Inquisitive Minds Podcast Critical Thinking on History, Religion, Politics and Culture

In this last episode of series on the figure of Satan, we examine how the Gospel of John portrays this devilish character. A careful reading of the Fourth Gospel uncovers a parallel characterization between Satan, also known as the Devil and the Prince of the World, with that of Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus. The close association between these two figures seems as if the author of the John's gospel wanted to depict Judas as some sort of earthly manifestation of Satan. This was how the Johannine community could make sense of the idea that Jesus was handed over to the Roman authorities by a close friend; an evil act which they could only understand as having been inspired by Satan himself.

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The second episode of our series on the figure of Satan in the Bible touches on how this figure is characterized in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Is Satan of the Hebrew Bible the same as that of the New Testament? Readers of the gospels first come across this figure in the testing of Jesus in the wilderness. Does Satan in this story work against God or on his behalf, and is the characterization of this personage consistent throughout the gospels? Can the role ascribed to Satan in these gospel stories shed some light on the ways early Christians tried to rationalize their faith in their struggle with evil?

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In this episode, we continue last week's discussion on the possible connections between Homer and the gospels. We also look at how several Hebrew Bible stories were imitated by the writers of the story of Jesus. Some of the examples discussed are taken from MacDonald's recent book on imitations of Greek epic in Mark and the works of Luke-Acts.

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February 2, 2015  
The idea that the gospel writers imitated ancient classical texts has been explored by several authors. D.R. MacDonald has written a book explaining how the New Testament gospels were the product of mimesis, and that Homer's Iliad and Odyssey served as foundational texts from which the writers build their own stories of Jesus. In the podcast we explore mimetic criticism and offer an assessment of MacDonald's hypothesis and criteria used in the study of ancient religious texts.

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