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Demons and Spirits in Biblical Theology: Reading the Biblical Text in Its Cultural and Literary Context

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Overview

Some people believe that a battle of cosmic proportions is raging as Satan and his demons seek to destroy Christians and undermine God’s plans. Others believe that all talk of demons in the Bible and theology only reflects pre-modern superstitions that should be re-interpreted in philosophical and psychological terms. Despite their contrasts, both believe that the Bible directly or indirectly intends to teach readers about reality. Another path is possible. What if references to demons in the Bible are similar to references about the shape and structure of the cosmos representing the beliefs familiar to the ancient audience but used only as a framework for teaching about the plans and purposes of God? This approach is here worked out through detailed examination of hermeneutical method, the ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman contexts, each of the biblical terms and passages, and the essentials of biblical and systematic theology. Unlike many scholarly treatments of demons, readers will not find an assessment of the metaphysical realities. Instead they will be introduced to a hermeneutical, exegetical, and theological feast regarding what the Bible, understood in its ancient context, teaches.

  • Provides a careful assessment of the theology of demons and spirits
  • Examines issues of demythologizing and conflict theology
  • Explores the metholdology and certainty of biblical interpretation

Part 1: How do we go about reading the Bible?

  • Reading the Bible for knowledge
  • The genres of Scripture
  • The genres of Scripture: prophecy and apocalyptic
  • The genres of Scripture: wisdom and discourse

Part 2: What are the “demons and spirits” that we want to know about?

  • Can we gain knowledge of demons and spirits from outside the Bible?
  • Do evil spirit beings really exist?
  • What is a “demon” within the Bible’s cognitive environment?
  • Demons should be defined relative to a culture’s conception of gods

Part 3: Demons and spirits in the Bible and its cognitive environment

  • Divine combat and enemies of the gods
  • The serpent
  • Demons and idolatry
  • Evil gods and angels
  • The fall of Satan
  • Demons and spirits in the age of the church
  • Demons and the problem of evil
  • The entailments of conflict theology
Demons and Spirits in Biblical Theology is a sophisticated yet very readable assessment of the problem of good and evil and how appeals to demons and evil spirits have played a role in the debate. This well researched and well-thought-out book makes major contributions to discussions about Conflict Theology, Prosperity Theology, and Open Theism. The authors wisely conclude that the Bible contains no theology of demons as such, only references to beliefs found in some contexts and settings. I strongly recommend this book.

—Craig A. Evans, Professor of Christian Origins, Houston Baptist University

In Demons and Spirits in Biblical Theology, the authors develop in a new direction the long-term Waltonian program that is designed to make us better Bible-readers by helping us to read Scripture in its ancient contexts. Readers may not agree with every conclusion that arises from their important distinction between reference and affirmation in the Bible. They should, however, recognize the utility of the method in helping us to ensure that, on the matter of demons and spirits, we are people of biblical faith rather than (in reality) polytheists or practical atheists. I warmly commend this book to all who need help in thinking this matter through.

—Iain Provan, Professor of Biblical Studies, Regent College

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

John H. Walton is Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He has authored or edited over twenty-five books, including The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament (2009), Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament (2006), The Lost World of Adam and Eve (2015), Old Testament Theology for Christians (2017), and commentaries on Genesis (2001) and Job (2012).

J. Harvey Walton is pursuing graduate studies at St. Andrews University and has been involved in various editing and writing projects.

Reviews

2 ratings

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  1. Richard

    Richard

    4/3/2021

    44444
    Walton is one of the most prominent scholars in the field of the Old Testament and its context. This work gives the reader strong academic research in his or her hands to explore demonic influences. In this book, you will probably be provoked to see the concept of the demonic world in a different light. However, some of the arguments were not always convincing to me and were drawn too fast. Still, I learned many new things and found the different views about good and evil refreshing. Then, I missed a bit of the demonic in the history after Christianity till this day in the arguments Walton makes. As cultures from all times and ages have noticed the activity of a spiritual world and I think this is also an important topic from the Biblical perspective. Since Walton places the Biblical texts about this subject too much in the context of the audience in my opinion. This makes his view about the demonic sober compared with the conflict theologians. Finally, this is a must-read for people who are obsessed with the demonic. It will restore much sanity and rest in their heads, especially because his sobering view shows that the emphasis is not about the demonic, but on Christ's Supreme Government.
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  2. Robert J Richardson

$23.99

Digital list price: $29.99
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