History 260: Special Topics
The History of the Devil
Winter Semester 2000

Frank Luttmer
108 Classic Hall
M W F: 10-12
866-7205 (office) 866-4073 (home)

Course Description and Objectives

This course is a survey of perceptions of the devil in Western civilization, from antiquity to the present. The objective is to place conceptions of the devil in their historical context and to trace changes in the depiction of the devil in Christian theology, in popular imagination, in literature, and in art. Topics include: the foundations of the devil in Hebrew and Christian sacred literature; the interpretation of the devil by the Church Fathers; learned and popular images of the devil in the Middle Ages; demonology, witchcraft, and possession in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period; Satan's role as "tempter" in the Reformation era; and the treatment of evil and the devil in the modern world. In addition to increasing your understanding of the history of perceptions of the devil and assumptions about evil, the course is designed to deepen your appreciation of the study of history, strengthen your capacity to think critically and analytically, and improve your research and writing skills. You will be expected to analyze primary documents carefully and thoughtfully, develop and defend your own interpretations, and write a substantive research paper.


1. Jeffrey Burton Russell, The Prince of Darkness
2. Andrew Delbanco, The Death of Satan
3. Francesco Maria Guazzo, Compendium Maleficarum
4. John Bunyan, Grace Abounding
5. Internet Texts (links to which appear on the schedule below)


Final grades will be based on an evaluation of the following.

1. Two mid-term exams (15% each) and a final exam (20%)

2. A Research paper submitted in two drafts (15% for the first draft and 25% for the second)

3. Class participation and daily writing assignments (10%)


Evil in the Ancient World

Jan. 12
Russell, xi-xiii, 1-17; Horus and Seth; Baal Epic

Jan. 14
Russell, 17-27; Bundahishn

The Devil in Hebrew and Christian Sacred Literature

Jan. 17
Precursors of the Devil
Russell, 28-37; Genesis; 1 Enoch; Job

Jan. 19
Precursors of the Devil in the Apocalyptic Era
Russell, 37-42; Book of Jubilees; Life of Adam and Eve; Dead Sea Scrolls

Jan. 21
The Devil and the Gospels
Russell, 43-55; Matthew

Jan. 24
Paul and Revelations
Paul; Revelations

Early Christianity and the Consolidation of Images

Jan. 26
Satan and Heresy
Russell, 56-81; Cyprian; Tertullian

Jan. 28
Dualism in the Desert
Russell, 82-92; Athanasius

Jan. 31
Theodicy, the Devil, and Augustine
Russell, 93-110; Augustine

The Devil in the Middle Ages

Feb. 2
The Devil in Popular Culture, Art, and Literature
Russell, 111-129; Christ and Satan; Caesarius

Feb. 4
Temptation in the Monastery

Feb. 7
Evil and the Devil in Scholasticism and Literature
Russell, 130-156; Aquinas

The Reformation and the Witch Hunts

Feb. 9
The Era of Crisis, 1347-1700
Russell, 157-177; Guazzo, 1-19

Feb. 11
Classic Demonology
Guazzo, 22-59, 73-82

Feb. 14
Classic Demonology
Guazzo, 96-147

Feb. 16

Feb. 18
Russell, 186-189; Guazzo, 163-206

Feb. 21
Protestants, Witches, and the Devil
Clark (on reserve); Chelmsford Witches

Feb. 23
Scepticism and Popular Culture
Scot; Gifford

Feb. 25
Scepticism and Possession

Spiritual Struggle against Temptation

Mar. 6
The Christian Warfare

Mar. 8
Decretum Horribilis
Spira; Bunyan, 3-30

Spiritual Autobiography
Bunyan, 31-75

Mar. 13
Spiritual Autobiography
Bunyan, 75-94, 125-155

Mar. 15
Spiritual Autobiography
Bunyan, 159-169, 173-190

John Milton's Satan

Mar. 17
Paradise Lost
Russell,177-185, 189-205; Milton, 4-32 (Book 1)

Mar. 20
Paradise Lost
Milton, 84-101 (IV, 1-575), 197-208 (IX, 1-411)

Mar. 24

Mar. 31
Paradise Lost
Milton, 208-229 (IX, 411-1189), 241-245 (X, 414-584),
252-259 (X, 845-1104), 290-301 (XII, 270-646)

The Devil in the Modern World

Apr. 3
The Enlightenment and the Romantic Era
Russell, 206-240; Hume

Apr. 5
Evil in the late 19th and 20th Century
Russell, 241-277; Dostoevsky

The Devil in the United States

Apr. 7
Satan Comes to the New World
Delbanco, 3-55

Apr. 10
The Devil, Reason, and the Self
Delbanco, 57-121

Apr. 12
Providence and Blame
Delbanco, 125-183

Apr. 14
The Culture of Irony
Delbanco, 185-235

Apr. 20, 9-12 AM

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