Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

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(5,898 words)

“Devil” translates Greek διάβολος, transliterated into Latin as diabolus. Διάβολος, an adjective used as a substantive, had a specific sense in classical Greek of “slanderer,” but it came to be used in more general terms to mean “enemy,” and when used by early Christians, often with the definite article (ὁ διάβολος), it most often referred to a particular enemy, “the devil”; in writings from the New Tes…

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Lunn-Rockliffe, Sophie, “Devil”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 01 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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