Angels and Demons
Serge-Thomas Bonino Catholic University of America Press, 2016 Library of Congress BT966.3.B6613 2016 | Dewey Decimal 235
Angels occupy a significant space in contemporary popular spirituality. Yet, today more than ever, the belief in the existence of intermediary spirits between the human and divine realms needs to be evangelized and Christianized. Angels and Demons offers a detailed synthesis of the givens of the Christian tradition concerning the angels and demons, as systematized in its essential principles by St. Thomas Aquinas. Certainly, the doctrine of angels and demons is not at the heart of Christian faith, but its place is far from negligible. On the one hand, as part of faith seeking understanding, angelology has been and can continue to be a source of enrichment for philosophy. Thus, reflection on the ontological constitution of the angel, on the modes of angelic knowledge, and on the nature of the sin of Satan can engage and shed light on the most fundamental areas of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. On the other hand, angelology, insofar as it is inseparable from the ensemble of the Christian mystery (from the doctrine of creation to the Christian understanding of the spiritual life), can be envisioned from an original and fruitful perspective.
From 1400 through 1700, the number of reports of demonic possessions among European women was extraordinarily high. During the same period, a new type of mysticism—popular with women—emerged that greatly affected the risk of possession and, as a result, the practice of exorcism. Many feared that in moments of rapture, women, who had surrendered their souls to divine love, were not experiencing the work of angels, but rather the ravages of demons in disguise. So how then, asks Moshe Sluhovsky, were practitioners of exorcism to distinguish demonic from divine possessions?
Drawing on unexplored accounts of mystical schools and spiritual techniques, testimonies of the possessed, and exorcism manuals, Believe Not Every Spirit examines how early modern Europeans dealt with this dilemma. The personal experiences of practitioners, Sluhovsky shows, trumped theological knowledge. Worried that this could lead to a rejection of Catholic rituals, the church reshaped the meaning and practices of exorcism, transforming this healing rite into a means of spiritual interrogation. In its efforts to distinguish between good and evil, the church developed important new explanatory frameworks for the relations between body and soul, interiority and exteriority, and the natural and supernatural.
A richly illustrated tapestry of interwoven studies spanning some six thousand years of history, Dæmons Are Forever is at once a record of archaic contacts and transactions between humans and protean spirit beings—dæmons—and an account of exchanges, among human populations, of the science of spirit beings: dæmonology. Since the time of the Indo-European migrations, and especially following the opening of the Silk Road, a common dæmonological vernacular has been shared among populations ranging from East and South Asia to Northern Europe. In this virtuoso work of historical sleuthing, David Gordon White recovers the trajectories of both the “inner demons” cohabiting the bodies of their human hosts and the “outer dæmons” that those same humans recognized each time they encountered them in their enchanted haunts: sylvan pools, sites of geothermal eruptions, and dark forest groves. Along the way, he invites his readers to reconsider the potential and promise of the historical method in religious studies, suggesting that a “connected histories” approach to Eurasian dæmonology may serve as a model for restoring history to its proper place at the heart of the discipline of the history of religions.
Conversations with Angels revealed the wisdom imparted to Swedish scientist-turned-seer Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) by heavenly spirits. This companion piece presents Swedenborg's encounters with evil spirits, narratives arranged thematically by Donald Rose and newly translated by Lisa Hyatt Cooper from several of Swedenborg's works. Swedenborg experiences hell as the provision of a merciful God who seeks restraint of evil spirits that would do harm rather than vengeance or punishment of those who did evil on earth. God, according to Swedenborg, allows people to choose a life of hell, but always "bends them toward a 'milder hell.'"
On September 20, 1587, Walpurga Hausmännin of Dillingen in southern Germany was burned at the stake as a witch. Although she had confessed to committing a long list of maleficia (deeds of harmful magic), including killing forty—one infants and two mothers in labor, her evil career allegedly began with just one heinous act—sex with a demon. Fornication with demons was a major theme of her trial record, which detailed an almost continuous orgy of sexual excess with her diabolical paramour Federlin "in many divers places, . . . even in the street by night."
As Walter Stephens demonstrates in Demon Lovers, it was not Hausmännin or other so-called witches who were obsessive about sex with demons—instead, a number of devout Christians, including trained theologians, displayed an uncanny preoccupation with the topic during the centuries of the "witch craze." Why? To find out, Stephens conducts a detailed investigation of the first and most influential treatises on witchcraft (written between 1430 and 1530), including the infamous Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches).
Far from being credulous fools or mindless misogynists, early writers on witchcraft emerge in Stephens's account as rational but reluctant skeptics, trying desperately to resolve contradictions in Christian thought on God, spirits, and sacraments that had bedeviled theologians for centuries. Proof of the physical existence of demons—for instance, through evidence of their intercourse with mortal witches—would provide strong evidence for the reality of the supernatural, the truth of the Bible, and the existence of God. Early modern witchcraft theory reflected a crisis of belief—a crisis that continues to be expressed today in popular debates over angels, Satanic ritual child abuse, and alien abduction.
In this finely written study of demonology and Christian spirituality in fourth- and fifth-century Egypt, David Brakke examines how the conception of the monk as a holy and virtuous being was shaped by the combative encounter with demons. Drawing on biographies of exceptional monks, collections of monastic sayings and stories, letters from ascetic teachers to their disciples, sermons, and community rules, Brakke crafts a compelling picture of the embattled religious celibate.
