From the Gods to Monotheism. From Demons to the Devil.
An examination of Biblical texts concerning
the singularization of the devil,
in light of Freudian metapsychology.


Gérard Pommier

Paris, France

translated by

Christopher Bush

University of California--Los Angeles

Copyright © 1999 by Gérard Pommier and Christopher Bush, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. Copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the editors are notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the authors.

  1. No sooner than it is announced in Genesis, the problem of the origin of evil becomes inextricable. Jewish theocidy runs into this obstacle: evil cannot be imputed to God, who wishes the salvation of his people and happiness for the just. But it cannot subsist outside of him, for nothing exists in this outside. Yet the serpent, that protodiabolic form, appears fully armed in the heart of paradise, without anything justifying it. Before him would have reigned "that undivided unity of ways of being" that, according to Philo of Alexandria, would have characterized the original paradise.[1] But how could this paradise appear as a "good" if not retroactively, upon the appearance of evil? The demarcation only becomes discernible once the gates of Eden have been crossed. Similarly, Philo of Alexandria writes that the Father was angered to see Adam and Eve "leaving aside the tree of immortal life and the integrity of virtue, by which they could have gathered the fruits of an indefinitely long and happy life, prefering to this, ephemeral and mortal, not a life but a time full of cruel demons."
  2. But why was the Father, otherwise presumed to be all-powerful, not from the beginning able to fight against these diabolic forces? And if he wished his creation [créature] to be freely confronted with evil, why did he become angry with the choice of that evil, relative to which good could only retroactively become a meaningful distinction? In the course of the centuries, commentators found only provisional responses to this problem, which is insoluble if one separates it from another question that, by putting the preconditions of this problem back in their proper place, illuminates it considerably: the fact that the appearance of evil passes through feminine jouissance, without which it would not come about. The first demonic figure, the serpent, suggests the decisive act to Woman. For an author like Philo of Alexandria, there is no doubt that jouissance was the motivation of this act:
  3. For woman, her life restricted to sensation and to the flesh, we say that the serpent is jouissance wriggling and coiling, unable to get on its feet, always on the ground, slithering towards only the goods of this world, seeking the retreats in the body, nesting, so to speak, in the folds and crevasses of each of the senses.

    Evil is assimilated to jouissance and interested jouissance is that of woman, constantly considered to be impure, that is, prostituted. [2]

  4. But one then asks oneself why it is presented as self-evident that jouissance had to be assimilated to corruption? Let us recapitulate the articulation of the questions which have been so quickly posed. In the Bible, the paternal wrath concerns the preference given to evil rather than good, a presentation which poses a first problem of which the second, the relation of evil to feminine jouissance, seems to be a consequence. In reality, the second part of the problem, the one concerning jouissance, must be considered as the solution of the first. Far from being a consequence, feminine jouissance provides the solution to the distinction between good and evil, on the condition that one draws an equals sign between "woman" and "mother," a homology authorized by the presence of the paternal signifier investing the divine principal. Since God=Father, woman=mother (whose pleasure is an evil only if the man is the son). Apart from the paternal signifier which adheres to the angry God, the maternal character of Eve is equally called up by the name of Havvah, which Adam himself imposes on her. Havvah (Eve) signifies "she who gives life." Adam calls her not his wife, but "the mother of all living" (Gen 3, 20), therefore of him. One understands then why "the father" is an angry god: if the jouissance of the mother is forbidden by the father, then feminine jouissance is a subset of incestuous pleasure, and its impurity appears. The distinction between good and evil angers the father to the extent that the woman's pleasure represents that of the mother. The pleasure which seemed to be a consequence is in reality a cause, unless one considers a mysterious essence of evil to be incarnated in woman.
  5. Incest figures a primary evil, and the tree of Eden obscures knowledge of it. Just as the evil of incest precedes good, with the invention of the father who forbids it (a temporal inversion), so too the tree of knowledge is that of non-knowledge (the unconscious), which corresponds to an inversion of content: the connection between incest and sin must not be known.[3] This reading shows the inversion put forth by the Biblical myth, no more or less mystified than other religions, whose only function is to occult in this way unconscious desire, masked by the unlikely distinction between good and evil in Paradise.
  6. The Freudian method of reading myths and religions consists in examining their flip-sides. Indeed, fictions (in the same way as the family romance) present unconscious desire in an inverted form: from this results a mysterious truth-effect, although the one who experiences it misrecognizes its object.[4] Faith never extends its domain so well, because it is proportional to the repression of desire, and the strangest religious fictions remain incomprehensible as long as they are not turned right-side out and related to their original psychic fact. This twisting, which is repression itself, can have a temporal, logical or grammatical presentation: the object is put in the place of the subject, for example, the murderer in the place of the victim, etc. It also often concerns an affect inverted into its opposite.[5] With an inversion of this order, what is presented as paradise is in reality the primary absolute evil of incest. The inversion is certain, since good can only appear in the retroaction of evil. The givens must be inverted: the good is the prohibition of incestuous jouissance, the anger of God is what chases men from a supposed paradise. As for evil, it consists in continuing to dream of this paradise as a good, to the extent that reality will find itself contaminated by it and feminine jouissance will appear as corruption.
  7. Let us take up the question again: why did God create evil? This problem is insoluble if one does not consider that incestuous desire constitutes the first age. It is as a function of it that a divine father is invented, a "good" whose anger saves. It is therefore not that God created evil, but rather that the existence of the evil of incestuous desire led to the invention of a paternal myth to protect against it (Genesis is not the myth of the creation of the world but of religion). It is moreover in this order that monotheism came to be. It appeared in counterdistinction to a world inhabited by demons and their seed continued to populate it.[6]
  8. The problem of evil, insoluble in Genesis, is illuminated by Freudian metapsychology. Indeed, the coming of a symbolic father (the equivalent of the god of love) appears only at the end of the process of the subjectification of evil, that is to say first of incest, then of castration. Now monotheism, according to the process of repression it thematizes, decrees that this father has reigned for all eternity, be it over chaos, over the separation of the firmament and the waters, over the bringing to life of his creations, or, on the sixth day, over the birth of man. From this arises an inextricable problem, still more impenetrable than chaos. It is, on the contrary, because there is the evil of desire, (as a function of which the subject is first objectivized by the maternal demand) and because he then invents the father destined to take him from this alienation that, only in a later age, this father is eternalized in the heaven of the symbol. But in order to perceive this inversion without risking falling into the arms of Sade, the subject still must recognize the murderous side of his desire, and this is what religion occults. In its inverted version, it makes man (the male in particular) innocent, dumping off his error onto that other side of God which is the devil, or woman, as the practical condition of sexuality.
  9. If the previously posed problems now become legible, it is astonishing that they were never posed in these terms before Freud. This is because representations of the incestuous jouissance of the mother have but a

    distant relationship to those of sexual relations in the ordinary sense of the term. It concerns a drive--jouissance: responding to the mother's demand concerning food, cleanliness, etc., the child fills it, he identifies himself with the phallus which she lacks and in this round-about way he copulates with her. And it is the same drives that contaminate and orchestrate sensations: they are given as jouissances, marked with the seal of incest. As soon as one possesses this key, the reading of the same Philo of Alexandria takes on a striking relief. He writes, for example:

    Jouissance therefore in the first place approaches and frequents the senses . . . sight through the variety of colors . . . hearing through the melody of sounds, taste through delight in flavors, smell through the good scents of perfumes . . . we must know that jouissance, like a courtesan, like a whore, desires to copulate with a lover and seeks go-betweens to harpoon him for her. It is the senses which, as go-between and procurer, lead him, the lover.

