Sunday, June 14, 2015

Greek words (mis)translated as Satan/Devil in the New Testament.


This is part #2, in a two part series on words that are (mis)translated as Satan/Devil. If you haven't read the first part, please do read it now.

The Words correctly translated as Satan/Devil in the New Testament

There are only 2 mutually related words translated as Satan in the New Testament (NT), Though there are quite a few words translated as Devil in the NT, most of them have nothing to do with Satan or the adversary, as we will see.

Of the two words translated as Satan, Σατᾶν (Satan, G4566 in Strong's) is used only once in 2Co 12:7 and is a derivative of Σατανᾶς (Satanas, G4567 in Strong's), which is used 36 times in the NT. Satanas (G4567) is a derivative of the Hebrew word Shaitan H7854) which we have seen in part #1.

The Greek word διάβολος (diabolos, G1228 in Strong's) is the exact equivalent of Satanas (G4567), as can be proved by the interchangable use of these words in the scriptures.

Mat 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil [G1228].
Mar 1:13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan [G4567]; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

Devils that are NOT.

There are a bunch of other words which are translated as devil or devils in the NT. Though these words are interrelated, they are not at all related to the words we have seen in the previous section.

Greek Word Strong's # Derived From Strong's Pronunciation
δαίμων G1142
δαιμονιώδης G1141 G1140, G1142 daimoniōdēs
δαιμόνιον G1140 G1142 daimonion
δαιμονίζομαι G1139 G1142 daimonizomai

As we may observe from the table above, the base word is G1142, daimōn, which is generally spelled as demon or daemon in English. Many modern translations render these words as demon, demons or demoniac(s) - example: English Standard Version and Young's Literal Translation.

As we have seen in the case of the boy who was possessed by a dumb spirit, if a so-called devil possession can be surgically cured, then it is not from Satan / Devil. If an ailment that can be cured psychiatrically, as in the case of the woman who was supposedly bound by Satan for 18 years, then also, it is not from Satan / Devil. If Devil could be driven into a drove of swines, as in the case of LEGION, there was no need for the only begotten Son of God to die to defeat Devil. (Heb 2:14)

The point is: while we read about Jesus and disciples healing people of daimōn (demon), but there is no reference of anyone being cured of the possession by Satanas OR diabolos. (Please, we are talking about the Greek words involved and not what we get to read in the Kings James Bible.)

The interesting etymology of demon.

Etymology is the study of the history of words or the study of the sources and development of words. The etymology of the word demon is really interesting.

demon (n.) From (abridgment and emphasis is mine, click on the link for full text.)

c. 1200, from Latin daemon "spirit," from Greek daimon "deity, divine power; lesser god; guiding spirit, tutelary deity" (sometimes including souls of the dead); "one's genius, lot, or fortune;" from PIE *dai-mon- "divider, provider" (of fortunes or destinies), from root *da- "to divide" (see tide (n.)).
The original mythological sense is sometimes written daemon for purposes of distinction. The Demon of Socrates was a daimonion, a "divine principle or inward oracle." His accusers, and later the Church Fathers, however, represented this otherwise. The Demon Star (1895) is Algol.

Demon From Wikipedia: (abridgment and emphasis is mine, click on the link for full text.)

The Ancient Greek word δαίμων daimōn denotes a spirit or divine power, much like the Latin genius or numen. Daimōn most likely came from the Greek verb daiesthai (to divide, distribute). The Greek conception of a daimōns notably appears in the works of Plato, where it describes the divine inspiration of Socrates. To distinguish the classical Greek concept from its later Christian interpretation, the former is anglicized as either daemon or daimon rather than demon.
The Greek terms do not have any connotations of evil or malevolence. In fact, εὐδαιμονία eudaimonia, (literally good-spiritedness) means happiness. By the early Roman Empire, cult statues were seen, by pagans and their Christian neighbors alike, as inhabited by the numinous presence of the gods: "Like pagans, Christians still sensed and saw the gods and their power, and as something, they had to assume, lay behind it, by an easy traditional shift of opinion they turned these pagan daimones into malevolent 'demons', the troupe of Satan...

Is it not interesting that the word demon originally meant deity (god), divine power, divine principle, intellect, genius, and happiness?

Please note the last sentence of Wikipedia's definition. Let me explain in simpler terms. I am a Christian who believes in One True God. My neighbors are Hindus and Muslims. Quite often I pray to my God for various favors. Often I am heard, and many times my prayers are not answered. My Hindu neighbor prays to his idols. My Muslim neighbor prays to his (what Christians call as) false god. Their respective prayers are sometimes heard, someimes remain unanswered. Very often they get their things done, whereas I lose hope because my prayers are unanswered. There should be a way to explain this situation. So, Christian theologians and church fathers decided that the prayers of the non Christians are answered by Satan or Satan's minions. This is how the word demon, which had meanings like divine power, genius and intellect came to mean something evil. It was the Church fathers who gave the word a negative connotation.

One may ask me: what about all those demon possessed people, Tomsan? In the other posts on this blog we have seen that most of these cases of demon possession were mental or neurological disorders like epilepsy, schizophrenia and conversion disorder. All these have to do with the mind, brain or intellect of a person. In other words, they have to do with the daimōn (in its original meaning) of a person.

In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal

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