THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History by Jeffrey Burton Russell

THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History

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Russell (History/Univ. of Cal. at Santa Barbara) has written four scholarly books on the Devil front antiquity to modern times. Here, he summarizes the major themes of his earlier works in a form more accessible to the general reader. Russell is a careful historian, and traces the origin of this Western figure (the Devil appears only in Zoroastrianism, ancient Hebrew religion, Christianity, and Judaism) in early cultures and in Biblical references. A tong section, replete with theological speculation--including a contrast of the views of Origen and Evagrios--covers the development of the concept of the Devil in early Christianity. The author goes on to discuss the Devil in the popular imagination, literature, and art, offering an informed and insightful argument--but one that fails to infect the reader with his own enthusiams. As if on a crusade, he shuffles the sound informational material at the core of the book with chapters warning us that we ignore the ""personification of evil"" at our own peril. Russell seems to believe that there may very well be a conscious, malevolent force outside of us that we must defeat through love; but if this is so, how can we at the same time strive, as he urges, ""to integrate the evil within us?"" When he sticks to history, Russell is on firm ground. But he is no philosopher, and his exhortations detract from the value of his informative work.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0801480566
Publisher: Cornell Univ. Press