Since that shadowy character HP has lately taken to investigating the even darker figure of Satan in the dim reaches of LDS protology, David J and J. Watkins want to talk about the “third part” thing. And since I’m writing my dissy on Revelation and since I had way too much Mt. Dew after dinner, I’m going to oblige.
First off, the easiest way to handle the whole thing is to rely strictly on DC 29:36-37 and be done with it:
And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for behold the devil was before Adam. for he rebelled against me saying “Give me thine honor, which is my power, and also a third part of the hosts of heaven he turned against me because of their agency, and they were thrust down and became the devil and his angels;
Anytime Revelation gets called in on anything but its own terms, you will be lucky if you are only tormented by demonic cavalry from the abyss for five months. So if you click “read more,” you asked for it…
Here’s the relevant passage from Rev 12:3-4a:
3 Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. 4 Its tail drags a third of the stars of the sky and hurled them down to the earth.
The first sign was the astral woman, dressed in the sun, standing on a moon, and crowned with twelve stars. Her dress is the latest in regal fashion among the cosmic crowd, but her vulnerability overshadows all else: in a very terrestrial fashion this celestial woman is pregnant and cries out in birth pangs and great distress.
The dragon is described in equally cosmic/regal terms: he likewise appears in the sky, has seven crowns and most ominously is so huge, powerful, and inclined toward violence that his tail drags “a third part” of the stars from the sky. Two words in v. 4 are interesting.
So you know what? Those stars are just stars and the closest parallel to this idea is what happens with the sounding of the fourth trumpet (8:12). One-third of the sun, moon, and stars were struck so that a third of them became dark and both the day and the night lost light for a third of the time. Whatever that might mean.
OK, Mogget, that is really boring. And you might be making too much of John’s notorious grammar…
OK, but I did warn you to stick with the D&C… There are number of Jewish myths that talk about the fall of a Satan figure. For example, there’s 2 Enoch 29. In this case, God is talking:
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 he might become equal to my power. And I hurled him from the height, together with his angels.
These myths have one common theme: the Satan-character falls from heaven because of his pride. This comes ultimately from Is 14:12-15:
12 How have you fallen from the heavens, O morning star, son of the dawn! How are you cut down to the ground, you who mowed down the nations! 13 You said in your heart: “I will scale the heavens; Above the stars of God I will set up my throne; I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly, in the recesses of the North. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will be like the Most High!” 15 Yet down to the nether world you go to the recesses of the pit!
This is helpful because we learn that the name “Lucifer” comes from the Latin translation of the Hebrew hêlēl in this passage. The entire phrase “O morning star, son of the dawn (hêlēl ben šahar), comes from two deities otherwise known from the Ras Sharma texts. I don’t know about the noun hêlēl but the cognate verb means “to shine brightly.” The other term, šahar, is some kind of a deity associated with the dawn. Anyway, in its original context, this passage is a taunt song directed toward a Babylonian king, possibly Nabonidus.
Mogget! Back to the d[oggone] angels, already!
Well OK. But you can still go with the D&C, you know… Anyway, if we let the stars be angels, there’s another problem. The dragon just deposited them rather violently on the earth but the war’s going to be fought in heaven. How about we just use Jude 6?
6 The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgment of the great day.
While we’re on the topic of gloom, the weather was terrible today, but in spite of that I now have thirty baby tomatoes. And check out that adjective “eternal.” I bet it’s an intensifier rather than a temporal indicator, meaning that those are some really mondo chains rather than that they’re going to last forever.
But returning to the immediate challenge, Jude is a step forward: we’ve finally got fallen angels that got that way on their own rather than being involuntarily slammed to earth with no mention of God’s role in the whole process. The problem here is that the angels seem to be in chains, not out running amuck fighting wars, tempting people, and making anti-social nuisances of themselves. And they’re still not in heaven, either.
Look. The stars are angels, they’re an all-volunteer force, and they’re in heaven. Get on with the war!
OK, OK. mumble, mumble, D&C, mumble, you’ll be sorry, mumble, mumble. The next thing is to ask when all this is supposed to have taken place. There are three possibilities:
1) In the pre-existence.
2) At the death and resurrection of Jesus.
3) At some point closer to the eschaton than John’s personal present.
Since I’m finally getting sleepy, you tell me. When does John suggest that the dragon was cast down from heaven?