  10. How can we understand the senses being diabolical if it is not because demons incarnate the evil of incestuous jouissance, and, for this reason, they are plural in the same way as the drives: they inhabit what is consumed and excreted, requiring rituals exorcising food and waste. They come to haunt the psychic value of each perception and give it that touch of infinity that, from the evil to the beautiful, can precipitate any aesthete into its delicious chasm. Through the perceptions, the spark of the drive awakens demons and, in return, the latter enflame the body. This ricochet merely accomplishes the trajectory of the drive, which has no other function than to identify the body with the phallus: this double is what was rejected, the primary object of repression incarnated outside. The demons insist through the drive that pluralizes them, and they seek to realize incest by identifying the body with the maternal phallus. They are Evil because of this identification, which gives them their anthropomorphic allure as well as their unrestrained appetite, their hunger to engulf the sin-ridden body from which they come, which holds them outside, in horror. Gravitating in exterior worlds, the demons drive us to evil as strongly as we have driven them out.
  11. The passive body, brought to incandescence by the drive, redirects its light onto the dark of its own excess: initially jouissance, the drive turns into a nightmare, it risks annihilating the body to the extent that it approaches its objective. Thrown back on the world, pleasure turns into displeasure[7] according to a dichotomy that will, as a result, also be that of the Spirits, divided into a beneficent and a maleficent camp, according to a line of demarcation similar to that traced by Psalm [77,49]: "The ones are worthy of their name, for they are the messengers of men beside God and of God beside men . . . whereas the others are impious and unworthy of their name."
  12. The world is thus populated with the seed of demons, those of the polytheism on which the religion of the unique God grew up. Certain invariants are found again and again in totemic religions, in particular a cult of ancestors and of the dead, which constitutes the most primitive basis of human beliefs. The most ancient terrors rise from the land of the dead, and the ensemble of Semitic peoples who surrounded the Hebrews, and moreover the Hebrews themselves, were pervaded with such beliefs concerning their ancestors. The maleficent spirits (genii) first incarnate the departed with whom one must reconcile oneself by means of different rituals concerning the sepulcher and the memorial, so that they might rest in peace in Sheol. If they have been appropriately honored, they will then be benevolent towards their family, and designated with the name of Rephaim, as a poem fragment of Ugarit already mentions. The cult of ancestors is attested in Palestine since the Neolithic age: the deceased were buried beneath the doors of houses (which is why a superstition forbade stopping on the threshold, whether entering or leaving). It was necessary to sacrifice to the memory of the ancestors in proportion to the fear of their return to earth.[8]
  13. How can we understand the fear of a vengeance of the dead? The sacrifices destined to appease the dead present certain characteristics: they require the immolation of animals, the sacrifice of food (which sustains life), the first portion of what is about to be eaten, the first portion of the harvests, etc. It was to a dead man and not to God that these first portions were offered: fruits, game, the first-born of then livestock and above all children, who were the first victims in a series in which there would subsequently be but a place-holder. The sacrifice of children, for which, bit by bit, animal sacrifice came to be substituted, is attested since the most distant times.[9] What will reproduce life, what will be born must be given in sacrifice to ward off the vengeance of the ancestor, as if the father had had to die for life to appear. Not because this succession would have corresponded to a natural rhythm, but because the death of the father is required for woman to be enjoyed, and because it is necessary to find a compensation for it in order to exorcise desire itself, a sacrifice never as shattering as when it concerns the first born. This sacrifice of the living in compensation to the dead illuminates the fear of a vengeance. A son must be immolated for the father because the son has phantasmically killed the father. The always potential return of the dead is that of the repressed. The obsessive fear that the body be caught up with by the dead stages the phantasm of what was primordial, and the ancestor with respect to whom this primordial thing was born. The cult of ancestors exorcises the power of those dead more numerous than the living, starved by them, eager to swallow them up.
  14. The most complete demonstration of the inversion represented by the homages given to the ancestor can be made using the date of sacrifice of the scapegoat in the place of the son, traditionally executed on Passover. For this date is the day when the ancestors are honored! The staging of the scapegoat "inverts," according to the previously described process, the phantasm of the murder of the son in the father's place. Here this is fairly self-evident, for if one sacrifices the lamb on the day of the cult of the ancestors, it is because the murder of the father must be atoned for by that of a son. The sacrificer, who is a son, thus escapes vengeance.
  15. The Semite tribes also invoke their ancestors in order to predict the future and to be reconciled with them for the future. These two customs were prohibited by Jewish law, for sacrifices were supposed to be restricted exclusively to the one God, and the practice of necromancy had been forbidden. If the dead were up to a certain point revered and a cult of ancestors tolerated, sacrifices, on the contrary, were restricted to Yahweh. By the same token, none of those magic practices that consisted in pronouncing their name as an exorcism were tolerated. It is important to note the violence of these prohibitions, because in reality it is on the very foundation of this cult of the dead that monotheism was born. The evocation of the dead was supposed to remain a private affair and its expression contradicted the public religion.[10]
  16. This line of demarcation that monotheism traces in relation to the cult of the dead is important if one wishes to understand the distinction between demons in the plural and Satan in the singular. Indeed, a simplistic rationalism would have it that monotheism is the result of a progress of thought that replaces hostile forces, symbolized by multiple gods, with a unique principal. In reality, monotheism is constructed not so much against polytheism (although this is the visible consequence) as against the cult of the dead and their Spirits. One finds traces of this throughout the Biblical texts, still powerful even today. Tradition continues to transmit, along with the rejection of the cult of the dead, a belief according to which there is no hell in the Jewish religion, nor any life after death. What a strange conviction! For if the return of the dead is feared, they must live somewhere!
  17. Monotheism was constructed in active opposition to these beliefs, constantly haunted by the fear of the vengeful return of the ancestors, despite the repeated affirmations that Yahweh alone is God, that the other gods are non-gods (Eloah) or gods of nothingness (elohim).[11] If Yahweh supplanted the foreign spirits and gods, he must at each moment reaffirm his control over an indefinitely threatened territory.[12] God never plays his role as well as when casting underground, into the shadows, the ancient demons that seem so at home in the Old Testament, even if in a renounced mode. Bracing monotheism against polytheism more than opposing them to each other, everything is presented as if the unique principle of an eternal father (the dead father) were coming to protect, to replace a cult of the dead that involved numerous fathers.
  18. Yet the obsessive fear of the demons far exceeds the fear of the dead, and one might ask what the entities that inhabit an animist world are, if they are not ancestors. The spirits which lived in the land of Canaan, many of whom survived the conquest of Israel, selected a house where a man had been seized by a violent sensation. This memory of the shock of the drive thus doubled geography, according to a topography attached to a particular place: a spring, a river, a ford, a mountain, a desert, etc. As for the wandering spirits who owed their birth to a single event, they sought, just like the former, to enter into human bodies to possess them. It is for this that they were reputed to cause illness, to induce madness, or to bring about the ruin of those they inhabited.
  19. If we wish to understand the birth of these spirits, we can investigate the fear of darkness, the phobias and nightmares of children, which have no other signification. The body of the child is first invested with the maternal demand that represents the phallus she does not have. Because identifying oneself with what she demands would be to disappear (the mother does not have the phallus), it casts out this signification. It is this demand which first haunts reality, threatening to return to the body from which it came and devour it, to reduce it to its own nothingness. The pure power of this rejection (primary repression) orients the demonism of the phallus, as multiple as what is perceived, doubling all sensations, following the thread of its narcissistic mirroring. On the one hand, the spirits haunt the outside; on the other hand, they inhabit the semblable [investissent les semblables]: enjoined by his love to identify himself with what his mother lacks, the subject finds himself divided by the double value of the phallus: being or nothingness. The relation to the semblable is controlled by this demand: to reject onto him the part of nothingness in order to be, to be at last at the exit of the interminable struggle engendered by the mere fact of being visible, so improbably visible. The death drive thus exercises its rights in all love, and all the dead we have loved or merely known have the right to ask us for reparation for what made them disappear, as truly as we have seen them see us. The narcissistic double specifically inhabits ghosts [investit le revenant], and one finds in the Psalms numerous evocations which follow this meaning. For example:

    Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
    Death shall be their shepherd;
    straight to the grave they descend,
    and their form shall waste away (49,14)

  20. The kingdom of shadows suits the dead all the better since the shadow simulates the rejected, long threatening double that takes control of the body only at the last moment. Light banishes its presence, darkness assures its control, which will never be as complete as beneath the earth, contact with which remains, for us, always suspect of impurity. [13] This threatening quality of the shadow (whether it be hidden or becomes autonomous), appears in numerous myths, just like the image of the mirror. Just as phallic signification is cast out so the shadow, the reflection, gives the presentiment of a return of this repressed, the one the body rejoins in the kingdom of shadows. When the shadow is no longer distanced from the body by light, the demons reign, the ancestors are among them. The demonic threatens in proportion to the shadow, be it at night, when it swallows all of space, be it at noon, when it is situated perpendicular to the body whose projection it figures. While its nocturnal brothers efface all limits, the noontime demon matches up with the limit, at the moment when the shadow of the body, the image of the soul, is the shortest, opening the path by which the subterranean shadess threaten to resurface. In the Psalms, Ketev designates he who devastates at noon and is opposed to Dever, he who walks in darkness (Psalms 91,6). The demon of the short shadow and that of the omnipresent shadow take each other's hand at noon.
  21. But these narcissistic spirits do not escape the hegemony of the Ancestor. Indeed, it is a father who witnesses this play of reflections, for if the mother demands it is because she has been castrated--and by whom if not by a father? The reference to a demonic phallus proceeds to the second degree of the father who symbolizes it. The multiplicity of demons has therefore a potential master, and one only, the unique cause of the lack which, even if it is not able to be multiple (the void is equal to itself in total integrity) engenders the multiple, which it calls on to deal with its defect. What more would be necessary to sanctify this mythic, divine, castrating father coming to cause everything? Nothing other than his murder, before which he was scattered among the natural powers, after which he is gathered into an eternal principle.
  22. Does not the choice of an eternal principal of the dead father (monotheism) have as a consequence the gathering of the forces of evil into a single personage? In Exodus (12,22-23), the devil in the singular, God's handyman, comes, in an exemplary manner and under a specific name, to be distinguished from the multiple narcissistic demons who, in each of their forms, reincarnate the power of the ancestors. The Hebrew tribes, as we said, protected themselves from the dead with expiation ceremonies that, before the departure from Egypt, were celebrated Passover day.[14] The belief was that during the three moonless nights that proceed the spring equinox, the deceased, in particular those who had died that year, would leave their tombs to visit their familial residence, where they would demand to be reintegrated. On the day of the dead, Passover, a lamb was sacrificed at night, the blood spread on the threshold, and the entire family stayed awake until dawn, on guard against its own deceased parents.
  23. It is on the occasion of these festivities that the Hebrews decided to leave Egypt, an event whose commemoration would henceforth mask its primitive meaning (we will never know if the beginning of the journey, in the course of which the Law is supposed to have been to be given, was initiated by the terror provoked by the return of the dead). In Exodus one can read the exhortation of Moses who, on that day, first advised the immolation amongst family of the Passover lamb, a memorial of Abraham's gesture:

    And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of this house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. (Ex. 12,22-23)

  24. Named by Moses, the exterminating angel has just come on stage: killer of first borns and therefore a demonic double of the ancestor; the armed hand of Yahweh and therefore the first satanic double of the one God. When during the Passover rite the families of Israel close themselves up in their houses to protect themselves from their dearly beloved dead, their one God, higher than these multiple demons, at the same time protects them against Mashchith, this personage in some way delegated by God himself, by his scourging side. If this hero of evil was delegated by God at the very moment of the return of the deceased against which one was protecting oneself during the spring equinox, it is because the threat the dead make felt had been collectivized and gathered into a single personage. On the one hand God protects every Hebrew family against Mashchith, but at the same time he orders him to strike all Egypt. According to the sacerdotal narrative, Yahweh declared to the Hebrews
  25. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt . . . And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood,
    I will pass over you and the plague [Mashchith] shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12,12-13)

