I go down a lot of Biblical rabbit holes. That’s sort of how my whole deconstruction started. Today the rabbit hole is Satan as prosecutor. So let’s think about this..Satan is not a formal name, though it’s come to be used as one. “Ha-satan” (sah-tahn, phonetically) first appears in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) as prosecutor; a member of the sons of God subordinate to Yahweh, who prosecutes the nation of Judah in the heavenly court and tests the loyalty of Yahweh’s followers. Read more about ha-satan here with some Scripture references to the divine council in Job and Zechariah.
Later on, by the time the New Testament was written, Satan is the designation of a specific being, but I’m honestly more interested in how Jesus, as a practicing Jew, would’ve considered ha-satan in the context of his faith community.
According to Thomas J. Farrar, the satan’s dual functions of “seduction and accusation were not regarded by the Rabbis as contradictory but as complementary” (2). Essentially, we have an overzealous prosecutor. One prone to entrapment. It’s still hard to like ha-satan, but he serves a function. He’s pretty good at his job.
In the NT, the prosecuting role sort of falls away, and we’re left with a seducer and oppressor; a much creepier, scummier adversary.
Farrar goes on to write, “It seems that in ancient Israel, the role of accuser was not generally conducted by a state-appointed professional as today. Nevertheless, whether by divine appointment or self-appointment, Satan came to be viewed as one fulfilling this function in the heavenly court on an ongoing basis” (4).
My thoughts and brain power sort of end here. But I have questions, and I’ll certainly read on this more. Like many, I’m sure, I’m fascinated by the implications of this transition from prosecutor to seducer. I wonder, how would our world view differ–and how would the American Church function differently–if we saw the satan as prosecutor? Interesting stuff.