BEN: Two of the conclusions of your detailed exegetical work which will surprise many are: 1) there is no record in the Bible, including not in Rev. 12, of a primeval fall of Satan from heaven, and 2) there is no evidence in the Bible of Satan having a multitude of angels under his control. The first evidence of this actually comes in 1 Enoch. What are some of the implications of these conclusions? Where and when does evil get a toe hold in God’s good creation?
MICHAEL: When death enters into the world. The original rebel is cast down to the earth / Underworld (Hebrew: ʾerets). The same term speaks to both and the cosmology assumes the link (the Underworld is deep inside the earth in ancient cosmology). The original rebel is at home in the realm of death and the dead. Everything is now anti-Eden. There is no Eden. There is death and chaos is either in no threat of diminishment of chaos (which one could say would be the result of the expansion of Eden), or chaos is worse. So his influence is felt from the point of transgression and the curses. Earlier I said a few things about how subsequent rebels could be conceived of being part of the “death culture” that is now present via depravity, idolatry, spreading chaos, etc. If one asks the right questions (or, better, certain questions) about the data points, the Second Temple and New Testament ideas become comprehensible, having their source in the Old Testament data. It’s really about how the data are framed and considered.