  26. The Mashchith executes one of Yahweh's plans: the first-born of Egypt are sacrificed at his hand just as once they were like the first portion of the harvest in the course of the expiatory ritual destined to reconcile them with their ancestors. The doubling of God and the exterminating angel symbolize the murder of the father, in whose place the sons are killed.
  27. The Hebrew people is chosen at the moment when another is struck, again taking onto itself the narcissistic violence which the death of the children appeased in the name of the Most High. Just as this particular doubling of God and the devil appears, the chosen people leaves the soil of the Egyptian people struck by the angel. If the first-born falls into the devil's hands, when it is, in a parallel fashion, a question of sacrificing the first portions to the ancestors, then the exterminator is in the same place as the ancestor. The overlap of these two scenarios--murder on the one hand, being chosen on the other--shows that the exterminating angel globalizes under its hypostasis the multiple demons of the different families, the unique adjective of the plural ancestors, whereas on the other hand the God of love saves his people. Satan, as alone as Yahweh, does not belong to the horde of demons and is opposed to them.[15] Singular, solitary, he too incarnates a father figure, the dark side of a God who would without him be emptied of meaning. He represents the violent figure of the castrating father doomed to a phantasmatic death, who, once he is killed, is, though completely forgotten, immediately erected into an immortal God of love. First the devil, then God (always the temporal inversion) thematizes the two degrees of the paternal complex.[16]
  28. The Passover event, which precedes the gift of the Law, is doubtless exemplary, but we will now examine the issue of names, another major sign of the union in a double [duplice] instance of God and the devil. Everything that lives, we have said, is inhabited by demons, all matter harbors them, contains this potential evil, and words themselves, to the extent that they are matter, can also become their prey. This is why words can propagate evil and must be exorcised. This diabolic dimension explains, on the one hand, the magical practices which function only on speech and, on the other hand, the belief that words have an effect on things, with which they are in connivance through their infernal end. They must be emptied of their matter, disburdened of their sonorous excess. How is the gate of their prison to be opened if not with the first name which represents nothing, that of God, password of all words? Yahweh protects against the demons with his empty name, so paradoxically reputed to be unpronounceable (all evidence to the contrary, for who cannot pronounce Yahweh?). But in reality it is materiality that the name lacks (have you ever seen God?). Not that God himself would intervene in person to assure this protection: it is only invoking him, through the hole of his name, that will make a hole in an always too-full reality: the trapdoor of the name into which disappears the troop of demons![17] The infinite hoard of demons returns from anywhere matter shimmers, where sensation reflects, where the narcissistic double asks for love. Only what escapes reflection resists them: the immaterial power of the unrepresentable, unpronounceable name of God. One could enumerate as many devils and angels as drives, as things perceived through them, at least to the extent that these earthly, always too incestuous things, will not have been inspected by the name of Yahweh. His "unnamable" authorizes naming, it allows names to be appropriated by emptying them of jouissance. This paternal father who forbids incest from the height of his absence thus protects against an absolute evil, without which language would not take place.

  29. But what is this absence itself if not the sign that he was sent to the heavens as a burdensome rival, a dead phantasmic father eternalized by the impossibility of desire? The mystic invention of a divine father is a part of the theory of infant sexuality--it is moreover the first recognized symbolic function of the father, since his genital role remains long misrecognized. But this father is immediately doubled into a diabolical personage since, in proportion to his role of protector, he becomes a rival.[18]
  30. This hidden side of God, the repression of the sexuality which his eternal life (his murder) signifies, who will represent it if not Satan, that nocturnal double as unique as him?[19] The hidden side of God, Satan presents the other paternal figure, that of the father's sexual violence that must not be seen. Powerful, like the father of Totem and Taboo, a sodomite, a rapist, enjoying all women and moreover men as well, he mathematically doubles the God of monotheism, eternalized by the fact of the love that is dedicated to him for having saved the soul of material things from the horde of minor drive-demons. Satan doubles the figure of the father whose death is desired. This sexual devil, as singular as the God of monotheism, saves from the cult of the dead demons who disperse phallic power throughout the world.
  31. But it is in his "essential" quality, how he is named, that one sees Satan double God: in order to take measure of it, we will examine how the forces of evil were named. Let us leave aside primitive monsters, the Leviathan or Behemoth[20] that represent less the malign than the obtuse spirit, the brute without intelligence, something that can, without trying, terrify or crush with its blind force, closer to "dangerous" than evil. Their animality is less opposed to humanity, than that in the human which erodes the human.
  32. One can doubt that the forces of evil were personified from the beginning, since they are not designated by patronymics. But as Bernard Teyssedre remarks in Naissance du diable, it was this way for magic reasons, for that would have been to give them life, by invoking them through the power of names. Yet these names were known in the oral language, and demons were only designated by one of their qualifiers or attributes in a writing entirely consecrated to the praise of God (by contrast, the names of angels such as Michael, Raphael, Gabriel could easily be mentioned). Thus when it is a question of "plague," of "scourge," of "terror," of "shadows of the deep," "the arrow," the knowing reader will decipher allusions to personified demons such as Mashchith, Beelzebub, Reshep, Dever, executors of God's or Belial's dirty work, the evil that has already entered into the heart of man.
  33. The diabolical patronymics thus roll by, up to the one that, like Yahweh's, will efface itself. Among the names of personified demons appears first Asmodeus, the fury of death (transcription of Aesma Daeva from Zoroastrianism), at work in the book of Tobit. The destructive spirit par excellence, the worst of the demons (3,8), she strikes in the name of God. In the same lineage comes Mastema, whom God himself authorizes to torment humanity by ceding to him one tenth of sinning souls. Like Job's Satan, Mastema follows divine orders. Equally the opposite of God is that prince of evil named Melech-Resa ("impiety is my lord"), executor of dirty deeds whose brother of light is called Melech-Tzaddik ("justice is my lord"). Of a completely different nature is Belial, the diabolical part internal to humanity. Before being a proper name, Belial indistinctly designated the mass of the impious, the rabble assembling their polymorphous maleficence into a single genus, that of "sons of Belial," as if their malignity resulted from their being put into the plural, a banal avatar of the narcissistic double made into a crowd.[21]
  34. And so around 200 B.C.E., in the community of Qumram near Jerusalem, at the same time that the latent problem of free will emerges, the devil stops being distinguished from the multiple demons. One sees him oppose himself to them and he thus wins a unicity which irrevocably makes of him the other side of the father. He breaks his ambiguous ties with the ravaging force of Asmodeus, and with the narcissistic doubles of the "sons of Belial." This new dimension of the devil appears in the Qumran manuscript The War Scroll. In this text Belial takes on a grandiose stature and, the prince of shadows, he is now presented as a father facing his sons, be they men or united demons. Those who had not so long ago been his competitors no longer matter, Mastema and Melech-Resa, and God himself commands the angel of destruction, for example in this passage: "God exerted an intense fury, among the flames of fire, by all the angels of destruction, against those who had parted from the Way and had held/ taken the precept without which there would be for them neither remains nor survivors" (2,5 13). But there is more, for even if he still bears the name of Belial, he abolishes himself as Belial, and it is in this scission that one can see the completed birth of a personal devil. This act of birth of a devil opposed to the demons is found in another of the manuscripts from the Dead Sea, the Scroll of Hymns (before 115 BC). While apocalyptic misfortunes rain down on humanity, Belial exerts his ravages; and one can suddenly see written: "It was the time of wrath for all Belial" (3,28, my translation). And one understands that a divided Belial exerts his wrath against himself, sows his just fire in his own hordes, leaving a place for an absolute death without remains. Was Bernard Teyssedre right to make us note that "in this cosmic cataclysm, Belial abolishes himself?" (251). Yes, if one holds oneself to a textual reading; but does not logic demand that the forces of definitive destruction have their subject? A devil who still bears no name has indeed just cut his teeth [vient de pointer son mufle].

