Throughout my studies in Religion, and writing, the Devil has cropped up several times, unsurprisingly. However, with the general worldview towards this figure of the Old and New Testaments being somewhat negative, Erik Butler has provided us with a new appraisal of this very unknown figure.
In The Devil and His Advocates, Erik Butler explores the history and etymology of this figure and how the consensus has wholly misconstrued this figure we blame for all the world’s ills. Taking historical and literary viewpoints Butler poses the view that the Devil, or Satan, has been doing God’s work all along and not acting as God’s adversary, which tends to be a general position. Employing passages from the Bible, primarily the story of Job and the test of Jesus illustrates this point very clearly at first glance and although I’m sure many would read the book and disagree, Butler, argues his point with brilliant astuteness.
One of the main premises in The Devil and His Advocates is that the Devil, or the Satan, has the main objective to test humans, whether it be for good or bad intentions, it is God who in the Bible sends this figure to test the faith of the suffering figure contained within the text, thus fulfilling some divine plan? It’s a question that certainly deserves merit insofar that many figures throughout history have employed the excuse “the Devil made me do it”, which doesn’t hold up after reading Butler’s very well researched argument to the contrary, and that we are responsible for our actions.
Looking at how the Devil has been portrayed throughout history, whether it be in literature, film, music or art, the Devil has played the part of the ultimate tester of faith and Erik Butler’s work in The Devil and His Advocates deserves serious evaluation. A highly original, enjoyable and thought-provoking book that manages to make us look at the Bible and our belief systems in a new light is a triumph that deserves high respect and praise. In The Devil and His Advocates, the Devil has indeed found his greatest advocate in Erik Butler.
- The Devil and His Advocates by Erik Barker is published by Reaktion Books (£20.00). To order a copy go to www.reaktionbooks.co.uk
Founder and Editor of Pilgrim House, currently undertaking a research degree at Bangor University and working on a book on Folklore and early Welsh Christianity. Tom’s other work on music, poetry, health along other writings and images can be found at tomasstanger.com