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A Decoding of Evil Angels: The Other Aetiology of Evil in the Biblical Text and its Potential Implications in Our Church and World

Douglas, Sally (2013) A Decoding of Evil Angels: The Other Aetiology of Evil in the Biblical Text and its Potential Implications in Our Church and World. Colloquium, 45 (1). pp. 42-60. ISSN ISSN 0588-3237

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For many Christians there is a renewed urgency about what constitutes Christian belief, and why, or why not, it might be important to share aspects of this with others in a multi-faith, global context. The drive to find answers that "make sense" to others in in our global, technological context, has led some theologians to dismiss or downplay references to cosmic powers that are present in the biblical text. In Galatians this is more difficult to achieve because Paul writes from the soteriological assumption that evil spirits are real and enslaving forces that Christ liberates from (1:3-4, 4:3-9). This textual reality challenges those who wish to expel demons from the dialogue of contemporary Christian doctrine.

Rather than interpreting these forces literally, domesticating them into symbols of political oppression or dismissing them out of hand, there is an alternative path. By, simultaneously, acknowledging ancient understandings of the aetiology of evil that lie behind the Galatians world-view and by utilising the work of contemporary philosopher Rene Girard, this matrix of cosmic evil may be decoded.

Within the letter to the Galatians, and other Second Testament texts, the angelic descent myth, as elaborated in Enochian literature, appears to lie close to the surface. By employing Girard’s theory of mimetic desire in order to decipher the strange story of envious angels, violent giants and evil spirits, a powerful christology and soteriology emerges. Christ who becomes a curse in order to release us from curse (3:13) speaks in ancient and new ways and enables the Galatians "works of the flesh and fruit of the Spirit" (5:16-26) to be liberated from moralising or pietism, and to instead be recast within the contextual framework of salvation in which they were formed.

The understanding that emerges of who Christ is, how Christ saves and what Christ saves from is strikingly relevant and challenging in contemporary context.

Item Type: Published Articles
Repository Version: Published Version
Keywords: Angelic Descent Myth, Evil Angels, Early Church Soteriology, Galatians, the Demonic, Rene Girard, Mimetic Desire, Contemporary context
Fields of Research: 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220315 Philosophy of Religion
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
Type of Activity: Strategic Basic Research
Subjects: B - Biblical Studies, general
B - New Testament
A - Philosophy
C - Systematic Theology
College/Association with University of Divinity: UFT-UCTC: United Faculty of Theology - Uniting Church Theological College
Depositing User: Reverend Doctor Sally Douglas
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2014 04:37
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2014 04:37
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/1414

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