  35. Is Satan not the name that will best designate the force of evil that destroys the forces of evil? Belial against Belial is called Satan, for this word initially designates no thing, no human or demonic being. It represents the greatest, the emptiest force that subsists since the abolition of the demons, initially unnamable and unrepresentable like Yahweh himself. "Satan" was initially neither a demon nor a proper noun, nor a common noun, but a verb, just as God arises only in the Word [le Verbe], without being localizable in any signifier. "Satan" finds its etymology in a Hebrew verb that can be translated as "to create an obstacle" or "harass." So, everywhere Satan is personified one can ask oneself if there is not an error in the translation, the proper name taking the place of the verb "to create an obstacle" or "to accuse."[22]
  36. In the Old Testament "Satan" retains almost exclusively its meaning of "to create an obstacle," and the apparently patronymic usage designates in reality a function, as for example in the prologue of Job where "Satan" comes on the scene (Job 1-2) in order to spy upon sins and make an account of them in heaven. Confined to the role of a general advocate, he must moreover demand a punishment. God charged Satan with putting his servant Job to the test, and in reality this "Satan" designates a function more than proper name. The article defines him in his role as a cynical and disabused observer, an accusing spy in the service of Yahweh. In this sense, the Satan of the Old Testament puts Job's faith into question, but he has no power to inspire evil in him. He does not resemble the Satan of Christianity, able to incite evil, this time against the will of God.

  37. Satan acquired his coherence starting from a verb of which he was initially, before being incarnated, but the vague hypostasis. He is born in being directed toward the semblable [dans l'adresse au semblable], less in the Sartrean sense of "hell is other people" that in the sense that every subject casts upon his interlocutor the nothingness which inhabits him, thus encountering evil in the utterance of any speech. Satan arises at the sound of the voice, in every elocutionary event, and just as truly as his presence is affirmed, the name of God is invoked as the condition of all utterances. In the combat that allows the conclusion of a sentence vacillating around its verb, God and Satan go into battle. The obstacle of speech, its Satan, is thus incarnated in the chance characteristics of the semblable, as the indeterminacy of Psalm 109 indicates: "For my love they are my adversaries [l'on qui me satanise]. Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame. Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord, and of them that speak evil against my soul" (Psalms 109,4 + 29a + 20).
  38. In certain passages one can be sure that Satan incarnates only the function of obstacle and accusation, because he is only the putting-into-action of another diabolical power, for example Mastema. When Noah begs God to imprison the evil spirits, Mastema, the prince of hostility, intervenes and obtains from Yahweh permission to keep one tenth of his forces--and that in order to persecute men on earth. At the moment when the angels charged with executing the compromise give an account of their mission they declare: "we have left one in ten of them so that they might be in the service of Satan on earth" (10,11). In this case, the Satanic force is assured by certain men: it is a portion of humanity that incarnates evil.
  39. Let us remark from this point forward that he whom we call the devil, the diabolos of the Bible of the Septuagint, serves to translate the word Satan from Job, "the accuser." The function of the "diabolos" is to divide. In the translation, "the accuser," "the obstacle," has become division, and this passage makes us think that the Christian devil is no longer the force of evil exterior to humanity, or even a malignity that would be incarnated in a part of humanity in the service of Mastema. The diabolos henceforth divides each human against himself, against his semblable, who is a part of himself, planting in man the double face of the divine complex. For is it not necessary to have the eucharistic identification with Christ God in order for evil as well as good to stop falling from the heavens?
  40. As unpronounceable as God's, Satan's name contains the multiple demons that concern the I and impose themselves on the subject who undergoes them as passively as its perceptions. With Satan, it is a different matter: through him, the culpability of the subject comes on stage. He is henceforth of this world only as the thought of good and evil, man's own creation, hung on the murderous cross where destiny made him confront his rival.[23] The demons and Satan succeed each other in the order of evil. The former blow on the sparks of narcissism, the latter contains the blaze, but as a doubling of God in his exterminating angel--such that evil is found at the beginning and the end of the circuit, even though it looks different at the end of the itinerary (there the subject gains his yeser, his liberty).