Demons in the Middle Ages
Juanita Feros Ruys Arc Humanities Press, 2017 Library of Congress BT975.R89 2017 | Dewey Decimal 235.40902
The medieval world was full of malicious demons: fallen angels commissioned to tempt humans away from God. From demons disguised as beautiful women to demons that took frightening animal-like forms, this book explores the history of thought about demons: what they were, what they could and could not do, and how they affected human lives. It considers the debates, stories, and writing that eventually gave shape to the witchcraze of the early modern period.
Hunt the Devil is a timely and illuminating exploration of demonic imagery in US war culture. In it, authors Robert L. Ivie and Oscar Giner examine the origins of the Devil figure in the national psyche and review numerous examples from US history of the demonization of America’s perceived opponents. Their analysis demonstrates that American military deployments are often part of a cycle of mythical projection wherein the Devil repeatedly appears anew and must be exorcised through redemptive acts of war, even at the cost of curtailing democratic values.
Meticulously researched, documented, and argued, Hunt the Devil opens with contemporary images of the US’s global war on terror in the aftermath of 9/11. In five chapters devoted to the demonization of evildoers, witches, Indians, dictators, and Reds by American writers, in presidential rhetoric, and in popular culture, Ivie and Giner show how the use of demonization in the war on terror is only the most recent manifestation of a process that has recurred throughout American history.
In a sixth chapter, the authors introduce the archetype of the Trickster. Though not opposed to the Devil per se, the Trickster’s democratic impulses have often provided a corrective antidote to the corrosive and distorting effects of demonization. Invoking the framework of Carl Jung’s shadow aspect, Hunt the Devil offers the Trickster as a figure who can break the cycle of demonization and war.
The role of the mythic Devil in the American psyche has profound implications, not just for American diplomacy and the use of American arms in the world, but for the possibility of domestic peace within an increasingly diverse society. Hunt the Devil provides much of interest to readers and scholars in the fields of war, rhetorical studies, American Studies, US political culture, Jungian psychology, and mythography.
Oni, ubiquitous supernatural figures in Japanese literature, lore, art, and religion, usually appear as demons or ogres. Characteristically threatening, monstrous creatures with ugly features and fearful habits, including cannibalism, they also can be harbingers of prosperity, beautiful and sexual, and especially in modern contexts, even cute and lovable. There has been much ambiguity in their character and identity over their long history. Usually male, their female manifestations convey distinctivly gendered social and cultural meanings.
Oni appear frequently in various arts and media, from Noh theater and picture scrolls to modern fiction and political propaganda, They remain common figures in popular Japanese anime, manga, and film and are becoming embedded in American and international popular culture through such media. Noriko Reiderýs book is the first in English devoted to oni. Reider fully examines their cultural history, multifaceted roles, and complex significance as "others" to the Japanese.
Before the end of the thirteenth century, theologians had little interest in demons, but with Thomas Aquinas and his formidable “Treatise on Evil” in 1272, everything changed. In Satan the Heretic, Alain Boureau trains his skeptical eye not on Satan or Satanism, but on the birth of demonology and the sudden belief in the power of demons who inhabited Satan’s Court, setting out to understand not why people believed in demons, but why theologians—especially Pope John XXII—became so interested in the subject.
Depicting this new demonology, Satan the Heretic considers the period between the mid-thirteenth and mid-fourteenth centuries when demons, in the eyes of Church authorities, suddenly burst forth, more real and more terrifying than ever before in the history of Christianity. Boureau argues that the rise in this obsession with demons occurs at the crossroads of the rise of sovereignties and of the individual, a rise that, tellingly, also coincides with the emergence of the modern legal system in the European West.
Teeming with original insights and lively anecdotes, Satan the Heretic is a significant contribution to the history of Christian demonology from one of the most original minds in the field of medieval studies today.
According to Christian theology, fallen angels share key similarities with human beings because they share our outcast condition. Cast to Earth and wandering in search of respite, their chief activity is their engagement and dialogue with humanity.
With this probing new contribution to the study of Christianity, Armando Maggi examines this dialogue, exploring how evil spirits interacted with mankind during the early modern period. Reading innumerable treatises on demonology written during the Renaissance, including Thesaurus exorcismorum, the most important record of early modern exorcisms, Maggi finds repeated attempts to define the language exchanged between the fallen progeny of Adam, and the most notorious fallen angel of them all, Satan. Using points of departure taken from de Certeau and Lacan, Maggi shows that Satan articulates his language first and foremost in the mind. More than speaking, the devil tries to make human beings understand his language and speak it themselves. Through sodomites, infidels, and witches, then, the devil is able to infect humanity as it appropriates his seductive rhetoric.
In Japanese culture, oni are ubiquitous supernatural creatures who play important roles in literature, lore, and folk belief. Characteristically ambiguous, they have been great and small, mischievous and dangerous, and ugly and beautiful over their long history. Here, author Noriko Reider presents seven oni stories from medieval Japan in full and translated for an English-speaking audience.
Reider, concordant with many scholars of Japanese cultural studies, argues that to study oni is to study humanity. These tales are from an era in which many new oni stories appeared for the purpose of both entertainment and moral/religious edification and for which oni were particularly important, as they were perceived to be living entities. They reflect not only the worldview of medieval Japan but also themes that inform twenty-first-century Japanese pop and vernacular culture, including literature, manga, film, and anime. With each translation, Reider includes an introductory essay exploring the historical and cultural importance of the characters and oni manifestations within this period.
Offering new insights into and interpretations of not only the stories therein but also the entire genre of Japanese ghost stories, Seven Demon Stories is a valuable companion to Reider’s 2010 volume Japanese Demon Lore. It will be of significant value to folklore scholars as well as students of Japanese culture.