Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mary and the Devil- research update (revised and revised again)

I love digital archives. I just finished an article arguing that folklore is the foundation of the American Gothic, and specifically looked at original editions from Irving, Chesnutt, and Simms (non-mucked around with texts). Likewise, the British Library and their ever increasing digital archives are lovely. I couldn't do half the work I do from the States without them, or TEAMS.

The Internet often seems to have everything. So when I have a day liked yesterday when I can't find a single thing I need, banging my head against my desk seems a viable option.

I'm currently looking at medieval plays that illustrate Mary interceding on the part of sinners, negotiating for them, and facing off against the devil as an article, but also a larger part of my dissertation. However, reading The Mary Play from the N-Town Plays, does not show this (despite Price's work), Cox discusses demons/devils in general in the N-Town cycle which I'll use some of, but  Boyarin discusses the Theophilus legend in the South English Legendary, which I cannot find. That is, TEAMS has part of it but I cannot find the one with Theophilus in it.
http://www.godecookery.com/mtales/miracle1.jpg

Makes me long for clearer citations/indicators of sources. Actually, makes me long for OpenSource, online work where sources are hyperlinked.
What I did find:
What I need: medieval plays that show the Mary-Devil interactions/intercession.
What I seem to be missing:
  • Chester
Hours and hours yesterday yielded nothing. With my writing/research, I like to start with a close reading of the text, teasing out what I am discussing, and then historicize that text. So finding the original source text is important.
Originally, I focused on drama because a big part of my argument is that the folkloric devil is most often seen in drama, the genre of the people. But now I'm wondering if I need to expand my argument to Marian legends in general in order to find the texts I need.
Anyone have any references/digital archives of original sources they can point me to?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Importance of Storytelling in Dante’s Inferno


    There are more references to telling and writing stories in Inferno than in either Purgatorio or Paradiso.  In this way, to a modern reader, Inferno appears to be the most literary of the three canticas; its concern more with the literary prowess of Dante as author and less about the ecclesiastical instructions. The modern reader finds it hard to ignore the fact that Dante emphasizes the literary aspects of Inferno. Dante’s focus can be seen in numerous ways: the numerous references throughout the text to poets and their creations, the focus on the fame to be gained through telling stories and references to actual writing within the text. Dante the author makes a distinction within the text between shades who talk when prompted by Virgil and Dante and shades who are specifically seduced by the idea of having their story told. The latter shades fall into several categories: shades who wish to be famous, literary figures who wish to be remembered (reread?) in the world above and poets who wish their tales to be retold and referenced.
Dante’s literary emphasis can be seen in how he places importance on the poets in the Inferno from the very beginning. In Canto I, Virgil gives his qualifications as a poet, not a guide to the underworld: “I was a poet and I sang/the just son of Anchises come from Troy/after proud Ilium was put to flame.” (line 73-75). This is also what Dante praises him for when he refers to Virgil as his “teacher” and “author” (line 85). He credits Virgil with the inspiration to write in his “noble style” (line 87). Virgil’s qualifications are partly as a man who has written about the underworld, but in Canto I, Dante appears to want the reader of Inferno to see Virgil as a literary guide. This emphasis on literature is further emphasized with the invocation at the beginning of Canto II. Despite Dante wanting Inferno to be seen as an instructional text for Christians, he opens Canto II with an invocation to the Muses to guide his writing (lines 7-9).  Dante then calls Virgil by the title “Poet” emphasizing Virgil’s literary knowledge, and not his knowledge of the underworld. This reference can be interpreted that what Dante chooses Virgil more as a guide for the literary work Dante is writing than for any guidance Virgil can offer to a Christian in Hell. In this way, Virgil’s presence is to help Dante tell the best story he can, as well as to make sure that Dante gets stories from the shades.
Dante continues to emphasize literature by his presentation of the classical poets and the grand characters they’ve created, who all receive special attention.  Canto IV focuses on Dante’s encounter with the classical poets, and his inclusion in their midst: “Honor the loftiest of poets!” (line 80). Dante in a sign of literary arrogance manages to include himself in this great company: “And then they showed me greater honor still, /for they made me one of their company” (lines 100-101). This inclusion in such lofty company will come up again when Dante addresses his own writing later in the poem. He goes on to describe the people in Limbo who are the creations of these great poets: Electra, Hector, Aeneas, Caesar, Camilla, Penthesilea, Julia, Marcia, Latinus, Lavinia, Brutus, Lucretia, and Cornelia.  Dante creates another literary list in Canto V when he lists the ladies and knights. Throughout Inferno, Dante encourages shades to speak to him by bribing them with the idea of having their story written down. These instances differ slightly from those in their placement. These shades, while they do have interesting stories, are valuable because they are the creations of great poets. Therefore, the structure Dante is focusing on here is the importance of poets and their poetry, not necessarily the stories these shades have to tell. These “classical” shades do share with their counterparts a desire to have their story told. The further influence of literature is seen in Francesca’s story, where she blames her fall on the power of literature (lines 130-138).  Again, it is the power of the author of the literature that is emphasized; Francesca is simply the vehicle for conveying this information. The continued emphasis on poetry and poets can be seen again in canto 15 when Dante once again stresses the importance of poets as teachers and guides but this time with the more modern example in Brunetto. Dante credits Brunetto with how he was taught “how man makes himself immortal.” (line 85). As in the earlier example of the classical poets, with including himself in their lofty company, Dante is stressing the importance of poets in his poem while also elevating his own poetry.
The next structure that Dante uses to emphasize the literary nature of Inferno is the use of the written word. In Inferno writing is divided into two categories: the writing actually seen by Dante the pilgrim and the references Dante the author makes to his own writing. Surprisingly, there are only four direct references to the written word in Inferno. In Canto 3, there is the reference to the writing above the gates of Hell:
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE CITY OF WOE,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO ETERNAL PAIN,
THROUGH ME THE WAY AMONG THE LOST.

JUSTICE MOVED MY MAKER ON HIGH.
DIVINE POWER MADE ME,
WISDOM SUPREME, AND PRIMAL LOVE.

