Demons and the Devil in Ancient and Medieval Christianity


This collection of essays approaches the role of demons and the devil in ancient and medieval Christianity from a variety of scholarly perspectives: historical, philosophical, and theological as well as philological, liturgical, and theoretical. In the opening article Gerd Theissen presents a wide-ranging overview of the role of the devil, spanning the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and patristic literature. The contributions that follow address texts on the devil, demons, and evil, and are drawn from ancient philosophy, the New Testament, early Christian apologetics, hagiography, and history. Covering primarily the patristic period, the volume also contains articles on medieval sources. The introduction discusses the different angles of approach found in the articles in an effort to shed fresh light on this familiar but also uniquely troubling theme.

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Biographical Note

Nienke Vos, Ph.D. (2003), Utrecht University, is Associate Professor of Patristics in the Classics Department of VU University, Amsterdam. She has published essays on hagiography and the use of Scripture, and is a member of the Dutch Center for Patristic Research (CPO).
Willemien Otten, Ph.D. (1989), University of Amsterdam, is Professor of the Theology and History of Christianity at the University of Chicago. She has published on Western medieval and early Christian theology, ranging from Tertullian to the twelfth century. With Karla Pollmann (St. Andrews) she edits the Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine.

Review Quotes

"...excellent collection of articles [...] The essays contained in this volume are generally superb. [...]students and scholars interested in early Christian demonology will be well served by this valuable collection on a dark subject." – Dennis P. Quinn, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in: Religious Studies Review 38/2 (2012)

Table of contents

Nienke Vos, Demons and the Devil in Ancient and Medieval Christianity: Introduction, Summary, Reflection
Gerd Theißen, Monotheismus und Teufelsglaube: Entstehung und Psychologie des biblischen Satansmythos
Keimpe Algra, Stoics on Souls and Demons: Reconstructing Stoic Demonology

The New Testament and its Reception in Early Christianity

Geert van Oyen, Demons and Exorcisms in the Gospel of Mark
Hagit Amirav, The Application of Magical Formulas of Invocation in Christian Contexts
Toon Bastiaensen, Exorcism: Tackling the Devil by Word of Mouth

Ancient Christianity

Theodoor Korteweg, Justin Martyr and his Demon-ridden Universe
Nienke Vos, Demons Without and Within: The Representation of Demons, the Saint, and the Soul in Early Christian Lives, Letters and Sayings
Boudewijn Dehandschutter, Demons among the Messalians

Medieval Christianity

Gerard Bartelink, Denominations of the Devil and Demons in the Missale Gothi¬cum
Willemien Otten, Overshadowing or Foreshadowing Return: The Role of Demons in Eriugena’s Periphyseon
Babette Hellemans, Horror vacui: Evil in the Incarnated World of the Bibles Moralisées


All those interested in intellectual history, the history of the early Church, the history of late antiquity, and the history of medieval Christianity as well as a general audience of theologians, historians, and classicists.

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