It would seem so. Even parts of the Bible think so. Like the Book of Job, for example, where Satan is far from (or at least not yet) the scaly-tailed horned Fiend of later centuries.

Quite the contrary – he was just one of the guys, almost family.

One day (this is the Bible talking) God was lounging around heaven with visiting family, including Satan. “There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”

Not much of an answer that, was it? A little … pert. But God didn’t call him on it, or demand better.

In the course of the afternoon, God boasts to Satan and the others how faithful and obedient his people were, especially Job, and Satan cajoles God into trying to prove it. God plays along with the gag, and authorizes Satan to inflict all kinds of miseries on Job, renowned (until then) as “the greatest of all men of the east.” Among those miseries were the famous head-to-toe “sore boils.”

So, with God egging him on, Satan did a number on Job.

As it turned out, Job’s faith passed the test, but you have to wonder at the character of a god who would take up a cruel dare like that, even if it was only meant as a test. No wonder Satan became a cynic.

(Job, by the way, seems to have been a bit of a prig. He constantly lectured his wife about piety or lack thereof, and seems to have been a classic helicopter parent. Concerned, for example, that his sons weren’t pious enough for him, he “rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” That’s giving the kids the benefit of the doubt, no? Who wants a dad like that?”)


(This is one of a series of blog posts from my forthcoming book on the devil and hell – Hell and Damnation: A Sinner’s Guide to Eternal Torment, due spring 2019. More to come)