BEFORE ME NOTHING WAS BUT THINGS ETERNAL,
AND I ENDURE ETERNALLY.
ABANDON ALL HOPE, YOU WHO ENTER HERE.
Dante returns again to the image of writing and the power of it in Canto 8 when he recalls for the reader the image of the “deadly writing” that stands above the gate of hell (lines 127-130).
The last reference to the written word, versus Dante’s own written work, in Inferno  comes in Canto 11, when Dante encounters the writing above the tomb of Pope Anastasius “I hold Pope Anastasius: Photinus drew him from the right and proper path.” (lines 8-9). This is of note because it is one of the few times that Dante sees writing in hell, or indeed in any of the canticas. The shades in this circle are punished for the sin of fraud, yet the words seem to hold the truth, which is interesting for the simple fact that it is just as easy to lie with the written word as it is with the oral. This writing though, is meant to convey the truth of the occupant. An ongoing idea in Dante’s entire Commedia is that he expects the reader to take this fantastical tale and if not take it for reality, then to at least recognize the truth contained within it. The idea of seeking any sort of truth from a group of sinners may seem paradoxical however, Dante frames the entire Inferno with the art of storytelling; both his own and that of the shades.
In Canto 9 Dante addresses the reader directly and the topic is his own writing: “O you who have sound intellects, /consider the teaching that are hidden/behind the veil of these strange verses.” (lines 61-63). Dante apparently wants to make it clear to his reader the strange and hidden meanings that writing can reveal but also to reinforce that this is a work of literature.  In canto 32, Dante returns again to the mention of his own language within the poem:
If I had verses harsh enough and rasping
as would befit this dismal hole
upon which all the other rocks weight down,
more fully would I press out the juice/of my conception. But, since I lack them,
with misgiving do I bring myself to speak.
(lines 1-6)
Here, Dante’s language seems to fail him in describing the vision that greets him on this level of Hell. It may be that due to the high opinion of his own literature that Dante simply doesn’t want to lower himself to use the language needed to describe the scene.  Just when the reader has almost reached the end of the journey with Dante the pilgrim, Dante the author lets the reader down. Given the fantastical and grotesque descriptions that he has given up until now, this seems out of place. Since this is the last time Dante refers to writing in Inferno, perhaps he is emphasizing an end to storytelling in this cantica.
Returning to Canto 3, Dante turns to Virgil for help in understanding the inscription above the gates of Hell: “Master, for me their meaning is hard.” (lines 12). Dante seems to need help in not only interpreting his own work but  in composing it as well. Dante seems unsure about what story he is supposed to be telling, as there are times when he chooses not to report on certain activities or people. He glosses it as being something that the world will “not permit report of them.” (line 49).  In this case, Dante’s references to his own written work become even more valuable to the reader.
The third structure, that of storytelling can be seen throughout Inferno and it is important to define storytelling in this context. Throughout Inferno Virgil and Dante hear the stories of the different shades. However, there is a marked difference between the explanations that the shades tell on their own and the situations in which either Virgil or Dante specifically ask for the story of the shade so that Dante may write it down and carry the tale back to the world.  In Canto 6, Ciacco asks of Dante “bring me back to mind” (line 41) and “But when you have returned to the sweet world/I pray you bring me to men’s memory.” (lines 88-89). Dante’s power over the shades lies in his ability to tell their story to the world even though they are dead. By rewriting some of the classic characters, the reader is meant to infer that Dante’s power is great if he’s willing to not only rewrite the classics, but to have the audacity to state that his version is the correct one.
    Canto 16 offers a twist on Dante and his storytelling. In this instance Jacopo Rusticucci, Guido Guerra and Tegghiaio Aldobrandi ask Dante to “let our fame prevail on you/to tell us who you are, who fearless/move on living feet through Hell.” (lines 31-33). In this case, it is the shades that want to hear Dante’s tale and not the other way around. Yet, both serve the same purpose as Dante is still able to write the story down. Later in the exchange the shades leave Dante with one admonition “See that you speak of us to others.” (line 85).  Later in Canto 28 with the interaction with Bertran de Born, Dante returns once again to the idea of his story acting as a conduit for the stories of the shades back to the living. Bertran asks only that Dante “carry back the news of me” (line 133). This foreshadows the words of the shades of Purgatory who ask Dante to carry back their names, not so that their story can be told but so that they can be prayed for.
The nature of storytelling and fiction, specifically the fallibility of words is seen in Canto 13 when Virgil speaks to Dante, warning him of what he will soon see: “Look well-/you will see things that, in my telling, /would seem to strip my words of truth.” (lines 19-21). Virgil who has been set up as Dante’s literary and spiritual guide warns him that Virgil’s shifting authority is not necessarily to be trusted. Dante the author has already set this up by describing Virgil as a character who comes close to the truth, but misses the point, the revelation at the end. Virgil also cashes in on Dante’s value as a storyteller when he tells Pier delle Vigne to “tell him who you were, so that, by way/ of recompense, he may revive your fame/up in the world, where he’s permitted to return.” (lines 52-54). Again, given that the suicides are denied even bodies, the idea of living on in a greater way is a very appealing concept. Dante’s ability to not just listen to these stories, but carry them back to the world as a piece of literature is what is stressed.  Dante specifically acknowledges the importance of fiction writing in Canto 16: “To a truth that bears the face of falsehood/a man should seal his lips if he is able,/for it might shame him, through no fault of his,/but here I can’t be silent. And by the strains/of this Comedy- so may they soon succeed/in finding favor- I swear to you, reader.” (lines 124-129) Dante acknowledges the fiction that he writes, but also asks that his lies, for lack of a better term, find favor with his readers.
In canto 26 the reader it is Virgil who asks the shades to tell Dante their story, by appealing to their love of his writing to get them to tell theirs:
if I have earned your favor while I lived,
if I have your favor-in whatever measure-
when, in the world, I wrote my lofty verses,
then do not move away. Let one of you relate
just where, having lost his way, he went to die.
(lines 80-84)
He is successful, and Ulysses tells his tale to them. The fact that it is Ulysses that stops and tells his tale is worth noting. First, that Dante the author would choose Ulysses as the representative epic hero rather than Achilles or Aeneas, considering that Virgil is his guide. Second, that the focus here is not on the sin that the shade committed, but rather how he died. Dante the author seems to again draw the reader’s attention to the great tale the shade has to tell with his glorious end, rather than emphasize the sin he is there being punished for. Finally, the fact that it is Virgil who must ask the story of a hero that is not his own is intriguing. Ulysses is unique in that Virgil doesn’t outright appeal to his vanity to get the story. Ulysses seems more than willing to tell his story. This is in contrast to canto 31 where Virgil must appeal to the vanity of the giant Antaeus so that he and Dante aren’t harmed in trying to use Antaeus as transportation: “He still can make you famous in the world,/because he lives,” (lines 127-128). It seems that even the non-shade inhabitants are susceptible to the lure of having their story told.
    In canto 27, Dante returns again to the idea of appealing to the vanity of the shades so that they will tell their story. He tells Guido da Montefeltro that it is in his best interest to tell his story “so may your name continue in the world.” (line 57). The further Dante goes in Hell, the more the appeal for having the story told changes. In canto 28, Mohammed is not interested in having his own story told, but rather he wishes Dante to “warn Fra Dolcino” (line 56) so that perhaps he can avoid his fate. He then goes on to ask Dante to warn Guido and Angiolello of the treachery they will experience (lines76-81).  This transition makes perfect sense because as Dante the pilgrim approaches Purgatory he should be more concerned with salvation than with storytelling.
    While throughout most of Inferno  Dante and Virgil have no problems convincing shades to share their stories, the further Dante travels down into Hell, the more reticent the shades are to have their stories told. The act of storytelling changes so that Dante finds himself recording the motivations for why the shades don’t wish their stories told, and in the case of Bocca, using telling stories as a kind of literary blackmail. In canto 18, Venedico Caccianemico says “unwillingly I tell it” (line 52). Yet he goes on to say that the reason he does tell is because he has been “moved only by the truth of what you’ve said” (line 53). Again in Canto 21, Dante addresses the idea of what his Comedy will discuss and cover when he says he and Virgil reached the highest point and that they were “speaking/of things my Comedy does not care to sing.” (lines 2-3). One has to wonder, with such a grand undertaking, and how specific he is, what exactly Dante would see as something that he didn’t care to write or explain.
    In canto 32, Dante encounters the most resistance from shades not wanting to tell their story. Camiscion de’ Pazzi says that Dante will “coax no further words from me” (line 67).  However, Dante continues to try to bribe the stories out of shades by promising to make them famous, and it continues to work until Dante encounters Bocca. Dante tries to convince him to tell his story: “if it’s fame you seek, /it might turn out to your advantage/if I put your name amoung the others I have noted.” (lines 91-93). However, the shade of Bocca is not to be moved, and not even the physical violence Dante commits against him can make Bocca tell his story. However, by this point, Dante does not need Bocca to tell his own story, he has figured it out and threatens to use what he knows “to your shame/shall I bring back true news of you” (lines 110-111). Bocca is an oddity in that he seems not to care what Dante will say of him, he tells him to “tell what tale you will” (line 112). While Dante encounters two more shades who tell their story, Count Ugolino and Fra Aberigo, neither has to be prompted or bribed by Dante to do so.
    It seems fitting that Bocca’s story is the last we hear. Dante has reached the end of his story to tell, and how ironic that the last person whose story we hear does so unwillingly. If we return to the idea of Dante wanting his readers to extract truth and not reality, maybe the end analysis is that the truth is, no matter what. Just as Dante will tell Bocca’a tale, and the “true news” no matter what, so will Dante tell the greater truth through Inferno. Perhaps it is only through fiction, whether it is prose or poetry, that the truth can be told. Dante’s emphasis on great poets, their characters, the written word itself and the art of storytelling certainly seems to say as much.

