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Are the Expressions 'Unclean Spirit' and 'Demon' Used as Technical Terms in the New Testament?
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
2017 (English)In: Society of Biblical Literature, International Meeting / Society for Pentecostal Studies: Berlin, August 10, 2017, 2017Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

I begin by explaining the relevance of this question, noting how in Pentecostal and Charismatic writings (I focus especially on spiritual warfare literature) the words ‘unclean spirit’ and ‘demon’ are often treated as technical terms, with fixed well-defined meanings (incorporeal, malevolent supernatural agents that assail people in specific ways). Next I summarize some good reasons for treating them as technical terms. I note how other early texts treat ’demon’ as a discrete category. For example the Book of the Watchers traces all demons back to the antediluvian giants, suggesting that all demons are ultimately of the same kind, and the Testament of Solomon provides a catalogue of demons, also indicative of the fact that demons were considered a clearly defined category. There are also reasons to not consider ‘unclean spirit’ and ‘demon’ to be technical terms, however.  For example, New Testament authors do not share the interest in the nature of demons or their classification with later Christian and Jewish texts. NT texts do not explain on what basis demons and diseases were distinguished; on the contrary, references to demons and disease often co-occur in NT texts, suggesting that the expressions reflect perceived symptoms rather than being attempts at etiology. By way of conclusion I argue that we should be careful and not read too much into various references to demons and unclean spirits in the New Testament. Healings and exorcisms are performed in the New Testament either by Jesus or in his name and with his authority, rather than being based on the correct identification of demons.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
New Testament, demon, healing, theology, Gospel
National Category
Religious Studies History of Ideas
Research subject
Humanities, Study of Religions
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-67245OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-67245DiVA: diva2:1131620
Conference
Society of Biblical Literature, International Meeting/ Society for Pentecostal Studies, Berlin, 10 August 2017
Available from: 2017-08-15 Created: 2017-08-15 Last updated: 2017-08-16Bibliographically approved

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Löfstedt, Torsten
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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf