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The same dualistic climate of the 2nd c. gave rise to a soteriological vision summed up under the title theory of redemption RAC 9,710ff.; Studer 70-73. Justin had already emphasized Christ’s victory over the demons for mainly apologetic reasons. For him, the struggle between Christ and the demons had already taken place in Jesus’ temptation Dial. 125,2ff. and passion Apol. 1,63,10, but continued in the church, esp. in exorcisms, and will only be victoriously concluded at the Lord’s parousia Apol. 1,28,1. Ukraine Map Tourist Attractions This idea of Christ’s triumph, taken from the apostolic tradition, found a mythological expression in the theme of the descensus ad inferos, later inserted into the baptismal creed Studer 68f.. More important, however, was the development that the apostolic doctrine on the victory of the Savior produced in the anti-Marcionite discussion on the justice and goodness of God. Extending the biblical theme of the ransom for many Mk 10:45 in his extremely dualistic perspective, Marcion himself seems to have claimed that the good God had redeemed human beings, paying his Son’s blood in ransom to the demiurge.
In the polemic against his dualism, Christian authors from Irenaeus on, inspired by the biblical and traditional themes of the demons’ ignorance 1 Cor 2:7f.; Ign., Eph. 19,1-3, cancellation of the certificate of debt Col 2:14f., ransom and the precious blood of Jesus, elaborated the theory of a just victory of Christ over the devil, stressing both the devil’s deception by God and the devil’s abusus potestatis, having extended his just rights over human beings his prisoners due to sin to include the innocent life of Christ, thus losing both the unjustly persecuted Jesus and sinful humanity at one and the same time. This theory, illustrated with many popular details, some even in bad taste, was defended esp. by Origen Hom. Exod. 6,9 and Gregory of Nyssa Or. cat. 22f., whereas Gregory of Nazianzus strongly criticized it Or. 45,22. Nonetheless, by inserting the victorious liberation of humanity, expressed perhaps in a way that owed too much to folklore, into the whole of salvation history, the Fathers opened some truly grandiose perspectives.
Thus, following the Pauline antithesis of Adam and Christ, Irenaeus put forward his doctrine of the apokatastasis: having defeated the first Adam, seducing him to disobedience, the devil was defeated by the obedience of the second Adam, Christ Iren., Adv. haer. 3, 18,7. This historical vision of Christ’s redemptive work then became the common heritage of the Fathers, who would never cease, in imitation of the Bible’s own relative dualism, to oppose light to darkness, Christ’s kingdom to that of Belial a perspective given its most powerful expression by Augustine in his apologia De civitate Dei.
All of these apologetic, philosophical, soteriological and historical concerns could not fail to have significant repercussions in parenetic literature. Indeed, it was in the ascetical-moral field that Christian demonology reached its widest extension DSp 3,152-219. Following Jewish traditions, attested most clearly in the Qumran writings, Christian moralists quickly put forward the practical demands of faith, opposing the way of light, over which God’s angels were given charge, with that of darkness, dominated by Satan’s angels Barn. 18,1f.; Did. 1,1, or tried to explain the origin of evil in humanity itself by distinguishing two spirits, one good, the other of temptation cf. the Ps.-Clem.Hom. and Herm. and DSp 3,160-168. Following the same Jewish traditions, also present in the NT writings but reread in the context of Stoic ethics, each vice was ascribed to a particular spirit see DSp 3,168-174. This doctrine on the vices and their demons attained its most complete synthesis in Evagrius of Pontus’s theory on the eight vices DSp 3,200f., later taken up by Byzantine authors John Damascene, De octo Spir.: PG 95, 80-96 and handed down through John Cassian’s Collationes 7-8 to the medieval West DSp 3,208f.. Understanding sins and vices as instigated by the nefarious action of demons, the spiritual writers, beginning with Origen DSp 3,182-189, thus considered the entire life of faith as a temptation, a struggle against demons; they esp. associated the commencement of this struggle with the catechumenate and baptism, exhorting not just catechumens but the whole community to ascesis, fasting and prayer, and insisting on the need to renounce the pompa diaboli DSp 3,174-182. Likewise they stressed these demands of the Christian life in penitential preaching, esp. during Lent. They also celebrated, esp. in hagiographical writings largely on the model of Athanasius’s Vita Antonii the glorious victories gained by monks and saints, like the martyrs before them, over the devil and demons DSp 3,194-196.