahren auf Wolkenhohen, mich gleichmachen dem Hochsten." Doch in den Scheol wirst du hinabgesturzt, in die tiefste Grube. "7

Modern theological interpretations read this passage as addressed to the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II. Israel, after the period of the Babylonian Exile, was supposed to have survived despite the Babylonian kingdom declining; the symbolism of the falling morning star representing Babylon in comparison to the rising sun of Israel. In later translations of the original Hebrew texts, the word „morning star” has been into the Latin lucifer, adding an entire new layer of meaning by the association of a „light bearer”.8

A similarity can be noted to a passage found in Revelation 12, 8-9, which reads:

„Und es entstand ein Kampf in dem Himmel: Michael und seine Engel kampften mit dem Drachen. Und der Drache kampfte und seine Engel; und sie siegten nicht ob, auch wurde ihre Statte nicht mehr in dem Himmel gefunden. Und es wurde geworfen der grofie Drache, die alte Schlange, welcher Teufel und Satan genannt wird, der den ganzen Erdkreis verfuhrt, geworfen wurde er auf die Erde, und seine Engel wurden mit ihm hinabgeworfen. “9

While these two passages have been written under different circumstances, the imagery of an evil force being thrown out of heaven is already developing, even though the Revelations passage gives no hint of Satan himself having been part of the angels previously. It hints, however, already at a force of angels acting on the adversary side. Another mentioning in this fashion can be found in the Gospel of Luke: „Er sprach aber zu ihnen: Ich schaute den Satan wie einen Blitz vom Himmel fallen.“10 This shows that by the time the Gospels were written, the image of a devil cast out of heaven already existed, yet the scenarios for this occurrence change.

Another passage using the image of an angelic force gone rogue can be found in Ezekiel 28:

„Du warst ein schirmender, gesalbter Cherub, und ich hatte dich dazu gemacht; du warst auf Gottes heiligem Berge, du wandeltest inmitten feuriger Steine. Vollkommen warst du in deinen Wegen von dem Tage an, da du geschaffen worden, bis Unrecht an dir gefunden wurde. Durch die GroRe deines Handels wurde dein Inneres mit Gewalttat erfullt, und du sundigtest; und ich habe dich entweiht vom Berge Gottes hinweg und habe dich, du schirmender Cherub, vertilgt aus der Mitte der feurigen Steine. Dein Herz hat sich erhoben ob deiner Schonheit, du hast deine Weisheit zunichte gemacht wegen deines Glanzes; ich habe dich zu Boden geworfen, habe dich vor Konigen dahingegeben, damit sie ihre Lust an dir sehen.11

While again this passage was devoted to a mundane person, in this case the king of Tyre,12 again the wording uses an angelic metaphor. With the cited texts, we find twice a text addressed to a human ruler being compared to a supernatural being which tried to lift themselves above god and subsequently was cast out of heaven for its pride.

While these passages reflect different purposes and contexts, these are the lines of which most analysts agree that they have been used as the fundament for the creation of a later image of Lucifer. The early scholars of the Christian church, among them Tertullian13 and Origenes14, started analyzing those passages and develop ideas of a devil who possessed specific qualities that not only enabled him to oppose God in his own capacity, but also change from the state of an obedient servant into a rebel.

Henning states as follows:

Nach Origenes (185-254) war seine Hauptsunde Hochmut und Anmafiung, die Hybris der Griechen, nach Irenaus, Tertullian und Cyprian (200 bis 258) dagegen, wie schon im Buch der Weisheit Salomos, der Neid auf das Ebenbild Gottes im Menschen. Nach der allegorischen Bibelauslegung wurden nunmehr auch die Stellen Jesaja 14, 12 und Ezechiel Kap. 26, die einen Mythos vom Sturz des Morgensterns (Luzifer) auf die Konige von Babylon und Tyrus anwenden, von Tertullian und Origenes auf den Fall Satans gedeutet.15

While the development of this narrative is not yet complete, the idea of hybris as a main component of the Lucifer topic has at this point been firmly established.

