The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who is Iblis?

It has long been known that the 1978 TV series, Battlestar Galactica, is a LDS allegory ("Mormons in Space", as it were). One of the sub-allegories which the linked article mentioned was a "Count Iblis", a one-episode character who promises to the Battlestar's travelers redemption if they would deny their quest and serve him.

That parallel becomes even stronger, when you consider that in the Qur'an, "Iblis" is the name which the Devil took when he conceived his rebellion in Heaven. In the beginning Iblis was among the angels, but he disagreed with God over the creation of humanity. To Iblis, humans were made of inferior material.

The Iblis tradition also exists in Judaism and Christianity, but less centrally. It is however central to the "poetical" fringe of these religions, as represented in the Book of Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36) through to Milton's "Paradise Lost".

Other names of this being do not point to the Enochian tradition. "The Devil" and for that matter "The Tempter" are classical translations of "The Satan", all of which refer to a "prosecuting attorney" figure. This creature tested the righteous, like Job in the Jewish Writings and Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels, and wittingly or not served God's purpose in so doing. "Lucifer" and "Morning / Evening Star" refer to Isaiah 14. Its author was likening the fortunes of various Mesopotamian tyrants to the ascent but inevitable descent of the planet Venus, something the Mesopotamians had studied a great deal. Enoch merged these traditions, and Jubilees gave to the wicked archangel the name "Mastema". However that name did not outlast the Dead Sea sect; the New Testament's more generic "diabolos" proved more resilient. The Qur'an resurrected Jubilees's idea that the Devil had a given name in Heaven.

By using "Iblis" for the Devil's name, BsG endorses the Enochian account as it developed through Christianity. The show's use of "Iblis" belongs to a long tradition of Mormons, friends, and opponents who have recognised the latter-day faith's parallels with that of Islam.

posted by Zimri on 17:10 | link | 0 comments

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