Works Cited

Alighieri, Dante. Inferno. Ed. Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander. January 2002. New York: Anchor Books, 2000.


     

Milton’s Expansion on Biblical Sources Regarding Angels, Specifically the Character of Raphael in Paradise Lost



In his book The Satanic Epic Neil Forsyth says that people are guilty of “knowing their Milton better than their Bible,” (Forsyth 66). Nowhere is this truer than in Milton’s characterization of the angels. Milton’s expansion of the angels, particularly Raphael, is intriguing because other than the Creation story that Milton has Raphael relate, the expansion of the character of angels is the one subject that Milton makes up entirely out of whole cloth. There are not enough references in the Bible for Milton to pull his sources from there, so he simply creates an elaborate fiction and history involving the angels. It is this fiction that most readers are familiar with. The specific changes Milton makes to the concept of angels and the archangel Raphael in particular are detailed; Milton’s angels are described as being much closer to humans than the Bible suggests, that humans can potentially become like angels. Angels have free will, as man does. He also creates, in Raphael a personable character who establishes a relationship with Adam. Milton also sets Raphael up as a “Divine instructor” as Adam calls him (V, 546), a model for behavior and the “tactful narrator” as Rosenblatt points out.
The archangel Raphael appears only in the Book of Tobit.  He acts as a guide and advisor, although in disguise for most of that time.   His purpose in the book is simple, and given to the reader: he “was sent to cure the two of them.” (Chapter 3, verse 17). He does this in very simple ways. He offers to help Tobit find the way to Media, disguised as his kinsman Azarias, advises Tobit to catch a fish and use the heart, liver and gall to cure someone overcome with demons, and advises Tobit on how he can manage to marry Sarah, who has already been married seven times to men who have all died due to a demon. Tobit follows Raphael’s advice, marries Sarah, and dispels the demon with the burning of the fish’s liver and heart. The demon flees to Upper Egypt where Raphael binds the demon hand and foot. Raphael then acts as a servant for Tobit for the majority of the next three chapters. It is only in Chapter 12 that Raphael reveals to Tobit and Sarah that when they prayed, it was he that brought their prayers to the attention of the Lord and then was sent both test and cure them.
Milton greatly expands the character of Raphael from the Biblical text. According to the Hebraic tradition, there are four archangels; Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael and they are accorded the four cardinal points of the world. Milton takes as the basis for Raphael the idea that he can both test and cure people. Raphael as Milton presents him does not test Adam per se, but he is responsible for giving Adam the information he needs in order to not fall. Raphael, with his dispensation of information in Books 5-8 acts as a counselor, advisor and teacher for Adam, covering topics that range from domestic life, the war in heaven, and creation.
In Book 5, God sends Raphael down to warn Adam because Satan is known to have escaped from Hell. God tells Raphael to inform Adam that:
Happiness in his power left free to will,
Left to his own free will, his will though free,
Yet mutable; whence warn him to beware
He swerve not too secure: tell him withal
His danger, and from whom, what enemy
Late fall’n himself from Heav’n is plotting now
The fall of others from like state of bliss”
(lines 235-241)
Raphael goes down to the garden but instead of first fulfilling his job as assigned by God, he sits down to a domestic meal with Adam and Eve. This is in direct contradiction to the Book of Tobit where Raphael tells Tobit and Sarah that they only imagined him consuming food. The domestic scene in Paradise Lost helps to establish the relationship between humans and angels in a larger sense. Raphael expands on this later in Book 5 when he explains to Adam what life for the angels is like: “though what is Earth/Be but the shadow of Heav’n, and things therein/Each to other like, more than on Earth is thought?” (lines 574-576). This is only one example of Raphael drawing parallels between angels and humans, but it also brings up a question. Raphael ends the preceding lines with a question. This forces the reader to consider whether or not Raphael is completely secure in his role of “Divine instructor” and whether or not Raphael is telling us what he thinks or what is true according to God. Carver comes down on the side that what Raphael says is the true word of God as “an angel is not to be convinced by a logical demonstration, for he understands by direct intuition, without the use of symbols. As he has no bodily senses, he cannot be deluded by pleasant sights and sounds; nor would it be possible, as he has no imagination, to tempt him by drawing verbal pictures of the happiness to be attained by consenting to the course proposed.” (Carver 423). While Carver’s quotation refers to Satan in contrast to his audience, the same argument can be made for Raphael’s validity. He can be trusted because he cannot make anything up and he is the perfect model for Adam and Eve because he cannot be tempted by the offerings of Earth.
Rosenblatt discusses the multiple roles of Raphael: that of a divine interpreter, a model of perfection and as a tactful narrator. The role of divine interpreter can be seen in the explanation Raphael gives on the order of the universe in Book 5. Raphael’s job is to advice Adam and Eve, and to inform them. In his role to Adam and Eve, Raphael also works as a “Divine Interpreter” (132). It is his job to not only advise and warn them, but to also make creation and the explanation of the universe understandable to human minds. In Book 7 Raphael also tells Adam that knowledge must be tempered: “knowledge within bounds” (line 120). Raphael must also find a way to explain the universe in a way that Adam can understand:  “The angel, though he does not himself make use of phantasmata, or mental imagery, knows that the human mind is incapable of reasoning in any other way.” (Carver 424).  He then goes on to tell an expanded version of the creation story.
The final role, of tactful narrator can best be seen in Raphael’s telling of creation. Tactful is a wonderful adjective, although it perhaps refers more to Milton than his creation. It is an arrogant undertaking to assume that the creation story must be improved upon. Milton must walk a fine line, and he accomplishes this by framing Raphael’s story of creation with the actual Biblical text.  Milton has Raphael’s creation story rooted in Genesis 1, and accounts for the differences in the creation story by having Adam relate his story that is rooted in Genesis 2. However, as Rosenblatt suggests, there are several interesting additions between Raphael’s narrative and that given in the Bible. This extension of the creation story is meant to fulfill the function of giving Adam and Eve enough knowledge to make an informed decision- to fall or not. Raphael implies that the angels were created before the heaven and earth and before the creation of light (Rosenblatt 157).  The Bible gives no reference to the creation of angels; instead the assumption is usually that they were created at the same time.  Again, Milton takes the Biblical source, or the absence therein, and expands the description. The reader constantly has to ask him/herself whether or not Raphael’s words can be completely trusted. Adam seems to trust him when he explains creation and what angels are like in regards to eating and sex, but Raphael’s accounts vary greatly from the Biblical knowledge. Indeed, a larger part of Raphael’s job seems to be to engage in a sort of midrashic discussion with Adam.
The reader learns, through Raphael story that he is extremely knowledgeable of the events of creation. He is able, in detail to describe to Adam what occurred and when. In Books 6 and 7, perhaps more than anywhere else, the role of Raphael as “Divine instructor” can be seen clearly. Adam could not have received the information about the war in heaven or creation from anywhere else. However, Raphael’s extensive knowledge of these subjects stands in contrast to Raphael’s apparent knowledge of Adam’s own creation since Raphael says he “that day was absent, as befell,/Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure,/Far on excursion toward the gates of Hell” (VIII, lines 229-231).  Raphael warns Adam that while curiosity is not a sin, Adam should be careful in what he seeks knowledge of: “heav’n is for thee too high/To know what passes there; be lowly wise:/Think only what concerns thee and thy being” (VIII, lines 172-174). The role of divine interpreter and tactful narrator becomes fused in this instance.
    As part of his role as advisor and mouthpiece for God, Raphael explains to Adam Satan’s rebellion in Book 6. The explanation is meant to make clear to Adam what the consequences are if he and Eve are not obedient and the rewards if they are. Satan and the other rebellious angels are cast down into Hell for their transgression, whereas the angels who fought on the side of God, the Son and Heaven celebrate with a “jubilee”. Raphael tells Adam that he must:
Beware
By what is past, to thee I have revealed
What might have else to human race been hid;
The discord which befell, and war in Heav’n
Among th’ angelic powers, and the deep fall
Of those too high aspiring, who rebelled
(lines 894-899)

