I’m going to be blogging through this article over the next few weeks. It is one of the few scholarly articles that deals with demonology and the belief in aliens. It’s written by Christopher Partridge, the same religious studies scholar who edited the book UFO Religions, and whose chapter in that book I blogged about with respect to “Balducci’s Conundrum.”
Here’s the article if you want to read it ahead of the blogging: “Alien Demonology: The Christian Roots of the Malevolent Extraterrestrial in UFO Religions and Abduction Spiritualities,” Religion 34 (2004): 163-189.
Firstly: I am NOT a “Scholar”, and so, I am simply sharing my findings, and conclusions.
I thought to seek the roots of the term “demon”, and, since Paleo-Hebrew preceded Greek, I checked the Hebrew term, and found “sh’ed” = shade; #7700 (a demon – as malignant), — devil. From the prim. root, #7736: shu^wd; prop. “to swell up”, i.e. figuratively (by implication of insolence), to devastate — waste.
Clearly, neither of these holds any semblance of a connotation of “good”; therefore, the Greek derivative, bearing BOTH connotations seems questionable, at best, and erroneous at worst.
I would be interested as to what the Septuigent[sp?] Translators deemed the proper Greek transliterations/translations for these two words. Needless to say, the mere absence of “good” in the Hebrew descriptions of these beings, lays the firm foundation for the continuous connotation of evil in these spirits, from the very begining, as, clearly, Paleo-Hebrew far predates BOTH the Greek, (as well as the subsequent Christian Theological), influence over the (value/spiritual essence), connotation of these entities.
Therefore, from the git-go, I find this gentleman’s conclusion questionable at best. But!
Is this a fair determination Michael? Or, am I being misled by my ignorance of the languages?
BTW, thanks for your labors of love in providing us a venue of learning, and thus, expanding of our understanding of the Scriptural meanings, that we can get nowhere else!
@Christian: Yes, you’re a bit misled, most likely because your resources are so limited (probably using Strong’s or Vine’s). “Demon” (Hebrew, shed; Akkadian, shadu) is actually a fairly enigmatic word. It only occurs three times in the Hebrew Bible, and ALWAYS in the plural. That’s an important note. In Akkadian, the singular can be a “good” being” but is often evil when pluralized. The basic meaning is some sort of “spirit”. The word (to quote HALOT, the leading lexicon of biblical Hebrew): can mean either “a) beneficial, protecting spirit; b) malevolent demon.”
Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M., & Stamm, J. J. (1999, c1994-1996). The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament. Volumes 1-4 combined in one electronic edition. (electronic ed.) (1417). Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill.
In short, it is a context-dependent word. In this it is VERY much like Greek daimon (or daimonion), which is a neutral term in and of itself – it refers to some sort of “otherworldly” spirit, good or bad, and has even broader meanings as well. In the NT, positive references would be rare or non-extant, depending on one’s interpretation of certain passages. It’s typically sinister, though. Now, Greek “diabolos” (“devil”) is far less ambiguous.
One last note. In the Deir Alla texts (going from memory here, but I think those are the ones), the Shaddayin are a group of gods. This form is the equivalent of shedim in Hebrew (Deir Alla is Aramaic). This is much like the linkage between the shedim as elohim in Deut 32:17.