This month we're reviewing Broken Wings by Shannon Dittemore. Unlike the previous book in the trilogy, Angel Eyes, this book portrays an actual angel and demon from the Bible, and one is Lucifer himself.
In Broken Wings, Satan is portrayed as the literal ruler inside hell (and the fires of hell are God's glory reflected). Honestly, the idea that Satan actually rules over hell had never crossed my mind.
I believe that Satan fell, and probably due to pride (hinted at in 1 Timothy 3:6). Is there a place where the Bible says Satan rules hell? I didn't find one, and I'm not sure why he'd rule a place that was to be his punishment. I know that cartoons always show the devil (and often demons) gleefully tormenting people in a pit of fire...but those same cartoons show cats and mice literally turning to harp-strumming angels after they're killed, so they probably aren't the best place to learn theology.
So I thought I'd look through the mentions of Satan in the Bible and make sure I hadn't missed anything obvious, at least. Per Bible Gateway, there are just 47 references to "Satan" proper in the NIV.
First off, the physical description in Broken Wings is extra-Biblical--that is, something we don't see in the Bible. I don't think extra-Biblical portrayals are wrong. If they were, I'd have to stop writing fiction. But I'm wary of extra-Biblical portrayals of Biblical creatures that don't make me see reality more clearly. Angel Eyes had a lot of extra-Biblical ideas, but also opened my eyes more clearly to the reality of angels and demons being around us, so in that sense it was a helpful book on a spiritual level.
Broken Wings is portraying actual Biblical figures like Satan and Michael, and I don't think it can lean on the "Wow, angels are really around us" idea like Angel Eyes could, since it's taken for granted at the start of the novel. So I think I held it to a higher standard.
That said, I thought the physical description of Satan was plausible enough. 2 Corinthians 11:14 notes that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Here's an angel's-eye-view of when Satan visits his demons in Broken Wings.
Silence consumes the assembly now, imposed on them by the sight of an icy white figure dropping into the hall from above. His wings, spread wide, are white, save the tips, which retain a char he's never rid of.
Black-tipped wings for the Prince of Darkness. Healthy wings. Strong wings. His skin shines like polished marble. His hair lies in curls of midnight around his face--still fresh, still bright, still retaining the beauty that seduced a third of the angels. Human eyes would have a hard time distinguishing the Prince from a Warrior like Michael. But the absence of light behind those pale blue eyes hints at the creature's true nature. And they are pale, so pale the blue seems buried far below, glinting like coins at the bottom of a well.
He's exquisite. Majestic.
And he's afraid.
So here are most of the Biblical references I could find, mostly "Satan" and "the devil". (I would say "Evil one" was largely the same as below. Links and quotes are NIV.)
In the Old Testament, Satan incites David into taking a census of Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1). He accuses Job in front of God, then torments Job with utter destruction of almost everything he has, and finally gives him painful sores everywhere (Job 1:6-2:7). And later, the high priest Joshua is standing beside the angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his (other translations say Joshua's) right side to accuse him, and God rebukes Satan (Zechariah 3:1-2).
The New Testament uses the name Satan a lot more. Of course, Satan tempts Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13). Pharisees accuse Jesus of calling on Satan but as Jesus says, "If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?" (see Matthew 12:22-28, Mark 3:22-26, Luke 11:14-20). Satan steals the Word from people (Matthew 13:19, Mark 4:15), causes God's people to be unfruitful (Matthew 13:38-39) and binds a crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17). When Peter objects to Jesus suffering and dying, Jesus says to Peter "Get behind me, Satan!" (Matthew 16:21-23, Mark 8:31-33). Satan enters Judas (Luke 22:3, John 13:27) and "asked to sift" the disciples "as wheat" (Luke 22:31-32).
After the Gospels, Satan prompts Ananias to lie about the price he received for the land he "donated" to the church (Acts 5:3). Paul recounted his vision on the road to Damascus in Acts 26:15-18, where God sends him to the Gentiles "to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'" The closing to Romans (Romans 16:20) promises a triumph over Satan.
I would class the remaining references to Satan I saw prior to Revelation--and even some inside it--as being about Satan tempting, (1 Corinthians 7:5, 1 Timothy 5:11-15, Revelation 2:9-10) tormenting (2 Corinthians 12:7), teaching?! (1 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Timothy 1:20), scheming (2 Corinthians 2:11), obstructing (1 Thessalonians 2:18), or deceiving (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).
And of course, there are some references we take to mean Satan that won't come up simple word/phrase searches, such as when Jesus says in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
I'd say "Steal, kill, destroy, tempt, and torment" pretty much sum up what I've seen of Satan in the Bible."Tempt" might is shown the most. And I can definitely imagine some great temptation scenes coming up in Book 3 in this trilogy.
But back to my initial question. Hell was prepared for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41-43). But I didn't notice any indication that it was a place for them to hang out when they're not being punished by God. So I still see Satan ruling hell (and holding demon meetings there) as extra-Biblical. Per 1 John 5:19, "the whole world is under the control of the evil one." Maybe I missed why the demons chose hell as their meeting place in Broken Wings, when they have the whole world to play with.
I didn't list the Biblical references to Satan's fall...I think the fact that he fell is widely accepted among most Christians, but it's not easy to find just reading without substantial context. Most of the references don't even mention Satan. There were some interesting thoughts by William D. Webber at Beliefnet.
I believe two mentions in Luke 10:17-20 and Revelation 12:7-9 aren't exactly about the original fall. As Webber's article indicates, there is actually some debate as to if references like Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:13-17 are talking about Satan at all--at most they are double references also alluding to historical figures.
As to the fall, Broken Wings also portrays Satan as God's worship leader, who got too vain. I'm not saying that's not possible, and I've heard some people say it before. But as far as I know, that belief is also extra-Biblical. I don't mind speculation, but I don't like when people start preaching speculation as fact...and the angel-knowing humans in Broken Wings acknowledge the worship leader position as an accepted fact. It might make interesting fiction, but I worry that some people might take it as (ahem) gospel.
Now, let me admit, I haven't studied Satan extensively; reading for this blog entry is by far the longest I've investigated him specifically.
But on the other hand, I'm not sure we really need to know the enemy's backstory in detail? Or is it enough to just know that he seeks to tempt, to torment, to kill, to destroy, and try to fight that?
Regardless of Satan's past, we do know his ending (Revelation 20:7-10). That's something I think all Christians can agree on, no matter how they might view the finer details of what comes before.
I'll review the book itself tomorrow. For now, here are the other tour participants!
Emma or Audrey Engel
Karielle @ Books à la Mode
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback
Rebecca LuElla Miller
*In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book.