Raphael hopes that by telling in detail the story of the war in heaven, that Adam will realize not only the consequences of disobedience but that he will also take seriously the threat that Satan poses: “With Satan, he who envies now thy state,/Who now is plotting how he may seduce/Thee also from obedience,” (lines 900-902).  Thus Raphael again fuses the roles of divine interpreter and tactful narrator.
MacCallum states that Raphael and Michael both serve similar functions in that they “both teach that love arises out of obedience to God, and that in this process the son plays a crucial role in producing unity. Both present the trial of obedience within the context of conflict, loss, and triumph, in which the creative and destructive powers of God are made manifest, and both stress the free response of the individual will as the source of growth.” (MacCallum 203). Raphael demonstrates this when he explains obedience to Adam against the backdrop of Satan’s rebellion.
Raphael also offers himself as a “model of perfection, advising that Adam can alter his own nature from human to angelic simply by obedience.” (Rosenblatt 148). This is in keeping with the Book of Tobit in that Raphael is sent to heal Tobit and Sarah. In many ways, Raphael being sent down to instruct Adam and Eve and serve as a model to them is a way to heal or save them. The information he offers them can lead to their salvation. They simply choose to make a different choice, and hence fall.  As Rosenblatt so clearly states, Raphael is supposed to be a model for what they can achieve if they try and are obedient, a model that they ultimately fail to live up to (Rosenblatt 149). Rosenblatt goes on to state that Raphael is a “Hebraic angel who begins his conversation with an implicit rejection of typology, asserting instead the interchange of matter and spirit.” (Rosenblatt 37). The purpose of this is to suggest that only through obedience to God, and recognition of their own human failings, will Adam and Eve know God. However, he goes on to argue that “Raphael’s purpose- and the law’s- is to prepare, admonish, and forewarn those who cannot be helped because they are doomed.” (Rosenblatt 67). This is a very different picture than Milton seems to want the reader to have of Raphael. Milton has God send Raphael to help and advise, but according to Rosenblatt, Adam and Eve cannot be helped because they are already doomed to fall. This contradicts Milton’s presentation of free will. Adam and Eve cannot be “doomed to fall” because that implies that the fall is predestined, when Milton has Raphael stress free will.
Raphael’s story of the war in heaven in Book 6 is the perfect lead in to the narration he gives in Book 7 because it works with the idea of the story as knowledge. Raphael instructs Adam on God’s story of creation. The idea of divine interpreter can be seen both in Raphael’s explanation of the order of the universe and the story of creation he tells to Adam. MacCallum supports Rosenblatt’s idea of divine interpreter when he says that “Raphael and Michael communicate God’s instructions to man, accommodating heavenly truth to human powers.” (MacCallum 7). It can also been seen in Raphael’s conversation with Adam about how humans, if they remain obedient can eventually become like angels. “God, we are told, who once formed angels into men, “has promised that He will one day form men into angels.”” (Carver 419).  Men will trade their bodies for a more ethereal presence.  This possibility of spiritual evolution is essential to understanding not only the relationship Milton is setting up between angels and humans but also where man fits within the universe.
    Adam’s own story of creation actually comes after Raphael’s explanation of the universe in Book 8. Adam asks, and Raphael, couching his explanation in the terms that God is amused by humans’ “quaint opinions” (line 78), explains how the universe is actually ordered. While this seems to be a departure from Raphael’s role as “Divine instructor”, it does recall the sense of relationship that Raphael sets up in Book 5 with the domestic scene with Adam and Eve and the implication of mishradic conversation. It is also followed by their exchange after Adam’s story of creation when Adam praises the enjoyment of conversing with Raphael. This is important because it presents a completely original view of angels, and Raphael in particular as personable creatures that man can easily relate to.
    Milton has Raphael make an interesting commentary after his explanation of the universe, in that he warns Adam to beware of the difference between outward and inward beauty and the dangers that potentially exist in Eve’s outward beauty. This episode brings into doubt Raphael’s authority, as it can be read that Raphael misunderstands why Adam loves Eve. Whereas before, the reader questions whether or not Raphael truly speaks for God, here the reader can see that Raphael must misunderstand Adam, as there is nothing in Adam’s explanation of his love for Eve that would lead to the need for a warning.  However, when taken in light of carver’s comment, there is no way Raphael can understand what Adam says as angels have no “bodily sense”. This episode serves as an interesting segway for Adam to ask Raphael the interesting question as to whether or not angels have sex. While Raphael doesn’t give an explicit answer, he does blush as he answers: “”Let it suffice thee that thou knw’st/Us happy, and without love no happiness.” (lines 620-621).  Again Milton creates a similarity between man and angels.
    When Raphael first appears to Adam and Eve, he appears to them in a corporeal body, as evidenced by Milton having him participate in their meal. According to Carver, having Raphael eat and exhale his nutrients is “repudiation of every conclusion deducible from “the common gloss,” and particularly of the conclusion elaborated by Duns Scotus.” (Carver 417).  Milton chooses to accentuate the commonality that humans and angels have, rather than follow the Biblical lead with having angels as remote, terrifying figures. However, Raphael is never introduced to Adam and Eve, and they never know his name. It is as though Milton wishes his characterization of Raphael to stand in for all angels.
Milton creates angels that enjoy the same things that humans do: “that angels enjoy their meals “On flours reposed” (V. 634) and take their leisure in “blissful Bowrs” (XI. 77)”. (Knott 487).  Raphael when he describes angelic food he “pictures an inviting natural world” (Knott 491). The banquet that he goes on to describe is elaborate, and yet has a lot in common with the domestic scene the reader witnesses between Raphael, Adam and Eve. The angels also sleep as humans do “enjoying a repose that we can only imagine as more complete than that of Adam and Eve in their Garden.” (Knott 491). Again, Milton stresses the similarities that exist between humans and angels. Just as Adam and Eve labor and then rest in their bower, so Milton stresses that his description of angels alternates “between images of service and of rest” (Knott 494). Knott states that while angels are described in Paradise Lost as soldiers and messengers the most satisfying job they have in heaven is their service to God and the Son. In this way, Milton again relates his angels to humans, as their greatest job is their obedience to God.
One major difference between the Biblical sources and Paradise Lost is the concept that the angels are subordinate to the Son. This is an issue that MacCallum addresses, in reference to Milton’s other writings: “Thus he speaks of the angels as being under Christ as their head, not their Redeemer (Works, XV, 101). Significantly, he rejects the Reformed view that the good angels retain their strength by the grace of God and are thus eager to participate in the mystery of man’s salvation.” (MacCallum 84). Milton changes this approach slightly in Paradise Lost; the majority of angels in Heaven are not heard from one way or another as to how they feel about the salvation of man. However, Milton does put Raphael in the unique position of being the mediator, the voice of God for Adam who warns and advises him. God specifically sends Raphael down to Earth to warn and advise Adam, so even if Raphael is not personally invested in man’s salvation, and the domestic scene at the beginning of Book 5 seems to belie this, God is.
When Milton chooses to greatly expand the Biblical text, it is a clue to the reader to pay close attention. In respect to the angels, Milton takes the greatest liberty next to his expansion of the creation story (which incidentally, he has an angel tell, thus acting in the role of Rosenblatt’s “tactful narrator”). Milton creates the modern image of an angel; relating to humans on a personal level, speaking the word of God and acting as a model for behavior. This personable characterization is the one most readers think of when they think of angels. In this way, the character of Raphael in Paradise Lost is responsible for the formation of the general public’s view of angels in general.

