Is Jesus saying the name of Satan when speaking in Luke 10:18? I have researched the verse in Hebrew, and there seems to be a question about the smallest of words in the verse when it comes to differences between various bible translations

Luke 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan - (AS)? (Like)? - lightning fall from heaven

It sure does change the meaning of the verse which word is used. Can you please help me clarify? When interpreting these what I call little words what is a good rule of thumb?

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  • No one has said it so...The Greek word here is Σατανᾶς (Satanas). Used 36 times in the NT. A noun meaning adversary as an answer points out. Question is, is it being used as a proper noun or just a noun? See Mark 3:23 and also John 13:27 for examples of how it difficult to not see it as a proper noun name. – Joshua Jun 16 '15 at 16:58

There are no significant manuscript or translation issues with this verse, though some versions do offer a somewhat different verb tense. In response to the good report that even demons were subject to his name, Jesus said to the 70,

“I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Lk.10:18b, NASB).

According to the gospel writer, Jesus did use a personal name for Satan, but it’s uncertain what specific name he would have used in Aramaic (as we assume he spoke). Our Greek text uses Σατανᾶς (Satanas), a near transliteration of the Hebrew שָׂטָן first used in the Septuagint to refer to, not devil-figures, but 'opposers’ of ancient Israel. But during the Second Temple Period – likely reflecting Persian influence – evil became personified; ‘the satan’ opposer/accuser of the Hebrew Bible came to be thought of by many Jews as 'Satan', a spiritual being with a personal name, the enemy of God. Jewish pseudepigrapha over the next centuries offered several competing mythologies describing Satan's origin and activities using various names, including Beelzebul, Belial, Mastema, Semyaza, Asael, and Satanael, for example. Some of these texts are identified with particular communities.

The last of these names is important here because in Luke 10:18 Jesus seems to be referring to the story of Satanael from 2 Enoch 29 in which the archangel, who was created from lightning, rebelled and was then hurled from heaven. In this non-biblical book, ‘Enoch’ reports his experience of being taken up to the seventh heaven where God re-told the creation story, different from the biblical accounts and 1 Enoch, including the creation of the heavens on the second day:

“And for all my own heavens I shaped a shape from the fiery substance. My eye looked at the solid and very hard rock. And from the flash of my eye I took the marvelous substance of lightning ... and from the fire I created the ranks of the bodiless armies – the myriad angels – and their weapons are fiery and their clothes are burning flames. And I gave orders that each should stand in his own rank. ....

But one from the order of the archangels deviated, together with the division that was under his authority. He thought up the impossible idea, that he might place his throne higher than the clouds which are above the earth, and that he might become equal to my power. And I hurled him out from the height, together with his angels. And he was flying around in the air, ceaselessly above the [abyss]. And thus I created the entire heavens. ...” [Francis Andersen, “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (J.H. Charlesworth, ed.; New York: Doubleday, 1983); emphasis added.]

The provenance of current texts of 2 Enoch is disputed, but many scholars believe an early Semitic form of it dates from the time of Jesus. The text is certainly evocative and closely aligns with Jesus' imagery (much more so than Is.14:12 as suggested by Tertullian and Origen). The archangel leader is identified as Satanael in 18:3, the theophoric ‘-el’ ending of his name underlining “his original angelic status,” according to Adrei Orlov, and its removal, described in 31:4, “signifies expulsion from the angelic rank.” According to this story, Satan and his rebel troops are hurled from the highest heaven for thinking they could equal God in power. Depending on one's translation of the very common Greek word ὡς (hōs) in Luke 10:18, Satan falls ‘as’ or ‘like' lightning. Both are true.

This, then, may be the image – and the name – that came to Jesus’ mind when his disciples began to cast out demons, to accomplish on earth what Enoch declared God had already done in heaven.

  • 1
    I seriously doubt that "many scholars believe an early Semitic form of it dates from the time of Jesus". Care to name names? At least you rightly acknowledge that its provenance is "disputed". A good place to gauge the level of uncertainty would be the "2 Enoch" posts on Jim Davila's blog which give copious amounts of up-to-date (cutting edge, even) scholarly information about it. – Dɑvïd Jun 18 '15 at 8:39
  • Thanks, @Davïd, for the Davila link. He names Andrei Orlov, whom I also used above. In his book for Brill (2012), Orlov states that “none of the arguments against the early dating of the pseudepigraphon stands up to criticism and that no convincing alternative to the early date has so far been offered” (p.106). His analysis of thematic content demonstrates “2 Enoch can be placed inside the chronological boundaries of the second temple period, which allows us to safely assume a date ... before 70 C.E.” (p.116). See Orlov for more support for an early date. tinyurl.com/o35aku2 – Schuh Jun 18 '15 at 9:33
  • Thanks @Schuh - so Orlov makes 1. ;) Not quite "many"! So, yes, there is a scholar who argues for an early date. Even if you agrees with Orlov (as I take it you do), then making the further connection that this is Jesus' source remains a tenuous move, at best. – Dɑvïd Jun 18 '15 at 10:00
  • @Davïd, perhaps you missed Orlov’s footnote 20 in which he lists 19 additional scholars who support an early date. I don’t know how many of them suggest a Semitic volage specifically, but Andersen and Orlov say the Semiticisms are a common observation. The evidence is, many scholars date 2 Enoch prior to 70 CE, making it a possible source for Jesus’ reference in Luke. Given all 5 details of Jesus’ saying are also found in 2 Enoch 29, I'd say that possibility is more than “tenuous”. It's the best option offered, by far. – Schuh Jun 18 '15 at 11:12
  • You're right: I did miss it! Thanks for directing me to it. Observations: (1) Here's the thing about it: quite a number (I haven't stopped to count) just acknowledge that 2 En 69 suggests a date prior to 70, as you note. Many of those same sources (okay, at least some! :) likewise indicate that this is not "decisive" proof (e.g. Schürer III.2, p. 748). (2) EVERYONE (I think this is safe) regards it as peripheral to Judaism. (3) Your parallel in 2 En 29 is only in the longer recension and most see it as Christian interpolation. | Sum: 2 Enoch highly unlikely source for Luke! – Dɑvïd Jun 18 '15 at 13:59

When I need to look a Bible Passage up on the internet I usually go to BibleHub.com or BibleGateway.com. when I went to BibleHub I found that every translation they had listed used the name Satan, except for one, Young's Literal Translation which follows

and he said to them, 'I was beholding the Adversary, as lightning from the heaven having fallen;

Emphasis Mine, this is the term that this version says that Jesus used, which would match the story as well, and makes sense if we read it in context, Jesus is telling his audience that the Adversary has no power, that he has fallen from grace and no longer holds power over the earth.

Young's Literal Translation appears to use the term Adversary everywhere that the other translations use names like Satan, or similar names.

The definition of Adversary as follows

one's opponent in a contest, conflict, or dispute.

Jesus came to save us from Death and Sin, and Satan tries to convict us of sin, so it would be reasonable to say that Satan is Jesus's opponent in the biggest conflict of Heaven and Earth. I would say that makes him The Adversary

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