Only God is Perfect

Peril and Providence


Chapters 8 and 9 deal generally with the subject of the śaṭan and the rebellion in Eden, so they will be taken together for comments and bibliography. They help set up the subsequent chapters (10, 11) which are also grouped together and will offer specific detail on my views about the serpent figure in Genesis 3.


Bibliography in the book


Peggy Day, An Adversary in Heaven: śā·ṭǎn in the Hebrew Bible (Harvard Semitic Monographs 43; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988)


John H. Walton, “Satan,” Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry, and Writings (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2008): 714-717


Additional Bibliography on the śaṭan (See also Chapters 10 and 11)


Paul Evans, “Divine intermediaries in 1 Chronicles 21 an overlooked aspect of the Chronicler’s theology,” Biblica 85:4 (2004): 545-558


L. Oppenheim, “The Eyes of the Lord,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 88 (1968):173–80


Marvin E. Tate, “Satan in the Old Testament,” Review & Expositor 89, no. 4 (1992): 461-474


Content Discussion


With respect to the Chapters 8 and 9, there are two issues of substance that I imagine most readers might want more information.


First, there is my view that foreknowledge does not necessitate predestination. I think 1 Sam 23 is quite clear in that regard. From this I noted that the future is at least partially open.


The careful reader will discern how this differs from open theism. I do not reject the idea that God indeed knows all things real and possible. I therefore reject the idea that there are things God does not know, an idea one will encounter in some statements of open theism. I also reject the notion that God does not predestinate events. Many open theists resist predestination en toto. Again, the careful reader will know from what I have written that, with respect to things that do happen, my view is that they may or may not have been predestinated. That statement very obviously allows for God to predestinate events. Scripture makes it pretty clear that God does predestinate events.


However, I don’t believe it is a necessary conclusion, though, that God predestinates all events that happen—because the fact that he foreknows does not require such predestination. Ina nutshell, then, my view is that while God foreknows all things that happen, that doesn’t require the conclusion that all things that happen were predestinated. Scripture in my view leaves that issue (pardon the pun) open.


Lastly, I should also note that I think election has been fundamentally misunderstood or mis-articulated. That issue naturally dovetails with the subject of predestination. I don’t get into election in Unseen World. That is a subject I’ll get into in a second book, presuming there is one. For now, readers can get a sketch of what I mean by this comment on election via my Naked Bible blog.


Second, there is the issue of the śaṭan. Readers know I use that phrasing because śaṭan in the Hebrew Bible is not a proper personal noun by rule of Hebrew grammar (the definite article in Hebrew is not used with proper personal nouns, and all the instances of śaṭan in Job 1-2 and Zech 3 have the article). The term means “adversary” or “challenger”. There is no contextual evidence in Job 1-2 or Zech 3 that the figure from Genesis 3 is in view, though the satan in those passages is a divine being (since the scenes take place in the divine council).


Readers will know that I don’t dispute the reality of a supernatural arch-enemy of God being present in Genesis 3. I’m simply saying that the word śaṭan is not used of that figure in the Old Testament. The term eventually gets applied to the supernatural enemy of Genesis 3 in Jewish literature of the Second Temple Period and of course in the New Testament. And the label fits.


This view is hardly new with me. For the grammatical phenomenon, I’ve made a video of a computer search for ha-śaṭan (more correctly: has-śaṭan) to show readers what’s going on in the Hebrew text. That video presentation lives in this post on my Naked Bible blog.


As I noted at the above post, even instances where śaṭan lacks the article don’t provide instances where the term is used of the devil (the arch enemy of Gen 3). The two instances of the term without the article applied to non-human figures point to the angel of the Lord. I have also blogged this point (see also the bibliography below on 1 Chron. 21.