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Demons, Evil, and Liminality in Cappadocian Theology

From: Journal of Early Christian Studies
Volume 20, Number 2, Summer 2012
pp. 179-211 | 10.1353/earl.2012.0014



Despite the growing literature on demons in late antiquity, there has been no detailed study of demons in Cappadocian theology. This paper argues that demons occupy a liminal place in Cappadocian cosmology: demons were personal, rational beings, who were created good, fell from their original state, and became locked into an irreversible habit of willing evil, which contradicted but parasitically co-existed with their nature as part of God's good creation. This liminal status explains demons' use in Cappadocian theology not only to illustrate the power and nature of evil, but also as an exaggerated representation of humans' own condition: especially in preaching and hagiography, demons served to highlight the way in which human sin contradicts humans' original creation and to warn humans against the possibilities of locking themselves into a permanent habit of sin.

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