  41. In Genesis, we have seen, the origin of evil is not thought as a problem. The question is posed only bit by bit, for to cast this fault onto woman (even if the latter puts it onto the serpent) no less gives man autonomy of free will in relation to God. The problem had not been clearly isolated until around 200 C.E. when a new movement appeared, that of the Hassidim and then that of the Essenes. These theological currents would give utmost importance to the notion of free will (yeser). The choice of good or of evil depends on man, and he who chooses the former must fight against the latter.
  42. The examination of the origin of evil, which had been posed backwards at the outset and afterwards became ever more obscured, got tangled up in myth after myth. This degree of progressive entanglement made appear ever more a contradiction, the same one that, with the Deluge, required wiping the slate clean. But upon leaving the Arc after the rains, the new gift will make appear all the better the link between evil and incestuous desire: Genesis (6,1 6[?]) reports that the "benai Elohim," the sons of God, would mate with the son of men in a time when the earth was populated with giants (Nephilim). These spirits, who had descended from the heavens are called "Irin" by Henoch, a term that can be translated as "the watchmen," unless one prefers the Greek term egregores. It is because this, the fall of gods to the earth, would happen, that evil will have appeared, and this new myth will have permitted narrowly escaping from the inextricable explications concerning the existence of an evil caused by an original sin. In the Book of Jubilees, Noah recounts the epic of the Deluge and develops a theory of evil of which the flood is but one consequence. The fornications of the watchmen transgressed the law and it was necessary to cleanse the impurity of the universe, the iniquity that their offspring had sewn: "and the Lord destroyed all things on the face of the earth: because of the malignity of their actions, and because of the blood they had spread amid the earth, he destroyed everything" (Jubilees 7, 22 25). The crime of the watchmen was simple: it consisted in having left their proper place, the heavens, to descend to an earth governed by different laws, to begin with those that control sexual desire and mortality. The "watchmen" had transgressed the order God had impressed upon his work. Because of this crime, a generalized corruption had spread across the earth. So the necessary purification of the Deluge was required before beginning a new era for humanity, one coming after what might be called the end of its latency phase. Noah, survivor of this redemptive cataclysm, does not properly speaking represent a second Adam. He underwent a tough initiation, less that of the rising of the waters than that of having experienced the corruption brought about by the fall of the demi-gods to earth.
  43. The expression which we have just used--"the end of its latency phase"--describes the end of a kind of verdant paradise of childhood, that of an irresponsibility for the fault, so innocently sent back to God's side. And by what event is this "end of the latency period" sanctioned? By the coming to earth of giants, of demi-gods, in which can be seen, without asking too much of the text, a representation of parents, or rather of the father. For the characteristic of the watchmen is to couple with humans, a crossroads phantasm of the end of the latency phase in effect, one that underlines the incestuous form of sexual traumatism. If the watchmen are of divine origin, if they have sexual relations with men who are the creations of divinity, hence theirs, then it is clear that incest represents the action which Noah judges to be malign.
  44. Sexual trauma in the Freudian sense of the term now comes to function almost out in the open as the origin of evil. In Genesis, this origin was incomprehensible (at least by following the textual meaning). After the Deluge, the fault of the creature takes on a new meaning (which retroactively verifies the previously proposed inverted reading of Genesis). There is a doctrinal reworking: sin is no longer imputed just to the initiative of a fallen angel introduced under the auspices of the serpent: humanity becomes co-responsible. Doubtless the personage of the fallen angel still retains its place in the form of the watchmen, but their role of incestuous parents appears, while human sinners henceforth put their hand in the fire in a way less obscure than Eve, their innocent ancestor.
  45. The problem of evil is thus reworked, although the demonic base of created beings (their annihilating narcissism) continues to insist. The spirits must be ceaselessly confronted, and such was the case with Jesus when he performed miracles: he began by exorcising demons, through the spirit that the father had sent into him. This practice was not really distinguished from an activity which was wide spread at that time and widely practiced in a true atmosphere of sorcery. These demons are aggressors come from the outside, the effective image of the enemy inside each man: it is they whom Qumran gathers under the label of yeser, the possibility of the perverse penchant (and what St. Paul would later call the "flesh"). On the territory of sorcery which forms the basis of monotheism one discovers again at the time of the life of Christ (more than of Christianity) in these activities against the spirits by means of the Spirit, the opposition of a singular Satan to plural demons. Moreover, Jesus had long been considered a sorcerer, or at least someone possessed by Beelzebub, to the extent that his mother and his brothers wanted him to cease his activities.
  46. According to the testimony of the Evangelists, Jesus had been taken for a henchman of Satan, as is demonstrated by the defense of their messiah to which the apostles believed themselves obligated. One can note how this accusation was dealt with in St. Mark (3,23-24), in St. Matthew (12,25-27) and in St. Luke (11,18-19). Mark poses himself the question: "How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Saint Luke adds for his part, after having asked himself the same question: "Because you say I cast out devils through Beelzebub." In St. Matthew and in St. Luke one can find a common argumentation: "And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges."
  47. From the beginning of Christ's life to its end, one could doubtless find other indices of the ambiguous relations existing between Satan and Jesus. But the most troubling is the one one notices when, at the instigation of the devil, Judas betrays Jesus, who knows everything about his future destiny. According to Luke (22,1-6), Judas had been possessed by Satan, but it is surely the staging by John which matters, for he dissociates two roles which Luke confounded: "And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus knowing that the father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God and went to God" (13,2-3).[24]

  48. Jesus knows that his death will complete his father's plan, and before the supper preceding the betrayal he murmurs to his favorite apostle that he will designate the one who will hand him over by giving him a piece of bread. When this confidence is finished, one can read this extraordinary sentence: "He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it . . . And after the sop Satan entered into him." To this Jesus cries in a loud voice: "That thou doest, do it quickly." Immediately Judas exits. And Jesus proclaims: "Now is the Son of man glorified" (13,21-31).
  49. Numerous exegetes of the Scripture have noted the intimate connection between the announcement of the betrayal of Judas and the Eucharist.[25] Indeed, the sop of bread which, in a double gesture, makes the devil enter the son of Simon Iscariot and designates him as guilty, presents the inverted image of the bread of life of the host. John insists on a double simultaneity: as soon as the sop is taken, Satan enters into Judas. Scarcely has the traitor left the table than the son of man is glorified. Just as Satan is the Antichrist, so the sop of bread represents the anti-Eucharist. In this dramatic moment Satan achieves his destiny thanks to the act of Jesus himself. But this Satan presents an entirely new characteristic, which is that he doubles the son and no longer the father! And one asks oneself if the introduction of this particularity does not complete the birth of the Christian devil, he who will take the name of Lucifer.
  50. The devil of the final texts of the Old Testament was not yet that of the Evangelists. Indeed, as long as the coming of the Messiah was only awaited, the devil is the opposite of the father. But once the Messiah has been incarnated, his other side appears, that of the Antichrist, he who takes the characteristics of our intimate devil, for we the sons. The Antichrist is opposed to the son-savior just as there existed a devil who was the other side of the father-savior.[26]
  51. Similarly, the nature of life after death changes after the coming of the Messiah, since according to whether or not the sinner will have been redeemed or not by identification with Christ, he will find himself next to God or not. If such is not his destination, where then will his post mortem destiny end if not in another place, in hell? Thus appears a bipartition, that of paradise and hell, which did not exist before the coming of the Messiah.[27] Before this bipartition, all souls without exception found themselves in Sheol. With the appearance of the Antichrist, a new devil, there is born a hell where Satan persecutes equally the dead and in which not only the dead find themselves, but, as in the good old days, their demons, who fans the flames.[28] Just as those who identify themselves with Christ will find themselves beside the eternal father, so too those who have not been pardoned will fall into hell, into the company of the Antichrist, this new figure of the devil who possesses this particularity, which did not exist in the Old Testament (as in totemic pantheons, moreover): torturing in a separate place the souls of the damned.
  52. What will he be called this new devil, characterized by a fall into a place distinct from the heavens? He is first recognized by the name of "Antichrist," and there initially existed no special name to baptize him. Certain ancient names, long obsolete, came back into use, for example, [Belzéboul, baal zéboul], the lord prince who had already been so named fourteen centuries earlier in the Ugaritic epic. When the naming of Lucifer appears, it will come to characterize what is new in the character of the devil. Neither the Jewish Bible nor the New Testament knew this Lucifer, whose Latin name "light-bearer" appears only belatedly in the Vulgate of Jerome, a contemporary of Constantine (around the third century). In this belated Latin appearance, one recognizes ["Heylel"], the star fallen to the bottom of the abysses, the one that the myth of the watchmen evokes. The Christians were able to compare Lucifer to Satan, whom Jesus made fall in a lightning flash in the Gospel According to Luke (10,18); all the more easily then could this Satan be transformed at will into an angel of light in the epistles to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians, 11,14). As soon as he is born, Lucifer reigns over an immense empire, prince of this world reigning over the part of humanity constituted by the Pagan nations as well as over all the sinners who haven't repented. All evil goes back to him.

