Elaine Pagels

Hello, Satan


“Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils” by William Blake, circa 1826. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Early this morning

     when you knocked upon my door

And I said “Hello, Satan

     I believe it’s time to go.”

Robert Johnson, “Me and the Devil Blues”

I’ve been walking with my friend the Satan for a spell. I’d like to tell you some of what I’ve learned, if you care to listen. (more…)

Angel of Abraham

"The Angel of the Lord Preventing Abraham from Sacrificing his Son Isaac" (1616) by Pieter Lastman.

“The Angel of the Lord Preventing Abraham from Sacrificing his Son Isaac” (1616) by Pieter Lastman.

In the (Brome) Abraham and Isaac play (15th century) of the English Religious Theater, Isaac exclaims when confronted with Abraham’s purpose:

“Now I would my mother were here on this hill!

She would kneel for me on both her knees

To save my life.”

Like Iphigeneia at Aulis, Isaac eventually consents to the sacrifice. But when Abraham raises his hand to strike his son, an Angel appears and takes “the sword in his hand suddenly” (A.C. Cawley, ed., Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays, 1967).  In René Marqués’ allegorical play Sacrificio en el Monte Moriah (1969), Sara (Isaac’s mother) masquerades as the Angel, tricking Abraham into believing that God wants him to substitute a ram as a burnt offering for the boy. (more…)