Works Cited

Carver, P.L. "The Angels in Paradise Lost." The Review of English Studies 16.64 (1940): 415-431.
Kerrigan, William, John Rumrich and Stephen M Fallon. The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton. New York: Modern Library Edition Random House, 2007.
Knott, John R. "Milton's Heaven." PMLA 85.3 (1970): 487-495.
MacCallum, Hugh. Milton and the Sons of God. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.
Rosenblatt, Jason. Torah and Law in Paradise Lost. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
Suggs, M Jack, Katherine Doob Sakenfeld and James R. Mueller, The Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

The Shield as the Physical Manifestation of Wish Fulfillment in Crétien de Troyes’ Cliges


    While Crétien de Troyes in his Arthurian Romance Cliges tells the story of both Cliges and his father Alexander, there exists an important parallel between Alexander and his brother, the emperor of Constantinople, Alis that relates to the heart of the medieval romance- wish fulfillment. The line “The shields made them take appearance for reality, like a man who dreams and takes a lie for the truth.” (Troyes 148) best illustrates this point by summing up both Alis and Alexander’s wish fulfillment. Alis wants to be emperor and Alexander wants to be a knight of Arthur’s court. The lie that Alis takes for truth is multifold.  He believes that his brother Alexander is dead when a disreputable messenger tells him the ship carrying Alexander to England sank. Alis also believes that he has had carnal knowledge of his wife Fenice, and later believes Fenice is dead. These beliefs are in fact the wish fulfillment of Alis. He wishes to be emperor, and so believes the lie of his brother’s death that allows him to be emperor. Alis wishes to marry Fenice, even though he breaks his word to Alexander in doing so and starts a war with the Duke of Saxony. It is not so much that Alis takes the lie for truth, as that he makes the lie become truth, as does his brother Alexander.
Alexander imagines that the only way to prove his worth is to travel to King Arthur’s court and become a knight. He feels it is the only way for him to seek the glory that he believes is his. The reader knows nothing of King Arthur’s court at this point, Troyes offers no description, yet the place has importance because Alexander gives it importance; having created a fantasy in which the only place where he can prove his worth is to travel to Arthur’s court and become a knight. This fantasy, or dream, is taken to be truth by Alexander.  Because he believes it is must be so.  Therefore, the story parallels how each of these characters make a dream true for themselves.
Alexander travels to England, and in order to earn his knighthood, leads his Greek troops in a campaign for Arthur against Count Angrés who betrayed Arthur in his stewardship. In order to gain access to a keep Alexander has his men don the shields and clothing of the Count’s men. Later, when the dead bodies of the Count’s men are found wearing the Greeks’ shields and clothing, the rest of Alexander’s men mourn him “The shields made them take appearance for reality”. The shield here represents the lies, the untruths that shield both Alexander and Alis from the truth that stands between them and the fulfillment of their dreams. In this case, the shield calls to mind the verb form, “to shield” because that is what it does for Alexander and Alis.  For Alexander, it shields him from the truth he does not with to face, that he can remain behind in Constantinople and earn his glory and valour.  For Alis, it shields him from the truth of Fenice and Cliges’ love as well as the truth that he has betrayed his brother.
An argument can be made that Alis is lead astray and helped along in his belief in these lies; the messenger tells him his brother is dead, Alis wants to believe he has carnal knowledge of Fenice, he sees her dead, however, even if Alis is duped in these situations he still wants to believe the lie; the shield that Alis has is entirely of his own making, as is Alexander’s.  Alexander has no proof that he can only prove himself at Arthur’s court; he knows only that “the king and his barons, who are so greatly renowned for courtesy and valour.” (Troyes 125) Alexander has created a fantasy about Arthur’s court that makes it the only place where he can prove his worth- where his wish of taking part in a courtly romance can come true. Alexander and Alis do not take appearance for reality; rather, they use their shields, their own beliefs, to create reality as they wish it. The shield not only protects them from the reality they do not want to recognize or be a part of but also projects itself outwards.  Alexander’s shield projects outward and convinces his father the emperor that Alexander should go to Arthur’s court whereas Alis’ shield projects outward shaping his marital and martial decisions as well as his death.  
Both characters initially get their wish fulfilled; Alexander does become a knight of King Arthur’s court, participates in a courtly romance and marries.  Alis becomes emperor and marries. The conclusion of the wish fulfillment is different for both men, and it is through these conclusions that a value judgment can be made in regards to the characters.  Alexander representing good, is given the true happy ending of his wish.  He achieves all he could ask for, and succeeds in making his initial fantasy fo Arthur’s court real enough that his son, Cliges follows in his footsteps. Alis on the other hand, represents evil and has a very different ending. As punishment for his betrayal of his promise to his brother, as well as the betrayal of standing in the way of the true love of Cliges and Fenice Alis has to watch his reality, as he has come to believe in it, the appearance of all he desires, crumble.  In a series of events that reveal the actual world, and not the one he has shielded himself within, Alis learns that not only is Fenice not dead, but that she and Cliges have both betrayed his. Alis cannot cope when he can no longer deny reality, and therefore goes insane and dies.
