Can someone point me to an academic book on the etymological root of “satanas” (G4567)? Did it originate in the LXX when translating Job? Was satanas used extensively in Greco-Roman literature in antiquity?

  • A typical Greek source to consult is Kittel. Too simple for an answer, which I also gave. Great question and welcome to the site!
    – Jesse
    Commented Feb 14 at 2:39

2 Answers 2


There is ample reason to believe that Jesus used the Hebrew name "satan." The reason is that be the first c., Jewish demonology had evolved since "the satan" (ha-satan) was first used in the Book of Job. The Jewish Encyclopedia explains:

The evolution of the theory of Satan keeps pace with the development of Jewish angelology and demonology. In Wisdom ii. 24 he is represented, with reference to Gen. iii., as the author of all evil, who brought death into the world; he is apparently mentioned also in Ecclus. (Sirach) xxi. 27, and the fact that his name does not occur in Daniel is doubtless due merely to chance. Satan was the seducer and the paramour of Eve, and was hurled from heaven together with other angels because of his iniquity (Slavonic Book of Enoch, xxix. 4 et seq.). Since that time he has been called "Satan," although previously he had been termed "Satanel" (ib. xxxi. 3 et seq.).

Since "Satan" was already in wide use among Jews in Jesus' time, it is probable Jesus referred to the devil by that name and that the NT uses the hellenized version of it. NT writers did quote from the Septuagint, so it may well be that the NT adopted the convention of the LXX's translation of Job, but it could also be the case that it hellenized Satan's name in a similar way to its treatment of other Hebrew names such as Joshua/Yeshua (Iisoús) and Miriam/Maryam (Maria).


This question is about Greek in both New and Old Testaments, so we should consider the Septuagint.

Satan in the Old Testament: Septuagint says "devil" via διαβολος:

Job (Septuagint) uses ο διαβολος (ha diablos) in both chapters 1 and 2. This generally means the devil, with a monadic or celebrity use of the definite article the. This means "the [one and only]" (monadic) and/or "the [well known]" (celebrity).

1 Chronicles 21:1 (Septuagint) uses simply διαβολος (diablos) without the article "the".

Zechariah 3 (Septuagint) also uses ο διαβολος (ha diablos) with the definite article.

Then, we have comments on the Hebrew Bible from Kelly via Wikipedia:

For example, in the Hebrew book of Job, one of the angels is referred to as a satan, "an adversary", but in the Greek Septuagint, which was used by the early Christians, whenever "the Satan" (Ha-Satan) appears with a definite article, it specifically refers to the individual known as the heavenly accuser whose personal name is Satan. In some cases it is unclear which is intended.

— Kelly, Henry Ansgar (2006). Satan: A Biography. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-84339-3

But, bear in mind ha satan isn't Greek from the Septuagint since the Septuagint uses ha diablos. Statements like this one from Kelly are not about the Septuagint or Greek. So, this is not a Greek language development—it is a Jewish thought development about "devil/satan" concepts.

Satan in the New Testament: Σατανᾶ or σατανα

Matthew 4:10, early in the New Testament, "Satan" finally appears in Greek as Σατανᾶ (Satana) from SBLGNT or σατανα (satana) from WHNU.

The problem with looking at capital letters in our Greek sources is that New Testament Koine Greek was written ALL CAPS. So, we also can't derive capitalization from our modern texts as if original. So, don't be mislead by arguments from "capital Satana" vs "lowercase satana"—there is no such difference in the original New Testament.

What developed—name or concept?

As I research this, I don't see any Septuagint basis for the name "Satan" developing from Σατανᾶ in Greek. It seems to be a New Testament concept built on bilingual Jews speaking their Hebrew words in Greek.

So, the take away isn't so much the Greek words διαβολος vs σατανα, but the development of ideas from "the accuser" to "Mr. Accuser" through Hebrew and Jewish history. The concept of Satan/Devil does seem to move from being a type of being to being a specific being who earned the name.

Related questions that includes Hebrew or Lucifer:

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.