Earlier today I shared a sample pericope from the Synoptic Gospels wherein Satan/the Devil/the Evil One is mentioned in Matthew 13.19; Mark 4.15; and Luke 8.12 (see “Satan, the devil, the evil one”). I used it to point out how we may explain morphing from one Gospel to another. In the story of the sower (shared in Matthew 13.1-23; Mark 4.1-20; and Luke 8.4-15) if we begin with Markan priority it would move from “the Satan” in Mark to “the Evil One” in Matthew and “the Devil” in Luke. I proposed a solution to these differences when it seems like Matthew and Luke may have had Mark and Luke may have had Matthew as well is that Matthew wasn’t comfortable with Mark’s named “Satan” so he generalized it to “the Evil One” (kind of like he calls the Kingdom of God the Kingdom of Heaven) and that Luke went with the less Hebraic “Satan” in favor of “the Devil”.
Of course, there is one major problem with this solution. As one commenter observed it doesn’t match the data from the rest of the Gospels. Why?
First, Matthew uses Satan in 4.10; 12.26; and 16.23. Mark 1.9-12 tells the story of Jesus’ temptation and he names Satan. In Matthew 4.1-11 we find the parallel story and Matthew names Satan. In Luke 4.1-13 we find the parallel story and Luke calls him “the Devil” in vv. 2, 3, 5, 9, and 13. In Matthew 12.26 Jesus speaks of Satan as being divided against himself. When Luke shares a similar saying in 11.18 he names “Satan”. In 16.23 Matthew has Jesus rebuking Peter calling him “Satan”. Mark does the same in 8.33.
Second, as has been made obvious, “Satan” is used in Matthew (4.10; 12.26; and 16.23), Mark (1.13; 3.23, 26; 4.15; and 8.33), and Luke (10.18; 11.18; 13.16; and 22.3, 31). Likewise, “the Devil” is used by both Matthew (4.1, 5, 8, 11; 13.139; and 25.41) and Luke (4.2, 3, 6, 13). Interestingly enough, I can’t find “the Devil” in Mark. Matthew 13.19, 38 refer to “the Evil One” but this designation for Satan is not found in Mark or Luke.
So returning to what I wrote earlier more data does the following: (1) It disproves my first proposal that maybe Matthew called Satan “the Evil One” because he was not comfortable with “the Satan” since he uses the name Satan at least three times. (2) Mark uses Satan frequently, but I cannot find him using “the Evil One” or “the Devil” (if you find a reference please let me know), so maybe that does lend itself to being more Hebraic. (3) Luke uses Satan so his “the Devil” is not necessarily his way of addressing Gentiles.
I say all that to say that I don’t have a good reason for the morphing from Mark 4.15 to Matthew 13.19 to Luke 8.12, but I do find it interesting that “Satan” is Mark’s unique term for the Devil. Also, “the Evil One” seems to be used by Matthew alone and in a brief literary space.
No real thoughts on this one yet, but I was curious what you mean when you say that Matthew “generalizes” kingdom of God for kingdom of heaven. That left me scratching my head a bit when I read the first post this morning.
It was not the best choice of words. Basically, avoiding using the word “God” and speaking of God in the broader, conceptual term “Heaven”.
Gotcha. I thought you might have meant something like that. I know you’ve probably got way too much reading to do as it is, but Jonathan Pennington’s book Heaven and Earth in the Gospel of Matthew is a great resource that addresses that very topic (plus a whole lot more).
Thanks for the recommendation! I intend to give the Gospels much attention for a while so that may be something I pick up.
This is really interesting. The LXX consistently translates השטן as ὁ διάβολος. Mark self consciously avoids doing this and instead relies on a neologism ((ὁ Σατανᾶς) exclusively. Why?
ὁ διάβολος has a prior Greek history of usage independent of biblical context. What associations could Mark be trying to avoid in insisting on Satan?
Is there any reason for the mixed usage in Luke or Matthew aside from issues of Markian priority and borrowing?
@Dan: I am wondering if for some reason Mark thinks “the Devil” would associate with something that he wants to avoid. Is there a concept of ὁ διάβολος in the Greco-Roman world that would be confusing to an audience that Mark wants to introduce to the character Satan?
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