The Biblical Evolution of Satan in Theistic Evolutionary Perspective
The biblical figure of Satan is an enigmatic presence in the Hebrew Bible who undergoes considerable development in the Second Temple era to become the messiah’s chief adversary in the New Testament. In the early church, Satan is identified with the serpent of Eden and thus is read into the story of humanity’s fall. Consequently, Satan has assumed a significant role in historical Christian reflection on sin, evil and theodicy. Notably, however, this identification of Satan and the serpent is never made explicitly within the canonical Christian scriptures. Today, as theologians respond to the scientific, evolutionary account of human origins, the reality (historical or analogical) of both the Fall and Satan are called into question. In this paper I will present recent scholarship from biblical studies on the figure of Satan, suggest reasons for the emergence of Satan within early Jewish and Christian traditions, and consider whether there is still a place for Satan in Christian theologies informed by evolution.
Jonathan is a New Testament lecturer at Carey Baptist College. He has previously taught New Testament courses at Carey as an adjunct teacher and has also taught Biblical Studies at Otago University in 2021-22 . He has pastored churches and been involved in youth and children’s ministry in both the UK and NZ. He completed a PhD in New Testament at the University of Otago in 2020.