  53. If the name of Lucifer capitalizes an ancient tradition, it is nonetheless a creation: it is the only one to take root in the Latin language and the proper names Satan, Belzébuth or the Devil had no translation. If it is true that he takes on the figure of "Heylel," the light-bearer, the archangel fallen from heaven into the abyss according to the prophet Isiah, and if it is true that this light-bearer condenses the morning star of the myths of astral rebellion, we must credit this analogy to the fact that Christ too was cast down to earth. With the theme of the fall, Lucifer brings with him the most ancient myth of the co-responsibility of humanity in the origin of evil, the one that will engender the Deluge. Cast out of heaven by the archangel Michael, Lucifer indeed retains the astral character of the watchmen, whom his name makes shine anew. Satan is the double of the Father, Lucifer that of the Christ. Antichrist, he fell from heaven like Jesus, and he brings with him the tradition of the watchmen.
  54. A forced analogy? Nevertheless, the Christ is born, like the watchmen, of the union of God and a mortal woman, the Christ is the incestuous son, the sin of which is confessed by the Luciferian double.


  1. De opificio Mundi (translation R. Arnaldez). Back

  2. Philo of Alexandria writes, for example: "For woman, pleasure is in itself tainting." Back

  3. One could find other elements which make more explicit this inversion at the beginning of Genesis. The serpent for example incarnates not only evil, for this evil was initially a good. In the beginning, the serpent arouses a few secret admirations. He is the shrewdest of all the bests of the field, he was placed by God in the garden of Eden next to the tree of life, of which he was the guardian. The fall came only when his ruse (eyrum) provoked the nudity (eyrum) of our first parents. (The semantic interpretations are from Bernard Teyssedre, in La naissance du diable, p. 23.) The repulsion for the serpent develops only subsequently, and even if one considers that one of the rabbinical names of the devil is Samael ("venom of God"), the venom remains a divine attribute until this naming, given to inspire repulsion. Evil is still the expression of the will of the paternal God: it is therefore a good. Back

  4. This definition of ideology did not, moreover, wait for Freud, since Spinoza already described this inverted presentation as well as the misrecognition that accompanies it (cf. The Ethics appendix to proposition 38: "all final causes are but figments of the human imagination. . . . I will make this additional point, that this doctrine of final cause turns Nature completely upside down"). Back

  5. A simple example of inversion is that of the "eternal father" put in the place of the "dead father." There exists a continuity between death and eternity, but this eternity can also represent life, such that he who has oedipally wished for the death of the father finds himself innocented by his faith. In Moses and Monotheism Freud uses this method to examine the logical inversions of the Biblical narrative. He concludes from this that Moses, father of the Law, was killed by the Hebrews, the hidden circumstances of which he is supposed to be the venerated founder. Back

  6. Cf. Freud, who affirms in these terms the primacy of diabolical entities over the invention of God: "Incontestably, in a certain era, there were neither God nor religions; this era was that of animism, the world found itself populated by spiritual beings that resembled humans: demons" (New Lectures on Psychoanalysis). Back

  7. Cf. Freud, in Metapsychology the chapter on the repression of drives, first pleasure then displeasure. Back

  8. Cf. Similarly in the Akkadian myth of Nergal for example, one can read a symbolization of the reconciliation between the forces of life and the subterranean shades. ("Poem of Nergal and Ereshkigal," Assyrian version, V, 11-12). In this poem Ereshkigal threatens Nergal: "I will cause the dead to rise again and to devour the living, I will make the dead more numerous than the living." Back

  9. This custom is attested to in Carthage by [Diodore] of Sicily, as well as by Isaac of Antioch in the fifth century B.C.E. Back

  10. When Saul forbade the cult of the dead, he immediately violated his own decree. Saul had proscribed necromancy to allow legitimacy to only three kinds of divination, all associated with the cult of Yahweh: "the drawing of lots, dreams and prophecy" (I Sam. 28, 6). As God nevertheless refused to enlighten him about the future of the war against the Philistines, Saul himself returned to necromancy; he summoned a sorcerer who on his behalf called upon the soul of Isaiah to prophesy what would be the fate of the war. The sorcerer announced to him: "I saw gods (Elohim) ascending out of the earth" (I Sam. 28, 13). This premature violation of a law by its own author shows to what extent the belief in ghosts permanently imposed itself in [their] consciousnesses. Back

  11. Traces abound of this construction of monotheism-in-negative in relation to the cult of the dead. The faithful carrying out the triannual offering for example is taken to offer sermon before Yahweh by pronouncing the phrase: "nor aught thereof for the dead" (Deut. 26, 14). Similarly, in Psalm 106 when certain Hebrew tribes newly established in Canaan are reproached for submitting themselves to the yoke of Baal, the accusation highlights the fact that they "ate the sacrifices of the dead" (Psalms 106, 28). This applies also in this proscription in Deuteronomy (19, 10-11): "there shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consultor with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer." Finally, in the Book of Jubilees (22, 17), around 120 B.C.E., Abraham warns Jacob: "They offer sacrifices to the dead and they have a cult of bad spirits. They eat above tombs." Back

  12. Who for example is the mysterious character who confronts Jacob body to body near Jabbok (Gen. 32, 23-33)? It is probably the god El of a small trans-Jordanian people who were protecting the ford; the motive of the struggle would have been to regain his haunt before the dawn: he thus behaves like the specter of a dead man. Back

  13. As it was long before the appearance of hygiene. Back

  14. Such days consecrated to the dead still exist in our civilizations. If the celebration of All-Saints' Day does not fully inform us of its value as exorcism, that of Halloween, which in the Irish ceremony figures the return of the dead, illustrates it perfectly. Back

  15. In a certain way Christianity inherited the opposition between Satan and the demons. Indeed, the sorcerer who haunts the Middle Ages up until our day is a servant of Satan, through whom the sorcerer can fight demons. It is in this way that he can exercise a beneficent function, even if he is nonetheless in the service of evil. Back

  16. The paternal complex that organizes the Oedipal complex is composed of two paternal agencies. In the Theban myth, two fathers participate in the intrigue. The former seeks to make disappear, that is to say castrate Oedipus, and the latter gives him an education after having adopted him. The "first" father wanted to kill the child, and it is he who was ultimately killed. Transposed to the rites of the dead, it is because one fears the father's return that a child is sacrificed to him, in the place of [en lieu et place de] the one who sacrifices (as child). This turning right-side out of the myth gives a metapsychological explication of the existence of the Devil as first figure of the father: the Devil is Laios, he who wanted to suppress Oedipus and abandoned him, his feet pierced. It is in order to escape his anger, once the father has himself been killed, that one must sacrifice to him the first born. Back

  17. In Psalm 91, which is presented as a kind of long exorcism, a long incantatory formula is closed with the invocation of the name:

    a thousand shall fall at they side,
    and then thousand at thy right,
    but it shall not come nigh to thee
    [Armor and shield, his holy name!]