2.4. Apocrypha and Their Role in the Devil's History

The Apocrypha are not canon literature in Christian faith, however, some of these texts have picked up the image of the falling angel and further developed the narrative into an image of its own. Two of the apocryphal texts have gained special recognition in this context: The Book of Adam and the Book Henoch.16

2.4.1. The Book of Adam

The Book of Adam is an Apocryphal text of unknown origin.17 Louis Ginzberg asserts that ancient collections of legends about the life of Adam and Eve may have evolved into a later text that was preserved under the title Vita Ad& et Ev& and translated into several languages. Florian Theobald mentions that earlier attempts to date the text around 400 BC seem to be inconclusive and that they cannot account for a pre-Testament development of the Lucifer myth, however does not completely refute a connection to the topic.18

The text accounts for a version of the devil’s fall from heaven that includes all elements that have survived until today: Satan’s defiance to honor the creation of Adam, God’s anger about his defiance, the fall and the subsequent change of Satan from angel to devil.19 Gotte asserts a direct connection between the Book of Adam and the older HBOT passages in Jesaia 14 and Ezekiel 28.20

2.4.2. The Book Henoch

The Book Henoch is an apocryphal text from the Jewish mythological tradition. The first part treats the history of the creation of angels, their offspring and the creation of evil. The script has been dated approximately into the 2nd century BC.21


1 Joseph Jacobs, und Ludwig Blau, „Satan”, Zugriffsdatum 27.08.2017,

2 Alle deutschen Bibelzitate nach Bibel Online, Elberfelder 1905,, Zugriffsdatum 27.09.2017, 1 Konige 11, 14.

3 Alle hebraischen Bibelzitate nach Alt, A., und O. EiUfeldt, P. Kahle u.a. Biblica Hebraica Stuttgardensis. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997, Numeri 22, 22.

4 Psalm 109, 6.


6 Ebd.

7 Jesaia 14, 12-15.

8 Florian Theobald, Teufel, Tod und Trauer: Der Satan im Johannesevangelium und seine Vorgeschichte (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), 68.

9 Offenbarung 12, 8-9.

10 Lukas 10, 8.

11 Hezekiel 28, 14-17.

12 Monika Elisabeth Gotte, Von den Wachtern zu Adam: Fruhjudische Mythen uber die Ursprunge des Bosen und ihre fruhchristliche Rezeption. (Tubingen: Mohe Siebeck, 2016), 29.

13 Peter-Andre Alt, Asthetik des Bosen (Munchen: C. H. Beck, 2011), 33.

14 Gotte, Von den Wachtern zu Adam, 150-1.

15 “Der Teufel in der Kirche bis zu Konstantin dem GroUen,” in „Der Teufel: Sein Mythos und seine Geschichte im Christentum“, Projekt Gutenberg / Spiegel online, Zugriffsdatum 29.09.2017, teufel-sein-mythos-und-seine-geschichte-im-christentum-5892/4. Authors note: The reference to Ezekiel 26 instead of 28 appears to be a printing error.

16 Jacobs, und Blau, „Satan“.

17 Louis Ginzberg, „ADAM, BOOK OF:.”, Zugriffsdatum 27.09.2017,

18 Theobald, Teufel, Tod und Trauer, 70.

19 A. J. Wensinck, und I. Gardet, „Iblis.“, Encyclopedia of Islam, 2. Edition, Brill Online Reference Works, Zugriffsdatum 25.09.2017,

20 Gotte, Von den Wachtern zu Adam, 29.

21 Gotte, Von den Wachtern zu Adam, 16.

Excerpt out of 17 pages


Devil in the Detail. A Comparison Between Iblis and Lucifer
Ruhr-University of Bochum  (CERES)
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Iblis, Satan, Luzifer, Teufel
Quote paper
Simone Lohmeier (Author), 2017, Devil in the Detail. A Comparison Between Iblis and Lucifer, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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