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

4.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

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).


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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By Martin Turner HALL OF FAMETOP 500 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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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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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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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By Su TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The word "evil" is frequently used in the media these days but Satan seems to have disappeared without a trace, relegated to the occasional possession lead horror movie and as an occasional character in South Park.

The book covers the history of Satan from his most notorious down through the years, and makes a good starting place if you are interesting in the history of belief and its effects.

As we have moved on and developed as a society the Devil has fallen out of favour, and after reading this book I do wonder why. People seem so anxious to believe that there might be vampires, etc, and yet the oldest deity (or should that be anti-deity) is ignored by all but the likes of South Park.

Definitely an interesting read.
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Format: Paperback
An introduction to the devil as seen by Christian theologians, artists, filmmakers, poets and novelists. A nice book with which to begin your study of the devil. Oldridge also provides a nice "Further Reading" section in the back of the book for further study.

Readers would also like "Jenna's Flaw," a novel about Satanism and demonic possession in the Midwest.
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