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The Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles - throughout history the Prince of Darkness, the Western world's most powerful symbol of evil, has taken many names and shapes. Jeffrey Burton Russell here chronicles the remarkable story of the Devil from antiquity to the present. While recounting how past generations have personified evil, he deepens our understanding of the ways ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 16th 1992 by Cornell University Press (first published 1988)
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3.80  · 
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 ·  152 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Peter Bradley
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Please give a helpful vote to my Amazon review -

This is a wonderfully literate and engaging survey of the history and literature surrounding Satan. The author, Jeffrey Burton Russell,

Russell begins with a survey of the idea of evil and the earliest understanding of evil as a force or power that opposed its contradictory power of good. This binary division of good from evil provided a neat explanation of why there was evil in the world. Unfortunately, this
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion-history

This is an astonishingly erudite book, and contains an incredible amount of information for less than 300 pages. My only complaint is that the Devil in Islam is not explored: Burton says in his introduction that this is treated in the Lucifer volume of his original quartet, but I feel like he could have fit even a short chapter on Islam's Devil into this book. Nevertheless, I thoroughly recommend this book for a relatively easy-reading history of the Devil and evil in human thought.

full re
Dimitrije Stevanović
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
this book really affected my life, and way of thinking, learning and receiving information. By reading it you can learn that there's not only dualism-black and white, good and evil, but there are so many layers out there. If you love history, really good science study and esotheria you will deffenitely enjoy this book.
Paul Creasy
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

I saw the author interviewed on the documentary "The Devil and Father Amorth" and am very glad I purchased this book. It did not disappoint. Informative and very thorough, it gave a great historical and theological overview of how the Devil has been thought of in history. I cannot help but think that the gaming of Satan during the 19th and 20th century proved a horrendous error. The medieval.mind was probably more accurate .
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
its a history textbook
Shane Hill
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty solid read of the history of the Devil in mostly western thought through the lens of Judaism and Christianity and of authors like Milton and Dostoevsky.....
Tatiana Gomez
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
An engrossing and extensive masterpiece detailing the rise and fall of the concept of the devil (mostly) Western society and thought. Traveling through time from the dawn of written history to our modern, post world war age Russell tracks the evolution and eventual dissolution of the idea of a devil. In short, I found this book to be deep, intellectual, and incredibly thought provoking and I recommend it to any seeker.
Blending together scripture, dogmatic tradition, religious philosophy, literat
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in the Devil and the history of evil and religion
Shelves: own, non-fiction
Russell has previously written four in-depth works on the concept of Satan and ultimate evil: The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity, Satan: The Early Christian Tradition, Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages, and Mephisopheles: The Devil in the Modern World. This book is apparently meant to be a synthesis and abridgement of these four books. I can't speak to how well Russell succeeds in this, not having read the previous four books, but I certainly found this b ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it liked it
I had to read this for my class "The Devil in Russian Literature". It is extremely informative and it is honestly rather incredible the amount of information the author can fit inside with less than 300 pages to work with. That is both the gooks greatest strength and its weakness. It seems that each new paragraph brings a new story or anecdote and discussion of another nuanced view of evil. It is a positive in that this book is supposed to be a general survey, but it is also a negative in that y ...more
Feb 26, 2015 added it
Kitabin degerlendirmesi icin, bkz.

It's a very good overview of the devil's historical transformation. It doesn't only include a survey of the Christian theology. It also discusses literature, culture, psychology & psychiatry in an attempt to tackle the issue of the existence of good and evil in humanity. There are conceptual debates, historical outlines and cultural examples. The figure of Satan has the lead in commentary but it's a lot more than that.
En esta obra, dirigida al público general, el autor expone cómo ha variado el concepto del diablo en el mundo occidental, y a través de ello, la percepción acerca del mal predominante en cada período histórico. Un libro muy claro, ameno y que no resulta agobiante pese a la abundante información que entrega. Se analizan corrientes filosóficas, religiosas, e incluso obras literarias. Muy recomendable.
Ben Fairchild
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Astonishingly erudite and coherent account of the history of the devil in Christian (and pre-Christian) thought. Including analyses of the devil and the problem of evil in the Patristic and Monastic tradition and art and literature and folk tradition through to modernity. A refreshing insight from the world's greatest expert in diabology. A must read for any serious Christian.
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Well written and very fascinating!
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, sachbuch
"Das Böse wird direkt erfahren und direkt intuitiv wahrgenommen."

Nüchterner als erwartet, aber gute Darstellung der verschiedenen Manifestationen des Bösen/des Teufels.
Sep 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Good book about early perceptions of evil from pre-Christian traditions.
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Mar 12, 2015
This condensation of his 4 previous books on Satan is too broad and lacks all citations & references. It's like he's teething to cover too much, and in found so, he covers very little in any depth. The total lack of citations & references makes it less useful for scholars & students. I'm considering this as a textbook for my "History of Satan" course, but I'm not sure it's suitable.
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Jeffrey Burton Russell is Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Besides UCSB, he has taught History and Religious Studies at Berkeley, Riverside, Harvard, New Mexico, and Notre Dame. He has published seventeen books and many articles, most of them in his special field, history of theology. He is most noted for his five-volume history of the concept of the ...more
“But the Platonists never argued that evil’s lack of ultimate reality meant that there was no moral evil in the world. Plato was well aware of wars, murders, and lies. Evil exists, but it exists as a lack of good, just as holes in a Swiss cheese exist only as lack of cheese. The evil of a lie is the absence of truth. Plato did not think that the nonbeing of evil removed evil from the world, only that it removed responsibility for evil from the creator. Evil arose not from the God, but from matter.” 1 likes
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