    Incantatory formulas abound in the Bible, for example in Psalm [621]: Yahweh my shelter, my rampart, my citadel, my fortress, my rock, my horn, my support, my refuge, my shield, my armor. Back

  18. The phantasmic murder of the father and its symbolization require two paternal figures, one divine, the other diabolical. Giving preeminence to the former without seeing that the second comes from it leaves the problem of evil in the inextricable state where Job found it. He must finally recognize that everything comes from God, evil as well as good. The most ancient belief would have it that evil came from below, that it need only be attributed to the spirits of the dead; and if these demons must be feared, evil comes no less from above, from God. From the height of the evil of castration, the hidden side of paternal love, the place of the demons becomes relative. "Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; Yet man is born into trouble, as the sparks [les fils de Reshep] fly upward" (5, 6-7). Back

  19. Bernard Teyssedre has shown that the prince of shadows called Satan by the Pharisians and Belial by the Qumraniens possessed the same characteristics of unicity as God, i.e. those of the three-in-one (Le diable et l'enfer14). Back

  20. Literally the great herbivore beast, something like a buffalo or elephant. Back

  21. The "sons of Belial" are always ready for the worst, for violence and sexual outrages, if one believes, for example, Judges 19, 22: "Now as they are making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about and beat at the door and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him." Back

  22. In Psalm 109 for example, the satanic root is applied in its nominal form in the sense of "the accuser," and more precisely of the general advocate who, in the course of a trial pronounces the closing speech for the prosecution: "Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand" (109, 6). One finds "Satan" in Chronicles (I Chronicles 21, 1) in the sense where this name is the hypostasis of "he who is an obstacle." This personalization seeks to take from Yahweh the responsibility of an ill-fated initiative that will draw the plague to Jerusalem (Satan and not Yahweh has badly advised the king David). In the Book of Jubilees, around 120 B.C.E., Satan comes on stage on many occasions, but not yet as the unique protagonist of evil; one sees him go about his business in the plural and he is above all designated at the moment he is expelled, for example: "there will be no more Satan nor any evil being, the earth will from that moment be cleansed of them forever" (50, 5). Or again: the just know "neither Satan nor any wicked destroyer, for all days will be days of benediction and of healing" (23, 29). Back

  23. This articulation of the multiple demons in terms of the unique Satan deserves to be read in the light of Chapter vii of Civilization and Its Discontents, concerning the genesis of the Superego. Freud remarks that the Biblical aphorism "love thy neighbor as thyself" "inverts" the personal drive that seeks to destroy, to exploit, to sexually abuse an unfortunate neighbor. The latter is protected in extremis by a first superego, of a narcissistic origin, which treats the ego in the same manner as it had to treat itssemblable. The former superego is demonic in the same sense as a reflection: as the semblable is but a projected part of the ego, it is onto this ego that the violence will ultimately be exercised. The narcissistic superego will be as multiple as the projections of the ego. At the hour of consciousness, so many perceptions, so many demons! Evil lies in wait everywhere the other that I am looks at me and constrains me. But a problem always presents itself, for in the preceding formalizations Freud had elaborated a different kind of superego, one that was unique, paternal, "heir of the Oedipus complex." Could there exist two superegos? That's a lot! And they can only be articulated by imagining that the multiple narcissistic projections proceed from maternal castration, whose agent is indeed a unique father. The satanic side of the father takes credit for maternal castration. Back

  24. The syntax, which is difficult, corresponds to that of the Gospel. Back

  25. Cf. Teyssedre, Le diable et ses démons 121. Back

  26. The Antichrist is to be distinguished from the Antechrist, final incarnation of Belial. The Antechrist is the historical personage who precedes the second coming of Christ, he whose ravages are such that after him the second appearance [parousie] of the Christ is expected. The Antechrist for the first Christians was for example represented by Nero ("nero revivendus"). This Antechrist has a function in time: the pinnacle of impiety, he extends the ravages which precede the vengeful coming of the Messiah. The Antichrist is entirely different, the enemy of the Savior who runs rampant at all times and in all ages. "Ideo scilicet, quia Christo in cunctis contrarius erit et Christo contraria faciet," as Adso wrote in the tenth century in his "Letter on the Origin of the Antichrist" (cited by Bonita Roads and Julia Reinhard Lupton in "Circumcising the Antichrist," in this issue of Jouvert). Back

  27. In this bipartition, paradise remains unthinkable on earth since it consists in having obtained the pardon of the eternal father--i.e., rejoining him after one is dead (which he himself is). On the other hand hell isn't very far away from earthly reality. Its existence after death amplifies and projects what is already produced during life, at least psychically, for the neurotic, the psychotic or the pervert (infernal torments show the ordinary staging of the perversions). The panegyrics of Bossuet, a Christian among Christians, take the earth for a hell worthy of the guilty descendants of Adam: "Criminal and accursed race of a miserable exile, we must bear the pains of our sin. The earth is cursed in our work," he writes in the first panegyric of Saint Benedict in 1654. Similarly, in 1665, in the panegyric of Saint Francis de Paule: "Cursed and misfortunate race from a miserable exile, we have no more hope of salvation, unless we bend with our tears he whom we have angered against us."

    Victoriously competing with the devoted, Sade thematized, in the light of the truth of sex, the presence of hell on earth, as the dream realized by an all-powerful father. The first creator, that of the evil of desire, who precedes the invention of a God of love: "the supreme Being in a nasty mood." As Juliette declares, "If this God, center of evil and of ferocity, torments man and causes him to be tormented by nature and by other men throughout his entire existence, how can one doubt that they do not act of their own accord and perhaps involuntarily under this breath which outlives them and is nothing other than evil itself?" Back

  28. Is this not what one could understand in reading in Matthew (8, 12; 13, 42) this famous sentence about hell: "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth"? The source of the tears is only too certain, the eyes of the damned provide its waters. But from where comes the gnashing of teeth if not from the demons who martyr the damned? The bad angels have not so lightly abandoned their sinners and they live with them even unto their final torments. Back

Works Cited

Philo of Alexandria. De opificio Mundi. Trans. R, Arnaldez.

Rhoads, Bonita, and Julia Reinhard Lupton. "Circumscribing the Antichrist." Jouvert 3:1 (1999).

Teyssedre, Bernard. Le diable et ses démons. Paris: Albin Michel.

---. Le diable et l'enfer. Paris: Albin Michel.

---. La naissance du diable. Paris: Albin Michel.

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