When did Daimones become Demons? Revisiting Septuagintal Data for Ancient Jewish Demonology

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Author: Annette Yoshiko Reed
Publication Date: 2023
Publication in: Harvard Theological Review , Volume 116 , Issue 3 , July 2023 , pp. 340 – 375.

Paper, paywalled

Link: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0017816023000196


Recent research on Jewish demonology has been significantly advanced by evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls. In light of these advances, this article revisits the use of daimones and related terms in the Greek translations of Jewish scriptures commonly called the Septuagint (LXX). Against the tendency to conflate these LXX data into one intermediate stage in the development of the demonology of the New Testament, it calls for further attention to the particular dates and translational tendencies in specific LXX texts, as well as further attention to contemporaneous Aramaic and Hebrew sources. Accordingly, it situates the daimones of LXX Deuteronomy, the Greek Psalter, and LXX Isaiah alongside the emergent demonologies in the Aramaic Enoch literature, Jubilees, 4Q560, and 11Q11. Taken together, these sources attest new literary creativity surrounding transmundane powers among Jews in the Hellenistic period, shaped by distinctive concerns that cannot be reduced to a transitional, proto-Christian moment.