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The Devil: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 31 May 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (31 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199580995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199580996
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 1 x 10.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

This book may appeal to those wanting a short but insightful survey of those understandings of evil that the devil represents. (Reform Magazine)

Devil believer or devil-denier, you'll find plenty to get your teeth into here. (Northern Echo)

In this densely researched and drily elegant book, Satan is pursued through Augustine, Marlowe, Milton, Shelley, Blake, Goethe, Ambrose Bierce, Auden and CS Lewis's Screwtape, tales of self-mortification and witch-hunting, painting and the cinema. (Steven Poole, The Guardian)

About the Author

Darren Oldridge is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Worcester. For ten years his research and teaching has focused on the Devil, witchcraft and the concept of evil. He is the author the expanded second edition of The Witchcraft Reader (Routledge 2008), and Strange Histories (Routledge 2005).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Stephen Redman VINE VOICE on 1 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This very short introduction really achieves its brief - it revisits what the Bible and other literature has said about the Devil and examines how he has been represented through the ages.
Other authors have expressed their personal bigotry in books on the subject but Oldridge delivers an even handed overview that will offend no one but deliver what was asked of him. For anyone who thinks they know a little about the subject, the author will join the many dots in culture, society and literature to help us see the picture that may have not have been obvious.

For anyone studying the subject this will be a great primer, and an excellent reference. The book is worth buying for its bibliography alone, but there are other reasons on almost every page. For any student needing to reference Satan in an essay, this would be an excellent source.

As a series I have found these 'Very Short Introductions' mixed, but Oldridge stands out of the crowd in delivering an excellent piece of work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Martin Turner HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Devil: A Very Short Introduction is quite a long introduction to the social construct of the Christian devil. If this sounds like a bit of a mouthful, then it's probably worth reading the introduction to this introduction to understand why. Essentially, if you wanted the facts on the Devil in Christianity, then you could either read about a page in Berkhoff's Systematic Theology, or read a blank piece of paper, depending on where on the Christian-Atheist continuum you stand. There isn't a lot of 'official' information on the Devil. However, if you want to look at what people have thought and written about the devil, from the Book of Enoch onwards, then there is a vast range of material. It is this material which this book covers.

For the inter-testamental Jewish writers, and for the medieval and post medieval writers, the Devil is an endless source of fascination and controversy. James I wrote about him passionately, Augustine advanced an entire theology of a ransom paid to the devil (later dismissed by Anselm), Milton made him the star of Paradise Lost, and CS Lewis brought his minions memorably to life in The Screwtape Letters: Letters from a Senior to a Junior Devil.

All this and much more Darren Oldridge covers in a book which is informative and even entertaining, without ever asking you to actually make your mind up on what you think of it. As an Introduction, this is pretty good.

I was sceptical about this book -- what it was trying to do, how successful it would be. I think that, for the social construct of the Devil in art and literature, I can thoroughly recommend it. If you're looking for a more personal introduction, read the Screwtape Letters.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. W. Hatfield VINE VOICE on 1 Aug. 2012
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Superb little book. Little in size (like a little pocket diary, will fit neatly into your pocket), and little in length (just over a hundred pages)...but not little in concept or quality. The concept here is a history of the devil- religious, cultural references and philosophical. Why do we need a Devil? How have ideas of Satan/the Devil/Lucifer changed over the centuries? What have artists and writers made of this concept? All the key players are here- Marlowe/Milton/Goethe/Bosch/WH Auden through to Bergman/Friedkin/Mel Gibson..
At this length, the book can only be an appetiser, a whetstone to the mind, and it fulfils this function admirably- it really makes you want to read more. And that's where the ten page references/further reading section comes into its own. This points you in the direction of other, deeper texts on this theme, from Bunyan and St Augustine to Zimbardo. A treasure trove in a very small packet. Recommended. And you don't have to be a religious fanatic to admire this survey of a powerful influence on human thought through the ages. Just someone with an interest in the nature of evil, and the capacity of human beings to anthropomorphise concepts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alan Pavelin VINE VOICE on 2 Aug. 2012
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This 100-page addition to the "very short introduction" series, from the Oxford University press, is an excellent and very balanced summary of one of the most enduring aspects of religious faith. Chapter 2, "A Short History of Satan", does exactly what it says, emphasising that the way Satan is seen has actually gone through great changes since Old Testament times. For example, in the Book of Job he is an adversary in the Heavenly Court to question Job's righteousness; he is not at that point an enemy of God. Only much later does he become the "fallen angel" of Christian understanding, and the different approaches of Catholics and Protestants are discussed. Chapter 3, "The Devil and Humankind", discusses his effect on people, taking in exorcism and other phenomena. For me Chapter 4, "Depicting the Devil", is the most interesting, discussing his representation in the arts, including films such as The Exorcist. The final chapter, "The Devil Today", is self-explanatory.
What I find particularly refreshing is the author's refusal to take sides, whether in justifying the traditional Christian view of the existence of a personal Devil, or in high-mindedly dismissing it as a primitive superstition. So this book can be found acceptable by anybody.
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