The shield at this point takes on a more symbolic meaning. For Alexander, it is the physical symbol of his knighthood and proof that he has fulfilled his wish. For Alis it is an ill omen, of soldiers being carried home dead on their shields. While these particular ends of the characters are not certain to the reader, at the mention of this line, it becomes apparent looking back, that this symbol of the shield is prophetic in the endings of the characters. This is particularly clear in regards to Alexander and Cliges. The culmination of Alexander’s wish is that he now has a son that can carry on the knightly tradition; there is someone to pick up Alexander’s shield and carry it forward. However, because Alexander has succeeded in making his fantasy world, his lie, the truth, Cliges has no need to create a better reality; instead, he must simply face the challenges that exist within that reality. Alis has no son, as he has never known Fenice; therefore no one is left to mourn Alis, and he leaves no legacy behind. Once Alis’ created fantasy is taken down, there is nothing left so not even the remnants of the lie he took for truth remain as a memorial.

God’s Prosecuting Attorney: The Role of the Adversary in The Book of Job



When most modern readers picture Satan, or Lucifer, the image they envision is not based on any Biblical description but is based on Milton’s description from Paradise Lost.  They think of the image of an angel who has been cast out of Heaven because in his pride he sought to question God, who has the audacity to set up his own kingdom, amongst the fiery lakes.  It is a picture of an arrogant creature, an evil creature, who despite it all, makes the reader sympathetic to his cause.  This, however, is not the same creature that is present in The Book of Job.  While he carries the same name, the Adversary, Satan, as he is most often referred, is not shown as being in opposition with God, but rather is part of the court of heaven and acts as God cannot.  “There is no suggestion of a fallen angel filled with rebellion and hatred of God” (Caldwell 32) in The Book of Job, rather the Adversary is a prosecutor, in God’s divine court of justice.
In The Book of Job, the only description we have of Satan is that he is the Adversary.  The reader is then left with two things with which to define him: his relationship to the court of heaven and his actions.  Although he only appears twice, in Chapter One and Two, both his relationship and his actions tell the reader much of his character, and none of it is in keeping with a modern reader’s view of Satan.  The concept of Satan as an adversary is not unique to The Book of Job; it can also be seen in I Samuels 29:4 and in Numbers 22:22 (Caldwell 32).  By looking closely at the Adversary’s role in The Book of Job, the reader must reconsider some basic conceptions about the text and define the Adversary’s role within it.  The first step in understanding his role is to look at the name the Adversary is given: Satan.  In Hebrew, the name means ‘accuser’, with relation to legal terminology.  Satan was at first a term, and not a proper name.  It meant to accuse, to be hostile or one who was the accuser (wikipedia).  Looking at verse 6, this etymology  changes the meaning of the introduction of the Adversary.  Instead of the interpretation “and the Adversary, Satan, was there among them” where Adversary is the title and Satan is the name, the true interpretation is the reverse, with the archetypal name Adversary embodying what he does and Satan as the title for the job the Adversary performs.  This interpretation changes how the book is meant to be read.  The Adversary is no longer a character acting against God, in a battle for Job’s soul, but rather is acting in concert with God’s will on a mission that is ordained by God.  Throughout the rest of the Old Testament angels “that have evil tasks are not themselves thereby evil, since God is the author of evil (Amos 3:6).  And they are merely his executives.” (Caldwell 32)  The Adversary is the adversary of evil men, not God, and thus stands as a prosecutor, ready to accuse men who seek evil and evil ways. As Caldwell states, “It is the duty of the Adversary to challenge and test the good.”
The Adversary has two main relationships in this passage that help define him and give the reader clues as to how he is meant to be viewed: his relationship with the court of heaven and his relationship with the Lord himself.  Within the court of heaven, he is on equal standing: there is no phrasing or word choice that indicates that he is an odd presence as the court is convened. Instead the text reads “The day came when the members of the court of heaven took their places in the presence of the Lord, and the Adversary, Satan, was there among them.”  It is not stating that the presence of the Adversary was an oddity, but rather a commonplace event such as calling roll in the Senate, and noting that the Senator of North Carolina was present.  This sense of belonging changes how a reader accepts the role of the Adversary in the rest of The Book of Job.  The Adversary is a part of the court: working under God’s will and, therefore, contained under certain rules.  This verse characterizes
“Satan as a member of the divine council who watches over human activity, but… searching out men’s sins and appearing as their accuser.  He is, therefore, the celestial prosecutor, lawyer who sees only iniquity; for he persists in his evil opinion of Job even after the man of Uz has successfully through his first trial by surrendering to the will of God, whereupon Satan demands another test through physical suffering”
(wikipedia)
The Adversary’s role in the heavenly court still confuses the reader due to the differences in translations.  Robert Sacks uses a different translation than the Oxford Study Bible:
6One day the Sons of GOD came to present themselves before THE LORD, and The Satan came along with them. 7”Well,: said THE LORD to The Satan “where have you been?” “Oh,” said The Satan to THE LORD wandering around Earth.  I just went down there for a stroll.”  8 Then THE LORD said to The Satan, “Did you happen to notice my man Job.  There is no one like him on Earth.  He is a simple and straightforward man, a GODFEARING man and one who turns away from evil.” 9 Then The Satan answered THE LORD and said: “What, do you think that Job fears GOD for nothing? 10 Haven’t you been protecting him and his house, and everything that he has?  You have blessed all of his labors, and everything he owns is spreading out all over the land.  11 But just reach out your hand to take it away and he will curse you to your face for sure.”
(Sacks  2)

One compares this with the Oxford Study Bible:

6The day came when the members of the court of heaven took their places in the presence of the Lord, and the Adversary, Satan, was there among them.  7The Lord asked him where he had been.  “Ranging over the earth,’ said the Adversary, ‘from end to end.’  8The Lord asked him, ‘Have you considered my servant Job?  You will find no one like him on earth, a man of blameless and upright life, who fears God and sets his face against wrongdoing.’  9 ‘Has not Job good reason to be godfearing?’ answered the Adversary.  10‘Have you not hedged him round on every side with your protection, him and his family and all his possessions?  Whatever he does you bless, and everywhere his herds have increased beyond measure.  11But just stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and see if he will not curse you to your face.’ 12‘Very well,’ said the Lord.  “All that he has is in your power; only the man himself you must not touch.’  With that the Adversary left the Lord’s presence.
(Oxford Study Bible Chapter One, verses 6-12)

Sacks’ translation differs in significant ways.  Sacks refers to the court of heaven as “the Sons of GOD”.  This translation is ambiguous and does not depict the courtroom aura that is meant.  If the reader is to understand the job of the Adversary, then it is necessary to set up what court would try and convict evil men.  Sacks’ translation lacks this.  While Sacks does employ the title “The Satan” which is true to the definition of the name, meaning “accuser”, Sacks neglects the reference to the Adversary which is crucial to understanding the Adversary’s role.  Unless the reader is familiar with Hebrew, the individual assumes that The Satan is the creature of Milton’s imagination and does not see the nuances associated with the name.  Sacks does convey that The Satan is subservient to God, as The Satan is included with “the Sons of God when they present themselves before THE LORD” (Sacks 4) however, Sacks’ phrasing implies that The Satan just happens along “and The Satan came along with them,” versus him having a given place in the proceedings.  Again, Sacks ignores the legal implications to the language.  Finally, perhaps the greatest error with Sacks’ translation is the tone with which he has The Satan address God when discussing Job.  He has The Satan say
“What, do you think that Job fears GOD for nothing? 10 Haven’t you been protecting him and his house, and everything that he has?  You have blessed all of his labors, and everything he owns is spreading out all over the land.  11 But just reach out your hand to take it away and he will curse you to your face for sure.”  

This phrasing is confrontational and leads the reader to think that there is conflict between God and The Satan.  It is as if Sacks is deliberately phrasing the translation so that it supports the idea that there is a wager between God and The Satan.  The Oxford Study Bible instead states
9 ‘Has not Job good reason to be godfearing?’ answered the Adversary.  10‘Have you not hedged him round on every side with your protection, him and his family and all his possessions?  Whatever he does you bless, and everywhere his herds have increased beyond measure.  11But just stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and see if he will not curse you to your face.’

This translation has the Adversary, pardon the pun, playing devil’s advocate.  He is supplying a reason for why Job appears so godfearing and is offering God a way to truly test Job’s piety.  There is no confrontational tone the Adversary is simply acting according to his job, accusing men. The Adversary, as with any good prosecutor warns God of making a judgment based on circumstantial evidence.  The Adversary would rather have clear proof, which is why he suggests the second test of Job.  Because most readers will probably not read the Bible in original Hebrew, it is important that the translators stay faithful to the text, for simple phrasings and word choices can alter the entire meaning.
    What is interesting about Sacks is that his commentary on The Book of Job does not seem to fit with his translation.  In his commentary on Chapter One, he makes a point to reference the other instances of “Satan” or “being a satan” from Numbers and gives a detailed explanation as to how this term refers to an angel performing an activity.  He also references The Book of Samuel, where the “term is used for a man whose original intention seems to be directed toward another’s good, but whose actions, nevertheless turn out to be otherwise.”   In The Book of Kings, “A Satan” refers for “the leaders of the nations who, unbeknownst to themselves, become God’s way of chastening His people.”  Sacks argues that these examples, as well as ones from The Book of Chronicles, The Book of Psalms, and Zecharaia that the Satan in Job is not really any of these previous roles.  Sacks then makes several interpretive leaps that are not supported by the text.  He states that Satan believes mankind to be incapable of being pious and just and that The Satan manipulates events (stacks the deck if you will) so that Job will fail.  The inference is not that Job is evil, but rather that The Satan wants him to be found so.  This interpretation is not supported by the text.  He says that “By the end of the book we shall leave The Satan not because he arouses our hatred, but because we will have seen a richer way.”  This statement seems in contrast to the rest of his argument that sets The Satan up as the antagonist.  Sacks seems to be saying that The Satan is unimportant because of this “richer way” yet there is no clear explanation of what exactly this “richer way” is or how it relates to the tale.  While Sacks’ commentary is interesting for his deconstruction of Hebrew phrases, his translation is flawed and his interpretation of Job is too conflicting to be of much use to anyone. (Sacks 80-86)
The Adversary is portrayed as a necessary part of God’s plan, performing a necessary job: that of an accuser, who acts as a prosecutor where humankind is concerned.  He is not shown as having any power of his own, or of rebelling against God; rather he “requires the permission of God, which he may not transgress.  He can not be regarded, therefore, as an opponent of the Deity; and the doctrine of monotheism is disturbed by his existence no more than by the presence of other beings before the face of God” (wikipedia).  The role of the Adversary, despite what a modern reader might think, is not the antithesis of God, but rather, an active member of the court of heaven who has a specific role within that realm.  His relationship with God is one of subordination.  The Adversary is not placed above God, or any other member of the court of heaven.  While he may be given certain special, there is no clue in these passages that these powers in any way or make him a threat to God’s power.
The Adversary’s actions support that he is working with and not against God.  In Chapter One, Job loses his livelihood when “God’s fire flashed from heaven, striking the sheep and the shepherds and burning them up” and “The Chaldeans, three bands of them, have made a raid on the camels and carried them off, after putting  those tending them to the sword”.  He also suffers when a messenger reports that “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in their eldest brother’s house, when suddenly a whirlwind swept across the desert and struck the four corners of the house, which fell on the young people.  They are dead”.  Yet looking at these verses, it is unclear how many of these actions can be laid at the feet of the Adversary.  The loss of the sheep comes from “God’s fire”, and the Adversary of Job lacks  the powers described here. There is also no indication that he would use a power that was named as being God’s and not his, there is no evidence here of such arrogance from this characterization of Satan.  Looking at the other two events, it is possible that the Adversary could prod the minds of men to attack another and that he could create a whirlwind, although that seems like a power that would belong only to God.  The evidence of the text offers no explanation but simply tells us that the Adversary did not have a hand in the first event and probably orchestrated the last two.  What is important though is that the Adversary targets Job because he has been instructed by God, thereby only fulfilling his position as an accuser.
The Adversary’s second and last action against Job is often read as a personal attack against Job, but it is simply another form of test to see whether or not Job is a “godfearing” man.  Having endured the loss of his livelihood and his sons and daughters, the Adversary argues that any man could withstand such losses, but it is the personal effect that shows the true man.  As any good prosecutor would, the Adversary seeks absolute proof that Job is what he appears to be.  God obviously agrees that Job must be tested in this way because his response to the Adversary is not that Satan has gone to far, or that Job is being punished beyond measure, rather “4The Adversary replied, ‘Skin for skin! To save himself there is nothing a man will withhold.  5But just reach out your hand and touch his bones and is flesh, and see if he will not curse you to your face.’  6The Lord said to the Adversary, ‘So be it.  He is in your power; only spare his life.’”  Again, the significance of these declarations is that the Adversary is acting under God’s orders and that the Adversary devises the test not out of malice, but in order to test  Job’s character.  The author illustrates the dutiful nature of the role when he readies Job to confront his own faith and God, and then he disappears.  As Caldwell observes, “He is a servant who knows how to disappear when his work is done.  When Job’s “friends” arrive there is no need of Satan.” (Caldwell 32)
The final clue to how the Adversary is meant to be viewed can be found in the repetition of dialogue between God and the Adversary in both of Satan’s appearances: in Chapter One “7The Lord asked him where he had been.  “Ranging over the earth,’ said the Adversary, ‘from end to end.’  8The Lord asked him, ‘Have you considered my servant Job?  You will find no one like him on earth, a man of blameless and upright life, who fears God and sets his face against wrongdoing.’” And in Chapter Two “2The Lord enquired where he had been.  ‘Ranging over the earth’, said the Adversary, ‘from end to end.’  3The Lord asked, ‘Have you considered my servant Job?  You will find no one like him on earth, a man of blameless and upright life, who fears God and sets him face against wrongdoing.”  The rhythm of this dialogue suggests to the reader that this is a ritual form of greeting between the two, and the word choice informs the reader that the Adversary’s regular job is not in fact to prosecute a single human male, but rather  to roam the earth looking for men of evil so that Satan might accuse them.  The phrasing God uses, -- “Have you considered my servant Job?  You will find no one like him on earth, a man of blameless and upright life, who fears God and sets him face against wrongdoing”-- is important because it suggests that since the Adversary does not present a man to be accused, that God has found one for him, one that warrants special consideration.  The ritual repetition of this phrase leads the reader to believe that this event has occurred before.  This motif supports the fact that this is a job that the Adversary not only performs often, but that the whole system of choosing a man, the accusation, and the punishment is an old one and has a special place in God’s design.
All of this argument so far is based on what is stated in the text, but one may also glean information by what is not said.  There is no physical description given of the Adversary.  All of a modern day’s reader’s images of cloven hoofs and horns actually comes from the pagan pantheon, not the Bible.  While these images are interesting, the more important omission is any statement from God about the Adversary.  There is not a single commentary.  At no point does God express any emotion towards him.  As with so much of the text, the reader is left to infer what he/she can.  Many critics have concluded that the God and the Adversary make a bet for Job’s soul, but this premise actually conflicts with the text.  The Adversary works under God, and there is no evidence that a bet of any kind is made, yet this wager is mentioned in most modern scholarly interpretations of the tale.  In this case, the omission is used by scholars to infer an event that is not supported in any way in the text.  Perhaps the biggest omission is the Adversary himself from the rest of the story.  He is only present in these two chapters, and once he has prepared Job for his final test (the arguments with his three friends and his confrontation with God), he is gone.  If the Adversary were meant to be seen as a character in opposition to God, or in competition with God, it would be natural to assume the Adversary would be included in the rest of the book.  If, as many critics claim, there is a wager for Job’s soul, one would assume the Adversary would await the results to see if he won.  It is important to remember that what The Book of Job does not say about the Adversary is just as revealing as the Adversary’s actions and his relationships with God and the court of heaven.
By viewing the Adversary as a true member of the court of heaven, fulfilling a purpose set down by God, an entirely new interpretation of The Book of Job must be made.  The interpretation that Satan is fighting against God for Job’s soul no longer works, nor does the more modern slant, such as can be seen in Archibald MacLeish’s J.B or Robert Sacks’ commentary where Satan and God are betting on Job’s soul.  Instead, it is necessary to view the Adversary as a part of God’s plan, an attorney with a very detailed and precise job.  The reader must shift his/her focus away from the image of a rebellious angel who is also cocky and arrogant, the type now so often seen in modern literature and film.  Rather, the reader must understand that in order to interpret The Book of Job, he/she must first see that the Satan of Job is in fact an honored member of heaven, performing perhaps God’s greatest work, challenging and testing the righteous, as any good prosecutor would.










Works Cited
Caldwell, William. “The Doctrine of Satan: I. In the Old Testament.” The Biblical World, Vol. 41, No.1. (Jan., 1913), pp.29-33.
Sacks, Robert. The Book of Job with Commentary: A Translation For Our Time. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999.
“Satan.” Wikipedia Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  15 July 2006. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satan>